Monday, April 29, 2013

Can We Remove the Stigma Surrounding Rape?

When I write these musings of mine, I’m trying to sort things out in my own mind and when people share their comments with me I read them. Your comments often help me look at problems from a different angle and even if I don’t reply, I do read them.

Sometimes I try to be funny, sometimes I’m snarky, but I’m trying to think out loud… and I’m trying to get you to think as well.

I take the easy part, I ask the questions… I have lots of questions.

One of my questions is why is it when things happen “over there” in faraway places the media jumps on the story and runs with it, but when things happen in Canada they slide under the radar?

Not too long ago the media was abuzz with stories about rapes in India. Before that there was a story about a poor girl in the Maldives who was to be given 100 lashes for being the victim of rape, but when rapes occur here, we don’t seem to hear about it.

I’m thinking first about Rehtaeh Parsons. I don’t recall anything coming across my screen about the alleged rape of a 15 year old girl by four boys in 2011, but I’m in Ontario. I don’t know if this story made the regional news or even the local news in Nova Scotia. It should have.

The saddest part of Rehtaeh’s story is not that she was raped, but the victimization she faced after the rape.  The harassment and hate she had to suffer through for 17 months until she was unable to take anymore.

Rehtaeh is not alone, in the last few days a young woman in Windsor, Ontario has come forward telling her story as a rape survivor.  She was raped by her boyfriend and suffered through the same abuse that Rehtaeh suffered through.  She also tried to commit suicide to end the torment that she was living in.  She’s speaking out because she wants other victims to know that they are not alone.

The message needs to get out.

When there was a serial rapist in Toronto, a woman Tweeted a list of things to prevent being raped.  She suggested learning martial arts, carrying mace, and to stop dressing like a slut. 

This woman’s claim to fame was that her father is a politician in Toronto.

Her comments caused another woman to come out about being raped.  She was hurt and offended that people assume that only sluts or women and girls who dress like “sluts” get raped.  She said on her Facebook page that she had been raped, and that the dress she was wearing was the same one that she had worn to her Grandmother’s birthday.  Hardly “slut gear” by any means. 

The response to her coming out about being a rape victim was amazing.  She received many messages of support, but she was stunned by the number of messages of support from other rape survivors who had managed to carry on.

It really is a crime that it took the death of Rehtaeh to spur any action surrounding her case.  The initial investigation by the RCMP determined there wasn’t a good possibility of conviction so they let the matter slide.  17 months later and after Rehtaeh’s death Darrell Dexter, the Premier of Nova Scotia wants to look into the handling of the rape case by the RCMP.  Just a little late I think.

Rehtaeh’s parents and Dexter also had meetings with Stephen Harper.  They didn’t have much to say afterwards, and neither did the government, but it seems that the response will likely be more laws.

Another law is not the answer.  There were a number of laws broken here.  Rape, possession and transmission of images of the rape, the harassment, and no one was brought before the courts.  No one was found guilty of an offence, there was no justice.

When I sat down to write this I looked for the statistics on rape in Canada and there really doesn’t seem to be much to go on.  I ended up looking at Wikipedia to find there were 576 reported rapes in 2010, their most recent number.  Those 576 rapes boil down to 1.7 people per 100,000. 

But, and it is a big but, less than 10% of rape victims report the crime.

That means there are likely 2 rape victims per 10,000 people in Canada in 2010.  That means that it is entirely possible that you personally know someone who has been raped.  I also found a statistic that 25% of Canadian women have been raped at some point of their life.  That’s 1 in 4 women.

There has always been a stigma to rape.  For some perverse reason people think that women who get raped were asking for it.  We don’t think that a home owner is to blame for having their house broken into because they had nice things.  But we’ll blame the rape victim if she was wearing makeup or a dress just to look nice.

The way we have treated the women who have come forward to report rapes is horrid.  They’ve been dragged through the mud in the court system with lawyers trying to show that they were asking for it.  The community often looked down of these women as being beneath contempt because only bad girls got raped.  And then there are the idiots who seem to think that because a girl gets raped she must be some sort of easy lay and they want to get some too.

It’s no wonder they don’t report the crime.  Would you?

This isn’t something new.  It has been with us a long time.  The only difference is that today we have social media that is capable of reaching an untold number of people within seconds.  The stories might have rumours between friends back in the day or in coffee klatches, later on rumours moved down the line on the telephone, but always limited to a few at a time.  A post on Facebook can reach hundreds or thousands and a Twitter message can suddenly go to millions.

So what is the answer?  Will another law help?

It might, but we don’t seem to be able to enforce the laws we already have.  And if rape victims are too afraid to come forward will these laws help at all?

What we need to do is to understand that rape happens to nice girls.  And we need to teach our kids that bad things like rape happen to nice people and sadly we need to start teaching this to kids before they leave elementary school.

I’m not saying this is a school thing, parents teach kids too, and it should be parents teaching this to their own kids.

CBC Windsor had an interview with a 14 year old girl who was raped when she was 12.  She said that she was harassed and bullied by the others at her school when they found out.  When the interviewer asked her about it, she said that the other kids didn’t understand, they didn’t realize what they were doing was wrong.

She is very wise for 14 years old.

We need to remove the stigma from being a victim of rape.  We need to enable these girls and women so that they can be confident that they will not suffer for naming the person who committed this crime against them. 

Earlier I mentioned that less than 10% of rapes are reported in Canada… That means that 90% of the rapists are not charged, not brought to justice…

Think about it,


Saturday, April 20, 2013

TFWs, RBC, and Entitlements Oh My!

Definition of ENTITLEMENT
1a : the state or condition of being entitled : right
  b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
2: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group;
    also: funds supporting or distributed by such a program
3: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

We keep hearing the word entitlement like it is a dirty thing. Politicians and their supporters (usually of a certain party but sometimes not) bandy this word around and usually in a negative way. They use it for things like social assistance and Employment Insurance and they tend to portray the recipients as less than well… human in many cases.

But recently I came across a new use of entitlement, one that I haven’t seen before…

But U.S. business consultant Steve Siebold says this anger is misdirected and that Canadians have no right to complain. Outsourcing is a reality, and it is not the bank’s responsibility to provide Canadian jobs, he said.
“It’s time to drop the entitlement mentality that just because you live in the neighbourhood [that] means a company should hire you. At the end of the day, you are responsible for what happens to you,” he said.
“To expect that the government, a local bank or anyone else is going to come riding in on the white horse to save you is ridiculous.”

Did you catch it in there? “Entitlement mentality”?

This comment was lifted from an op-ed piece in the Huffington Post on the use of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). You may have heard about this, it has been all over the news.

Our friend Steve Siebold says that it is A OK for a profitable business like the RBC to bring in temporary workers to replace their current employees and I’ll wager he thinks that it is peachy keen that the RBC have those soon to be former employees training the TFWs that are going to replace them. He goes on to accuse people who think this is wrong of having that entitlement mentality and then tosses in some blather about governments and banks on white horses riding in to save you… Well, let’s put it this way, I’ve never seen a banker or a government riding a horse, but I have seen them shovel a fair share of horse excrement in our direction. Maybe they named a pile of it “Steve”?

I think Steve is looking at this bass ackward. You see these other things that get called entitlements are really parts of our social safety net, our social contract. People saw what happened in bad times and how people were left destitute and suffering and society decided that this had to change. If you lose your job and you have been paying into the Employment Insurance pool you should be able to collect payments. If you are unable to find work and EI runs out, we have social assistance to tide you over until you do find work. We don’t want people starving in the streets, begging for pennies from those who are fortunate enough to still have their jobs. We’ve seen that before, we don’t want to see it again.

But there is another social contract that Steve ignores. Remember when you were younger and people told you to get an education so that you can get a good job? If you have kids you’ve probably told them that too.

These reason that I lump this into the social contract is that it wasn’t just parents saying this to their own kids, but it was everyone. It was the teachers, the community leaders, everyone on up to the government.

But we’re not talking about people trying to get jobs at the bank. We are talking about people who have jobs at the bank.

The entitlement mindset doesn’t belong to the workers, it belongs to Steve Siebold and the RBC. They believe that as an employer they are entitled to toss perfectly good workers into the street because they can get some people from India or wherever to do the work for cheap. So cheap in fact that they can afford to pay a middleman or an agency a fee to bring these TFWs into Canada for them.  

Do you see the government running to the stables to get on their white horses? No, they’re running there to cover their asses, or burros, or donkeys, or whatever it is that Cabinet Ministers ride now days.

Speaking of horse poop, I see Mike Duffy managed to make the news again, and the Harper Party still doesn’t like the electoral boundaries in Saskatchewan, and they officially announced that they put the Royal back into the Military (again), and how about those pesky backbenchers…

I’ve read lately that the Harper Party’s issue with the TFWs is not that it happened, but that we found out.

That wouldn’t surprise me, but that’s just my opinion… I’m still entitled to have one.

Cheers! BC

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Fools and Patrick Brazeau

When I was in kiddie garden many years ago our teacher asked us what we were planning for April Fools Day. We took turns telling what we were going to say or do but one classmate had a little extra time with the teacher who pains to explain the difference between a joke and a lie.

I guess Senator in legal trouble Patrick Brazeau needs to have someone explain this to him as well.

Yesterday Patrick tweeted that he was "stepping down" and the announcement would be at 10 am today. He later tweeted April Fools.

I bet he about peed himself laughing at everyone scrambling to find out if this was true, was he resigning his Senate Seat?

Pat doesn't seem to realise that to many Canadians he IS the joke. He is the rather unfunny joke that Stephen Harper foisted on us. The Senator who rarely shows up. The Senator who claimed he resided at his daddy's house so he could collect the housing allowance even though he lived across the river from Ottawa. The Senator who thinks it's funny to be charged with Domestic Assault and Sexual Assault. The Senator who probably thinks it's a joke that he has been suspended from the Senate and still gets paid for being a disgrace to the Upper House.

Yeah, we're all laughing about that too. I hope my sarcasm isn’t being wasted there.

You know what would be really funny Pat? It would be hilarious if Governor General David Johnston called you up today and accepted your resignation.

Laters! BC