The question that seems to be getting the most attention with regards to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal is this: Why didn’t the women who claim to have been sexually assaulted by Jian Ghomeshi report the assault to police?
Why, indeed? Perhaps the statistics on sexual assault in Canada and the United States will help explain why women who claim they were sexually assaulted by Jian Ghomeshi allegedly did not report the assault to police.
Statistics show that 84 percent of women are sexually assaulted by someone they know — a friend, a family member, or an acquaintance. Dating or working with someone qualifies that person for acquaintance status at the very least.
Some people will say it’s not sexual assault if the people involved have had sexual relations in the past. This is incorrect. It’s sexual assault if one of the people either does not consent to, or has revoked consent, to sexual relations.
It would appear that sexual assault is an easy crime to commit without fear of repercussions. Statistics Canada states that only 10 percent of sexual assaults are ever reported to police. Of the sexual assaults reported, only 25 percent result in an arrest. In other words, 90 percent of sexual assaults are never reported. This means that 100 percent of those who commit 90 percent of sexual assaults get away with it, and of the remaining 10 percent who are accused of sexual assault, only 2.5 percent are charged.
But this doesn’t mean that 2.5 percent of those who are charged with committing sexual assault are found guilty, and it doesn’t mean that 2.5 percent of those who are found guilty of the charge of committing sexual assault are convicted.
If we put this in terms of 200 sexual assaults committed, only 5 of those 200 will face charges that may or may not be stayed, or that may or may not result in conviction.
This is why the Toronto police can say that Jian Ghomeshi is not being investigated on sexual abuse allegations. Because reports are rarely made, and of those reports made, few are prosecuted. Of those who are prosecuted, fewer are found guilty and incarcerated. The media reported that none of the women had ever filed a complaint against Jian Ghomeshi, and there may be good reason for that.
Now it was also reported that, according to the union to which Jian Ghomeshi belongs, Jian Ghomeshi stated that he would be filing a grievance against the CBC via the union. His legal team confirmed this in a newspaper report where they were quoted as saying that Ghomeshi would “commence a grievance for reinstatement under his collective agreement.” And it is also a fact that Jian Ghomeshi has directed his legal team to file a lawsuit against the CBC even with the union grievance already mentioned. The problem with filing a grievance and also filing a lawsuit against the CBC is that, as a union member, he cannot sue the CBC. So what would be the reason for filing a lawsuit where the document is a matter of public record?
To incite abuse? To incite online abuse? To incite Internet abuse? To incite social media abuse? To incite anonymous abuse? To incite reprisal abuse? To incite victim blaming abuse?
We only have to look at what happened to people such as game developer, Brianna Wu and journalist, Carla Ciccone, and blogger, Anita Sarkeesian, to understand how paralyzing such abuse can be. The abuse runs the gamut from personal attacks to hacking attacks and destroying careers and families in an attempt to discredit the victim and the victim’s experience and comments. No one would willingly put themselves or their families in so much danger unless it was completely unavoidable.
As the victim of aggressive cyberbullying by an anti-bullying autism advocate and campaigner, I can assure you that cyberbullies seem to feel that anyone related to their target is fair game … including, in my case, my disabled son who was a minor at the time. They will stop at nothing to find out their victim’s home phone number and the phone numbers of those with whom their victim works or are contracted to work for or who employs their victim. They will go to enormous lengths to try to paint their victim as the abuser as they continue to encourage others to aggressively intimidate their victim online as well as in real life.
And while Christie Blatchford wrote in her article last week that the victims could request the courts to order a ban on publication of their name, the fact of the matter is, such a ban wouldn’t extend to a lawsuit such as the one that’s already been filed by Jian Ghomeshi’s legal team. So the protection granted by a ban on publication of names is rendered moot by the lawsuit that has already been filed.
Coupled with the fact that Jian Ghomeshi has a leading crisis public relations firm on his side, and it’s understandable why the women in question are terrified to have their names known because Jian and his team seem intent on throwing these women to the wolves to protect Jian.
But you see, there are other big questions that need to be asked. If Jian Ghomeshi is so convinced of his innocence, why would he bother to write a 1,600 word Facebook status update detailing his sexual activities while insisting that details of his sexual activities are private? And why did Jian Ghomeshi feel it was imperative to run with a pre-emptive strike that consisted of many things including a very public Facebook status update and a lawsuit against his former employer that is a matter of public record once filed?
There’s no doubt that the best defense is an amazing offense, but there’s another saying from Abraham Lincoln that appears to apply to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal: What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.
SOURCES used in writing this article:
- Justice Department, National Crime Victimization Survey: 2008 – 2012
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports: 2006 – 2010
- National Center for Policy Analysis, Crime and Punishment in America, 1999
- Department of Justice, Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties: Average of 2002 – 2006
- CBS News, Rape In America: Justice Denied, 9 November 2009
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
- Smarter Sex website, Date Rape Myths & Facts, 2014
- Financial Post, Tom Blackwell, Jian Ghomeshi Not Facing Investigation Over Anonymous Sex Abuse Allegations Toronto Police Say, 27 October 2014
- New York Times, Anna North, What Jian Ghomeshi’s Accusers Were Afraid Of, 27 October 2014
- National Post, Howard Levitt, The Real Reasons Jian Ghomeshi Is Suing The CBC, 28 October 2014
- The Independent, Hans Rollman, This Is The Real Story We Need To Be Talking About, 28 October 2014
- The Globe and Mail, Kirk Makin, How Canada’s Sex Assault Laws Violate Rape Victims, 5 October 2013
- Women Against Violence Against Women, Mythbusting: Statistics, 2014
- SACHA Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton, ON), Sexual Assault Statistics, 2014
- Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Sexual Assault In Canada, 2008
- Sex Assault, Sexual Assault Statistics In Canada, 2014
- Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, Sexual Assault Statistics Fact Sheet, 2014