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What did you think of Jian Ghomeshi’s trial?

The last year has been eye-opening, and not in a good way. The case of CBC radio broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, who was accused of allegedly sexually assaulting and choking four women, really shed light on how messed up our justice system really is. It also demonstrated why so many women (and men) don’t report instances of sexual violence.

At the end of the day, Ghomeshi was found not guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. The second round of the trials ended with an apology and a peace bond, which essentially is a contract that stipulates the accused must maintain good behaviour for a year and cannot contact the complainant. It is not an admission of guilt and it will result in no criminal record.

Ghomeshi was asked to apologize to the final complainant, Kathryn Borel. His apology mentions the power he held at the CBC and how, after serious consideration, he misunderstood how his actions could be interpreted: “I was a person in a position of authority and leadership, and I did not show the respect that I should have to Ms. Borel … I failed to understand how my words and actions would put a coworker who was younger than me, and in a junior position to mine, in an uncomfortable place.”

Borel decided to forego the trial after being presented with the option of a peace bond because it seemed “the clearest path to the truth.” In a statement following the trial, she said that “In a perfect world, people who commit sexual assault would be convicted for their crimes. Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of having done the things that I’ve outlined today. So when it was presented to me that the defence would be offering us an apology, I was prepared to forego the trial. It seemed like the clearest path to the truth. A trial would have maintained his lie, and would have further subjected me to the very same pattern of abuse that I am currently trying to stop.”

So, it’s over. After intense investigations by various media outlets, excruciating witness interviews, and hours of court time, the Ghomeshi trials are done.

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‘Tik tok’ goes the failed justice system

You may know her for her catchy, nonsensical lyrics and chart busting singles, but singer and rapper Kesha Rose has a lot more to offer to the industry than her musical talents. With an IQ of over 140, the 28-year-old blonde can easily be classified in the ‘near genius’ category. But you probably didn’t know that.

What you do know is that for about three years now, the often misunderstood artist was restricted of personal growth and creative expression due to her ongoing legal battle. The battle began in October 2014, when Kesha filed a lawsuit against her long-time producer Dr. Luke for “mental manipulation, emotional abuse and sexual assault”, and was looking to be freed from her contract with him. Kesha alleges that Dr. Luke abused her to the point where her self-confidence was destroyed, that he maintained control over her and body shamed her, and he referred to her as a “fat f*cking refrigerator.” She alleges that it got to the point where she nearly lost her life.

Google Kesha and a few things become apparent. The choice of pictures associated with these rather condescending articles and tabloid reports will have you comparing the incident to the ugly media frenzy Donald Trump faced after his ban-on-Muslims statement. And after countless unflattering pictures, demeaning headlines, and unnecessary remarks in the comment sections, it seems the media and justice system won in misrepresenting the singer – and women – yet again. Kesha’s motion for the preliminary injunction was denied.

The trial has nonetheless brought on heated debates and sparked conversations, especially on social media under the hashtag #FreeKesha.

So the question arises; what exactly is the solution?

“The solution is for power structures to recognize women’s accusations rather than refusing them in order for corporations to continue and exploit said women to make profits. It has to recognize women as real beings. It’s for men to be held accountable for their crimes against women and acknowledging that the root of all our problems is that we live in an established capitalist, hetero-patriarchal, sexist society where financial strength will always perpetuate rape culture,” believes Konain Edhi, Equity Studies major at the University of Toronto.

While attorneys for Dr. Luke and Sony have argued that Kesha is bound by the contract and must perform her obligations or be held accountable, the record label did tell the court the singer will be allowed to work with another producer.

Yay.

The ongoing support and sympathy the artist has received, including a generous $250K donation from Taylor Swift, is promising, but sadly, these type of events are not a rare occurrence. Time and time again, we are exposed to the injustice and double standards that women are subjected to face because of their gender. Whether its Chris Brown getting away with the most minimal sentence after horrifically beating Rihanna and still going on to have a thriving career in the music industry, or actor Roman Polanski receiving an Oscar to a standing ovation after being accused of raping a 13-year-old girl, what’s prevalent in the entertainment industry is that men always win.

Equally prevalent is the disregard for women’s mental and emotional health in the industry. We saw this during Britney Spears’ and Mariah Carey’s personal struggles back in the early 2000’s, which has since become a spectacle of memes and running jokes in the media. It’s not like the pressures of being international, Grammy Award winning pop stars had anything to with it. But sure, we’ll let One Direction’s Zayn Malik off the hook for venturing away from his boys into his own solo career because ‘he was sad.’ It’s only fair.

Let’s not forget about the absolutely outrageous dilemma that is occurring here at home involving former CBC radio broadcaster, Jian Ghomeshi, and his ongoing trial, whose allegations include a total of seven reported counts of sexual assault, and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. Despite Ghomeshi’s horrific accusations, the trial has focused largely on the actions of the alleged victims and their poor memories. The defence spent days poking holes in their stories — most of which happened over 10 years ago —and discrediting their statements in the court of law and public opinion.

What’s important is to understand it’s irrelevant to question the emails or text messages sent after the fact. It should not invalidate the very real trauma that women — who are essentially survivors of violence — face. People react to violence in different ways. That does not mean it is okay. Sadly, these crimes will deem the violent behaviour of these men as palatable and forgivable once again. As for women? Well, their actions will be labelled as defaming and victimizing.

We evidently have a long way to go before we can see change occurring in our society. For now, we are left to read articles featuring Kesha looking ‘trashy AF’ and listening to comments of how Jian Ghomeshi’s victims ‘need a lesson in common sense.’

What we can do while scrolling through our feed, as we’re exposed to both sides of the stories, is to join the conversation and provoke the change we’re looking for. Because it is only a matter of time before another woman comes forth with her story. Untill then, we must be aware, we must be prepared, and we must engage in tough conversations with our friends and family who may not understand that we do, indeed, live in a society that unjustifiably upholds rape and violence against women.

What are your thoughts on this story? Leave a comment below and tell us!