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#YouKnowHerName: The Case For Creating A Culture Of Consent
Thursday, a young man charged with photographing a girl being sexually assaulted and then sharing that photo widely via phone and social media was sentenced to zero jail time, no probation.
 
He took a picture of a 15 year-old girl at a party being violated from behind as she vomited out the window. He shared it with everyone at school, launching a series of events that culminated in her suicide. And the judge suggested he take a sexual harassment course.
 
She was tormented by classmates on every platform. Her complaints were dismissed by authorities who said it was not a police issue. She tried switching schools. But the photo and its attendant shame and harassment followed her. As her father wrote, "it took away her will to live." The judge asked the defendant for a letter of apology.
 
Because he was 17 at the time of the crime, the defendant's name has not been released. But the victim? Canadian courts say we can't identify her either. But we know her name.
 
"Taking the power of her name away, they’re stripping her of her voice a second time,” says her mother. Thursday afternoon, a Twitter hashtag -- #youknowhername --  appeared in response to the ruling. It gained traction as people voiced their outrage. 
 
And like so many of us I am horrified, grieving, disappointed. She was 17 when she killed herself. She almost made it.
 
This year, and especially this month, we’ve had what feels like game-changing conversations about sexual assault and consent, many of them anchored with hashtags. We’ve talked about the pervasiveness of harassment with #yesallwomen, the gender disparity with #ifiwereaboy and we tried to start a new conversation on college campuses with #itsonus.

Most recently we saw an epic, moving convergence of assault stories with #beenrapedneverreported. If she had seen this conversation, would she have taken heart, would she have found strength in a community of survivors?
 
But in the midst of my what-ifs and my anger at a culture that let this play out so tragically, I think about the next generation. What we can do to make sure this isn't their story?
 
At the sentencing hearing, the judge said, "I suspect you would have physically intervened if that were your sister hanging out that window.” I call bullshit. I get what he's trying to say, but it falls so short of what we need to be asking.
 
We need to teach our kids that it is never okay to stand by while someone is assaulted. We need to teach responsibility and empathy regardless whose brother, sister, friend it is. That everyone at the party is part of our community and we are accountable for and to each other.
 
As parents, we can make sure that consent is a part of sex education in schools by advocating for the addition of consent-based education to our provincial sex and health curriculum. And as we keep this conversation alive, we can do it in her name.
 

 

 

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12.1.2014
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post #1545
bio: adina
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12/1/2014
22:28

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