September 14, 2016

Today We Learned Rape Culture Is Alive And Well Thanks To This Judge Who Asked A Survivor Why She Didn’t Just ‘Keep Her Knees Together’

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A judge in Canada is facing removal from the bench due to his conduct during a rape case when he asked a 19-year-old survivor why she couldn’t “just keep her knees together.”

Federal Court Judge Robin Camp, 64, is in the middle of a week-long judicial council hearing which will determine whether or not he will be removed from his position. The Canadian Judicial Council launched an investigation into Camp in November 2015 after four law professors filed a joint complain against him.

The case in question took place in 2014 when the young woman accused the perpetrator of raping her over a bathroom sink at a house party. Judge Camp acquitted the man of the charges in September 2014 but the Alberta Court of Appeal later overturned Camp’s ruling and the second trial is scheduled for November.

According to the records from the trial, the judge asked the woman why she didn’t “skew her pelvis” or push her bottom into the sink in order to avoid being raped.

He was also reported saying “Young women want to have sex, particularly when they’re drunk,” and at a different point in the trial saying, “Some sex and pain sometimes go together…that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Camp alleges that since he had been in South Africa during the 1960s through the 1980s, he had not understood the changes to Canadian sexual assault law that was intended to protect women from discriminatory attitudes.

However, Judge Camp is not alone in his beliefs that women can be blamed for their own assaults. The rhetoric around assault and rape is extremely alarming and questionable. The idea that how much a woman is drinking or what she is wearing can “cause” rape is incredibly disappointing and wrong.

In this case, the idea that this woman was assaulted because she “couldn’t just keep her legs together” is absolutely deplorable. We continue to see cases in the media that further the horrific notion of victim-blaming. We are constantly reminded that although false reporting for rape is just as low as it is for any other crime, rapists rarely face consequences for their actions. More importantly, survivors are too frequently silenced.

Camp’s question is just one of many that is asked to survivors every day. A survivor of sexual assault is frequently asked what she was wearing, whether she was drinking, or whether she is “really sure” that she didn’t want “it.”

You wouldn’t ask these questions to anyone who reports any other crime – so why are these questions asked to survivors every day? TC mark

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