Update on Ghomeshi Investigations and Allegations

(CN: descriptions of physical abuse and sexual assault, workplace harassment, bullying, rape apologia, rape culture, graphic description of the treatment of murder victims.)

There have been a number of developments in the ongoing case involving Jian Ghomeshi. According to CBC news, these include:

*More details have emerged about the former Q staff member who tried to complain about Ghomeshi. The union member to whom she spoke has confirmed that she talked to him about remarks but says he has no memory of her complaining of physical harassment. The producer to whom she spoke and who allegedly asked her to make the workplace less toxic for herself is identified as Arif Noorani. Noorani has taken leave.

*Employment lawyer Janice Rubin will be heading the CBC's in-house investigation of allegations of workplace harassment.

*Toronto police chief Bill Blair had this to say about people demanding mandatory or forced reporting:

"I will tell you that I have been somewhat surprised by the number of men who have written to us or come forward to suggest that we should force people to come forward.… Quite frankly, that attitude is shocking to me in the 21st century."

It is up to victims themselves to decide whether they want to come forward, he said. "As they go forward in the criminal justice system or not, it is their choice."

While I am glad Blair made it clear this wasn't acceptable, the fact that he is "surprised" and finds this attitude "shocking" says to me he doesn't grasp rape culture. Demanding that survivors pursue legal action or be silent is one of the first ways that rape apologists seek to undermine those survivors and/or shut us up. It cetainly does not inspire confidence in the police if their chief is ignorant of how extensive that is.

Jian Ghomeshi will not be included in the upcoming Walk of Fame broadcast. His publisher, Random House Canada, has announced that they will not publish his next book.

Apparently, Jian Ghomeshi was a really shitty person to work for, even when sexual harassment wasn't directly involved. Colour me unsurprised that a man who violently ignores consent cultivates a "culture of fear" at his workplace. A group of Q staff presented their complaints to the CBC in 2012; apparently, no formal action was taken.

New allegations have emerged from Ghomeshi's undergraduate days. Jim Hounslow, now an e-learning specialist in Winnipeg, was an employee of Ghomeshi's at the time. He describes an incident in which Ghomeshi grabbed his genitals while the two waited for an elevator. Other information has emerged from York U suggesting that RAs had been told about Ghomeshi hitting women while they were on dates. It is suggested that the survivors did not wish to pursue formal action.

In maybe-related news, Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne has "taken action" against sexual harassment in Liberal Party circles. Whooops it seems like this is a bad time to cover up or ignore that shit! The right-wing National Post draws a connection and says that sexual violence is definitely A Thing. Even reliably stodgy Maclean's has an editorial talking about changing the culture of sexual assault. (And it is not a completely terrible editorial!)

However, survivor Denise Balkissoon has a few words to say about this talk of a "turning point" about violence against women:

Why is now that moment? Why wasn’t it when Robert Pickton dismembered dozens of women’s bodies in Port Coquitlam, B.C., and fed them to his pigs? During the investigation into that horror, RCMP officer Catherine Galliford was told by a male colleague that he fantasized that she was one of the victims. I wonder why she didn’t just call the police.

If only there had been other opportunities: hundreds of indigenous women in this country are missing, going back decades. Don’t be fooled, their lost bodies aren’t lying in nice coffins in proper graves with their hands crossed peacefully over their chests. Unlike Mr. Ghomeshi’s alleged victims as described by the Toronto Star, these dozens and dozens and dozens of women generally weren’t “educated and employed.” That’s why they can’t ignite change, I guess.

The post includes other descriptions of violence; if you have the spoons, it is well worth a read. It really lays bare the intersectional racism, classism, and other structural issues that are still unexamined in this discussion.

I will continue to update this story if there are significant developments. Please feel free also to leave (appropriately content-noted) updates in the comments below. As ever, please do remember to keep the space safe.

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