Judge's sex-assault comments spark rally
Protesters storm law courts building in Winnipeg, call for resignation of judge
About 100 people rallied at the Manitoba Law Courts building in Winnipeg on Friday, expressing anger about comments made by a judge during a sexual assault sentencing.
Carrying placards with statements such as, "No such thing as implied consent," the protesters also stormed inside the building chanting and calling for the resignation of Justice Robert Dewar.
They also called for Dewar to come down and speak to them before being escorted out by security.
The rally wrapped up after about an hour, at 1 p.m.
Dewar said "sex was in the air" when he spared a man jail time by handing him a two-year conditional sentence last week instead and allowed him to remain free in the community.
During the sentencing, Dewar also commented on the way the woman was dressed and her actions the night she was forced to have sex by a man in the woods along a dark highway outside Thompson, Man., in 2006.
The man and a friend met the woman, who is now 25, and her girlfriend earlier that night outside a bar under what Dewar called "inviting circumstances."
The judge pointed out the victim and her friend were dressed in tube tops, no bras, and high heels and noted they were wearing plenty of makeup.
Dewar called the man a "clumsy Don Juan" who may have misunderstood what the victim wanted.
The sentence was delivered last week in Thompson.
Victim calls herself a prisoner
The victim, who spoke to CBC News on Friday, did not attend the rally but was aware of it and grateful to those who took part.
She said she remains traumatized from the sexual assault and is afraid to go places.
"I feel like I'm a prisoner in my own home and I can't trust anyone," she said, adding she is extremely upset with Dewar's comments.
"I don't think what he said was right. We were young and we were dressed classy. For him to say that the way we looked was basically asking for it is wrong and makes me angry."
The woman said she went into the bushes off the road to urinate and the man followed her in.
"I wanted out of there and he wouldn't stop," she said about the attack, which left her covered in bruises.
"I had to do what I had to do to survive because I was out there alone. I wanted to get away."
She agrees with protesters who called for Dewar's resignation, saying, "I think he should not judge again."
Then she added, "I think all rapists should be treated like a murderer because they take a part of your life."
Comments will discourage victims
Lorraine Parrington, who co-ordinates the sexual assault crisis program at Klinic, a community health centre in Winnipeg, said Dewar's remarks show there needs to be more education about how women should be treated in sexual assault cases.
Fewer than 10 per cent of sexual assault cases are actually reported and Parrington worries Dewar's comments will discourage future victims from coming forward.
"I'd like to say I was shocked. Unfortunately, I'm not after doing this work for lots of years," she said. "But I was appalled. I was outraged. I was disheartened."
Men have to learn women can change their minds, and no, at any point in an encounter, means no, she said.
"People have a right to change their mind. If I decide that I want to be engaged in certain sexual behaviour with somebody I can do that and I'm allowed to say, 'Stop, I don't want to do it any more.' That needs to be respected."
Angela Senyshyn, a burlesque dancer who was at the rally, told CBC News she dresses how she likes and there is no invitation to anything.
"I don't get dressed, you know, for a night out on the town in hopes to get raped."
With files from The Canadian Press