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In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trial

On the morning Jian Ghomeshi’s verdict was handed down, a protest in support of sexual assault survivors was organized by a local rape crisis centre outside the Toronto courthouse. Here's why they showed up.
In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trial

Photo, Jenna Marie Wakani.

Ghomeshi trial streeters

Robin J., 29, student

"The public interest in this case has so many layers: it’s a taboo topic, and there are [questions] BDSM and consent. It draws curiosity. And people who are survivors — or have survivors in their families — really want to see a positive outcome. Because there are rarely positive outcomes in these cases.”


In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

Maria O., 42, former journalist

“The media is a very powerful tool, but it can be very polarized and even perpetuates rape myths — the clothes you were wearing, the things you were saying, what you did. It can be an avenue for people to get informed, but it’s also been an avenue for people to take those stories and re-victimize survivors.”


In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

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Kate F., 23, student

“I’m currently enrolled in the Assaulted Women's and Children's Counsellor/Advocate Program at George Brown College. I’m passionate about working with women and dealing with the barriers [they]. I’m compelled to be here to support all survivors, [including] who don’t press charges after their rape. I want to tell them I believe them, regardless of the verdict.”


In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

Normy M., 36, student

“For me, it's important to let women know they can speak out. I have a daughter, and young women grow up with years of insecurity. I want my daughter to be open with me, not suffer alone. Boys, too. It's an ‘everybody’ issue.”


In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

Futhi S., teacher

“I'm here to support all survivors from all over the world. For everyone who has had to live through the crime of rape, of harassment, cat-calling — all of it. Those who have reached out and pressed charges, even when society does not believe them. I am one of them.”

In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

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Cynamin M., 40, peer counsellor at Toronto Rape Crisis Centre / Multicultural Women Against Rape

“This case is highlighting what we've always known [to] imperfections of our justice system. It allowed us to keep [sexual] in the media, and highlight the flaws all survivors endure on a daily basis. There needs to be a different way to support survivors so people feel safe coming forward. We know it’s not easy to break the silence. But we believe you.”


In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

Liz B., 32, professor

“In the event of an acquittal, we have to explore who is benefitting from the current system in place, and who is not; which voices we value within the justice system, and whose are lost or not acknowledged. I have incredible students — fierce, fierce fighters who are working very hard to change the system. They’re writing, educating and taking up public space. They’re coming together to fight [back] because they know, based on lived experience, that it’s not working for many of us.”


In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

Meg, 31, student

“Jian Ghomeshi is privileged, and it allowed him to fly under the radar. I’m here to let survivors know people believe them, and let Jian Ghomeshi know that we believe survivors. People knew what was happening [with] and didn’t do anything until they knew it would become very public. We protect abusers because we don’t believe the people impacted by violence. That says we live in a society where violence against women and trans people is normalized. A society that has problematic ideas around consent.”


In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

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Carly G., 22, Toronto

"I volunteer as a crisis line counsellor the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre. This case is so sensationalized, and what people don't see is that this is a microcosm of a larger issue: the way these women are cross-examined, the way people are asking questions like, “Why keep contact with him afterwards?” “Why didn’t you fight back?” A common question I get [from] is “What could I have done differently?” They don’t want to take the blame, but society blames them, not the people who abuse them.”


In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

Jennifer Leigh O'Neill, 27, student and activist

[In], after charges were laid, the authorities said that I might have all my private information subpoenaed, my medical files, my therapeutic records, my social media — but they won’t tell you exactly what they’re going to [pull]. I was a fashion model before this, and I spent a year wiping myself off the internet. I got rid of my phone my email, everything. I started to feel like the process was all about me, even though I wasn’t allowed in it — except for the parts when they said, ‘Come here, show pony, and speak.’ It’s taken so much therapy and talking and courage to attach my name to the issue, and to see myself as safe. Although the Ghomeshi case has been sad, it’s been a huge opportunity to come forward and say, ‘This is a part of who I am.’ So use my full name. I'm done hiding.”

In their words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi trialPhoto, Jenna Marie Wakani.

Related: Exclusive: Lucy DeCoutere on the Ghomeshi disaster What I wish I’d known before testifying in the Ghomeshi trial
Not guilty: Jian Ghomeshi acquitted of all charges

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