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Why Judge Zuker’s Verdict was Just

By Stephanie Stella R v Ururyar ended in a landmark conviction on July 21st, 2016. (For those of you keeping score at home, this is nearly four months to the day after Ghomeshi’s disastrous case ended in acquittal.) This case was initially noted as significant, because (to quote the complainant, Mandi Gray) it was a case where the court “did what they were supposed to do,” which is surprisingly rare in sex assault cases. Since then, the backlash has been...

My name is Stephanie Stella

Guest blogger Stephanie Stella, compares the similarities between her trial and Mandi Gray’s trial.   Warning –  may be triggering.   This past February, I took the stand in my trial – or officially, in my rapist’s trial – in Toronto. In the leadup and during my trial, I met and leaned on Mandi Gray for support (and was subsequently accused by the defence of looking for fame, because I had the sheer dumb luck to have my trial line...

Comparing the Treatment of Women in Contemporary Rape Trials to that of Women in Ancient Witch Trials

by Hillary Di Menna Introduction The persecution of witches is thought to have ended hundreds of years ago. Witch trials are looked back on as barbaric and ludicrous. And yet, today, we see similar persecutions of women as a means of social cleansing and moral regulation by patriarchies. As witches were defined and vilified by their society, so are women who have experienced sexual assault and rape today (Gibson, p. 4). Contemporary victim blaming mirrors the infractions of ancient witches,...

Donna Bell’s Trial…it’s about time.

WARNING… Triggering content.  Childhood sexual abuse. In June 2016, Donna Bell, a native Scarborough, Ontario resident currently living in B.C., took the stand against her childhood abuser, Tom Furiano.  It was an historical case that took place 40 years ago. He was her drum and bugle corps instructor.  Donna discovered much later that the other kids referred to him as Chester, Chester the child molester.  Although he was twice Donna’s age, married and father of two, Furiano took 13 year...

VALIDATION DAY

  “I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS” “RAPE IT WAS” says Judge Zuker. He has found Mustafa Ururyar guilty of raping Mandi Gray in January 2015. Mandi Gray and I both came to the Old City Hall courthouse on February 1, 2016, but at the time we did not know each other. We were both starting our sexual assault trials and both in cross examination on the same day. A day we both want to forget but won’t, as...

THE EMANCIPATION OF COMING FORWARD

  After going through the process of our mythical justice system and all its gendered sexism and slippery rape shield laws, I felt great relief to reach the other side of the trial and be done.  My focus quickly became my website.   It was my way of healing and keeping with my intention to help others going through the system. Shortly after Coming Forward’s launch, my project was quickly halted with many confusing reasons for all the roadblocks and false...

APPARENTLY RAPE IS A CAREER BUILDER

  Today, once again I stood with the sisterhood of survivors on the old city hall steps holding signs in support of sexual assault survivors. Today our survivor in court was Mandi Gray. This is starting to feel like a second home to me and right now this is where I belong. Flash mobs, rallies, supporting survivors in court, conferences, blogs, bring it on because I will be there. Today was my second time watching the Mandi Gray trial. I...

“THE CLEAREST PATH TO THE TRUTH” warning may be triggering

  May 11, 2016, a day I’ll never forget. I started May 11, 2016 with very mixed emotions. The impending peace bond with rumours of a possible apology. I wasn’t certain how I felt but the initial internal screaming was hard to ignore. I came to the court to hold signs and stand with my sisters in support of survivors. The inference was that the crown had once again thrown in the towel with no faith in his witness. Was...

If she’s unable to consent, it’s rape. Warning – may be triggering

At the time I did not realize it was rape. I was 19. It was the night of a Halloween party. I drank two bottles of cheap wine and was chatting with one of my friends. I think I sat on his lap at one point. He asked me to come home with him to try his vaporizer. We walked to his place. We smoked a lot of weed. I remember asking him if I could sleep in his bed...