Women's Rights and Sexual Violence: How Volunteering at the Women's Center of Montreal Can Help the Problem

by Naomie Tat on Mars 31, 2017 - 10:11am

Last Thursday, Robin Camp, a Canadian judge who gained popularity last year when he asked a sexual assault victim why she could not just keep her “knees together”, resigned from Federal Court. It was a rare event in the Canadian justice system and was followed by the release of a report from the Judicial Council which demanded him to be fired. The report described that “[the] judge’s misconduct was manifestly serious and reflected a sustained pattern of beliefs of a particularly deplorable kind”.  In addition, it was just the beginning of what came to be many episodes and many cases which prompted questions from the general public on how sexual assault cases are handled in Canada. For example, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a complainant was found drunk at the back of a taxi and was told by the provincial court judge, Judge Gregory Lenehan, that “[clearly], a drunk can consent”. In Newfoundland, prosecutors appealed the acquittal of a police officer who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman who was intoxicated and solely asked for a ride home. In 2014, at the Alberta Provincial Court, a young nineteen-year-old woman was referred to as “the accused” by Justice Camp and was told that she was not “vigorous or creative enough in trying to stop the assault”. Camp also said that “sex and pain sometimes go together […] that’s not necessarily a bad thing ”, which outraged many in the general public.That particular case demonstrated the poor treatment of vulnerable witnesses. In brief, the many highly publicized trials of sexual assault cases have increased public awareness of how courts handle these cases. People are increasingly interested in the country and the fact that the judicial system is starting to respond accordingly by firing judges who misconduct. 


To contribute to further solving of women's issues and to the bettering of the lives of women in my community, I will be volunteering at the Women's Centre of Montreal. Since its foundation in 1987, the non-profit charitable organization has the mission to “promote and support the interests, objectives and goals of the Women’s Centre of Montreal “. The centre provides educational training and vocational training so they can communicate their concerns to the general public as a way to catalyze change in women’s issues. With the financial support of Centraide du Grand Montréal, it also helps women get informed and get counseling, which allows them to better help themselves. The centre offers volunteering in many different fields and people who want to get involved can offer their help to women in many ways, such as accompanying them to court, for sexual violence, domestic violence and divorce cases, conducting workshops and English conversation groups, assisting in donating clothes and food to women in need, etc. By volunteering at the Women's Centre of Montreal, I am giving a hand to the women in my community and helping the problem of sexual violence. I will be offering my listening skills to women in need and referring them to experts to seek proper help with their specific issues. I believe I could also be helpful in informing people or even helping with managing the donations, as I love to meet and talk to people. Lastly, I also offered to assist events, as well as workshops, and to be a photographer if they ever needed pictures for their website or social media. The volunteering will take place as soon as I get an interview and could be as early as next week. However, the volunteering should take place around the end of April.


Here is the article describing the many highly publicized cases of sexual violence in the past year: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/world/canada/canada-judge-robin-camp-resigns.html?_r=0

Here is a link to become a volunteer at the Women's Centre of Montreal:  https://en.centredesfemmesdemtl.org/become-a-volunteer/

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About the author

Naomie Tat currently studies Digital Arts & New Media (2D & 3D Animation) at Champlain College Saint-Lambert. She is a Montreal-born International Baccalaureate program high school graduate.