Supporting the Victims?


Severe Lack of Consideration for Victims of Sexual Assault

Marc-André Lavigne
Opinions Editor

These past two weeks have been pretty disturbing for those who watch the news. This time, it did not pertain to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Alice Paquet, a young woman in her early twenties, spoke publicly about having been sexually assaulted on two occasions by a Liberal member of the National Assembly when she was 19 years old. She later revealed the name of her alleged aggressor as Gerry Sklavounos on a Facebook post which was deleted not long after.

It did not take long before her face was all over the news for the public allegations in public. The next day, her past as an escort was also brought to light, and suddenly, something changed in terms of how she was mostly described or how the facts were presented by the media to describe the whole situation. The way I perceived things is that she was no longer presented as an alleged victim. She was portrayed as ex-prostitute who did not like how she was treated by one of her clients.

Why did I have this perception? News networks have done an awful job of bringing to light the allegations and details about her past. In my opinion, their reports caused people on social media to make horrible comments. In the end, this created a vicious circle with some of the negative comments being reported on television for the sake of providing viewers with the “juicy details”, and people commenting again on the matter. Comments were being made until Paquet decided to step out from the public light.

It is important to know that if Sklavounos does end up being charged for sexual assault and goes on trial, Paquet’s past cannot be used as a defence or as a means to undermine her credibility. The thing that we have to wonder about is why does her past matter to the case? If she was indeed sexually assaulted, it is not because she was working as an escort that her case should be ignored or treated differently from other cases.

I believe her treatment is different because the allegations were made in public, and negative comments towards her were also reported to the public. “What did you expect would happen in his room? It was part of your job! You went to see him twice?!” These are only some of the comments I have seen and heard being said about Paquet.

From this, I can say that our society has a big problem. As it turns out, instead of providing support and an ear to someone who is an alleged victim of a crime, we blame the victim and question in the most awful way her judgement and integrity. This contributes to a rape culture. Yes, it exists. We don’t even know the all the details of Paquet’s case, but a number of people are convinced that the victim is lying. Why is that? They claim she does not fit the model, thus does not look like a victim of rape. Outrageous! To claim that a victim is lying because she does not fit the part reveals a complete lack of knowledge and awareness when it comes to sexual assault victims, but it also reveals a strong prejudice. And a few weeks ago, I thought that most people were aware and sensitive to issues victims of sexual assault have to face. It seems I guessed wrong.

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