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To the Judge Who Asked the Rape Victim Why She Couldn’t Just Keep Her Knees Together

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Judge Robin Camp:

If you’re reading this you’re probably on a break from this week’s judicial review in Canada, where you serve, at least for now, as a federal judge. After this week’s hearings, however, there’s a very good chance you’re going to lose your seat on the bench. Your comments to the victim and to her assailant have put you under review, though you have since apologized claiming that at the time you had, “a non-existent" knowledge of Canadian law since you are a South African native.

To me an apology for the sake of an apology is no apology at all. It’s like I tell my children, if you don’t know why you’re apologizing, you might as well not apologize at all. And while I can’t figure out how a judge with no knowledge of Canadian criminal law would be allowed to hear criminal cases, what caused me more concern was that you seem to have no idea what you’re apologizing for. This leads me to believe yours was no apology at all.

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A judge who tries a rape case and makes stereotypic misogynistic comments while basically blaming the victim, isn’t suffering from a lack of knowledge of criminal law. He’s suffering from a lack of common sense. And he doesn’t understand the nature of sexual assault.

So I thought I’d enlighten you.

Clinching is not a simple solution to rape, or the millions of women who are sexually assaulted each and every year would do so.

During the case, you wondered why the 19-year-old victim didn’t “skew her pelvis” to avoid penetration when she was being raped over a bathroom sink at a house party. You suggested she could have pushed her bottom into the sink to avoid being raped. You even wondered, “Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?"

It’s an interesting take, to blame the victim in a rape trail, but it’s as uneducated as it is archaic. What you suggest she could have done to avoid being raped is also nearly impossible. Whether the woman was intoxicated or not, it’s unlikely she could stave off a male who was probably much stronger than she. Clinching is not a simple solution to rape, or the millions of women who are sexually assaulted each and every year would do so.

And when you suggested she could have avoided being raped had she just kept her knees closer together, you imply the victim has some control over being raped. She doesn’t. That’s why it’s called rape.

Even more interesting to me is that you never actually blame the assailant for being, well, an assailant. When you wondered why the victim couldn’t keep her knees together shouldn’t you have actually questioned why the assailant couldn’t keep his unwanted penis out of her body? Because to me, that’s the only thing one should wonder about during a rape trial.

After acquitting the gentleman on trial, you had some equally sage words of advice for he and his friends. You said, “I want you to tell your friends, your male friends, that they have to be far more gentle with women. They have to be far more patient. And they have to be very careful. To protect themselves, they have to be very careful."

It was interesting to me that during a rape trial, you wanted to make sure the assailant and his friends were protected. That was kind, but you had the wrong person in mind. Where is your outrage that this young woman wasn’t protected? Where is your advice that says: Don’t rape people.

And as a reminder, rape isn’t about rough sex. Rape is about consent. A rapist is a rapist if the sex was not consensual. It has nothing to with how gentle the rapist is when he forces himself upon his victim. Knowing that doesn’t make you an expert in Canadian criminal law, knowing that makes you have some common sense and ability to blame the criminal, not his victim.

And on the subject of sex in general, you had some choice words and explanations. You said, “Young (women) want to have sex, particularly if they're drunk."

You then went on to say, "Some sex and pain sometimes go together ... that's not necessarily a bad thing." This makes me concerned for the safety of the women with whom you’ve had sex.

See when sex and pain go together, someone ends up in jail or at the doctor’s office. What goes together are sex and pleasure. And sex and consent. Pain is not a part of sex. Pain is a part of assault.

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There is no amount of sensitivity training you could go through, nor are there enough hours of you brushing up on your Canadian criminal law, to undo the damage of the comments you made in this case and make you a person who should preside over a courtroom.

So when you find yourself out of a job next week and you can’t figure out why, picture a judge telling your wife, daughter, mother, sister or granddaughter that she could have avoided her rape had she just had stronger inner thigh muscles. Imagine your outrage. And then imagine the judge that blamed your mother or daughter for her assault. And then look in the mirror and realize it was you.

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