Wednesday, 30 March 2016

SAWBONNA: SEXUAL ASSAULT and THE RECENT TRIAL.

When I completed my Master's Thesis, *Sawbonna: Justice as Lived Experience, I knew that my long journey from murder to meaning, had found a way to be expressed within a context (academic) that would offer me a peace of mind that I wanted; had wanted since I was the age of sixteen and my Dad, Theodore, was murdered. In my thesis, I employed autoethnographic methodology around which to contextualize my research about what is wrong with our us vs. them legal system, and in so doing, to offer a manner of living justice that is expressed in the feminist mantra: the personal is the political. Sawbonna was (and is) my fluid-framing about how it is I believe justice must be engaged. Its fluidity means that when a crime is committed the face-to-face aspect of Restorative Justice, which is only one aspect of Restorative Justice, does not have to happen. In not happening, however, no one is exempt from addressing what and how justice means, has meant, can mean. In closely following the criminal trial of Jian Ghomeshi, I was moved to anger, anguish, tears, and raw pain, as I witnessed how it is that the current legal system (I can not use the phrase "justice system") debased not only the women who were meted out the most vitriolic and reprehensible judgement by the presiding judge. I witnessed how it is that in a binary articulation of justice, the values of respect, responsibility, and relationship were as if flung by the wayside into a gutter of limited and limiting languaging about power, patriarchy, and pernicious posturing. Now, I sit with Sawbonna. I sit with the idea of: I see you. I hear you. You see me. You hear me. And I ask myself why it is that so few women report crimes of power against our bodies. I ask myself to sit with the utter ache I feel because right now, this very minute as I type this short piece, I know that something is wrong with how it is we as a society and community, as yet, censure and batter each other by having to "win." No one won in that trial. If one powerfully positive knowing has arisen, it is that now right now, more women, more men, are asking questions about: power, inequality, voice, trust, and how each of these is reflected and not in our very own legal systems, which would have us believe that an acquittal has any relationship with truth, with justice. Sawbonna says, no matter what side we are on, we are invited to use the measure of how much: respect and responsibility it is we take into the crucible of our relating, of our relationships. Face-to-face or not, we are compelled to ask how justice is lived. It is unlikely that the individuals in this trial will ever sit in Circle with each other. What is not unlikely, however, is that the women so maligned in the judge's closing words, as women have for centuries been maligned, will know that their sharing, their courage invites others to stand with them, to believe survivors. Perhaps the accused will address his own actions, particularly as they relate to notions of power. And, perhaps the judge and his colleagues, and those who work in, but mostly those who are clear about and diligent about and focused on reforming the criminal justice system, will address the fact that seeking winners and losers has naught to do with how broken and violated relationships are to be engaged with.   Sawbonna invites this.


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*Master's Thesis: Sawbonna: Justice as Lived Experience
http://dtpr.lib.athabascau.ca/action/viewdtrdesc.php?cpk=308&id=48984

4 comments:

  1. I resonate with you, Margot, very deeply on this issue. I just saw that there is to be a second trial and that it could be very different. I pray for that. All you have said here is deep truth.

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    1. I, too, hope that in the second trial an articulation of deep truth will come forth. The anguish that those women had to feel, due to the system, and the lack of understanding about what sexual assault can and does create, pains me. AND even as I am pained, I feel that Canada's legal system is shifting because so many people are ready, able, and willing to be the change we wish to see.

      Thank you so for your comment.

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  2. Powerful invitation to sit in Sawbonna Margot. Thank you.

    I thought you might find this read worthwhile. http://www.lennyletter.com/life/a316/what-i-know/

    Hope you are well.

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    1. Yes, Louise! Thank you for your words, and for that utterly moving link. No, I had not seen it. I was utterly moved, deeply shaken by the truth-telling, by the horror of that woman's experience.

      Thank you for sharing.

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