OPINION: Sexual assault shouldn’t be a normalized part of club culture

by | Nov 11, 2016 | Opinion

Jessenia Feijo

Life Editor

Some nights call for going out with friends and letting a bit loose. For me, such a night starts off looking something like this: you get home, hop in the shower, put on some makeup, spend hours on the hair and the outfit and then finally head out to meet with friends. An adventure to the desired establishment for large amounts of fun ensues.

But when women are going out, sadly, the chances are high of you or one of your friends, getting sexually harassed or even assaulted. Example of bad contact you might encounter include strange fingers that creep up your skirt and grope your ass cheek; blank stares directed at your chest; someone will graze your crotch over your clothes; or just plain grab onto your arm and demand attention.

Perhaps such things sometimes happen to men as well.

Clubs are breeding grounds for sexual assaults on any given day. Statistics are difficult to find on this topic because these experiences are seldom reported, and if they are they vary greatly.

The Criminal Code of Canada does not define rape in terms of specific acts. The crime of sexual assault is codified within the general assault provision (s. 265(2)), which makes it a crime to intentionally apply force to another person without their consent.

This broad criminal definition of a sexual assault ranges from both relatively minor acts, such as a tap on a bum, to full-blown forced intercourse. In fact, s. 265(b) takes the definition even further to include instances when the accused merely “attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose.” In other words, you could be charged for sexual assault even without even touching the victim

In Canada, reports by police in Toronto and Vancouver showed higher levels of sex crimes in the cities’ respective club districts.

A few weeks back, I went to Bar 244 on Adelaide Street West with some of my closest friends. One of my girlfriends was approached by a man. He walked up to her, grabbed her arm, brought his face close to her ear and said, “Let me buy you a drink.” There are many things wrong in this scenario. It is never acceptable to touch a stranger like that and then demand something (see the Canadian Criminal Code). She did not humour the man in any way and actually shook herself free. A security guard saw the exchange and to everybody’s surprise ended up ejecting my friend from the club.

After a few of us argued with him, but he ignored us and we went outside where he left her. We left and automatically said we wouldn’t go back to this club.

Why was the person getting grabbed getting thrown out? The man who initiated the contact being ejected would have made sense. Not only was he left free to run around and commit more offences, but he didn’t receive any punishment for his behaviour and would assume that what he did is okay.

Sexually motivated grabbing, fondling or demanding in public spaces needs to be taken much more seriously.