Ask Women Anything: When the Justice System Fails Women

Join us on March 29, 2018 at 7 p.m. for our next Ask Women Anything panel discussion on the experiences of women in the justice system.

NOTE: Due to the popularity of previous events and the strict capacity at Bar Robo, this event will require pre-booked tickets on EventBrite (free of charge!) in order to be guaranteed entry. Those without a ticket will be let in on a first come first served basis after ticket holders. Click here to reserve tickets. See the Facebook event page.

Our panelists:

Mélanie Mellon is passionate about stopping the stigma for mental health. She is a woman who survived childhood sexual abuse and years of undiagnosed mental health problems that followed. She is a mom to four beautiful children. She also speaks in public forums about how her depression and PTSD affected her at home and in the workplace, but more importantly how she got help and was supported. Oh, and she has a job that pays.

Dillon Black is a gender non-conforming anti-violence advocate at OCTEVAW. They’re currently coordinating a groundbreaking project to implement institutional accountability and external oversight in policing practices around gender-based violence. All the while trying to do their PhD in Surveillance Studies.

Jessica Ruano is the writer and director of The Ghomeshi Effect, a documentary play on sexual violence and the legal system in Canada, for which she was awarded the 2017 Femmy Award for Media. She also volunteers at the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa. Find her on Twitter @jessicaruano and @ghomeshieffect.

Jordyn Playne is an Indigenous social worker originally from Penetanguishine, Ontario. Jordyn earned her Honors Bachelor of Social work from Lakehead University and has since been working for Minwaashin Lodge; Indigenous Women’s Support Centre as a Women’s Counselor where she spends the bulk of her time working and advocating for Indigenous women and girls who have been incarcerated in the federal corrections system.

Media Images and Real Violence


Alison Saunders, head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK, has warned that the mainstream media’s poor treatment of women actually impacts the outcomes of rape cases. Photo via The Guardian.

A brilliant article published today by Holly Dustin illustrates the connection between images of women in the media and the way sexual violence is excused, normalized and dismissed in real life – even within the justice system.

From the Guardian article:

Every part of our society seems to be infected by prejudicial attitudes to rape; from the justice secretary’s comments about rape last year, to Facebook pages that promote sexual violence, to the casual use of rape jokes by top comedians and the outpouring of misogyny on male university students’ websites. Hardly surprising then that surveys consistently show that around a third of people in the UK believe that if a woman is raped then she should be held at least partially responsible if she did not behave like a “perfect” victim, either because of what she was wearing or if she had been drinking.

Dustin calls for radical reform – a “revolution in the way we understand and deal with sexual violence” – including the way we represent women in the media:

We need to tackle the messages we receive through the media – whether it is our daily newspapers inaccurately and over-reporting false allegations of rape, whether it is sexualised music videos and games where women are portrayed as sexual objects there purely for men’s pleasure, or the threats of sexual violence that women writers and bloggers receive to shut down debate.

You can read the full article here:
Time for a revolution in the way we deal with rape