In an unsurprising case of victim blaming, a Canadian judge is under fire for asking a woman in a rape case why she couldn’t “just keep [her] knees together,” because you know, rape is never the predator’s fault.
According to trial records, before ultimately acquitting the defendant of the crime in 2014, Federal Court Judge Robin Camp asked the victim why she couldn’t prevent her rape by skewing her pelvis to avoid penetration.
“I want you to tell your friends, your male friends, that they have to be far more gentle with women,” he said to the defendant. “They have to be far more patient. And they have to be very careful. To protect themselves, they have to be very careful.”
Camp now faces bench removal, is undergoing sensitivity training, and blames his “lack of Canadian law” for his comments. He has since apologized to the victim. Thankfully, the verdict was overturned on an appeal, and a new trial is scheduled for November.
For people who think like Camp, there’s really only one way the rape victim could’ve prevented her own sexual assault. She shouldn’t have ever been born a woman. Maintaining an austere dress code and saying “yes” to every male advance will only get women so far. It’s rapists that are looking to “have some fun” who need the protecting, not the actual victims who “should’ve known better.”
This was Judge Camp’s message. And it is detestable.
Judge Camp’s comments are dangerously disgusting because they sustain a culture where society points the finger at rape victims and gives male sexual predators a pass. His remarks translated into an acquittal, and regardless of the decision being reversed, the move set a precedent for future cases weaved around ignoring rape victims and letting rapists off the hook with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
And just like rapists, Judge Camp has no sense of accountability.
Despite possessing well over 40 years of legal experience, Camp blamed a “lack of Canadian law knowledge” for his comments. The judge’s despicable remarks are a byproduct of his character, not his lack of legal experience in a particular country.
In a different part of the trial, Camp is on record saying, “Some sex and pain sometimes go together…that’s not necessarily a bad thing.” I may not be a lawyer, but I didn’t see any legal jargon mix-ups in that comment. Also, this sounds like it should be coming from a porn director, not someone tasked with handing down law and order.
Above all, Camp glamorized sexual violence against women, making rape more palatable. The judge’s “keen” insight and recommendations to the defendant are a part of a larger sentiment regarding rape.
“They have to be far more patient. And they have to be very careful. To protect themselves, they have to be very careful.” Who do “they” need to be protected from? And patient and careful with what? Rape?
We live in a society that sets rapists up for success, even before the verdict is handed down — and that’s IF they make it that far. We saw this with Brock Turner and the media’s portrayal of him as an Ivy league star swimmer. Camp’s parting “wisdom” places the order of protection on men and those who “magically” find themselves raping a woman.
Luckily, the verdict was overturned and a new trial date is set for November, but this isn’t always the case. Victim blaming is a legal tactic that has led to acquittals and lighter sentences for defendants. According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), 1 out of every 6 American women have been the victim of an attempted or successful rape in her lifetime. RAINN also found that out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free.
Victim blaming sustains rape culture because it makes the assailant a judge. It absolves them of any responsibility, and they get to decide what “cues” if any to follow. And we wonder why only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police.
In June of last year, despite the controversy surrounding Judge Camp’s sexual assault case, Peter Mackay, Canada’s Attorney General, still appointed him to the Federal Court of Canada. Unfortunately, Camp’s rhetoric proves that judges can be just as dishonorable as the rapists they let walk.
Image: Justice Robin Camp, Federal Court of Canada