“Every day over the course of a three-year period, Mr. Ghomeshi made it clear to me that he could do what he wanted to me and my body. He made it clear that he could humiliate me repeatedly and walk away with impunity.”
Today crowds gathered in front of Old City Hall in Toronto in support of survivors. Kathryn Borel delivered an arresting statement outlining the harassment she was subjected to by Jian Ghomeshi.
Ghomeshi – former CBC broadcaster – made an appearance in court wherein the Crown withdrew the charge of sexual assault brought against him. Ghomeshi apologized to Kathryn Borel in court and signed a peace bond.
Borel, who produced Ghomeshi’s radio show Q from 2007 to 2010, bravely told her story to a crowd of supporters and media after the court appearance.
“There are at least three documented incidents of physical touching. This includes the one charge he just apologized for, when he came up behind me while I was standing near my desk, put his hands on my hips and rammed his pelvis against my backside over and over, simulating sexual intercourse.
“Throughout the time that I worked with him, he framed his actions with near-daily verbal assaults and emotional manipulations these inferences felt like threats or declarations like I deserved to have happening to me what was happening to me. It became very difficult for me to trust what I was feeling.
“Up until recently, I didn’t even internalize that what he was doing to my body was sexual assault. Because when I went to the CBC for help, what I received in return was a directive that, yes, he could do this and, yes, it was my job to let him. The relentless message to me from my celebrity boss and the national institution we worked for were that his whims were more important than my humanity or my dignity.”
Borrel makes a strong statement implicating not only Ghomeshi but internal structures at CBC.
It’s a story that clearly rings true to survivors across Canada who have had an overwhelming response with movements like We Believe Survivors emerging in support.
The title We Believe Survivors of course speaking to the Canadian legal systems inadequacy in dealing with charges of rape and sexual assault.
These organizers recognize that, even upon telling their stories, survivors are met with legal responses that do not offer them justice but only serve to further harm and invalidate them.
Supporters gathered outside of the court to show their support of Borrel. They chanted, “We support survivors” as Ghomeshi entered the building even writing messages of support on the sidewalk surrounding the building.
Naomi Sayers, legal scholar, has tweeted about the Ghomeshi trial wondering if healing for survivors can truly be found through legal processes.
Sayers questions responses to sexual assault that are based in carceral and punitive measures. Says Sayers, “If your “feminism” upholds and affirms the prison industrial complex then I don’t want any of it.”
Indigenous feminists have long wondered how we can find justice within an institutionally racist and colonial structure like the Canadian legal system.
Above all, Borel says she wants accountability.
“Jian Ghomeshi has apologized, but only to me there are 20 other women who have come forward to the media and made serious allegations about his violent behaviour. Women who have come forward to say that he punched and choked and smothered and silenced them.
“There is no way that I would have come forward if it weren’t for their courage. And yet Mr. Ghomeshi hasn’t met any of their allegations head on as he vowed to do in his Facebook post of 2014. He hasn’t taken the stand on any charge. All he has said about his other accusers is that they’re all lying and that he’s not guilty. And remember, that’s what he said about me.
I think we all want this to be over but it won’t be until he admits to everything that he’s done.”