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Judge Uses Rape Verdict To Take On How We Treat Survivors

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The ruling of an Ontario judge on a university's rape case is garnering attention for taking on the way the system treats rape survivors. According to the Toronto Star, on Thursday, Ontario Court Justice Marvin Zuker read his entire 179-page verdict aloud in court and made a powerful statement criticizing the way the system blames survivors of sexual assault.


Zuker found York University graduate student Mustafa Ururyar guilty of raping fellow student Mandi Gray, who he had been dating. Ururyar's defense was that the sex was consensual. Gray said that though she willingly went back to his apartment on the night in question in January 2015, he insulted her repeatedly, forced her to have oral sex with him, and raped her, according to The Guardian. Zuker called Ururyar's defense "twisted logic" and used his ruling (which can be read in full, here) as a platform from which to decry the general manner in which rapists and rape survivors are treated, both in and out of court.

"We cannot perpetuate the belief that niceness cannot coexist with violence, evil, or deviance and consequently the nice guy must not be guilty of the alleged offense," Zuker wrote. "For much of our history, the ‘good’ rape victim, the ‘credible’ rape victim, has been a dead one. There are many misguided conceptions of what constitutes a ‘real’ rape or how a ‘real’ victim of sexual violence should behave (i.e., scream, struggle to the utmost, and report immediately). No matter how sophisticated the law is, any allegation that derogates from the stereotype is likely to be approached with a degree of other crime is looked upon with the degree of blameworthiness, suspicion, and doubt as a rape victim. Victim-blaming is unfortunately common and is one of the most significant barriers to justice and offender accountability." He summed it up neatly toward the end of the verdict, saying, "The myths of rape should be dispelled once and for all. It doesn’t matter if the victim was drinking, out at night alone, sexually exploited, on a date with the perpetrator, or how the victim was dressed. No one asks to be raped." The prosecution is asking for Ururyar to receive 12 to 18 months in jail. For her part, Gray has filed a human-rights complaint against the university for not having a clear policy in place to protect survivors of sexual assault. She said in a statement, "I am tired of people talking to me like I won some sort of rape lottery because the legal system did what it is supposed to do...accepting things simply as they are, because 'it could be worse' is the antithesis of progress."

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