No Means No?

Last week, Justice Dewar, a federally appointed judge, gave a lenient sentence to a convicted rapist. You can get the details from this article. Once you have read this article, I would like to read and learn from your comments as to your reaction to this criminal trial.

Both my Grade 9 Canada in the Contemporary World and my Grade 11/12 Law classes will be commenting. I would like you to comment in a specific manner, if I can be so bold as to direct your responses. Teacher’s shouldn’t do this, but there is a method to my madness. I would like you to respond firstly as a student of Law. How does Justice Dewar’s decision affect you as a student of Law? Secondly, how does this decision affect you as a citizen (note I did not use citizen in terms of belonging to a nation state)? Finally, how does this affect you as a female/male?
This is not “for marks”. This is too important for arbitrary numbers that either praise or demean. This is about life and our connection as humans. Please write with purpose, precision and passion.

15 thoughts on “No Means No?

  1. Quite simply, in accordance with Canadian law, there is nothing wrong with what has been done here. Although it is highly controversial the judge is allowed to sentence the guilty party as he chooses. Not everything is black and white, sometimes you have to look for the middle ground, which is hard when there is no middle. As for my views as a citizen of the world, I cannot justify any argument. In China and Japan where the sexual abuse laws are much more strict the accused would likely get life in jail. Then again, in a country like Saudi Arabia the woman would be stoned for wearing the outfit she did. Because the world itself has differing views on the issue it isn't fair to pick a side.As for how this affects me as a male, I would like to think it wasn't all his fault, but I can't know because I wasn't there and there isn't any video. I find it horrible that these things happen, and denying they do is outrageous, but it is possible that there was a misunderstanding.In conclusion, commenting on this situation is hard to do and regardless of what you say someone will be mad at you.Sam Cohn

  2. As a student of law I believe that the judge made a huge mistake. Rape is a serious criminal offense and it should not be taken lightly. Anyone who commits this offense should be subject to the same punishment even if the victim "was asking for it". Canadian law is based on precedent and that was not evident here. The judge should have recused himself if he felt his personal opinion taking over his objective thought process as a judge.As a citizen I think this is appalling to human rights. A girl was raped and a man is getting off for it because of a judge's opinion. I think that more people who rape people might now use the defense of there "being sex in the air" and that the victim "was asking for it". Like the victim of this horrible crime stated, no women asks to be raped.As a women I find this as a huge injustice and a set back for women's rights. A women suffered and was a victim to a man who got off because the judge felt that she was giving off a sex vibe because of the way she dressed. As a 16 year old girl I dress the way I feel is fashionable and things like crop tops (which are very in style right now) apparently might give off the wrong vibe to a creepy man. What this judge did was unacceptable and the case should be retried with a new (and hopefully female) judge.Liz

  3. This just makes me think: "What the heck was the judge thinking?" Ok, this is quite a massive mistake made by this judge. He should've seriously thought about it before acting. Rape is rape and people who commit this crime should all equally get serious consequences. Rape is not something that you could get off the hook with easily. I can't believe that a federally-chosen judge can't make the right decision.So, the thing is with this case is that the women were accused of wearing "provocative" clothing. Now, this absolutely doesn't give someone permission to rape them. It doesn't give the person a "open door". You need to get EXPLICIT permission to have sex with them. This is completely an outrage and as a citizen, this angers me because some people think that giving a rapist a lenient sentence is alright. But it isn't! It's just wrong! Also, it annoys me that in this society, women aren't given the respect they deserve. They're still humans, they aren't toys or anything…As a male, this might not affect me but it still angers me about the fact that people are getting away with raping women. I respect women just like I respect my parents or my friends and I bet many others do too. Respecting women is no different and I certainly think that everyone respects their moms. Either way, women should be respected! But still, just because someone dresses provocatively, it doesn't mean you could rape them. Anyways, I don't really want a rapist walking around my neighbourhood freely and I bet nor does anyone else. That would make me feel rather uneasy.It's quite clear, this judge's choice was completely unacceptable and should be reviewed. I hope, the defence appeals for this case and the rapist gets a good "teaching".Ryan W.

  4. As a student of law, this case serves as an excellent example of just how controversial philosophies of law can be. I agree with Justice Dewar who said "not all guilty people are morally culpable to the same level. This difference is not to be reflected in conviction. It can be reflected in sentencing." I also agree that if a woman was sending mixed messages, then a man is not quite as culpable of the crime. However, rape is an extremely serious offence and that should also be reckoned with when sentencing. As a female, I strongly disagree with Justice Dewar about Rhodes' sentencing, because we don't want the message sent out to the public that it's okay to rape someone under the right circumstances. I believe that he should endure a short term in jail, maybe not the three years that the Crown suggested, but jail time nonetheless. As a citizen of Canada and the world, my views are the same, because we want to reduce violent crimes as much as possible. In conclusion, I believe that though there may have been mixed messages, Rhodes should endure a short term in jail because rape is a major offence. Stephanie Fennell

  5. I would like to begin by saying that when I read this article I was furious at the injustice of it. As a student of law, I disagree with Judge Dewar's decision. The accused clearly violated one of the victim's fundamental charter rights – the right to safety and security. She said no, and he continued to have intercourse with her. She was violated, and a crime was clearly committed. Rape is one of the most traumatizing things a person can experience, and this judge refuses to acknowledge this. There is also precedent for this case. In the 1994 Ewanchuk case, also a rape case, the judge ruled that there is no such thing as implied consent, only verbal consent. Sure, this woman may have implied to the accused that she was interested in him by flirting, but she never verbally stated “I want to have sex with you tonight”. No person can ever assume another person consents to something; they must hear it in words. I think it is also important to acknowledge that we all have the right to give our consent to specific sexual activities. For example, just because a woman kisses a man, or consents to touching or oral sex, does not mean they consent to anything else. Men cannot assume that because a woman is flirting with them, kissing them, or touching them that they have agreed to have sex with them. So, just because the victim in this case seemed interested in the accused, does not mean she consented to intercourse. Without her consent, this is a serious crime.I would also just like to note that although I am using the example of a man abusing a woman, I am not trying to support this stereotype. Everyone has the responsibility to respect their partner in the same manner, and ensure they have consent before initiating sex of any kind.As a human being, and a citizen of our world, I still disagree with the Judge’s decision. Every person has the right to give or revoke their consent wherever they see fit. The accused seriously harmed this woman, and I don’t think I could call myself a human being if I didn’t recognize that. He had no right to do what he did to her. As a woman, I find the Judge’s decision, and particularly his statements, appalling. To say that a woman who dresses provocatively is “asking” to be raped is extremely sexist and degrading. It is not this woman’s fault she was raped. She is a victim. It doesn’t matter what you wear or how you act, every person still has the right to safety and security, and the right to say no to any sexual activity they do no want to participate in. Let’s apply Judge Dewar’s opinion to a different situation. According to him, if a man was wearing a t-shirt with a statement or picture on it that someone else found offensive, and they attacked him for it; it would be acceptable because the first man was “asking for it”. That clearly is not right. Judge Dewar is sexist, and needs to realize that this is the 21st century. Women are not objects, and cannot and should not be treated as such.

  6. As a student of law I think that the judge may have been too easy on the convicted person. The convicted person did not ask for a jury therefore he must think that the people would vote against him. Since he thinks the people will vote against he I think that he is guilty of something. I think that the convicted person’s reasons were unreasonable and he should get off with more than just a warning. I think that the judge may have been too easy on him but in the end it was his decision. As a citizen I think a rapist should not be walking the streets. I think that this man’s reasons for raping the woman were not very good and he should be sentenced to jail. What if this were to happen again? I think that he committed the crime and he should do the time. Whether the woman was provocative or not. As a citizen I also think what if this man had raped someone before, would they have sentenced him to jail if he had done something before. I do not think you should cut a criminal any slack just because it is there first time doing something bad. As a female I find this strange. I know I would not want to live on the same street as someone who is a rapist and I am pretty no one else would either. By letting this man back onto the streets it is just giving him another chance to do something like this. I also think it doesn’t matter what the woman was wearing. If she said no, then no means no. There are lots of people in the world who act and dress provocatively. Just because they are acting, saying and dressing a certain way does not mean they want to be raped. I think that It doesn’t matter the circumstances, if she said no she means no. Jane

  7. As a law student I see no in justice. Law is very complicated in its nature. I believe that we as students do not have the whole picture. I agree that rape is a horrible crime but there must be some reason a Queen's Bench Judge thinks that two years suspended sentence is an appropriate choice. The judge is fully in his power to give this sentence, and we as law students should be skeptical, but not ignorant. We do not have an understanding of the law as a judge has. We should trust his decision, as he is under pressure from the government and Canadian citizens to make a just decision. He was in fact charged, but from what I have read about the case does not seem as clear as the headline. As my stance as a citizen I would morally comment that there is no implied consent. The girl said no, but that is also not black and white. The way people say no can give consent. For example people say things that they don't really mean. A girl can say to a guy that they hate them. This can be said as a joke and not be taken seriously. I believe that more is needed for this situation to be a moral burden on my conscience. People can cry wolf all the time. The community has answered in this case and given judgement. She obviously had grounds, but it seemed more that the suspect was stupid, not a full blown rapist. I as a citizen have a moral obligation to any other person. I as a citizen do not see enough evidence for my moral position to be threatened. Finally my opinion on gender is clear. Both men and women are human beings. There is no difference between a man and a woman, they are the same. I feel that she is using her power as a distressed woman a little too severely. Men can be just as vulnerable as women, it is the circumstances that they are in that make them vulnerable. I believe from the evidence as a person not a man or a woman that she was not in too vulnerable of a situation and that his sentenced is appropriate.Jack Wiebe

  8. As a student of law I feel that it is not right but it is not Judge Dewar's fault. There's a reason that he was appointed to be a judge. Clearly, to be put in a position that he currently possesses, several people must be certain you know what you're doing. Also, everybody must have a fair trial. Therefore, the perpetrator must be given the same chance as a victim. Moreover, the criminal was given a second chance to become a better person and in my opinion, everyone should be able to have that opportunity. Although personally I feel it is unfair for the lady to watch her attacker go without a serious penalty, but what was done here was nothing out of the norm. There are “unfair” sentencing all the time with the law. To this date, there are even false sentencing. Furthermore, it is not as if the rapist walked out without any punishment. He still has a criminal record so he definitely will not get a decent job because nobody likes to hire criminals and society will look down upon him. Also, there will be a high chance of an appeal and if it just so happens that he gets jail time, he will most definitely get beat up very badly in jail by even bigger thugs. As a citizen, I think the judge has made the wrong decision. Again, I don't think it is the judge's fault because he probably just has a 1970's mindset as described in the comic within the assignment. However, I thought it was too lenient of a sentence. If I was a part of the neighborhood he lived in, I would be out with the several people who protested against the judge because I definitely wouldn't want a convicted rapist roaming around the streets. What is stopping him from committing another crime? After all, 90% of all crimes are committed by previous felons. As a male, I don't think it is sexist. This is just another criminal case. I do think the sentencing was too lenient for the man. However, I would like to bring up most of the times it's the woman who gets the smaller sentencing not the men. That is sexist and there are the stats to prove it. I don't think gender should be an issue in this topic but I will say that rape is a major offense and not a small one. I think there must be some jail time for this man because I don't think the judge had enough education on the topic. Furthermore, I think it was an uninformed and ignorant judgment. I don't believe the criminal had any mental illness. Therefore, he clearly knew what he was doing was against the law. Actus reus and Mens reus were both there so a severe penalty should be in place. mx

  9. As a student of the law it angers me that someone could give such a light sentence to someone who committed the act of sexual assault. No matter the age race or gender of the victim, it should be punished much more severely then the punishment that was given out that day. I think it gives out a terrible message; that simply because a woman may be dressed in a provocative manner and may have not given out clear signals that it is okay for someone to rape her.As a citizen I think it is not fair that Kenneth Rhodes should be allowed to be free in the community. That woman has probably had a lot of fear and grief to deal with before and now she is most likely angry and confused by the "lenient" sentence that was given to her attacker. The sentence that was given to him is far too small to fit the crime committed.As a female, I think that the judge is decades behind in the way he sentenced the man. He noted how she was wearing "tube top, high heels and plenty of makeup". This may have been considered provocative attire several decades ago, but go to any bar at any time in this decade and you'll find that most women are dressed like that. That makes me wonder, why it is even relevant what she was wearing? We have freedom to wear what we want and simply because she was dressed like that does not imply that she in any way shape or form did she want to have sex with this guy. Her attire and flirtatious behavior may have been meant to lead him on, but she may have changed her mind which she is allowed to do. At the end of the day no means no, no matter what.-Sarah

  10. Posting for Hannah:Judge Dewar’s ruling affects me as a law student by showing me how much opinion makes a difference in court trials and decisions dealing with criminal acts. Sentencing is based on precedent and statute law from the Criminal Code. Cases similar to the one Dewar made his ruling on have been dealt with, generally in the same way; the perpetrator is given at least three years in jail. This case deals with a woman being sexually assaulted. Just like what we talked about in class, there is no such thing as implied consent; no means no, rape is rape. Judge Dewar decided to give the perpetrator a conditional sentence that let him stay in the community. Because Dewar gave this man such an unprecedented sentence means that his own personal ideas about the issue must have come into play. The fact that Judge Dewar took into account irrelevant details of the night while making his decision, speaks to his personal opinions and prejudices. What the victim was wearing that night is irrelevant. Once you’re past the conviction, what’s relevant to the sentencing is his (the accused) behaviour not her (the victim’s) behaviour. As a citizen, Dewar’s judgment affects my trust in the legal system and the unbiased professionalism in a judge’s ruling. Judge’s are in a position of power. There are rules that they must follow and when they step into court they must be able to leave their prejudices and personal opinion at the door and judge only what they have the right to judge. Dewar stood up in court, after the victim of this assault had the courage to stand up for herself, and told this woman that somehow she deserved this treatment, that she had somehow been the cause of what happened that night. He victimized her all over again through his judgment. People with that sort of power cannot use prejudice or personal opinion when dealing with another person’s life, only hard facts. As a citizen, I would wonder where blaming the victim stops. If someone’s car is stolen should the victim be told that it is their fault because they had a nice car? This decision undermines my trust in the legal system and it is extremely disappointing that ideas like the ones that Dewar has, still exist, especially in the minds of those in power. As a woman, this decision makes me feel incredibly afraid. Such chauvinistic thoughts towards women are terribly destructive. It scares me that someone with such power thinks this way about situations when a woman’s rights are violated so blatantly. Somehow he is able to think that because we arouse a man, that makes us responsible for how he may hurt us. Imagine how the victim of this crime feels after being brave enough to bring this to court and then being told that it is all her fault. This decision was based on ideas that are so archaic and extremely violent towards women and it is these sorts of ideas that give men an excuse to hurt a woman. The only silver lining in this case is that Canada is so furious about what Dewar decided to do. If all of Canada thought the way that Dewar thinks, his ruling wouldn’t be such a huge deal.

  11. As a student of law, I feel that the judge made the wrong decision. Raping someone is a major crime, and there is no excuse, especially the excuse that this man made. Just because the woman was “dressed provocatively” doesn’t mean that she wanted sex. The woman never agreed to sex, therefore the man has no right to have sex with her. This is considered rape. There is no such thing as implied consent and what Kenneth Rhodes did is completely wrong.As I citizen, I would feel that this is wrong because then it would give people the idea that rape is okay, as long as they have an excuse for it. Nobody wants to be raped, and the act done by this man is just creepy. Just because a woman is dressed provocatively doesn’t mean she is looking for sex. As a male, although it doesn’t directly affect me, I still think that raping woman is obviously wrong. Kenneth Rhodes got let off way to easy in my opinion. He should have gotten a much more severe sentencing. Women have the same rights that men do. We are allowed to wear whatever we want, and if this woman decided to dress “provocatively”, that is her choice, but the problem is that the woman never verbally agreed to it. Which in this case makes it a rape crime, and the Kenneth Rhodes should be punished more severely.-Bilal Shaikh 🙂

  12. Student of Law:I honestly don't know a lot about law, that is why i'm learning :P. But from what i know, i know that rape is against human rights, i mean rape is a bad thing, so it is probably against human's rights. And the judge is just acting stupid and trying to not be charged by saying that she was dressing provocatively, even though someone does, doesn't mean that you are allowed to just have sex with her! That is just wrong. There shouldn't be any excuse for rape. If you rape someone, that's bad, no excuse, go to jail.Citizen:As a citizen I find this shocking yet not shocking at the same time. Shocking because.. well what can i say it's a rape. But its not very shocking in a way because it happens all the time even if we like it or not. Everywhere there will always be someone who is raped and it's going to get reported and be on the news. It's just a different scenario every time. I'm not really shocked really but im more mad, because even though the government takes rape 'seriously', it seems like no one gets the point, they don't learn their lesson. When I mean this i mean that there will be reports on rape on the news, and they will say that so and so goes to jail for so and so years, and will be have to pay so and so amounts of money. Well it doesn't seem like a big threat, does it? That is why there are people who are raping people and doing stupid things like this. Rape is like having your foot loosing circulation or "sleeping" (which is happening to my foot right now :P), you don't want it to happen, but it will happen anyways.. unless if you fix the way you set your foot. I don't know how we can fix this but i just know that what we are doing now doesn't seem like the way we should be doing.Myself as a Female:As a female, I find it really offensive. It's not just what the judge did, but what he said about the girl wanting him to have sex with her. It's offensive to me because people will now think "Oh that girl is wearing high heals and makeup, she wants to have sex and claim that she didn't" people are going to be thinking about this a lot, people are going to be thinking about all the girls wanting to have sex all the time. And since young girls wear high heels and makeup, THEY want to have sex. That's what bugs me, because i'm pretty sure the majority of girls are responsible for their actions, and won't do stupid things like this.-Odile Ohuynh

  13. As a student of law, I don't think the judge is at any fault here. He had to make a decision, and looking for a middle ground was most fair. Even though this is a highly sensitive subject, I think the judge should not be punished for making this decision. I also think that saying there is no such thing as implied consent at all is wrong, we live in a world where implied consent is used everyday.However, for this certain case I believe the judge should not have used "implied consent" for the offender's defense. He is a judge, and he makes a decision based on his knowledge and what evidence has been brought forward. Being that he is a judge, I think his decision should be respected.However, as a citizen of the world, I still think his decision was wrong. Either way, the victim suffered an extremely traumatizing event, and for the judge to say that she "implied" she wanted it is completely wrong. You can never say anyone wanted to be sexually assaulted. Even if the girl may have accepted some advances made by the male, we can't imply that she wanted to take it as far as Rhodes did. Letting the offender get a less serious punishment for this gives a message that rape is allowed if you "thought" he or she wanted it at the time. Which is completely wrong.As a male, this subject angers me a bit. Because it may seem you can say that it's unfair that the man be punished because the victim was "taunting" him with sexual advances. Which happens quite a bit, but, all in all, she did not want to have sex, and the offender pushed it too far. I believe that either way, the offender is at a huge fault here, and it should be considered serious rape. And in this case, the male should be punished for it.-Qasim Warraich

  14. As a student of law, I feel that Justice Dewar’s sentence is an injustice. The law is meant to be blind, free of bias or prejudice. Justice Dewar’s actions insinuate that it is possible for prejudice to influence the law, and that is wrong. Whether or not the victim was wearing a “tube top with no bra, high heels and plenty of makeup” and giving out signs that “sex was in the air”, it does not mean that she had given consent to be raped. The victim verbally told her attacker that she did not want to have sex, indicating that the man did force himself on her without her consent. Justice Dewar did not follow precedent; the attacker should be charged as any other rapist would. As a citizen, this case forces me to lose confidence and trust in our legal system. It’s not fair to society for one man’s prejudice and opinions to affect the safety of our mothers, wifes, and daughters. Justice Dewar is sending out a message to the public that a woman can consent to sex by what she wears and how she behaves; verbal refusal no longer means anything. As a woman I’m offended and appalled. Does the way I dress have some sexual connotation that subjects me to harm? I feel as a woman, I should be allowed to wear whatever I feel like wearing without worrying about whether or not I may be consenting myself to rape. The judge’s decision is in no way plausible and is demeaning to the liberty of women in Canada.

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