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Opinion: A club nobody wants to be a part of

The Henry Hype

The Canadian justice system needs to be tougher on those charged with sexual assault.

There, I said it.

It’s what was running through my mind when I was reading articles about Matthew McKnight, a former Edmonton nightclub promoter who was convicted of sexually assaulting five women.

McKnight was sentenced to eight years in July, which he’s in the process of appealing. In the crown prosecutor’s appeal notice, they filed based on the “sentence is not proportionate to the moral gravity of the offences or the moral blameworthiness of the offender.” They also described the sentence as ‘demonstrably unfit.’

Honestly, I don’t think eight years is close to enough. I don’t believe there’s a sentence that could properly avenge the women McKnight was accused of sexually assaulting between 2010 and 2016, and it’s shameful that someone thought it was.

The moment McKnight chose to do what he did, innocent women that didn’t deserve it were inducted into a club no one ever wants to be a part of.

It’s the survivors club.

It could be said about anyone who’s been the victim of a crime, but I feel sexual assault survivors are a different part of it.

If your car is stolen or your house is broken into, you don’t feel ashamed to talk about it in public or to hide your anger that someone would have the audacity to do such a thing.

For most crimes, you know instantly when you’ve been the target. But, sexual assault is a crime that people may not realize they've been a victim of until years after the event happened.

The meetings for the sexual assault survivors club are held in whispers in dark corners of rooms, the members terrified that someone might overhear and judge them, ask what they were wearing, what they did to deserve it, or worse, claim they're making it up completely. They’re scared of what will happen to them if that secret sees the light of day.

They’re faced with the question of what’s worse: never reporting the assault or reporting it and nothing happening.

That’s what happens to those in the club who step forward and share their stories. They’re immediately looked down on and are re-victimized all over again. But, that doesn’t stop them. They trudge on, screaming for justice and education to prevent more from joining.

When it comes to perpetrators of property crime or the like, I don’t hear as many people jump to their defence. So why is it okay in a sexual assault?

Cases like McKnight’s are a reminder to me that sexual assault victims deserve so much more from our criminal justice system.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

Robynne Henry

About the Author: Robynne Henry

Reporter for the Bonnyville Nouvelle
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