By Harsha Walia
I’m still waiting on the feminist response to Gomeshi and rape culture and ‘why women don’t report’ that goes beyond the generic feminist (read: white middle class) answer of fear/disbelief/stigma. That is, of course, true, but a holistic and grounded response about why women don’t report includes a very real threat of not just state under protection, but overt state violence – whether incarceration, deportation, child apprehension, homelessness – that Indigenous, migrant, racialized, poor, trans*, sex working women encounter if we/they report sexual violence.
Furthermore, the state is actively complicit in creating the conditions that makes certain women more vulnerable to systemic sexual violence – like forcing migrant women to live with employers, continuing to dispossess Indigenous women from their landbase, criminalizing sex work, etc.
If the horrific misogynist violence of Jian is exposing the epidemic of rape culture, then we have a responsibility to push the conversation to center the reality of those most vulnerable to sexual violence to avoid perpetuating the exclusions of all those feminist ‘waves’ before us.