Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Legal Threats Dropped after Student Union Leader Speaks out on 'Rape Culture'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Legal Threats Dropped after Student Union Leader Speaks out on 'Rape Culture'

Article excerpt

Legal threats dropped against student leader


TORONTO - A student union leader at the University of Ottawa is no longer facing legal threats after going public about an online conversation in which she was the target of sexually graphic banter.

But Anne-Marie Roy said she's had to grapple with backlash from some who suggest she may be magnifying what she has called a clear example of "rape culture."

"I'm not surprised this is the reaction they're having because rape culture has been so normalized that it's very subtle, it's hard to point out because it's something that we see on a regular basis," the 24-year-old said in an interview on Monday.

"I don't think I'm blowing this out of proportion."

Roy's story spread over the weekend, just a day before the University of Ottawa suspended its men's varsity hockey program over allegations several players were involved in a sexual assault in Thunder Bay, Ont.

In Roy's case, she received an anonymous email on Feb. 10 with screenshots of a private Facebook chat between five male students.

The conversation included references to sexual activities some of the five individuals wrote they would like to engage in with Roy, including oral and anal sex, as well as suggestions that she suffered from sexually transmitted diseases.

"Someone punish her with their shaft," wrote one of the individuals at one point. "I do believe that with my reputation I would destroy her," wrote another.

After initially feeling "torn up" by the incident, Roy decided she wanted to openly share the Facebook conversation to draw attention to what she saw as a perpetuation of "rape culture."

She was warned by four of the five participants that doing so would be a violation of their privacy rights and would lead to legal action, but she spoke out nonetheless.

After her story spread, Roy says she got a phone call Sunday night from one of the group's members saying the men were backing down from their legal threats.

"I'm happy to see that the men understand that taking legal action and threatening to sue me is actually not them taking responsibility," she said, adding that the legal threat was the toughest part of her entire experience. …

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