‘I am not a drunk’: Female passenger in cabbie sex assault case responds
The woman at the centre of the sexual assault case that ended with the acquittal of a Halifax cab driver says she was filled with rage when she heard the judge’s comment that “a drunk can consent.”
“I don't believe anyone who is inebriated can consent,” says the woman, whose identity has been concealed by law.
The woman says she has always been up front about not remembering the details of the night in the taxi in May 2015.
But she’s clear about how she feels right now.
“When I was reading about it in the news it was like I was reading about a different person, but I knew it was me,” she says.
When he acquitted taxi driver Bassam Al-Rawi of sexual assault, Judge Gregory Lenehan said, "A person would be incapable of giving consent if she is unconscious or is so intoxicated by alcohol or drug as to be incapable of understanding or perceiving the situation that presents itself. This does not mean however that an intoxicated person cannot give consent to sexual activity. Clearly a drunk can consent. "
The woman feels the judge’s decision was demeaning.
“The wording of ‘a drunk.’ I am not a drunk,” she says.
Police initially pursued charges after an officer found her unconscious and mostly naked in the back of the cab.
“I had a lot of faith in the court process before I became involved in it,” she says. “Going through the court process as a victim, you are the one who is being ripped apart.”
The woman says the support she’s seeing online has made it worthwhile.
“I felt as though going through the horrible court process was basically a waste of time because nothing came of it, but seeing the outpouring of support and the outrage that has been coming not just from our province but from people all over, that has been the glimmer of hope,” she says.
She knows her case is not the first to spark outrage, but she hopes it will be the one to create change.
“I believe the law needs to be better defined,” she says. “Improving the court processes for victims of sexual assault so that they feel comfortable coming forward.”
If the appeal goes ahead, the woman says she knows that may mean she'll have to go through the process all over again.
She says that will be difficult, but now that she's seen how many people are affected by the case, she feels it is her civic duty to do whatever she can.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.