9780679311539 / 067931153X

The Story of Jane Doe: A Book About Rape


Publisher:Random House of Canada Ltd



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About the book:

Reading The Story of Jane Doe--a raped woman's account of the crime committed against her and her subsequent, Herculean legal battle against the investigating police--it's hard to believe we live in the 21st century. The statistics presented amid Jane's harrowing personal experience are startling: one in four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Her personal effects (sex toys, for instance) and past history can be used to discredit her. Certain rapes can be classified as non-violent. And yet women in Canada can't actually file rape charges. Charges have to be sourced by the police and filed by a Crown attorney, giving the police enormous power. Handled poorly, as in the case of "Jane Doe" and other women brutalized in the summer of 1986 by Toronto's so-called "Balcony Rapist," that power leads to institutionalized sexism and extreme trauma for the victim. But thanks to Jane Doe and her landmark case against the Toronto police force--who neglected to warn women of a serial rapist in their midst despite knowing his MO, thus using them as bait--we also see that sometimes wrongs are righted, or at least brought to light. Written from an unequivocally feminist standpoint, The Story of Jane Doe is equal parts life story, battle cry for change, crime drama, detailed account of a civil trial unlike any other, and sad exposť of the myths that stubbornly surround rape victims. As Jane tells it, the social and emotional rape begins when the physical one ends. The injustices routinely dealt to rape victims are infuriating to read, but Jane--articulate, darkly funny, and deeply conversant in her subject--compels us. "In Ontario, only four per cent of all reported rapes that reach trial result in guilty convictions. Does that stat sound too low for your comfort level? Okay, let's increase it just for the sake of argument. Make it 20 percent, 30 per cent. Hell, make it 50 per cent. If only half of all charges reported result in convictions, something is very wrong. At four per cent, we have disaster, farce, permission to rape." While the social audit of police conduct which followed Jane's civil trial win must be seen as a step toward ending violence against women, her book makes clear there's still an awfully long way to go. As the author points out, if those same stats applied to other segments of society--say, one in four Canadian men being maimed in their lifetimes--it's doubtful our legal system would be so maddeningly lax, or that the police could continue to operate with such unaccountability and insensitivity. Jane's passionate and persuasive arguments augur well for a serious rethink of an abomination too often dismissed as normal male lust run amok. --Kim Hughes

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