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Making Waves

Guilty By Allegation


By David McLaren

Now that we know the degree to which women have to put up with the crap dished out by trolls and boors, it's not surprising that the pendulum is swinging the way it is ... that men are now guilty by allegation. While it's a good thing women finally feel safe enough to speak up, it is not a good thing that allegations alone are enough to end anyone's career.

This will serve no one in the long run. Businesses, political parties – any group that has a work-place must find a process with which to deal with allegations of sexual harassment.

What about restorative justice? That's a process taken from Indigenous culture. The idea is to create a safe environment for the woman in which she, her harasser, and the organization can work out what happened and how to deal with its impact. It's a process already used in some jurisdictions to deal with non-violent crimes in lieu of the clumsy and expensive court system.

Together with supporters and neutral parties, the group arrives at an agreement of what really happened and, just as important, the harm it has caused. Together they figure out what should be done to restore the balance the offence has destroyed.

That might mean the man will have some work to do to understand his actions. It might mean his dismissal.

But it's the process that's important. Restorative justice is a collective way at arriving at the truth of what happened and offering a path to reconciliation.

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