The #GhomeshiEffect: Report – and Request – from the Trenches

As the line of women coming forward disclosing abuse at the hands of Jian Ghomeshi gets longer and less anonymous, I have three thoughts to share with you today. The women’s stories are troubling in the extreme but I will make the same assertion I made yesterday—that the media’s, social and otherwise, sensational focus is unhelpful to women (especially abused women) and is perpetrating a few problematic ideas.

One. If we were Americans, we would be learning the words of the Charter of Rights of Freedoms off-by-heart in Kindergarten, so important are they to social justice and the future of our democracy. But sadly many are blissfully unaware of it’s existence or it’s contents. Section 15 of the Charter is as follows:

“Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability”.

Using Section 15, women’s groups, including the especially relentless Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, helped create the rape shield law, have law that protected women’s reproductive choice without harassment from a spouse, right to maternity leave, the right to receive fair pension plus a whole lot more.

The Charter has been the single biggest tool in the fight for women’s equality in Canada and has given rise to laws that acknowledge women’s socio-econmic inequity as part of their foundation. The thing is— the Charter applies to everyone. Although many people who think women are getting a bit too uppity these days would cheer any precedent-setting by-pass of Charter guarantees (including those beyond Section 15), not promoting Charter rights in the interest of punishing one man is against women’s interests. (Big time.)


Two. I am concerned about some keys aspects of the publicity this case has generated—particularly in the area of reporting assault and victims not being believed when they report. I would encourage women (and men) who have experienced abusive behavior from a spouse or lover to talk to someone (offline) about it. Abuse occurs in same sex as well as heterosexual, couples and is just as serious.  There are people who will believe you and they are a phonecall away—a doctor, a women’s shelter or assault centre or an anonymous helpline. They can help you figure out want you need and want to do.  No one deserves to be hit.

Also, know that you do not have to press charges to file a police report. Filing a police report means that if any other victim files a similar report, the authorities are aware there may be a problem, it does not mean you have to press charges.


Three. The screams of shock and revulsion towards Jian Ghomeshi are getting louder as the experiences of women are shared more frequently and less anonymously. There’s no tempering that tide now with an anemic nod toward the notion of due process. But let’s try to focus on the needs of women, instead of or, at least, in addition to, denouncing the alleged abuser (who is also protected by that Charter thing).

It’s not as though we’ve just discovered the abuse of women. It has been going on for a while now and there are many services out there trying to help women every day.

Yet, they toil in obscurity, day after day with diminished resources, like the children underneath the cloak of the ghost of Christmas future—Ignorance and Want.

Government support has been flatlined for years and the fundraising environment is more competitive than ever, especially with hospitals and cancer charities sucking up all with oxygen with their billion-dollar “call for the cure” type campaigns. (Another blog on another day for a perspective on that.) It’s really pretty demoralizing when shelter workers go to work everyday in the knowledge that having hundreds of women on waiting lists is standard operating procedure and they are powerless to help. Women in shelters are truly the lucky ones.

So, let me help solve the disconnect between online outrage and meaningful support, and see if we can’t give this a go.

For every time you post a Facebook link to a Ghomeshi story, write about it on your blog or compose a Tweet, you can make a donation to a women’s shelter or sexual assault centre in your town.

Let’s call it the #GhomeshiEffect.

Here’s how:

1. Pick a 24-hour period or longer–you choose.

2. Select the recipient of your gift from a list of shelters and assault centres found the website of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres. Click here for that list. Most of the organizations on the list above will have a website.

2. Keep Tweeting! But when you use the hashtags #jianghomeshi, #jiangate or simply #jian, give five bucks to a women’s shelter. The more the merrier. Tweet away! Say anything you like! It’s all for a good cause! But don’t forget to make a note of your usage.

3. There are meaningful ways for everyone to give. If a clever play on words is your thing and you enjoy making up puns and stuff, and find the hashtag #safewords or #safeword works for you, you can make a donation of $10. (Wordplay is more expensive. Don’t ask me why. It’s just one of those things.) Go on, challenge yourself. The more #safeword or #safewords the better. Believe me, women do need your help.

4. If you are mainly a blogger but Tweet to let people know your blog is up, simply use the hashtag in your Tweet as the guide to your donation amount. Example #jiangate = $5; #safeword = $10

5. To make it easier for you (and for the women’s organization you’re donating to) you don’t have to send individual donations every time you post, just keep your own tally (honour system!) and send your cheque or credit card donation with the tabulated gift amount at the end of the day. That way they’ll only have to issue one charitable tax receipt. Re-tweets and Modified Tweets (MT) do count towards your tally. Favourites do not. But don’t put off posting. Women need your help now.

6.  Once you’ve Tweeted, posted or blogged, and have added up your usage,, go to the organization’s website you picked in Step 2 to make your donation. DONATE is likely the biggest word on the page. If you see it, click on it and follow the instructions. If you don’t see it look for it. It’s probably there somewhere. (These sites range in ability to process online gifts–see lack of resources noted above.)

Don’t forget to let everyone know that your donation is part of the #GhomeshiEffect! (Exclamation mark not part of hashtag.) Post that you’ve donated to a women’s centre in your town. Encourage others to do the same. Go on. Do it. Give yourself that pat on the back.   Be a champion #GhomeshiEffecter.

And when you do, please know you have helped women today.

Your Working Girl

PS. Beside making a donation to a women’s shelter today (#GhomeshiEffect), please have a read of the Charter of Rights of Freedoms. With what’s going on in Ottawa these days, I think we’re going to need it!



Author Photo 01 Sandy Tam PhotographyGail Picco is a strategist who has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years. She is the author of What the Enemy Thinks, a recent novel set in the nonprofit sector, and is Chair of the Board of the Regent Park Film Festival. She also writes about baseball and F1 racing.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  1. James Lee says:

    I like this most recent Blog support what you are saying 100%, The one is I do have and now I am not sure if I am showing the pro-typical Canadian response to Jian Ghomeshi circus is CBC’s over-the-top on-air rebuttal in defence to his lawsuit.

    I am not defending or denying anyone’s allegations, but I am concerned with the power that CBC possesses and if further diminishes our individual rights.

    I am reminded of a conversation I once had with the lawyer who was defending someone who was perceived to by guilty, even before the trial began. I asked her how could she defend as someone who is guilty? She told me that when she defends anyone, she is defending their rights, more than the individual circumstances.

    I am not one to cast stones as I have probably allocated more guilt then anyone even if it goes against Section 11 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, proceedings in criminal and penal matters, we are to be guaranteed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

    It seems to me that CBC is conducting an on air public hearing that same way that the McCarthy hearings of the 50s. Was this a political, economic decision or one to sensationalize of opportunity
    For the last nine-years, I have always thought that the CBC always provided a balance report on our Government. Have they to succumbed to the pressures that so many of the Canadian institutes have fought and lost?

  2. I devoted nearly 20 years of my life to working with members of the legal and journalistic professions. That included countless hours as an investigator and learning along the way the rules of libel. And, having read what Jian Ghomeshi has put forward as a “statement of claim” I’ll say without reservation it is a farce.

    It’s not by any stretch a serious claim of defamation contained therein. Read it yourself – the ONLY words alleged to be defamatory are these – aka “the “CBC statement”:

    “Information came to our attention recently, that in CBC’s judgement precludes us from continuing our relationship with Jian Ghomeshi.”

    On planet Earth, where we presume any court action would take place, that statement is not defamatory to any legal mind.

    One can come to two or three conclusions:

    1) the lawyer who filed this on behalf of the former radio host is not a libel lawyer

    2) if he is a libel lawyer, his reputation will be that of a laughing stock should this ever enter a court

    3) this statement is nothing but a smoke-screen meant to impress and intimidate

    These options are not mutually exclusive.

  3. Gail – I’ve stopped reading anything more on JG… your word was the last, the best, thank you. As you suggested, let’s do something useful! So donation made in your honour to Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter. Let’s call it the #GhomeshiEffect..Mary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: