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London, Ont.'s police chief clarifies comments at sexual assault news conference after backlash


During a news conference on Monday, the London Police Service addressed a long-standing sexual assault case against five former players of the 2018 world junior hockey team.

At the conference, Police Chief Thai Truong said, "How we portray young women and girls on TV, in music videos, how we write about them, all that contributes to sexual violence and the normalization of what we're seeing."

Members of the London community have taken to social media to express their dismay, and said the onus in a sexual assault case should not be on the perception of women, but on a perpetrator's act of violence.

Jennifer Dunn at the London Abused Women's Centre is worried the comment might send the wrong message to a victim or discourage them from coming forward.

"For him to address violence against women is really great," said Dunn. "But we need to remember that what a woman wears does not mean that she's asking for it. So we need to be clear — he needs to be clear — that's not the message he intended to release."

CTV News London sat down with Truong on Wednesday and asked him to elaborate.

The new chief has a background in commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls with a focus on human trafficking.

"Society right now is highly sexualized and because of that, it perpetuates what men and young boys think. So they think it's OK to be dominant…masculine behaviour. This is what perpetuates how they treat young girls and young women," Truong explained. "And it's not right."

It's just one contributing factor in a widespread problem, he added.

King's University College sociologist Jordan Fairbairn agreed.

"When we have men and boys growing up in environments where they are saturated with messages around women and girls not being fully human or being fully equal or having full autonomy over their bodies, you have this chipping away, sort of disillusion of a human person that can be seen as more of an object," said Fairbairn.

Truong said he is not victim blaming, and is worried there's a lack of sensitivity from the public toward victims in sexual assault cases.

"We look at the actions of the young girl or female and we start questioning how they were dressed, what their conduct was, when we should be looking at how was the conduct of that perpetrator — that individual," he said.

As for popular culture's influence on how people view women, Truong said including men in the conversation is paramount.

"We need to make efforts to educate and have real conversations with boys and men right at the early start — that's one way we need to address it," said Truong. Top Stories

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