A Victoria local politician has removed a tweet he made claiming there isn’t a culture of rape in the city and is apologizing for his remarks.
Coun. Stephen Andrew took to Twitter Sunday morning where he said sexual allegations must be investigated and didn’t believe there was a “rape culture” in Victoria, which drew immediate criticism from users.
“Allegations must be investigated and when confirmed, justice dispensed. I do not believe there is a ‘rape culture’ in Victoria,” Andrews wrote Sunday in a now-deleted post on Twitter.
Andrew’s comments come after a third Victoria real estate agent in recent days was accused of sexual assault. He later deleted the tweet, saying it was “clumsy” and dismissive.
“I deleted my initial comment. It was clumsy and l dismissive & that is not my intent. I wholeheartedly apologize. We must address rape culture. I promise to work to do that and do better,” he later wrote.
Speaking to CHEK News on Sunday afternoon, Andrew said at the time he made the tweet, he didn’t believe there was a culture of rape in the city but has since been awakened to a much bigger problem.
“I honestly felt that at that time,” he said. “I’ve had my eyes opened, I’m horrified by what I’ve heard, what I’ve seen, and I’m walking my comments, totally 100 per cent, I was wrong, I shouldn’t have said it and I apologize.”
Andrew’s says he is a rape survivor himself and the fact that survivors have gone to social media to try to get some form of closure or justice is a shame, shows the issue isn’t being dealt with appropriately.
“We need to take steps together to fix that,” he said.
Kailyn Ford, a 16-year-old sexual assault survivor and organizer of a recent rally raising awareness of the issue, says Andrew’s comments on Twitter were hurtful and disrespectful.
“As a victim it made me feel belittled, it made me feel that my story wasn’t valid,” said Ford. “I know a lot of other girls who had reached out to me about his tweet also feel belittled and felt like he was dismissing all of our stories and almost saying that our stories weren’t even true.”
Ford says rape culture exists not just in Victoria, but everywhere and doesn’t feel Andrew’s apology goes far enough.
“I think his apology is half-assed and it wasn’t sincere. It wasn’t good enough. It’s not like there is a little magic dust sprinkled around Victoria where rape culture doesn’t exist,” she said. “Rape culture exists all around the world and it’s a serious problem, and I think he needs to acknowledge that and he needs to make changes to his wording and how he approached all this because it’s so insincere.”
Andrew’s, meanwhile, says he plans to put forward a motion on Monday that would set up a task force to support sexual assault survivors.
I deleted my initial comment. It was clumsy and l dismissive & that is not my intent. I wholeheartedly apologize. We must address rape culture. I promise to work to do that and do better.
— Stephen Andrew (@Stephen_Andrew) March 28, 2021