Experts call for more accountability against sexual violence in hockey after Mailloux draft

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TORONTO -- Experts are calling on the Montreal Canadiens to take leadership in confronting sexual violence and misogyny after drafting Logan Mailloux.

The 18-year-old defenceman was convicted last year for distributing sexually explicit photos of a woman without consent, which resulted him being charged and fined by a Swedish court.

Sports journalist Shireen Ahmed, whose work focuses on inclusivity in sports, slammed the Habs' decision to draft Mailloux.

"It tells fans and it tells the hockey community that they don't care about women, don't care about survivors and implications it may have on the wider hockey community," she told CTV National News.

The Habs said in an online statement that the organization is committed to providing Mailloux "with the tools to mature and the necessary support to guide him in his development."

"We are also committed to raising awareness among our players about the repercussions of their actions on the lives of others," the team said.

But Ahmed questions whether the Canadiens are properly equipped to offer Mailloux the necessary support.

"I do believe firmly that he should be given the guidance and support to move forward because he’s 18-years-old. But are the Montreal Canadiens really the proper organization to do this?" Ahmed said.

"I have questions as a sports journalist and a woman in the hockey community. What is your plan for this young player? Where is your accountability in selecting and drafting this player? Where is the education on sexualized violence?"

Mailloux, in a video statement released by the Canadiens on Saturday, apologized for his actions, calling it, "a totally irresponsible and stupid act."

Consent educator Farrah Khan, manager of Ryerson University’s Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education, says that it's important that Mailloux is being open about his actions and expressing remorse for them.

"We want people who've committed harm to name it and be open about in the public sphere," Khan told CTV National News.

"In some ways, it's good that he is saying it from the jump, what he did. He's saying it and he's being remorseful and he's being accountable."

Mailloux also initially said in a statement posted to social media on Tuesday that he felt he didn't have the maturity to be drafted to the NHL this year.

"When he initially said a couple of days ago that he actually wasn't feeling that he was mature enough to be drafted right now… I thought that was really amazing in some ways because here's a young man who is recognizing what he did was wrong, and that there's impacts of it, and there's consequences to it," said Khan.

But despite Mailloux's own statements, the Habs chose to draft him anyway, a decision that Khan calls "disappointing."

"What was disappointing, was that his own opinions, own thoughts, weren't being respected by the team," said Khan. "If he's saying this, then why is this team saying, 'Oh, we want to draft you in the first draft.' That's something that I find really confusing."

Khan also took issue with the team's statement, which didn't explicitly discuss sexual violence or consent.​

"When I read that statement, I didn't see enough of the words talking about consent, talking about sexual violence, acknowledging the fact that this is at on the spectrum of sexual assault that occurred," Khan said.

"I think that hockey as a sport has a long way to go, and sports in general have a long way to go to address patriarchy, misogyny, racism that occurs within it."​ 

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