International Activist Layel Camargo Speaks at Concordia

On Transformative Justice and Reform to Sexual Assault

Layel Camargo spoke at Concordia University on Thursday evening about transformative justice to sexual assault. Photo Ocean DeRouchie

The audience breathes deeply. They hold then let go.

“Acknowledge the courage it takes to sit in this room,” Layel Camargo said, as they led the crowd through the breathing exercise. This moment of togetherness created an open, safe environment for a conversation on a prevalent issue.

The Centre for Gender Advocacy invited Camargo, an international activist and educator, to the Hall Building of Concordia University last Thursday to speak about building transformative justice approaches towards sexual assault.

They come from San Diego, Calif. and have degrees in Feminist and Legal Studies.

“We need to change behavioural patterns,” Camargo said about remedying the societal issue of sexual assault and violence.

Camargo is part of the Bay Area Collective. This organization seeks to address sexual violence head-on by providing alternative responses and resources to support both survivors and perpetrators of sexual assault.

Transformative justice approaches differ in many ways from one case to another, due to the individual’s circumstance in life. By definition, transformative justice is an alternate approach to resolving conflict. It takes restorative practices beyond the criminal justice system.

The effect of the current system, Camargo explains, is that the state perpetuates systemic issues of sexual assault and violence rather than prevents it. There is a lack of benefit from imprisonment, they say.

Camargo says that transformative justice “looks different for everyone.” But the answer, she adds, lies in the fact that everyone heals differently.

The keynote event was part of the week-long series, Another Word for Gender, hosted by the Centre for Gender Advocacy.

You can read more about Camargo’s work with The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective here.