#Cuén­ta­lo: la eti­que­ta que des­ta­pa “los tra­pos su­cios del pa­triar­ca­do”

Bill C-75 re­forms too little, too la­te to res­pond to do­mes­tic vio­len­ce…

La Jornada (Canada) - - PORTADA -

Awo­man is ki­lled by her cu­rrent or for­mer part­ner every six days in Ca­na­da. In­di­ge­nous wo­men are ki­lled by their in­ti­ma­te part­ners at a ra­te eight ti­mes hig­her. In Peel (part of the Grea­ter To­ron­to Area) alo­ne, fi­ve wo­men we­re ki­lled in Ja­nuary 2018 - the sa­me num­ber of in­ti­ma­te fe­mi­ci­des in Peel for all of 2017.

The fe­de­ral go­vern­ment’s Bill C-75, in­tro­du­ced in March, pro­po­ses changes to the cri­mi­nal law res­pon­se to do­mes­tic vio­len­ce. But the bill will do too little, too la­te. What we need is a com­prehen­si­ve, in­te­gra­ted stra­tegy to pre­vent and res­pond to do­mes­tic vio­len­ce, and re­sour­ces to sup­port wo­men ex­tri­ca­ting them­sel­ves from vio­lent re­la­tions­hips.

What would Bill C-75 do?

Bill C-75 re­ver­ses the onus for bail. A per­son char­ged with an of­fen­ce in­vol­ving vio­len­ce against an in­ti­ma­te part­ner, and who has a re­cord of such of­fen­ces, will now ha­ve to show cau­se why they should not be held in cus­tody. This pro­vi­sion is jus­ti­fied by the fact that half of do­mes­tic vio­len­ce of­fen­ders breach bail, and half of the­se in­vol­ve as­sault, cri­mi­nal ha­rass­ment and so­me­ti­mes even mur­der.

This pro­vi­sion is na­rrow, ho­we­ver, and will not apply to tho­se who lack a cri­mi­nal re­cord for do­mes­tic vio­len­ce, in­clu­ding con­vic­ted per­sons who re­cei­ved ab­so­lu­te or con­di­tio­nal dis­char­ges.

Bill C-75 would ren­der as­saults in­vol­ving stran­gu­la­tion a mo­re se­rious le­vel of as­sault, equi­va­lent to as­sault cau­sing bo­dily harm. Stran­gu­la­tion rai­ses the risk of in­ti­ma­te fe­mi­ci­de se­ven-fold and is thus a sig­ni­fi­cant war­ning sign.

The pro­vi­sion re­lie­ves the pro­se­cu­tor of the bur­den of pro­ving bo­dily harm, which is not al­ways de­tec­ti­ble in spi­te of the se­rious risk to li­fe that stran­gu­la­tion po­ses.

The bill would al­so ex­pand the sen­ten­cing pro­vi­sion that re­qui­res jud­ges to treat as ag­gra­va­ting the fact that do­mes­tic vio­len­ce was com­mit­ted against a spou­se, to in­clu­de da­ting part­ners as well as for­mer part­ners. This is par­ti­cu­larly im­por­tant gi­ven that wo­men are at grea­test risk of let­hal vio­len­ce when they lea­ve a re­la­tions­hip.

Bill C-75 would allow a court to rai­se a ma­xi­mum sen­ten­ce for a do­mes­tic vio­len­ce cri­me for so­meo­ne with a re­cord of such of­fen­ces. Un­for­tu­na­tely, this re­form mis­ses the boat. Ca­na­da doesn’t ha­ve a problem of low ma­xi­mum sen­ten­ces cons­trai­ning jud­ges who want to sen­ten­ce men harshly. In fact, ma­xi­mum sen­ten­ces are ra­rely im­po­sed for do­mes­tic vio­len­ce.

Further, gi­ven the pre­va­len­ce of sys­te­mic dis­cri­mi­na­tion, the­re’s a se­rious risk that this pro­vi­sion will be ap­plied dis­pro­por­tio­na­tely to In­di­ge­nous and ot­her mar­gi­na­li­zed per­sons.

In all, the bill ta­kes so­me po­si­ti­ve steps but con­ti­nues the pie­ce­meal ap­proach to do­mes­tic vio­len­ce by go­vern­ment. Cri­mi­nal law alo­ne can’t pre­vent do­mes­tic vio­len­ce: it’s an af­ter-the-fact res­pon­se to vio­len­ce that has al­ready da­ma­ged, and so­me­ti­mes en­ded, the li­ves of wo­men and their chil­dren. And so­me as­pects of the bill may be pu­ni­ti­ve to wo­men who re­sist do­mes­tic vio­len­ce with vio­len­ce.

So what el­se should be do­ne?

What wo­men ur­gently need are re­sour­ces, such as sa­fe hou­sing, so­cial wel­fa­re and le­gal ad­vi­ce to es­ca­pe vio­len­ce and na­vi­ga­te the cri­mi­nal jus­ti­ce sys­tem. They need the fa­mily court and child pro­tec­tion sys­tems to ‘see’ the vio­len­ce

and coer­ci­ve con­trol that pla­ces them at risk. And they need the po­li­ce to res­pond ef­fec­ti­vely to keep vio­lent men away from them.

New Zea­land’s Fa­mily Vio­len­ce Death Re­view Com­mit­tee has un­der­ta­ken a ma­jor study of its “fa­mily vio­len­ce sys­tems,” of which cri­mi­nal law is only one. The so­cial wel­fa­re, health, child wel­fa­re, hou­sing, edu­ca­tion and fa­mily law sys­tems all in­ter­sect. The com­mit­tee has wor­ked with re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the­se sys­tems to de­ve­lop an in­te­gra­ted fa­mily vio­len­ce sa­fety sys­tem.

Ca­na­da could learn from New Zea­land.

We should con­si­der a per­ma­nent, na­tio­nal, go­vern­men­tal body de­di­ca­ted to re­vie­wing each ca­se of do­mes­tic ho­mi­ci­de, ca­pa­ble of se­cu­ring the con­fi­den­tial re­cords of all agen­cies, ne­go­tia­ting with them on how to pre­vent such ki­llings and se­cu­ring an in­te­gra­ted do­mes­tic vio­len­ce sa­fety sys­tem. And it must be staf­fed by ex­perts - es­pe­cially front-li­ne fe­mi­nists, who­se ex­per­ti­se and com­mit­ment uni­quely qua­li­fies them for lea­ders­hip on vio­len­ce against wo­men.

Bill C-75 is a small step for­ward, but stops short of tac­kling the cri­sis of in­ti­ma­te fe­mi­ci­de and do­mes­tic vio­len­ce. We can and must do bet­ter.-TROYMEDIA

Eli­za­beth Sheehy is a pro­fes­sor of law at the Uni­ver­sity of Ot­ta­wa, Fa­culty of Law. Isa­bel Grant is a pro­fes­sor of law at the Pe­ter A. Allard School of Law at the Uni­ver­sity of Bri­tish Co­lum­bia. They are both ex­pert ad­vi­sers with Evi­den­ceNet­work.ca.

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