Gender as a factor in the Domestic Violence Courts.
I will give the podium to the United Way as the policies at the family
violence courts have been based on their programs, and their member agencies are responsible for the intake procedures at the courts. A couple of their favorite quotes first:
"In Ontario between 3-6 women are murdered each month by their current or former male partner " "To better understand intimate femicides, a binary model is proposed. Within this model, intimate femicide is understood as having two different origins: one involves the murder of an oppressed woman who attempted to emancipate herself and the other is an actual or attempted murder/suicide in which a socially inept and dependent man kills his liberated and independent partner. This model thus divides intimate murders into those who attempted or committed suicide immediately after killing their partner and those who did not.
The binary model follows these two groups of men through five stages.
termed 'Pre-Murder', explores how the men define their masculinity,
attitudes towards women and their relationship with female partners.
the 'Precipitating Event', highlights what triggered the ensuing murder
in the perpetrator's mind.
the 'Lethal Act', considers the actual
attack and murder.
the 'Post-Murder', explores the time interval
immediately following the murder. Finally,
'Adjustment to Incarceration', focuses on the man as he serves his sentence and his present views towards the victim and the offence". [Source: Intimate Femicide: An
Analysis Of Men Who Kill Their Partners By: Gregory P. Kerry M.A.,
Correctional Service of printed in Education Wife Assault Newsletter, V.
Canada & Carleton University originally # 1, June 1998]
Based on "Homicide in Canada, 1999" by Statistics Canada, the total number
of women killed in the entire country by their intimate male partners was 58
in 1999, 57 in 1998. The average number for 1989-1998 was 56 a year. Most of the men also committed suicide, no woman committed suicide after having killed a man with whom she had, or had, an intimate relationship.
Note the "3-6" scale. One cannot get much more vague than that . If 6 women a month were the victims of intimate homicide in Ontario, it would be 72 a year, which is 16 more than the total for the country as a whole. If it was 3, it would still mean that almost all of the Canadian uxoricides took place in Ontario.
Furthermore, they do not give the source for their data. if we settle on the
median number, it would be 54, or almost identical to the national total.
The known number of male victims of intimate homicide may be much lower than that of the known female victims. However, the statistical fact is that more women than men commit spousal murder by proxy, as documented by Correctional Service Canada, therefore the actual numbers remain unclear. In addition, only about 75% of all homicides are solved, and most of the victims of unknown perpetrators are men.
Let's look at how the Ontario DV courts operate. See how the terminology varies from gender neutral to gender specific:
Domestic Violence Courts Project By: Vivian Green, Metro Woman Abuse Council [as published in the EWA Newsletter V.8 #1 - Spring 1997: The Impact of Funding Cutbacks on assaulted Women]
These courts operate on the principles as laid out in the Duluth Model. The Duluth Model is a "blame and shame" behavior modification approach, focusing only on the perpetrator's role. It is interesting to note that when the law enforcement authorities have no choice but to accept that the woman was the principal aggressor, they are given a way out:
"The need [in Duluth] was to arrest the predominant aggressor. If that
was the woman she would be offered a diversion programme. The prosecutors had a special policy for charging and prosecuting in these cases, to prevent the men from using the court as a means of control."
The Ontario Pilot Projects.
"The pilot project model was refined through a collaborative process of consultation and discussion. The major components of the two pilot project models include the following
1) a special arrangement for 'first offenders' pleading guilty to low
level offences (in North York);
2) a specialized and integrated approach to the prosecution of all domestic violence cases (in Old City Hall) by police and crown attorneys who work together to collect additional evidence beyond the statement of the victim. Therefore, if a victim recants or changes her story, the additional
evidence is submitted to prove the assault;
3) the provision of seats in intervention programs for offenders
mandated by the Pilot Courts (in North York). These programs are provided by community agencies that demonstrate a commitment to following Accountability Standards and Guidelines approved by the Metro Woman Abuse Council. These programs are cost shared by the offender on a sliding scale basis.
4) a commitment on the part of both pilot projects to work with others
in the community responding to woman abuse through a co-ordinated and
I. North York
"...The offender must plead guilty and is required to participate in a
"male batterer's program" (The Hon. Dianne Cunnigham, Ontario Women's
Directorate on Domestic Violence Court Pilot Project) [my note: i.e., only
men are offenders]
The project targets first time offenders where there is no significant /visible injury to the person abused.
[my note: if no signs of abuse, the term should be allegedly]
Cases are screened by the Crown Attorneys, who identify those eligible for
the Pilot court. Women victims [my note: only women can be victims] are
given information cards by the police which urge the woman to contact the
Victim Witness Assistance Program at the Courthouse. Cases are then also
screened through the victim witness co-ordinator's individual contact with
victims. These identified cases are directed to attend the specialized
At the court, a group of both the men and their partners are introduced to
the project. The women then go to a different room as a group, and meet with a Crown Attorney. There is group discussion and, most importantly, each woman has an opportunity to talk about what she wants out of the court process.
If an individual before the court on abuse charges agrees to plead guilty, and assuming his partner is agreeable, the court will accept the guilty plea. His plea will be entered and he will get a series of court orders from the judge. The orders will be Bail Conditions which will include mandated attendance at an intervention program for batterers. His Bail orders will also be changed to allow him to reside with his partner. It is specified that if his partner feels threatened or afraid she should contact Police immediately and the Bail condition can be changed to get him out of the house.
[i.e. no abuse, only an allegation that the woman feels afraid or threatened can get a man evicted from his home]
While the women are speaking with the Crown Attorney and Victim Witness
Co-ordinator, the men have the opportunity (if there ever was an oxymoron,
that is one!) to meet with the centralized intake staff person, provided by
the Metro Woman Abuse Council, who is responsible for assigning individuals
to the intervention programs. As the men meet with the centralized Intake
staff they begin to decide if they will plead guilty and if so, they are
assigned to an appropriate agency. Currently, there are ten community
agencies providing intervention programs that men may be referred to,
including a range of ethno-specific agencies with various language and
Once all of the women have had an opportunity to identify what they want,
the full court reconvenes. At this point those charged who are willing to
plead guilty and enter the program appear before the judge and are mandated to attend the already identified intervention program.
The offender is then given new bail conditions which cite that he is
expected to attend the full program of sixteen weeks. During this time, the
partner will be contacted at least four times by the community agency to
monitor her safety and to offer her support and services. While the offender
is on extended bail and mandated into the intervention program, any threats
to the partner's safety, and/or breaches of the bail conditions, are
reported by intervention program staff and handled by the local police.
At the conclusion of the intervention program, assuming that all has gone
smoothly, with no risk or threat to the woman, the offender will reappear
before the specialized court and he will receive his final sentence. The
final disposition will be a conditional discharge with one year probation.
All interventions programs must regard the safety and protection of
potential victims as the highest priority. Towards this end, all intervention programs must ensure that women partners are made aware of advocacy services through community/education outreach strategy. The victim never causes the violence. A man's violence is a matter of personal choice. Intervention strategies with men who abuse should focus on the abusive behaviour, not on other family or relationship issues.
In working with men who abuse, the physical safety and psychological,
emotional well being of potential victims must take priority over the
abuser's right to confidentiality.
Intervention strategies for men who abuse should undertake ongoing evaluation of program effectiveness, given that ineffective intervention may
do more harm than good and jeopardize the safety of women. Intervention programs must be an active participants within a community-wide response, and must not operate independently. The creation of two specialized domestic violence courts in Toronto provided the opportunity to have batterer programs that strictly adhere to the standards and guidelines.
After much negotiation, the Council agreed to administer a coordinated
batterer's program. Agencies interested in providing batterer's programs
could apply to be on a roster of agencies that would receive referrals of
men from the Domestic Violence Courts. A group with representatives from
women's advocacy services and prevention programs interviewed prospective programs and identified ten agencies that met the criteria of the
accountability standards and guidelines to participate on the roster. Using
the standards as a guideline, the agencies provide culturally based programs, while maintaining a common criteria and accountability process. This group of agencies is actively involved in ongoing collaborative monitoring, review and tracking of offenders. Extensive work is done with other sectors, such as probation, to ensure an effective and safe response to women who are being abused.
This system has been in place now for more than a year. In that time,
over 250 offenders have attended programs at the ten agencies. There seem to be successes in the system, as well as areas for continued refinement and
change. Perhaps the most important move is our continued work to ensure that the purpose and goal of the program is to provide safety for women. We are becoming clearer that while these programs can teach men that there will be serious consequences for their behaviour, but it takes a lifetime to change values.
We need to seriously reflect on how to continue to monitor behaviour and
demonstrate the community will, indeed, hold men accountable
[A program for violent women offenders was shelved by the Correctional Service Canada because it would have made women accountable for their actions for their abusive behaviour.]
But we must also continue to find ways to reach out to women victims in order to provide support and resources to them such that they can have a real choice in creating a violence free life for themselves and their children."
Authoritative research documents that women, as a group, are not the
innocent victims of male aggression, on the contrary. Rather than being
afraid of their male partners women take their non-aggression for granted.
Occasionally they end up pushing too many wrong buttons and the results are
predictable. Unfortunately, they often use the social and justice systems as
a proxy to inflict the final blow.
Now that the UW season is in full swing, we might be well advised to see
what they stand for (Don't forget their Valentine's Day Card!!!):
Welcome to the Education Wife Assault web site
"Our mission is to inform and educate the community about the issue of
wife assault/woman abuse in order to decrease the incidence of physical,
psychological, emotional and sexual violence against women and the effect
that woman abuse has on children.
Funding for this Website was generously provided by the Trillium
Foundation, "Education Wife Assault" is a United Way Member Agency. We
gratefully acknowledge the support of Deevan Technologies"
Are You Emotionally Abused? Questions for Women in Heterosexual
[note the "heterosexual" It is not used with the questionnaire to men]
"Many women find that emotional abuse is difficult to name or even talk
about. They often wonder if it is serious because you cannot see it, like
bruises or broken bones. Emotionally abused women state that one of the
biggest problems they face is that others seldom take it seriously. These
questions will help you identify if you are being emotionally abused, and
provide some ideas on what you can do about it."
What is your relationship like?
"Do you feel that something is wrong with your relationship, but you don't
know how to describe it?"
What can you do about it? "Realize that emotional abuse is a serious problem and you can get help. Recognize that emotional abuse is as bad or worse than physical abuse.
Take your own safety and the safety of your children seriously. Know that emotional abuse can lead to physical violence or death."
You may be becoming or already are a victim of abuse if you:
Feel you can't live without him
Look out for men who:
"Do not listen to you, ignore you or talk over you."
Are You Emotionally Abusive? Questions for Men to Ask Themselves.
[No heterosexual here]
"Emotional abuse in intimate relationships is a serious problem. Many
people believe that physical violence is the only legitimate form of abuse.
Women say that emotional abuse effects them as much, if not more, than
physical violence. Emotional abuse can lead to family breakdown, mental
distress and physical illness, death, and has a negative impact on the
children in the family.
The goal of this fact sheet is to provide information so that emotional
abuse can stop. It begins with you."
For men to think about: You may be becoming or already are an abusive man
Are often depressed or withdrawn but won't talk about your feelings"
[see the same for women: they are considered to be abused if they are
depressed: "Do you feel sick, anxious, tired or depressed a lot of the
time?" A double standard, just like everything else in this UW organization]
Let's compare the above practices against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
24. 1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.
(2) Where, in proceedings under subsection (1), a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.
31. Nothing in this Charter extends the legislative powers of any body
And what does Justice Canada say?
"Canadian Charter of Rights Decision Digest", section 15 (1). Charter
Decisions  Scope of the Guarantee/Test for Infringement
The contextual factors which determine whether legislation has the effect of demeaning a claimant's dignity must be construed and examined from the perspective of the claimant.
What these grounds have in common is the fact that they often serve as the
basis for stereotypical decisions made not on the basis of merit but on the
basis of a personal characteristic that is immutable or changeable only at
unacceptable cost to personal identity.
 "Discrimination" "If the impugned provision creates an offence that can, as a matter of fact, be committed by either sex, but goes on to specify that it is only an offence when committed by one sex, then there may well be an infringement of s. 15(1).
Direct discrimination involves a law, rule or practice which on its face
discriminates on a prohibited ground. Adverse effect discrimination occurs
when a law, rule or practice is facially neutral but has a disproportionate
impact on a group because of a particular characteristic of that group.
If a group or sub-group of women could prove the adverse effect required,
the proof would come in a comparison with the relevant body of men
The issue is not whether marriage is good, but rather whether it may be used to deny equal treatment to people on grounds which have nothing to do with their true worth or entitlement due to circumstance: Miron v. Trudel,  2 S.C.R. 418.
Where does that leave the Ontario DV courts? Though the words "offender" and "victim" are gender neutral, they are immediately followed by gender specific pronouns: the offender is always "he", the victim always "she".
This is grounds for a Constitutional Challenge....
Source - Fathers.ca