Protecting Women From Abuse – Canadian Law Essay
Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, discrimination against women and violence towards women is illegal. It states that women have the right to seek help and to obtain legal protection to keep themselves
and their children safe. Abuse is defined as “misuse; to address something rudely.” However, the laws do not adequately and effectively protect women against abuse. Canadian laws need to be enforced and improved immediately to better women’s role in society.
Laws on women abuse must firstly be properly funded and enforced by police to diminish the number of women in violent relationships. Also, to successfully protect women from abuse, it is critical that the penalty and punishment for committing this crime is sterner. Simply too many men aren’t being sentenced appropriately considering the unfixable damage that they have caused to the women victims and their families.
Firstly, women who are battered or abused sexually, emotionally, physically or verbally feel guilty, ashamed, blamed, intimidated, and live everyday in fear. This might explain why “the province is failing 75% of abused women, who never turn to the police to begin with.” (Changing the Way we Prosecute Spousal Abuse, p.1). The majority of women do not turn to the police because “they are forced to choose between putting up with relentless physical abuse and being cast adrift without the basics of life.” (Zosky, p.2). Activist Punam Khosla fought against abuse saying:
“Women are not victims by nature. We become
victims because we do not have the resources or
access to the power that we need in order to protect
ourselves and take care of our lives.” (Khosla, 2002).
This underlines some of the basic problems in the laws on women abuse.
Therefore, some of the most important steps that need to be taken quickly to facilitate the transition of leaving an abused home for single women or mothers are: tougher restraining orders, giving victims emergency cell phones, more community and local support, shelters, more available lawyers, second-stage housing, women’s centers and crisis lines. The government is aware that these are critical steps, yet funding is not being provided. If these resources were established and funded, perhaps victims would never consider the option of staying in an abusive relationship because they now believe “the laws are so bad that we think it is better to stay with the partner because that was at least you know where he is.” (Jaffe, 1999).
Abuse affects children, who absorb the values that their parents pass onto them; and in turn they pass those values onto their children. Crime rates amongst minors are becoming more and more common. Although it is rightfully argued by many that children who grow up in an abusive domestic environment do not abuse in the future, sixty percent of children who witness violence suffer from psychological or post traumatic stress. (Boys, 1999). In addition, one can not argue that the primary examples children follow or acknowledge are not the ones a parent expresses. Therefore if we want our future generations to live with moral and caring virtues, the Canadian Justice System must enforce laws now to better tomorrow and the day after. These children see their mothers assaulted with wine bottles, dragged by their hair, kicked, slammed to the floor, pummeled with fists, jacked with brooms, chocked, hit and raped. (Armstrong, p.3).
Police officers need to do a better job of collecting diligent evidence that can be used in trials (such as photographs, video tapes, 911 phone calls, etc.) Ideally we should have a special domestic violence police squad and team of prosecutors. This would intensify the research and investigation process in domestic and women abuse, allow police to provide women with facilitated arrests and gather information which would allocate a much higher conviction rate.
Some might argue that women abuse only occurs in the minority of relationships, however two women a week are murdered every week by an inmate partner, and at least 1 in 8 women will be assaulted by the man with whom she is living. Spousal abuse is present amongst all cultures, races, occupations and income levels. Others also assert the belief that it is the woman’s fault for not standing up for her rights and leaving her abusive husband or boyfriend. However, statistics show that women who leave have a 75% greater risk of being killed by the partner than those who stay. (Hart, 1988). It also goes unnoticed that 50% of homeless women are on the streets without life necessities because they have left a life of battery. To leave a life of fear and battery any woman should never have to lead a new life of disregard and hopelessness. When women are being abused daily for months or years by someone whom they love, when they are afraid of loosing their children, financial support, home, family and well-being it is abhorrent to expect them to get up one morning and leave.
Secondly, the punishment men receive for abusing their wives and girlfriends’ everyday is usually a fine or a mere six months in jail. One calls this type of consequence a tap on the hand; a small reprimand. The lack of severe punishment often results in the women being forced to change their identity, their life. It can also nurture a man who now doesn’t merely hit his wife when she speaks of politics, refuses to follow instructions, but an angry man determined to hurt, or kill his wife or girlfriend.
For example, “thirty two percent of men charged in one week were already facing domestic violence charges or had similar convictions, in more than fifty percent cases involving the same victim, usually a woman.” (Armstrong, p.4). If men were dealt with properly and more severely on the first arrest and conviction, sub sequentially the number of men charged with domestic abuse per week would diminish by thirty two percent. Under the Domestic Violence Protection Act, the abuser would be left with a “serious social stigma” and would be immediately put in jail for up to two years. (Flaherty, 2000). For ex: Arlene was killed by her husband although she had a restraining order against him. Later, the jury said:
“We are faced with the reality of the violence
occurring to women and children in our society.
Until we, as a country, stand up and declare a
‘zero-tolerance’ this problem will not only continue,
but in this jury’s opinion, will escalade. It is our
belief that every person has an equal right to be
protected from abuse.”
Also, individuals charged should be restricted to being granted bail because this gives them the freedom to repeating behaviors that led them to be convicted in the first place. One could argue that in certain cases the abuser ‘lost control’ or acted in the ‘heat of passion’ but abuse is abuse and if an abuser is determined to kill a woman, the only thing we can do to successfully stop him is put him in jail, said Toronto Police Officer Green. However, because of the lack of evidence and lenient punishment, these men who are determined to kill a woman are not faced with the obligation of going to jail.
In conclusion, the laws on abuse do not protect women from abuse. They are simply not enforced to the degree which they need to be and do not receive proper funding. They leave women alone, confused and victimized. The consequence or punishment that the abuser receives needs to be deeply intensified and taken more seriously because more than often men walk away with a restraining order that will not hold him back if he is determined to hurt his wife, or girlfriend.
If these milestones are tackled immediately and the issue of women’s abuse is embarked upon than women will have more resources when leaving a violent relationship, will have access to more direct funding for education, job opportunity and legal aid. One now can hope that the issue of women abuse has become so significant in our everyday life that it can no longer be swept away, that it must be dealt with immediately, so that a neighbor, teacher, dentist, family member, loved one, mother, sister or even daughter can live life in control, instead of being controlled.