Archive for the ‘Violence Against Women’ Category

In Vancouver, Robert William Pickton is about to stand trial for the first 6 of 26 murder charges. (A date has not been set for the remaining victims.) All of the women Pickton is charged with killing were sex workers. Their remains were found on Pickton’s farm in Port Coquitlam. The first 6 victims for which Pickton is being tried are:

  • Sereena Abotsway,
  • Mona Wilson,
  • Andrea Joesbury,
  • Brenda Wolfe,
  • Georgina Papin and
  • Marnie Frey.

The remaining victims are:

  • Jacqueline McDonell
  • Diane Rock
  • Heather Bottomley
  • Jennifer Furminger
  • Helen Hallmark
  • Angela Jardine
  • Patricia Johnson
  • Heather Chinnock
  • Tanya Holyk
  • Sherry Irving
  • Inga Hall
  • Sarah de Vries
  • Tiffany Drew
  • Cindy Feliks
  • Diana Melnick
  • Debra Jones
  • Wendy Crawford
  • Andrea Borhaven
  • Cara Ellis
  • Kerry Koski

The total count of missing women in the Vancouver sex trade is 60.

Same thing is going on in Edmonton, by the way. Did you hear?  Probably not. 20 women have been killed in Edmonton within the last 20-odd years. Again, mostly sex workers. One man has been arrested for 2 of these killings. His name is Thomas George Svekla. Most of these murders have not been solved, and police think there is more than one murderer involved. The victims in Edmonton are:

  • Bonnie Lynn Jack
  • Theresa Merrie Innes
  •  Dolores Brower
  • Ellie May Meyer
  • Charlene Gauld
  • Rachel Quinney
  • Katie Sylvia Ballentyne
  • Debbie Lake
  • Melissa Munch
  • Monique Pitre
  • Edna Bernard
  • Ginger Lee Bellerose
  • Kelly Dawn Reilly
  • Cara King
  • Jessica Cardinal
  • Joyce Hewitt
  • Joanne Ghostkeeper
  • Elaine Ross
  • Lorraine Wray
  • Mavis Mason
  • Bernadette Ahenakew
  • Georgette Flint
  • Melody Joy Reigel
  • Gail Cardinal

Back to the Pickton Trial. This is the largest serial killing in Canadian history. It will be heavily monitored by the media.  Pickton will be the focus of hundreds of in-depth profiles, speculation, disgust. The women he killed will be grouped together in bunches, their identities a blur. The character at the centre of this trial is not any of them. It is Pickton. The public will want to know how his mind works, why he killed all those women, why he targeted prostitutes, how he killed them, how long it took him to amass such a collection of killings, how he managed to elude the police for so very long, whether he hates women.

this is a problem.

In my mind, the real story is not this man. It is the story of the women. The story here, really, is that 80 women have likely been killed. In two cities alone. In Canada, a country that doesn’t have that high a crime rate. And all of them were prostitutes. No one will ask how they ended up as street-level prostitutes, what drove them to leave their homes and families, what their lives were like. What happened to these women? They were all killed by Pickton, yes, but they all shared something else, and they shared it not just with each other but with millions of women across the world, whose only resource is their body, their sex, in a world where if that’s all you’ve got, nobody is there to help you, but a dozen are there every night to exploit you. The story is about why it took almost 30 years to find out who was making these women disappear, why nobody noticed that 60 women were slowly going missing, slowly ending up on Pickton’s farm. These women were not people – they were prositutes, throw-aways, easy prey for Pickton, for Svekla, for other men. No one would notice they were gone. No one would care.

This is how we treat our women.Read about the Vancouver Murders here. Read about the victims here. Read about the Edmonton Murders here.

Read Full Post »

This week, it came out that a Saudi national , Taher Ali Al-Saba, who had been accused of sexual assaulting two minors, has left the country, despite not having a passport.

The Saudi Embassy has confirmed that Al-Saba has left Canada, but won’t say anything further, about how or when this occurred.  Because Canada has no extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia, it is highly unlikely that Al-Saba will ever return to be tried for his crimes.

Great to know the justice system works so well.

Read Full Post »

I noticed this little gem in the local newspaper this morning over breakfast. I almost choked on my Fruit Loops.

At first, I was pleased to see that a judge in Cape Breton had sentenced Raymond Shawn Leroy to 4 years in jail for rape, considering most rapists get off a lot lighter than that. Apparently, the rapist kidnapped his victim, beating and raping her for ‘several hours’ – leaving her with ‘swollen, blackened eyes, facial swelling, and other injuries.’ However, he was found not guilty of unlawful confinement… so I guess the victim could have left at any time, according to the court.

The prosecutor, Shane Russell, said the victim was “humiliated, beaten, raped, and threatened. She was subject to extreme violence and disrespect.” In the article, however, the victim was described as being recently released from a detox facility. I suppose this is significant somehow, although the press is forbidden from publishing the name of the victim ‘along with any information that could lead to her identification.’ Maybe I’m missing something, but what does the victim’s recent release from a drug treatment program have to do with her being raped? Oh right – so we feel less sorry for her.

Finally, the nastiest part of the article came. I’ll quote directly:

While noting the photographs spoke volumes about the attack, defense lawyer David Campbell said since she did not file a victim impact statement, it can be inferred she suffered no lasting psychological damage.
“It looks a lot worse than it actually was,” said Campbell, adding his client is remorseful for his actions.

Sure, being kidnapped, beaten, and raped isn’t as bad as all that, and is easily forgotten. I’ll buy that. No big deal, right girls?

These comments obviously minimize and dismiss the effects of rape on the psychological health and wellbeing of survivors of rape. Why is this so dangerous? It encourages rape, in so many words, by affirming that victims can easily get over their rape experiences. It also adds to the support for light sentencing of rapists, making women less and less safe in our communities. This blatant hostility toward women, and tacit condoning of rape, is not acceptable. This woman deserves to be taken seriously, and given a modicum of respect – not subjected to ridiculously flawed logic from some misogynistic asshole defense lawyer whose sour grapes over losing his case are staining his shirt.

Something tells me that this wasn’t the first time he attacked this woman verbally, but this time it is publicly, in print, and her voice is absent. Someone has to speak out. I’m writing a letter to the editor in protest of this treatment of a rape survivor by David Campbell. Join me: letterstoeditor@hfxnews.southam.ca

*quotes from “Man sentenced to four years for sexual assault” by Steve MacInnis, published in The Daily News on Wednesday, January 10, 2007.

Read Full Post »

Hi all –

I’ve been included in the 14th Carnival Against Sexual Violence, along with many other wonderful writers, currently being hosted at Abyss2Hope. Please join me in reading and blogging about this important subject.


Read Full Post »

Hi everyone,
I got a comment today on my post On Rape. I thought it was important enough to devote a post to the question and my response. Below is the comment, from a commenter who calls himself Future Rapist. Below that is my response. I invite you to read it through, and to join me in talking about this issue, because I think it is one of the most important topics we can ever talk about together.

Actually I landed on this e-page while searching information, how to avoid women’s or girls? In my environment there are more women’s and girls with skirts and tops. I attempt many times to change the environment, as if my fate goes wrong where I go in some way or other way I have interact such women’s or girls. Most of time when self conious of herself, my mind never thinks of sex with her. But when women’s and girls are very open, I could hardly control myself. So far I am controlling by leaving the place of short time and join the work after sometime. On the other hand its not possible to leave such environment all the time.

Anyways, I would like question the originator of the article and he/she defended the victim and blames fully on rapist.

My question is how he/she is going to mark a line in between seduction and attempt to rape or rape.

Your answer is highly appreciated for a guy like me who could be a future rapist.

Future Rapist

well, first of all, you’ve got a lot of guts to ask such a question. It sounds like you want to do the right thing, so I’ll answer your question, and hopefully it will help you, and the women you are in contact with.

First of all, you cannot assume that anything a woman does indicates she wants to have sex with you. Not the way she is dressed, not how she talks to you or acts toward you. Society puts a lot of pressure on women to be sexually suggestive, and that comes out in how women dress and act and talk. And even when you might be in an intimate situation with a woman, she might only be willing to do certain things and not be willing to do others. So don’t make assumptions about a woman’s desire by these things, as they are not necessarily indicators of what she wants.

The only way to make sure of what a woman wants is to ask her in a way that is sincere and not coercive. That means make it clear to her that you will not want to do anything that she doesn’t want to do. Let her know that it is important to you to
make sure she feels safe and secure and if she feels uncomfortable at any time that you will stop. Do not try to convince her to do something she has said she does not want to do. This is not seduction; it is coercion. If she says no, that is the end. NO MEANS NO. You must not continue to do anything that a woman has told you to stop doing. And here’s the trick: she might not tell you with words. She might tell you by moving your hands away, or trying to physically move away from you, or by not responding to you either verbally or physically. 70% of communication is physical, so pay close attention to what she is telling you with her body.

So, you have to respond to a woman’s “negative” body language that tells you she doesn’t like what you are doing, but you have to get confirmation from her in regards to “positive” body language that tells you she might want to be intimate with you. If you can’t get this confirmation, for any reason, then assume she does not want to be intimate with you. better safe than rape.

I’m a bit concerned with the way you seem to view women in general. Women are not objects to be used for men’s sexual gratification, or even just to be looked at and enjoyed, like pieces of art. Women are people who have minds and feelings and desires of their own. Women are not there to be used by or to serve men. They are not to be won over or convinced to do anything. Just removing yourself from the environment isn’t enough – you really need to rethink your attitude toward women. I suggest you seek out counselling to help you think about women in a more healthy and respectful way.

Sex is something that should be enjoyable for all parties involved, and something that all parties are comfortable with and want to do, at all times throughout the encounter. The idea that there is a point of no return is false: both men and women can stop at any time. It might suck, but it has to be done if consent is at issue.

Also, bear in mind that rape is not only wrong and immoral, but also ILLEGAL. You’re not just an asshole of you rape a woman – you’re also a criminal. Rape has consequences that are devestating to the survivor, both emotionally and physically. But rape also has consequences for the rapist. So if you’re not won over by appeals to refrain from hurting a woman in such a way, then perhaps you’ll be influenced by the legal consequences of rape.

I hope this is clear, and helpful to you. Please take this advice very carefully. Now you cannot say you didn’t know. Now you have the information you need not to become a rapist.

Thanks to Ruxandra for her help in formulating this response.

If any of my other readers have any suggestions for this commenter, please pitch in. I think this is an important topic – maybe the most important topic we can deal with on this blog. Violence against women is at epidemic levels, and it has to stop. One of the ways we can contribute to ending VAW is through discussions like this, so please, join me.

Read Full Post »

on rape

I just had a shouting match with my parents, who are lovely people, but have VERY different views on most things than I do. As a result, I have to vent a little bit, because it seems I am unlikely to change their minds. Maybe, instead, I can find some solidarity here, or even better, change someone else’s mind.

Rape is never, ever, ever, the victim’s fault. No matter where she is. No matter what she is wearing. No matter how drunk she is. No matter where she is walking. No matter what time it was. No matter who she has slept with. No matter how she is talking. No matter how she is acting. No matter her age. No matter if she has taken a self-defense class. No matter if she is a sex worker. No matter what race she is. No matter if she fought back or did not fight back. No matter if she screamed or not. No matter if she carried mace or not. No matter if she was on a date. No matter if she was sleeping in her bed. No matter if she left her window open. No matter if her door was unlocked. No matter if she is married to her rapist. No matter if she has slept with her rapist before. No matter. It is never, ever, EVER, the victim’s fault.

(All of this of course applies as well to male victims of rape, and children. I used “she” here mostly because it was easier than typing “she/he” for everything, and also because the majority of rape victims are indeed women.)

The blame for rape lies with rapists. Putting all this attention on women and what women should do to avoid rape obfuscates the plain and simple fact that people should not rape other people: Not women. Not men. Not children.

Our criminal justice system supports rape. The majority of rape – or “sexual assault” as it is called here in Canada – cases end in a stay. Around 1/4 are found guilty. 80% of those found guilty are given PROBATION. That’s right – no time served. So, tell me, what message does that send to society? Seems to me to say, loud and clear, that rapists get away with it, are not punished, and that victims’ suffering, both physical and mental, doesn’t matter. Combine this message with the mass marketing of women’s sexuality and bodies as objects to be used and discarded that pretty much every product you can buy puts out there. Nice picture we paint of our women, isn’t it? Nice picture we paint for rapists.

This is a rape culture, a violent culture. Victims are blamed, told what they should have done, told how they brought rape and violence upon themselves, told that they are ruined forever as a result of rape. Rapists are sent home. This message has got to stop. Good people like my own parents believe that victims share equal responsibility for what happens because of their own “stupidity” in putting themselves in danger. How can we ever change this mindset if our own legal system doesn’t support us? If our own parents feel this way about victims of rape? How can we put the onus of rape back where it belongs – on rapists?

I’m going to say it loud and clear, once, twice, a hundred times if I have to.





Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts