Media, government, blind to abuses inflicted on men
A delegation of six men from the Victoria Men's Centre (including three Directors and an Executive member) attended the BC Legislature recently. A meeting with each of the Attorney General, the Liberal opposition AG critic, and Gordon Wilson (leader of the PDA) was sought. We wish to discuss the domestic violence of Kim Tran, her sentence, possible appeal by the Crown of that sentence, as well as the broader issues of gender bias in the BC courts that are revealed by this (and many other) cases. We will be demanding that a standing committee of men from our ranks be consulted whenever the government contemplates any changes to legislation that might have gender and/or family law implications. To date, only the Opposition Liberal AG critic has agreed to meet with us. Gordon Wilson (leader of the PDA) has asked for more information. Ujjal Dosanjh (the NDP Attorney General) has not responded.
Victoria men were very surprised by the lack of newspaper coverage of the Kim Tran trial and sentence. Many people are now somewhat confused about what Victoria newspapers consider newsworthy, and what they do not consider newsworthy. I can understand that confusion, since a domestic violence story about someone slicing off a sleeping spouse's sexual parts (to the pubic bone), flushing the flesh down a toilet, the children witnessing the crime and phoning 911, and then the assailant receiving a sentence of only "english lessons"... is fairly provocative, food for thought, and might be interesting news to those who follow the administration of justice in BC. A quick perusal of the Criminal Code of Canada will reveal that this type of crime falls within the definition of "Aggravated Sexual Assault" and carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison. Besides which, it's a graphic, gruesome and sensational story, just the sort of thing to boost circulation... and the Vancouver Province ran the story as front page news.
There is an opinion that the Times-Colonist and the Vancouver Sun might have given this story a wee bit more coverage if it was about a husband who excised his sleeping wife's labia and uterus with a meat cleaver, flushed the flesh down a toilet, and then got sentenced only to french lessons (or whatever) so that he could continue to work (or stay home) and provide for the six children of the crime victim. Most people who know about this case (WAVAW, excepted) are outraged at the ridiculous sentence, but not many in Victoria actually seem know very much about it. Why was Victoria media coverage so light in this case?
Over the past few years, many letters have been written to various media personalities, politicians, and Ministry officials on the topic of differences in the treatment of men vs. women in the BC courts. Scholarly studies that clearly show a collective media blindness to all non-female victims of crime have been provided to media people. Scholarly studies showing that men are not the sole perpetrators of domestic violence are numerous, and have been quoted at length. All have been ignored or (deliberately?) misunderstood or deflected. Rather than addressing all domestic violence concerns in some positive fashion, governments and media have allowed and often encouraged the development of a nightmarish Orwellian situation in BC where a woman can now maim and sexually mutilate a man with virtual impunity. The time for letters is passing, and we must now get 'direct and personal' with the policy shapers and makers.
If occasional visits to the legislature and letters to newspapers do not raise awareness then we will institute a campaign of monthly, and then weekly actions. If anyone in BC has written materials that they wish to have presented to politicians during these visits, or questions that they would like raised in the house, please advise me or any member of the Victoria Men's Centre. We intend to be very persistent about this.
Several other things are being done to address the problem. One man, Pat Ellis, has now begun challenge of the Canadian charter of rights. This is a class action suit against the federal government, and other people may be party to it. Pat's basic assertion is that gender specific funding by any level of government is prohibited by the charter. A recent opinion from a prominent Toronto legal firm regarding his action says:
"Mr. Ellis had discovered an anomaly in the law under the equality rights provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ("Charter") More specifically, he has found that subsection 15(2) of the charter with respect to the prohibited ground of 'sex' conflicts with subsection 28 of the Charter. It does not appear as though the issue of the conflict between the two provisions of the Charter has been litigated. In that respect, this would be a test case. What might be required is an authorisation to do a Constitutional Reference on this point to the Supreme Court of Canada."
"Section 28 of the Charter, provides that, "Notwithstanding anything in this charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons." Whether this provision supersedes subs.15(2) of the charter is an issue. The override clause of the Charter, section 33, does not apply to section 28 but does apply to section 15. This is further evidence of the anomaly."
"It appears to us that the gender bias argument of Mr. Ellis has merit, and is of considerable importance to about half the population of this country, who happen to be male, and have been or are likely to be subjected to the gender bias in the various laws of Canada, which may conflict with the supreme law of the land."
This is not a "gender war" yet, and that need never come to pass. At this time, we still have an opportunity to resolve differences peacefully, if people will listen to each other's views. To that end, we are now increasing men's activism and visibility one small notch. Membership in 'men's rights' groups has grown enormously over the past few years, so we can do more, but the membership (as most people might guess) consists mainly of men with few or no remaining financial resources. By the time they are desperate enough to reach out for help in our men's groups, they are pretty beat up. We all know how guys are... proud, strong, and all that macho jazz. Nevertheless, we intend to make the issue of bias against men by the courts and government as public as possible, with all the resources we have. People may then judge for themselves the actions (or inaction) of the various politicians, bureaucrats and political parties involved... so that everyone may respond appropriately come next election.
It is worth noting that the federal government consider some gender-legal issues sufficiently important that a joint Senate and Commons Custody and Access Committee was created to hear people's concerns. When asked, men responded in droves. The provincial governments should follow suit, more so, since family law is provincial jurisdiction. Somebody has to take some action to ensure that our sons are not subjected to the same injustices inflicted upon the men of our generation.
Many feminist groups are government-funded to produce opinions, whenever gender or family-related legislation is contemplated. To have balanced laws, men's groups should also be consulted on such matters (especially father's groups). There is quite a divergence of opinion about whether men's groups should be government-funded at the same level as women's groups, but for the moment, the majority of men appear to reject government-funding due to the 'strings attached' problem. All that is asked is that men's views be sought, respected, acknowledged, and acted upon by the powers-that-be.
Leader, BC Libertarian Party
Director, Victoria Men's Centre
[Published as Op-Ed article in the Victoria Times-Colonist Newspaper, July 29 1998. page A13]
- Planet is at mercy of violent male vision
By Betty Krawczyk
WHILE NO ONE, male or female; should suffer the horror of having their genitalia excised, Ken Wiebe's July 29 opinion piece decrying the Times Colonist's lack of in-depth reporting on the Kim Tran case is spurious.
Let me note that neither does the Times Colonist do any in-depth reporting on clitoredectomy, the cutting away of the female clitoris and surrounding tissue in the belief that if women were unable to experience sexual pleasure, then they would make more docile wives. This operation is done on hundreds of thousands of female children and young women every year, some of whom live in Canada.
There is an enormous difference between an extremely rare, isolated case of female violence against a male and the insistent, systematic, unrelenting level of male violence against women.
If Wiebe actually looked at the statistics of male violence against women, he would be embarrassed that he made silly , thinly veiled threats in proclaiming a possible "gender war" should his view of the universe not be adopted. And if Wiebe actually knew anything about history, he would know that the "gender war" was enacted by men against women over 5,000 years ago.
ANY WOMAN WHO has lived on this Earth very long knows that the "gender war" is well and thriving - indeed, that it lies at the very heart of our society. As the mother of five daughters and the grandmother of four, my over whelming concern for them is, and has always been, the fear of male physical violence, either randomly from strange men or from men who are supposed to love them.
I am exasperated not only at the incidence of individual male violence, but that this very violence has become so institutionalized by our society. Violence is everywhere one looks and men, in the aggregate, are attracted by it. If this were not so, would simulated rape, murder and torture so often be offered up for entertainment in movies and TV? Would rape, murder and battering be so prevalent? Would athletes and their promoters be paid such obscene sums of money if they didn't periodically deliver violence?
Would any of us be able to accept a world where half of it is strewn with landmines that kill and maim children on a regular basis, where military weapons of the most destructive kind are coveted by men everywhere, even when their nations' children might be starving or malnourished? Would we have the stockpiling of nuclear waste and nuclear weapons that threaten the life of the planet itself if violence were not a supreme value in the world of men?
If women as a group can't find the determination to face up to the fact of male violence in the aggregate as well as in the particular, then we are are all in serious trouble. Men have created a world where greed and aggression are the marks of a successful man, and it is this very powerful and persuasive mindset that has spawned the corporate value system of profit worship.
This corporate mindset of profits above all is responsible for the gutting of the last of the world's rainforests, for the killing off of life-giving streams and rivers, for putting the oceans themselves at risk with chemical pollution and over- fishing, and for the destruction of much of the topsoil on Earth. In the corporate world's greed to extract everything from the Earth and its waters that can be sold, we are losing the life-support systems that sustain us all.
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM women face in the struggle to be objective about male violence is that most of us love individual men, fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, friends and lovers. And because we love, we tend to "make nice" when we are talking about male violence with them and say, in effect, "Oh, no, honey, not you.. . we're talking about those other violence-prone men over there." And so our most important discussions with our men about violence are derailed, or watered down.
I know there are some men out there who are just as troubled by male violence as some women. But just being troubled isn't enough. For every man who rejects the speed, greed, and macho corporate carnage, there are legions of other men who strive mightily for the greed and aggression route that marks men in our society as "true" men. This planet and just about everything on it is at the mercy of this collective male vision concerning male dominance and aggression.
Women have a clear choice. We can turn a blind eye and pretend we don't notice our own men's attraction to violence. Or we can do something different. We can insist that men confront their individual predispositions to violence and then perhaps we can all start trying to protect this planet, our children and ourselves.
Betty Krawczyk is a Victoria writer and long-time community activist.
[Published as Op-Ed article in the Victoria Times-Colonist Newspaper, August 18, 1998. page A13]
Do you think Betty's Op-Ed article is "Hate Literature"? Here is what the BC Human Rights Commission said: human.htm
- Males damned by generalizations
John Weston, Victoria.
Betty Krawczyk neatly sums up all of the world's problems as nothing more than male tendencies (Voices, "Planet at mercy of violent male vision," Aug. 18). I could not believe I was reading such generalizations as "Would we have the stockpiling of nuclear waste and nuclear weapons.. if violence were not a supreme value in the world of men?" and "Men have created a world where greed and aggression are the marks of a successful man." These are the remarks of one who seems to feel genuine hatred toward everything male.
Krawczyk blames violent television (of course) and sports for the prevalence of rape, murder and battering. What exactly does she want? A world where everything seen in television and movies is pleasant and comforting? Sure, I see Saving Private Ryan with no blood and a purple dinosaur inciting sing-alongs with the Germans.
So we are to circulate only the "good" stuff; we'll just pretend that horrible things don't really happen. To imagine what the people in that fluffy world would be like makes me cringe. Television is communication - we need to communicate about the real world. The sport connection is so absurd that I won't comment on it further.
Plastering blame on half of the world's population is not going to solve anything. We men are certainly not any happier as a result.
[Published as letter-to-ed in the Victoria Times-Colonist Newspaper, August 22, 1998. page A17]
(We don't know John Weston, but we like what he says and how he says it. - Dick)
In other News on Betty Krawczyk
81-year-old protester loses court appeal
Last Updated: Friday, December 3, 2010 | 9:34 PM PT
The Canadian Press
Betty Krawczyk talks to reporters before entering B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver in March 2007.(Richard Lam/Canadian Press)
B.C.'s Court of Appeal has upheld a 10-month sentence for an 81-year-old environmentalist.
Betty Krawczyk was convicted of criminal contempt for violating an injunction to stay away from logging crews in West Vancouver as they began work on the Sea-to-Sky Highway expansion in 2006.
Krawczyk, a great-grandmother who has been jailed before for her environmental activism, appealed both her conviction and sentence.
She had already lost the appeal of her conviction, and earlier this year the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear the case.
This week, the B.C. Court of Appeal rejected Krawczyk's sentencing appeal in a unanimous decision, ruling that although the 10-month sentence was high, it wasn't unreasonable.
Krawczyk refused to be released while her appeals were heard, and has already served her sentence.
Krawczyk's conviction for blocking the highway, which was being upgraded in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics, was the latest in a string of convictions and jail terms that began with her arrest for blockading logging trucks in Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island in the early 1990s.