Tag Archives: VAW

Private Murder, Public Pressure

Private Murder, Public Pressure

by Terrine Friday (Osgoode SJD program)

Is homicide a private matter?

The RCMP called  the Sept. 10 killing of Shirley Parkinson a “private matter,” and refused to release information about the manner of her death, although they have evidence that her husband killed her before taking his own life.

According to reports, Parkinson, 56, was killed by her husband Donald, 60, before he took his own life on the couple’s farm near Unity, Saskatchewan last month. The victim was a “well-known public health nurse” who worked with women and children in her community.

The RCMP did not, initially, release the fact that Shirley Parkinson was murdered – apparently to respect the family’s wishes. Saskatchewan journalists are now calling on the RCMP to release pertinent information about their investigation.

At first glance this raises the issue of how to balance the public interest and the family’s wish for privacy.  There may be some other reason why the RCMP would prefer to keep the case files closed to the public or why the wishes of the next of kin should be respected in this case.  But  the RCMP’s use of the Privacy Act to keep all specifics from the public, and their suggestion that the family context of this killing rendered it “private” are highly problematic.  My own research considers the complicated questions raised in access to information disputes, and focuses on the use of exceptions provided in the legislation to keep data out of the hands of journalists, researchers and the public.

Information about the homicide/suicide in Unity could serve to break the relative silence about domestic abuse, especially amongst older adults.   A 2007 clinical study by Sonia Salari, an expert on population aging and social interaction, reveals “[l]ater life intimate partner homicide suicide (IPHS) represents the most severe form of domestic partner abuse and usually results in at least two deaths.” The study shows 96 percent of perpetrators are men and suicide was the primary intent in 74 percent of cases analyzed.   A troubling finding is that any history of domestic violence was known to others in only 14 percent of cases. This research, as much as other arguments about transparency, accountability and the salience of the public private divide should lead us to question whether privacy is really the right approach to domestic abuse amongst the aging – or any other sector of society.

Grad students with guest post ideas related to their projects should get in touch with Sonia Lawrence, Osgoode Rm 3026

Empiricism and Equality: Studying Fathers’ Rights – Robson reviews Behre at Jotwell Equality

Empiricism and Equality: Studying Fathers’ Rights – Jotwell: Equality.

Very interesting, go and have a look at the review – and the article (Kelly A. Behre, Digging Beneath the Equality Language: The Influence of the Fathers’ Rights Movement on Intimate Partner Violence Public Policy Debates and Family Law Reform, 21 Wm. & Mary J.  Women & L. (forthcoming 2014), available at SSRN.).

While discussions, critiques, and analysis of the equality rhetoric of the international fathers’ rights movements are not novel, Kelly Behre’s article, Digging Beneath the Equality Language: The Influence of the Fathers’ Rights Movement on Intimate Partner Violence Public Policy Debates and Family Law Reform, does – – – as the title promises – – – “dig beneath.” The article’s first section is an excellent overview of the equality narratives of the fathers’ rights movement, including the appeal to civil rights movements and the use of both discrimination and gender-neutral tropes. But the real contribution of Behre’s article is her exploration of the relationship between empiricism and equality. [from Ruthann Robson’s explanation of why she likes the article – lots]

 

Today: METRAC at Osgoode (Tamar Witelson & Joanna Hayes)

METRAC4thFebJoin us today for the second in this IFLS series

Community, connections, commitment: Conversations at Osgoode
Tamar Witelson & Joanna Hayes of METRAC
Tuesday February 4th 1230-230 in Osgoode Hall 2027 (Faculty Lounge)

Legal Director Tamar Witelson & Legal Information Coordinator Joanna Hayes work for one of Toronto’s most dynamic and community engaged agencies. METRAC is a non-profit committed to the rights of women and children to live their lives free of violence and the threat of violence. METRAC also has not one but TWO legal information websites: Ontario Women’s Justice Network (OWJN) www.owjn.org and Family Law Education for Women (FLEW) www.onefamilylaw.ca
Joanna & Tamar will discuss the work METRAC does, how they work together, their career paths, and what working in the not-for-profit sector is like. Poster available here.

From our last session, with Farrah Khan and Deepa Mattoo (click here for more)

I really enjoyed today’s conversation. It was one of the best lunch hour talks I have been to at Osgoode. I appreciated the nuance, sensitivity, and palpable commitment Farrah and Deepa exhibited towards their advocacy and work. (Osgoode 3L)
It’s so rare to hear dialogue that’s both interesting and truly candid. I felt like I got a real glimpse into the work they’re doing, and what is at stake in current feminist legal activism. It also helped me think about what the current needs are in Toronto, and how I could envision responding to them. (Osgoode 1L)

Joanna Hayes is a lawyer and the Legal Information Coordinator for METRAC’s Community Justice Program, where she is responsible for developing and delivering accessible legal information and public legal education for women and youth affected by violence. She has a varied legal background, having worked in many social justice and public interest legal organizations with a focus on immigrant and refugee rights, women’s rights, and increasing access to justice. Before joining METRAC, she articled with the Ministry of the Attorney General, where she assisted counsel at the Ministry of Labour with prosecutions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Standards Act. Joanna has worked at the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario providing legal research and policy recommendations on whistleblowing legislation. She has also done legal work in Kenya to increase access to justice for marginalized groups and in South Africa with respect to the rights of women and girls, intimate partner violence and sexual offences.

Tamar Witelson is the Legal Director at METRAC, heading METRAC’s Community Justice Program, which develops and delivers in-person, online and printed legal information and education to community support workers, and to women who have experienced abuse and violence. Tamar develops and delivers training, and has presented at seminars and conferences about human rights and diversity issues. Tamar’s legal background has spanned the public and private spheres, with a focus on equality and human rights law. Before joining METRAC, Tamar was staff lawyer at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), where she launched an equality rights website for legal news and analysis. She has served as Counsel at the Constitutional Law Branch of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, and as Counsel at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, working on the transition to the Tribunal’s current direct access model. She also had a private practice in union-side labour and human rights law, following her Clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada. Before becoming a lawyer, Tamar worked for twelve years in television news, political and current affairs.

Community, connections, commitment: Conversations at Osgoode

 

This semester we are bringing some of the people who do front line work with gender issues in Toronto to Osgoode.   Join us for these discussions about work, careers, challenges and choices (each with one lawyer and one “non lawyer”) – we will leave plenty of time for your questions.  Tuesday Jan 21 and Tues Feb 4, 1230-230.

Tuesday January 21 1230-230 in 2027

Farrah Khan & Deepa Mattoo

Hear Deepa Mattoo (staff lawyer at South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario) & Farrah Khan (counselor at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic for women who have experienced violence, artist, and educator) talk about their work with women in the GTA’s South Asian communities, advocacy inside and outside the community, research, media strategies, and negotiating complicated spaces between xenophobic racism and community silencing. How did these women find their way to exciting and meaningful careers? What sustains them in their work? Come & find out.

pdf poster here: KhanMattoo21jan

 

KhanMattoo21jan

 

 

Tuesday February 4th 1230-230 in 2027, join IFLS

Tamar Witelson & Joanna Hayes

Legal Director Tamar Witelson & Legal Information Coordinator Joanna Hayes work for one of Toronto’s most dynamic and community engaged agencies. METRAC is a non-profit committed to the rights of women and children to live their lives free of violence and the threat of violence. They will discuss the work METRAC does, how they work together, their career paths, and what working in the not-for-profit sector is like.

PDF poster here:  METRAC4thFeb

 

METRAC4thFeb

 

 

O'Brien and Ryan coming from SCC this Thursday: Violence against Women, in context

These two cases should be interesting.

Ryan (see NSCA decision: http://bit.ly/X9FYP4) involves an abused spouse who tried to hire a hitman to kill her abusive husband.  The legal question revolves around whether the defence of duress is available to her.  In O’Brien, (see 2012 MBCA 6 http://bit.ly/10wHRwG  ) the jailed O’Brien was charged with uttering death threats.  He made various threats to his girlfriend over the phone (from jail…) after she told him she was planning an abortion.  She testified that she wasn’t worried about the threats, that he was always talking like that, and this gives rise to the interesting legal issue.

Looking forward to looking at the discussion of violence against women as context in these (I think…).

Also:  Where is Whatcott? Both of the cases coming out this week were heard well into 2012.  Whatcott (see SKCA decision here) in December 2011.