Tag Archives: violence against women

The Fifth Estate re Wilno Murders: Why Didn’t We Know?

Last night, I watched the most recent Fifth Estate episode, about the murders of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk, and Nathalie Warmerdam last September near Wilno. The episode asks (shows) how the criminal justice system failed these women and others in abusive relationships. Not a good choice of bedtime material. Be prepared to be outraged (and probably shed some tears).

Osgoode PhD student and long time women’s advocate Amanda Dale has a brief spot towards the end of the episode, where she responds to the due process question in such cases.

Why Didn’t We Know?

In a matter of hours last September, three women were killed near the small town of Wilno, Ontario. The man arrested and accused of their murders, Basil Borutski had a long criminal history, including charges involving two of the three women. How did the system that’s supposed to protect women go so disastrously wrong? Gillian Findlay investigates, with revealing interviews with family members, friends of victims and witnesses



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

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.

Violence against women modules set to transform Ontario law education

The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) is launching at Queen’s University Faculty of Law a series of Ontario-wide law school curriculum modules on violence against women. Developed by the LCO with funding from the Ontario Women’s Directorate, the modules will serve as a roadmap to help professors set the context for violence against women within every law course and explore key issues in courses such as ethics, property law, family law and criminal law. They may be incorporated into existing courses or applied as stand-alone seminars or intensive programs.

LCO Executive Director Patricia Hughes will unveil the modules October 29, 2012 in a guest lecture at Feminist Legal Studies Queen’s (FLSQ), a research group focused on expanding awareness and development of scholarship in feminist legal studies. “Our goal is for all law students, not just those planning to practice family, criminal or tort law, to learn how to address these issues and work with clients who have experienced or perpetrated violence,” says Hughes.

via email : Webview : Violence against women modules ….

The Law Commission of Ontario: Lessons on violence against women


 Lessons on violence against women

Interesting new project from the Law Commission of Ontario (housed here at Osgoode under the leadership of IFLS member Patricia Hughes), and the Ontario Women’s Directorate.

the LCO is developing law school curriculum modules on violence against women. Each module — available to every Ontario law school — may be integrated into existing courses, combined to form a full course or serve as a freestanding intensive program.

Does anyone have experience with offering modules to law professors? My own experience teaching is that although I often have to prepare my own material because a casebook is inadequate, often I’m wondering how to teach the course in the time allotted! I look forward to seeing something I can use from this project, whether in Law, Gender, Equality or perhaps better, constitutional law.