Tuesday, June 17, 2008

People are People, So Why Should it Be?

In Canada, the federally funded collection of data tells us delicious stats such as the fact that womyn are more likely than men to be the victims of the most severe forms of spousal assault, as well as spousal homicide, sexual assault and criminal harassment. Or the fact that in 2004 alone, 52,127 womyn were admitted into shelters. This does not include the amount of womyn who were turned away from shelters. And well, in Canada, in 90% of the cases, the perpetrator is male.

I’m not a big statistics junkie and I refuse to play into the “BUT MEN ARE ABUSED TOO” rhetoric because yeah, you know what? They are abused. They definitely are. And definitions of masculinity often hinder men from being able to speak out about that abuse and that really, really sucks. BUT! That doesn’t change the fact that the numbers speak loud and clear about the fact that men are most often the perpetrators of violence, against womyn and men.

And although womyn as a whole are continuous targets of male perpetrated violence, marginalized womyn are even more vulnerable. This is rather common sense. And if it wasn’t common sense to you already, then the recent headlines screaming across Canada have made it abundantly clear.

Prostitute killer to serve 17 years in prison before parole (CBC)

Svelka Found Guilty of Murdering 1 Prostitute (CTV)

Prostitute killer Thomas Svekla sentenced to at least 17 years in prison (The Canadian Press)

Prostitute. Prostitute. Prostitute. If you aren’t 100% sure by now, the womyn who was killed? Prostitute. Not a plumber, a doctor, a cashier, an artist. Nope. A prostitute.

You mean to tell me that if an electrician gets killed, the headlines will scream ELECTRICIAN KILLER SENTENCED TO 17 YEARS?

I realize that it is not that simple and that often times, the occupation is associated with the person’s identity because their murder was somehow related to their work. NURSE KILLED BY PATIENT. You know, shit like that. But according to moi (which is what you get when you’re standing near my soapbox), this is part of the systemic nature of violence against womyn. A system that continuously perpetuates the idea that violence against womyn is somehow okay, normal, accepted. “She was a prostitute? Oh okay.” Like somehow that puts the pieces together and justifies it all.

She was a human being for Christ sake. Last I heard, so are all sex workers. For a country that is so adamantly against the death penalty, we still seem to pass judgement on who will live or die.

*For all you skeptics, all Stats info found on official StatsCan site.


eh said...

This is a really great post. The idea that sex-trade workers are viewed as disposable people or acceptable losses is reaffirmed every couple of months with the discovery of another body in the greater Edmonton area. Can you even imagine the reaction in my city if the bodies of 30 lawyers or 30 homemakers, or 30 teachers had been discovered in the past decade and a half?

Not only does the label 'prostitute' diminish the perceived severity of these crimes, it obscures the underlying current of misogyny in our society that threads these murders together.

Anonymous said...