Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Have We Learnt Anything?

Last week, a prominent sociology professor at St-Thomas University in New Brunswick was murdered by what police now believe was his son-in-law. The son-in-law was wanted by police but was found dead by an apparent suicide. This professor, who is a man, was well known at the university and was a respected sociologist, academic and overall human being. A real stand-up guy. His murder is an absolute tragedy and a loss for both his family and the STU community.

Information is now coming out that this professor “feared for the safety of his family” after receiving numerous threats from his then son-in-law. Sources say that the RCMP was warned about these threats, RCMP says they weren’t and so now we’re in a real shitty game of he-said, she-said.

Although the case was considered closed by RCMP, various organizations in New Brunswick and across the country are calling for a public inquiry into his murder. This inquiry would look into police protocol and the steps (or lack of) taken by police in issues of “family” violence.

I think this is amazing. I think there is an absolute dire need for a review of police protocol and I think that it’s about damn time.

BUT… I’m also disheartened by the eagerness of groups who are pushing for a public inquiry. The blogosphere has been abuzz with rumours about this professor’s life and experiences with the police and people are outraged over the lack of security he received. And rightfully so.

But the truth is that these things happen all the time to Canadian womyn. All the time. In fact a womyn's chances of being further assaulted or even killed, spike after a womyn leaves an abusive situation or reports it. And yet these particular cases are swept under the rug and with the exception of certain steadfast, dedicated, hardass feminist groups, are completely ignored.

I can’t help but think that if this sociology professor wasn’t well… a male sociology professor, there'd be a lot less outrage.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m deeply, deeply sorry for this man’s family and I’m glad to see that his murder was not in vain and will hopefully serve as a catalyst for major change, but I’m sorry to see womyn’s stories once again silenced. Especially this close to December 6th. Have we learnt nothing?

What's it going to take before Canadians are honest about the reality of womyn's lives?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian feminist activist (and former colleague of said professor) I am honest about the reality of women's lives (especially older women who are ignored even more) but, sadly, it did take a very well-respected, well-loved, highly public, middle-class, male peace activist to finally draw attention to this situation in NB (there are other provinces that have police guidelines when dealing with domestic violence). Many of us have been screaming for change for years, we just wish people had listened before now. But maybe now future lives will be saved.

The RCMP has since apologized for their screw-up (a bit late now) and an investigation on how the police handled it has been launched.

Oh, I love reading your blog.