Within the last year or so, there has been talk about a Victims’ Bill of Rights to be put through Parliament in Canada. I recall touching on this a while back. Now it has returned to the news.
“As we have stated countless times, we are committed to introducing a comprehensive package of legislative reforms never before seen in our country’s history,” says Justice Minister Peter McKay in a letter the Canadian Press has gotten its journalistic hands on. He continues by adding: “Victims of crime deserve to be treated with courtesy, compassion, inclusion and respect.”
There has been discussion about this Bill, though nothing concrete has been set yet. McKay stated last fall in an interview that victims should be involved in the justice process “from the time of the offence to the final disposition of the sentence.” This Bill will supposedly give victims a voice in the system instead of being treated like a witness.
Ombudsman Sue O’ Sullivan was quoted by CBC: “We have an opportunity with the upcoming bill of rights to rebalance the system for victims of crime in Canada.”
And she is right. Such reforms, if done correctly, could go a long ways in properly prosecuting criminals. Especially if there is a focus put on domestic violence and child abuse victims. To give them a voice would change so much in a justice system where currently a pothead will go to jail for longer than a child molester.
The likes of the John Howard society have claimed this Bill is a return to “medieval” justice. But what is so wrong with a justice system that actually focusses on victims? We have seen time and time again under our current system that victims often do not get justice served. When the likes of Graham James only gets measly two year sentences for the amount of damage and terror he inflicted, and yet someone who only smokes pot will go to jail for seven years, where is the justice? While drugs are certainly an issue that needs to be addressed, it’s not the only issue our justice system should be focussing on.
As many of you know, in the last year I went through a rather hostile break up with a guy who essentially stalked me after he made the decision to leave me. I got the cops involved as I wasn’t sure what his intentions were. After watching what my mother went through, I wasn’t willing to take my chances on how it might turn out.
But I learned something from the experience. I was reminded of how much it helps to know what a woman on her own can do to protect herself from even potentially threatening situations. Know your rights. Know the laws. Educate yourselves, ladies, because while you might never find yourself in my mother’s shoes, you could very well find yourselves in mine. And if you aren’t aware of how you can fight back to someone who wants to play games, then what will you do?
I had a no-contact order put on my ex. It means if he comes near me, my workplace or my home and I feel threatened, I could call the cops and he would get arrested and charged. I didn’t stay anywhere on my own because I had my suspicions. But I got angry. I’d had enough of the games and the immaturity.
I am posting the link to the Government of Canada website under their Family Violence law section. I advise everyone, really, to read up on this and know the laws. They are there to use. They are there for you. Educating yourself is so important so that if something is to happen, you know what you can do. And remember, even if it is just a no-contact order or a restraining order, it records any time he does something and it proves later on that he has a history of certain behaviour towards you. It was how my mother eventually got out of her terrible situation and it is how I avoided something that might have escalated. It might seems small and pointless now, but down the road if a case gets taken to court, it is there as evidence to back you up. You’ve got to have your own back because there are times no one else can or will. Stand your ground. Be fearless.
“We should be celebrated every day. We can be the most powerful army, if we support each other. If we believe in ourselves respect all the others….” ~Cristina Scabbia, Lacuna Coil