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vendredi 20 août 2010
Response to the VPD review in the cases of the Pickton Murders
DANS LA MEME RUBRIQUE
Burkini Is a Feminist Issue Too
The notion that it’s ok for disabled men to pay for sex is rooted in misogyny and ableism
Egyptian doctor living in Zurich produces educational videos about health and sexuality for the Arab world
Amnesty International and Prostitution : Not in Our Name !
Open letter to rabble.ca - Support Meghan Murphy suffered a misogynist campaign by the sex industry lobby
"Insectual - The Secret of the Black Butterfly", by Barbara Sala
Canada’s New Sex Trade Law
Sharia Law, Apostasy and Secularism
“Harm reduction” is not enough to appropriately analyze prostitution
True Progressives Encourage Women’s Equality, Not Their Prostitution
Sexual mutilations outside Africa : new report and new denial except the Iraqi case
FGM slowing down ? The UN asserts it, the Indonesian case contradicts it
Prostitution, STRASS and the senator - When opacity becomes relevant
Is equating prostitution and rape ‘intolerable violence’ ? Really ?
Obama, Madonna and us
After Ontario Courts rule on Bedford : a rant
Comparing Sex Buyers and Non-Sex Buyers July 2011 (Boston)
Sex resistance in heterosexual arrangements
Abolitionists of the prostitution system : who we are, what we want !
Women Living Under Muslim Laws Statement on Libya
Prostitution is a Threat to Humanity
Prostitution - Call for Australia’s prostitution laws to be tightened
Violence - An Open Letter from Black Women to SlutWalk Organizers
Nothing that is sexual can be considered criminal : hidden sexual violence in the DSK case
The Truth about Global Sex Slavery – A Book by Lydia Cacho
Why reproductive rights and prostitution are not the same thing : A response to one decriminalization argument
Prostitution - The abolitionist project within the conference Women’s Worlds 2011
Montreal - The Turcotte jury got it wrong
Reasons I Will Not Go On the Slutwalk
International Sex Industries and their Accomplices Hamper the Autonomy of All Women
Ten Critical Reasons for getting rid of Harper’s Conservatives
Real solidarity with prostituted women is in the fight for abolition of prostitution
Decriminalize prostituted persons and criminalize those who exploit them (‘johns’ and pimps)
Polygamy in Canada Should Remain Illegal
My fears of the push for indoors prostitution
We cannot be satisfied with the simple harm-reduction model
The Native Women’s Association of Canada is Worried About Himel’s Judgement on Prostitution
Ontario Court Decision Abandons Aboriginal Women and Women of Colour to Pimps
Speech - The effects of globalization of political Islam on Women’s Rights, the question with polygamy, the Niqab and Honour Killing
Quebec Forges Enlightened Trail on Burkas
Breast Cancer a Disease, No a Marketing Opportunity
The International Campaign To Closedown Iranian Embassies
Violation of rights in Iran, a window from my experience to a broader picture
"Sex worker" ? Never met one !
The One Million Signatures Campaign has been awarded the prestigious Global Women’s Rights Award from the Feminist Majority Foundation
Prostitution - Feminist Perspectives, a book
Prostitution : Violating the Human Rights of Poor Women
More than 1 000 american historians call for equity in the stimulus package in open letter to Obama
Order of Canada Awarded to Dr. Morgentaler - Acts of intimidation should not rule Canada
Femaid report on Afghanistan, May 2008
Time for Quebecers to be more open : Bouchard-Taylor report
Canadian Bar Association supports strengthening equality in the Quebec Charter
Zero Tolerance for Johns : How the Government of Sweden Would Respond to Spitzer
Politicians are responsible for toxic, misogynist environment facing girls
Spitzer - The Myth of the Victimless Crime
Goodbye To All That (#2)
The freedom to never prostitute oneself
NO legalized brothels for the Olympics 2010 - Aboriginal women’s Action Network statement on prostitution
CLES says NO to the violence of prostitution
Does Porn Make the Man ?
A Trip Into the Absurd
Mothers File International Complaint Against United States
Prostitutes are victims, not criminals
Anthology of Québec Women’s Plays in English Translation, Volume I (1966-1986)
The Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle (CLES) intervene during the upcoming provincial election
Prostitution - Three Women and a Debate
Men Favour the Apolitical Discourse on Prostitution
The Whole Truth Must be Told : Sylviane’s testimony on her experience of prostitution
Democracy and Religious Obligations : an Impasse ?
What is liberation ? Feminism past, present and future
Books by Andrea Dworkin
Globalization, Militarism and Sex Trafficking
Muslim Groups Denounce the Cultural Relativism of a Certain Left
Canadian Muslim leader alleges her veil views sparked vandalism
Prostitution : CATW’S Post-World Cup Statement
NOW to denounce so-called parental alienation
Prostitution : for an Abolitionist Bill
The dimensions of trafficking for purposes of prostitution
"Charm is a Guise ; Batterers Belong in Jail, Expert Says"
Interview with Catherine MacKinnon : Are Women Human ?
Danish cartoons - Doing away with the Enlightenment ?
It’s happening next door : from incestuous girls to alienating mothers
Green Light for Pimps and Johns
Buying Sex is not a Sport
Prostitution is Violence Against Women
The Ideal Site for the Crime
Tell me, what does "gender" really mean ?
Gunilla Ekberg : « The best thing we can do for our sisters is to support them to get out of prostitution »
Interview with Catharine A. MacKinnon : « They haven’t crushed me yet. »
Decriminalizing prostitution, a magnet for pimps and johns
Declaration on Religious Arbitration in Family Law
Prostitution : Towards a Canadian policy of abolition
Prostitution inseparable of violence against women
The need for a public debate on prostitution and its social consequences
Prostitution of First Nations Women in Canada
270 000 $ granted to Stella for a four days event on sex work
IN MEMORIAM : Andrea Dworkin or The passion for justice
Decriminalizing prostitution will not improve the security of prostituted women
Dworkin - Taking Back the Night
Backlash and Whiplash : A Critique of Statistics Canada’s 1999 General Social Survey on Victimization
Helping the prostituted women or promoting prostitution ?
The Need for a Public Debate on Prostitution and its Social Consequences
The legalization of prostitution and its impact on trafficking in women and children
Prostitution Links, Women’s Justice Center
"If you don’t take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits"
Sweden Treating Prostitution as Violence Against Women
Forced marriage as crime
Why Women Must Get out of Men’s Laps
International Campaing Against Shari’a Court in Canada
Decriminalize prostituted women, not prostitution
Canada Contributes to the Sexual Trafficking of Women for Purposes of Prostitution
Fathers’ Rights Groups in Australia and their Engagement with Issues in Family Law
Women Rage Against ’Rape’ in Northeast India
Sexual domination in uniform : an american value
Tribunals Will Marginalize Canadian Muslin Women and Increase Privatization of Family Law
The sexual sadism of our culture, in peace and in war
Queer theory and violence against women
The Legalisation of Prostitution : A failed social experiment
Globalization and the Sex Trade : Trafficking and the Commodification of Women and Children
Will Paternal Paranoia Triumph ?
Ode to Survivors
Court confirms any woman’s human right to organize with peers
Program produces motherless kids
Legitimating Prostitution as Sex Work : UN Labour Organization (ILO) Calls for Recognition of the Sex Industry (Part One)
Legitimating Prostitution as Sex Work : UN International Labour Organization Calls for Recognition of the Sex Industry (Part Two)
Elisabeth Badinter distorts feminism the better to fight it
Prostitution : Rights of Women or Right to Women ?
The "Stolen Feminism" Hoax : Anti-Feminist Attack Based on Error-Filled Anecdotes
Hormone Replacement Therapy, the "Magic Bullet" Ricochets
For the sake of the children : the law, domestic violence and children contact in England
Friendships between women good for health
Children of divorce need our protection
Divorce Bill’s flaws inadvertently aid abusers
Problem isn’t little boys, it’s little minds
A report from Status of Women Canada about the discursive denial of gender inequalities
Ten Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution
Poem for Peace
Peace Rally Speech of a 12 year old American Girl
Good clone, bad clone ?
Canadian Women’s Health Network
So hard to say goodbye
In a four hundred page report in the cases of women missing from Vancouver, Doug LePard of the VPD reveals year after year of failure after failure to arrest or aid the conviction of killer "Willie" Pickton. The astounding foolishness and multiple missteps revealed in this internal review were leaked through the B. C. Attorney General’s office, where the review has languished unattended and hidden for five years.
Of course it is not the fault of the police that women on reserves are so poor that they migrate to the city ghettos. It is not the fault of the Vancouver police that violence on reserves including prostitution is neglected. It is not the fault of police that women on welfare are so impoverished that they are turning to prostitution. And the police do not write the federal law.
But only now in the aftermath of the unresolved murder cases, in the heat and light created by the mourning families of mutilated women, in the rage of equality advocates and in the demand for a full public inquiry do we see this review. This is only the first of the air tight officially authorized versions of what is wrong : the RCMP version, the sex industry version, the criminal justice system version and the version of the elected officials of the Vancouver and BC Government are all yet to come. Nothing short of a full public inquiry that questions those versions of the roles of all the authorities, open to the public for information and query will satisfy our need to know.
Discriminatory ideas and practices
At Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, we sat over coffee the day before the release and cynically predicted the list of categories of failures according to the police : mismanagement, jurisdictional wrangling, mistakes of other police forces or branches of government, “shortages” of money and staff and lacks in training and coordination. This is always their list, dragged out at every coroner’s inquest and moment of public accountability to demand more power and more resources. It is a list that diverts us from systemic changes in policing.
We also guessed what would not be in this review : the category or group of discriminatory ideas and practices governing the VPD policing of Violence Against Women and in particular these fifty and more cases of deadly prostitution.
The missing were Women, many Aboriginal Women, the friends and neighbours and even beat cops who reported them gone feared Violence against Women. Those fears were based on the vulnerability of women in prostitution, the violence of men buying sex, the viciousness of sexualized racism toward Aboriginal women on Vancouver streets and the prevalence of all forms of Violence against Women. Their fears have been proved horribly insightful.
The review lacks the recommendations that might improve police interference with Violence against Women. LePard in spite of his apologies still did not use an understanding of racism, and racialized sexism in modern BC nor did he apply an understanding of women’s oppression through violence to examine the police ignorance and failures. Without that understanding of inequality and an examination of how current VPD police practices work against women and Aboriginal women, and work to undermine women’s use of law against sexist and racist violence , this report simply recreates the problem. The VPD were blinded by sex and race discrimination and still have not removed the blinders.
According to the review, Vancouver police did not take the absences and “missing” stories seriously. Dementia in old age, childhood adventuring, and illness can make people wander off. But when so many adult women are missing it is different and more suspicious. Officer Dave Dickson worked the area for years and with many in the neighbourhood, he has a personal reputation for compassion. LePard says that Dickson’s contact allowed him to conceive of these people as women with families and connections that they would not just abandon and Dickson knew that even those badly addicted and broken women had commitments and attachments and people who loved them. He claimed they would not just disappear, VPD bosses overruled him. That the missing were women was unusual and required the police to think differently about why and how they might go missing. For years the VPD would not accept this idea.
Obviously those including parents, lovers, friends and children reporting women as missing did so because they were worried about violence against these women. But according to LePard in the VPD review, reports of “missing women” were not handled by those charged with solving “serious crime”. The suspicion of violence in a society where violence against women is so prevalent should make it a matter of serious crime !
When they finally paid attention, the VPD knew that many of the missing women were poor. Some had been reported to go with men who wanted to buy sex and others to go with men who offered drugs and alcohol at “parties” where the women rendered drunk and stoned were expected to return the favour by being sexually available.
Willing to be prostituted and suffer violence ?
Police clung to their preconception that prostituted women were somehow different than other women. The VPD imagined this other kind of women as not missing but wildly transient. They might be on the circuit or off to dry out they imagined. On the other hand they ignored what was particular about these women : that they were poor and Aboriginal and therefore more vulnerable to johns.
The police were not thinking of the missing as women as just like their sisters and aunts and daughters but caught in a more deadly dangerous situation. In the review, they are called “sex workers”. Police imagined willing prostitutes instead of seeing them as destitute, racialized women. That one fiction ; that some women are different, more willing to suffer violence, led police to convince themselves that these named and missing women were not missing at all but just more transient, more willingly living as LePard says in the review, “a risky lifestyle”.
The missing women were different mostly in that they were destitute and Aboriginal and therefore in more need of protection from opportunistic and predatory men. The review makes note of the evidence of increased risks of abuse from men buying sex but does not account for why that risk was not steering the force to suspect and arrest john’s and pimps as the likely source of the dangers. It is against the law for men to buy sex from women, any women. It is against the law to arrange for men to buy sex from women or to supply women to men for sexual purchase. But most men acting as john’s were not arrested and still are not. In a city that has suffered sex trafficking, sex tourism, prostitute torture, confinement and murder aside from Pickton, that has suffered Olsen and Bakker and Ng and on and on, where is the policy change ?
Refusal to see the common points between the disappeared women
The police ignored the reports of women missing even as numbers grew to monthly. Patterns of disappearance emerged for those who looked : that the reports were about women, disproportionately about Aboriginal women was clear. Four or five women police officers are named in the review as fighting for some recognition of this huge problem, of the danger of violence against women, of the possibilities of a serial killer of women, of the possibility that murderers would escape by police losing evidence to competitive territorialism. Why didn’t their hunches as women have extra weight ? What internal sexism made these versions of reality, these reports from female officers less believable ?
According to the review, the VPD hierarchy did not use the public information available about the conditions of women about violence against women and about racism. Saying “She chooses a risky lifestyle” encoded permission for victim blaming. The term “Survival sex worker “, encoded her blame for poverty and addiction. “Missing women” are still blamed for being available outdoors instead of in licensed brothels where their abuse could not be seen. This is just like saying she “was wearing a short skirt” or “she drank too much” or “she should not have been in that bar” or “why does she stay with a violent man”.
Partial review and necessity of a public inquiry
Brothels, private for the johns, where violence is hidden by a pimp or owner to protect the profitable license, where women’s security is privatized to the highest bidder, the VPD imagined women would be safe from going missing. Safe from men like Pickton ? In a Vancouver trial this year a john was convicted of beating Nicole Parisien to death in a three minute explosion of anger in the brothel on Burrard St. This university aged drunken john was outraged that he was not getting his money’s worth when Nicole could not maintain his erection.
Police need to blame the violence of prostitution on the johns for demanding sex for pay. Instead of suspecting the obvious, that johns like Pickton would be implicated in the disappearances and the violence, the VPD settled for collecting DNA from prostituted women to be able to identify their bodies and distinguish between the three serial killers operating at the same time.
For more than thirty five years Vancouver women have been complaining of inadequate police response to all forms of violence against women. In 2007 equality experts gathered in Vancouver to discuss how to press for improvements and consulted internationally on effective methods of civilian oversight.
This report like many before it reveals that like many other complaints of violence against women these reports of women missing and the suspected violence were minimized, deemed unfounded, diverted from prosecution. Survivors, witnesses with horror stories of hanging bodies and flayed flesh were accused of exaggeration, reports were lost, DNA evidence wasted and significant corroboration ignored and obvious leads dropped. For too long it was not considered serious crime.
Since Vancouver feminists organized Vancouver Rape Relief in 1973, Canada’s first rape crisis center, data has been available that Aboriginal women get the worst of Violence against Women and the worst of the police response. Aboriginal women suffer sexist violence within the family and close community as do all women but Aboriginal women also bear the brunt of men placed above them in the racist and economic hierarchies. The particular form of that oppression by white men and men with money is both sexual and violent and in prostitution it is life threatening. In this case it was deadly. But none should think it is the only case.
This review of the VPD is damning but partial. We need to open the closed boxes where the versions of this story are housed and look at them in the light of day in a full public inquiry. Authorities must answer for the carnage. Apologies and hindsight are not enough. Relationships must change. We must construct mechanisms where diligent civilian oversight of policing can attend to women’s constitutional and human rights to peace and equality under the law.
On Sisyphe, August 20, 2010
Richard Poulin and Yanick Dulong, Serial and Mass Murder, Sociopolitical Dynamics, Montréal, éditions Sisyphe, 2010.