Wednesday, November 27, 2002
It's not fair, it's not right, and it certainly is not just
Having been brought in a home where both my parents believed that women were equal to men in every way, I, too, raised my own sons and daughters in the same belief. Years ago, when one of my daughters was still a teenager, I overheard her tell a friend, "My mother was the first
feminist I ever met!"
So, yes, I have always spoken. out for the equality of the sexes but now I find I must also speak out for justice and fairness.
The Domestic Violence Act, brought into being several years ago, was
hailed as a: triumph, especially for women in abusive situations. If a
woman found herself in an abusive relationship, the Act gave her the
right to simply report the abuse to the police who would then charge the
man and remove him from the scene. It seemed a great step forward, and in most ways it was.
The only trouble with the Act was that it failed to real ize that out in the real world, along with the men, there were some vicious and very abusive women who would use the law to their own advantage Since the Acts inception many men have been falsely charged of abuse and had their lives destroyed by vindictive, deceitful women. For a man in this kind of situation, it's almost impossible to receive justice because it nearly always comes down to his word against that of the woman's. For over 50 years women have struggled for their rights while instilling society with the idea that most men behave badly towards women. Now we live in a social climate where a woman's word (no matter bow outrageous) is believed over that of a man's. Many men become so discouraged and frustrated trying to prove their innocence that they give up the fight, many of them even resorting to plead guilty just to get the matter over with so they can get on. with their lives.
In the past year, I've sat in courts where it seemed to me that the
court was so fearful of allowing a man accused of abuse his freedom that
it bent over back wards to make sure he didn't get a fair hearing The
courts are afraid if they should make a mistake and let a man go free
and have him return to abuse or even kill the woman involved, that
society will hold them responsible and accountable. This is
understandable because it's true that horrific events like this have
happened on a few rare occasions and, of course, this is deplorable. My
point is that deplorable as this may be, the courts have become
paranoid; One crown attorney was heard to say near the end of one man's trial, "The fellow may not be guilty, but I have to take care to cover
my own neck." He went on to demand the most outrageous and excessive
terms of release. The innocent man in question spent time in jail, was
left jobless and homeless, his reputation in shreds. All because a
controlling, rejected woman set out to destroy him with her lies.
Yesterday, I spent most of the day in court with another young man (age
29) who also has been falsely accused of physical abuse by the woman he
had broken up with. This is a man with a Ph.D., a good job and a
brilliant future, all of which he will most certainly lose if she wins
the case. The trial did not conclude yesterday and had to be reset for a
day next spring. In the meantime, he lives with this charge hanging over
his head, now knowing what the outcome will be. He is learning that one
of the hardest things to fight in this world is a lie told by a
rejected, jealous woman.
Ever since 1 began to involve myself with some of these falsely accused
men and speak out for men?s rights, it has amazed me how many there are who are suffering form the same untold agonies - from losing their
children, their homes and reputations, to piling up horrendous legal
fees. I venture to say that in our own County there are dozens, and
thousands across the whole of Canada.
The saddest case I've heard about is of a very decent man whose marriage broke up, and his wife, wanting to destroy him, accused him of the worst thing she could think of - that of sexually assaulting their three
little chil dren. Although the charge was completely false, it took
three years in the courts for him to gain access to his children. In the
meantime, his wife got full custody of the children, was awarded the
house and a very healthy financial arrangement. What did he get? -
bankruptcy and a nervous breakdown.
What is to be done? The Domestic Violence Act is needed to help women
get out of abusive relationship, but as so often happens, the scales of
justice have been tipped too far. Somehow, the people who make up our
laws much change the law so that it has some bit or deterrent for
deceitful women who know how to use the system to their own revengeful
advantage. Gordon Cudmore, London lawyer, pointed out in his column in
the London Free Press (March 23, 2003) when he wrote on the subject,
that it's as easy for a woman to pick up the phone and accuse her
partner of abuse as it is for her to order a pizza. The consequences,
however, are far more serious and long lasting for the accused man,
especially if he's innocent.
It's not fair, it's not right, and it certainly is not just.
SINCERELY, GWYNETH WHILSMITH