Ottawa Sun

Thursday, September 5, 2002

Double standard in abuse cases: Study

By NELLY ELAYOUBI, Ottawa Sun

Men aren't being treated fairly by police, prosecutors and the courts in domestic assaults, according to a recently released study in B.C.

Local gender equality advocates shared the findings of Gender as a Factor in the Treatment of Domestic Partner Abuse by Police and Prosecutors: A Pilot Project, by Edmonton lawyer and university professor Grant Brown, outside the Ottawa Police building on Elgin St.

There's a double standard that sees men treated more harshly at each stage of the criminal justice system, said Glenn Cheriton, of Commoners' Publishing Society, a local Ottawa action organization.

SAME PROBLEMS HERE

He has filed a freedom of information request to obtain a copy of the Ottawa Police policy on domestic assault. He dropped a copy of the new study in the police chief's mailbox yesterday and plans to follow up with him today.

"We're looking for a partnership with the police because we believe in treating people fairly, both men and women," Cheriton said.

Cheriton said that although the study was conducted in B.C., there are examples where men have been discriminated against by police in Ottawa.

"It's no different than racism," he said.

Wendy Byrne, chairwoman of the board of directors for the Women's Action Centre Against Violence, disagrees that Ottawa Police discriminate against men.

She said without "dynamic understanding" of domestic violence in the courts, it's difficult for any parties -- women, men and children -- to be treated fairly.

Justice may not be so blind

Some of the findings of Gender as a Factor in the Treatment of Domestic Partner Abuse by Police and Prosecutors: A Pilot Project Study, by Edmonton lawyer and university professor Grant Brown, include:

- Men are more frequently charged than women, including in minor injury cases.

- Men are more likely to be taken into custody once charged.

- Men are more likely to be found guilty than women.

- Women are more likely to make bail than men.

- Women used a knife-like object in 24.2% of the cases they were charged. Men used a knife-like object in 5.4% of cases.

- Charges against women for inflicting high-level injuries were withdrawn in 77.8% of cases.

- Women found guilty were more likely than men to have been intoxicated or to have committed their offence in the presence of children.

Copyright © 2002, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc.