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Domestic Violence Essay

2036 words - 9 pages

Statistics like these outlines the severity and seriousness of the domestic epidemic in Canada. This is an epidemic with dramatic and negative effects not only affecting individuals, but communities as a whole, it is a crime that knows no economic, racial, ethnic or religious limits. “At some point in their lives, more than forty percent of women will experience violence, and in most cases this violence is in the hands of a man.” Although research may suggest that these statistics may be under-reported as many of these assaults go unrecorded, this is largely due to society’s refusal to recognize such violence as an infringement on women’s human rights. The violence Canada has experienced ...view middle of the document...

Historically, married women in particular held no protection in law against violence in the home. The legal position until the end of the nineteenth century was not whether a man had beaten his wife, but rather, how severe the beating was. The legal ruling was that a man could legally beat his wife providing he used a stick that was no thicker than this thumb. It was not until 1983, when the law changed a man could now be charged for the raping of his spouse, before that, charges could not be laid even if the couple had separated. This reflected patriarchal ideologies of marriage, with a man holding property-like rights in regards to his spouse.
A leading response to domestic violence has been conducted through the Canadian criminal justice system, where significant reforms have been made in the past twenty years in how the criminal justice system deals with familial abuse. Such reforms have aided children into appearing in courtrooms and testifying about their experiences with abuse and that of their mothers. The police force has become much more aggressive in the process of their investigations as well as the crown prosecutors have now taken on the responsibility for abuse cases. “The Canadian justice system has recognized that it is unfair to the victim to leave them in a position of deciding how to deal with cases, without police and prosecutorial intervention, a woman is more likely to feel pressured or intimidated into discontinuing prosecution.” In Canada, a person charged with a crime has a great amount of rights under The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A charge of domestic violence or assault can only be turned into a conviction if and when the Crown prosecutor has successfully proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” the defendant is in fact guilty of said offence. The accused holds the right to “retain a lawyer, if they are unable to afford one, they may be eligible to have it paid by the government legal aid scheme. They have the right to disclosure of the prosecution’s evidence before the case is tried.” An accused may generally be eligible for release pending trial, with some conditions such as surrendering any weapons, or that they stay away from the victims named. If any previous convictions appear on their criminal record, or such an individual poses a serious threat the judge may be persuaded to detain the accused in custody until the trial date. “Relatively few cases are solved by trial, and often the accuse pleads guilty, or the charges are dropped by the prosecution as a result of the victim recanting their statement to the police.” While there are a number of increasingly successful prosecutions for domestic violence, there is a range of practical difficulties in the prosecution of these cases.
Formerly sentencing practices have shown a rather high tolerance for domestic violence crimes. Physical assault by intimate partners was not treated with the same gravity as other assault crimes. Judges had often...

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