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Table of Contents for Eeva Sodhi's Web pages at Fathers for Life
Eeva Sodhi's Website (Archived)
 
 

The truth about family violence in Canada


Canadian Family Violence Statistics

Contributed by  Eeva Sodhi
Fri, 21 Apr 2000 13:20:25 -0400

Index and Section 1

Index:

  1. Mandatory Arrest Policy in Ontario
  2. Spousal Assault and Murder
  1. My letter to the Ottawa Sun concerning Donna Casey's article: "Sleeping with the Enemy"
  1. The reliability of StatCan's data
  1. Child Abuse and Murder
  1. The United Way's "Education Wife Assault" (EWA)
  1. Some U.S. data

See also Eeva Sodhi's annotated bibliography on Family Violence references.


Eeva Sodhi's paper on

Canadian Family Violence Statistics

Mandatory Arrest Policy in Ontario:

In Ontario, the mandatory arrest policy is applicable only in cases of 'wife assault'.  Inflammatory and misleading statistics, quoted out of context, are used to make the case for the anti-male, discriminatory arrest policies. 

In 1991, 64 percent of all female homicide victims were killed by their male partners and in 1992, 97 percent of all domestic homicide victims were female (Homicide Survey, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, October 1992 and July 1993). 

It must be pointed out that according to the preceding statement by the Ontario Solicitor General's Department, only men and women can be victims of "domestic homicide."  It boggles the mind as to why children were excluded from the category of "domestic homicide."

According to Homicide in Canada 1997 (Juristat vol. 18, no. 2) there were 

  • 581 homicides in all of Canada during that year, 
  • 44 women killed by their current spouse, and 
  • 17 women killed by a former spouse or a boyfriend. 

However terrible the statement "...64 percent of all female homicide victims were killed by their male partners and in 1992, 97 percent of all domestic homicide victims were female" may sound, the fact is that the actual number of female victims of spousal murders in Ontario in 1997 was probably in the order of about 17 to 18.

According to Toronto Police, in 1998 there were 52 homicides in Toronto, comprising 38 male and 14 female victims.  Seven cases out of those constituted domestic homicides.  Three men were amongst the suspects in murders in families, one common-law husband, one legal husband, and one stepfather.  However, there were also one legal wife, one girlfriend, one daughter, and one stepmother. 
    With such low numbers of "domestic homicides" in the largest city in Canada and probably no more than about 18 female "domestic homicide" victims in all of Ontario in that year, it is little wonder that the department of the Ontario Solicitor General prefers to quote a figure of 97 percent.  After all, 97 percent sounds so much more horrific and has so much more propaganda value than the absolute number of perhaps 10 murders perpetrated by female- and 10 murders perpetrated by male family members, especially given the likelihood that female blood relatives are twice as likely than male blood relatives to be the murderers of victims of murder in families, if we include the children who became victims of murder in families.

Given the fact that neither the Toronto police nor Statistics Canada were either willing or able to shed any light on the true breakdown of the sexes of the perpetrators or their relationship to their victims, the question arises as to where the 97-percent figure actually came from.  Surely, it couldn't possibly be true that feminist interests in the Ontario Solicitor General's Department are just plain and simply trying to pull the wool over our eyes?

In contrast, during 1997 there were 47 incidents with 62 victims of child murder in Canada, not including ostensible SIDS cases.  Of the perpetrators, 24 were fathers responsible for the murder of 37 children, and 25 (or 23 or 24, depending which of StatCan's letters can be trusted) mothers being responsible for the murders of the remaining 25 victims of the total of 62 victims.  It is not clear how many of the murdering fathers were the natural fathers of the children killed.  If the situation in the US is any indication of what the ratio is between the sexes of natural parents in Canada who murder their children, it may well be that not more than about two or three of those 62 Canadian child murder victims were murdered by their natural fathers. 

When will Statistics Canada begin to tell us the whole truth and nothing but the unadulterated truth about murders in the family?  Surely, it can't be such a difficult or insurmountable task to determine the sex and relationship to their victims of the people in Canada who kill 62 children, 61 women and a somewhat obscure number of men in Canadian families per year, and then to simply count the number in each group of perpetrators.

For the sake of Canadian society, the obfuscating must stop, and so must the vilification of men.


1. Spousal Assault and Murder

Correctional Services of Canada 
Women convicted of Homicide Serving A Federal Sentence, Oct. 1998 
  • "Descriptive statistics demonstrate that a contract killer was more common in the context of a spousal homicide [committed by women] compared to the other typologies."
Considering that a significant number of homicides remain unsolved we can only deduce that the number of men killed by their female partners will never be known.

And what were the men doing when they were killed? Corrections Canada tells us that 

  • 33.3% were asleep or passed out, 
  • 35.7% were engaged in some other activity, 
  • 4.8% were arguing or assaulting the co-accused, 
  • 19% were arguing with the offender, 
  • 7.1% were assaulting the offender. 
The last three findings are not corroborated as the victims no longer can defend themselves.

55% of the women convicted for spousal homicide had prior criminal records. That just about closes the chapter on the innocent battered victim, considering that there are also those who have managed to remain anonymous as they had hired a contract killer

According to Toronto Police, in 1998 there were 52 homicides in Toronto. 

Victims:

  • 38 male and 14 female. 

Suspects: 

  • Not sure: 16; 
  • unknown relationship: 9; 
  • common-law husband: 1; 
  • legal husband: 1; 
  • legal wife: 1; 
  • girlfriend: 1; daughter: 1; 
  • Stepfather: 1; 
  • Stepmother: 1.

 Success in solving the cases: 

  • 1998: 35 out of 52; 
  • 1997: 37 out of 61.
According to Homicide in Canada 1997 (Juristat vol. 18, no. 2) there were 
  • 581 homicides in Canada during that year, 
  • 44 women were killed by their current spouse, and 
  • 17 by a former spouse or a boyfriend. 
That would make it 10.49%. That hardly makes an epidemic, nor is it the 20% quoted in the feminist literature.

According to "Family Violence in Canada 1999" (Statistics Canada, cat. No. 85-224) there were

  • 19,575 spousal assaults against women recorded by the police in 1997 (Source: Family Violence in Canada, 1999).
 There were over 15 million females in Canada in 1996-1999,  about 6 million were married, about 800, 000 were divorced. (StatCan Population by marital status and sex. 1995 - 1999)
    Add to that the statistics about "boyfriend/girlfriend" relationships and the number would be at least 2 million more. That would indicate that one in 450 married, common law, "boyfriend/girlfriend" or divorced women were assaulted by their partner. Hardly the 51% that Statistics Canada claims. 
    75% of them were victims of common assault, (Source: Family Violence in Canada, 1999, p. 11). Considering that common assault may or may not consist of actual assault, e. g.: various categories of assault are set out in the Criminal Code – they are: 
  • 1. Assault (also called "simple" assault) where force is used or threatened but there is no physical injury or the injury is trifling in nature, 

we do not know how many of those women were in fact assaulted and how many used the "abuse excuse", i.e. filed false allegations in order to gain the upper hand in divorce and custody proceedings. 

The data regarding false allegations is not collected by the various governmental agencies. The victimization surveys are collected from women only, the victimiser statistic's from men only. One sided surveys provide one sided results.

A few other interesting quotations from StatCan.

"Family Violence in Canada 1999"

  • P. 17, column 1, paragr. 3: International comparisons of spousal violence.
  • "This can take many forms, including ... rape in war, child marriage, dowry-related murder... female infanticide..."
None of the above are applicable in Canada, nor do they constitute spousal violence. Rape in war cannot, by any stretch of imagination, considered to be spousal violence. Furthermore, men have always borne the brunt of atrocities during armed conflicts anywhere in the world. The rape of women in war, as in peace, is an act against individuals, not against gender, as is the case of other human rights violations against men.

Female infanticide is not practiced in Canada, nor can it be included under the heading 'spousal violence'. The word 'infanticide' is a legal term that applies only to child murders committed by mothers. Under Section 233 of the Criminal Code, there is a provision - infanticide - for diminished responsibility in the case of a mother killing her new-born child ...

If the murder of infants had to be included, the fact that male infants have been the only recorded victims of mass child murders throughout history by occupying powers everywhere should not have been overlooked. Best known examples of this are the killing of Israelite infant boys during the exile in Egypt, Moses being the only recorded survivor, and Herod's order to murder all male infants under the age of two after the birth of Jesus.
  • p. 17, column 2, paragr. 4: "... Acquiring representative samples of women willing to be interviewed in countries emerging from decades of war and pervasive violence ..."
Again, the writer is concerned only about interviewing women. Countries "emerging from decades of war" hardly constitute a norm. As this document is about 'Family violence' in Canada, women in war-torn countries have no connection to it. If international comparisons were required, the gendered violence against men would have been of equal importance.

2. My letter to the Ottawa Sun concerning Donna Casey's article: "Sleeping with the Enemy":

Donna Casey's article (Ottawa Sun, April 9, 2000) "Sleeping with the enemy" has a subtitle, "Frightening epidemic of domestic abuse shows no sign of dwindling."
    However, based on the data by Louise DuPont, the Crown Attorney, and Constable Hartley, it may have been more apt to say that "the frightening epidemic of false allegations is rising steadily".
   There is no dearth of subjective VAW research, but there is a total lack of similar subjective, or objective, research on men who are charged.
    I do not wish to go into the merits of the VAW surveys. But to put the record straight, would it not be useful to have an investigative reporter to interview the men accused and charged before Ottawa follows the perilous path of the now established Domestic Violence courts.

Some quotes from Donna Casey's article:
  • In 1998, officers with the regional police spousal assault unit filed reports on 4,609 investigated incidents of abuse, resulting in 2,180 charges. [My note: That is in spite of the mandatory arrest policy —WHS]
  • While there are no statistics available on convictions, the court can only improve things, given the past woeful success rate.[My note: Somehow this seems strange, as Statistics Canada and other governmental and non governmental organizations are full of data about how many women are abused by their male partners. If the courts have no data, where do those figures come from? —WHS]

In Ontario in 1995, less than 40% of the 985 cases of domestic violence went to trial and only 85 of the 281 cases that went to trial resulted in convictions. 

Considering the vigour by which men are prosecuted in those courts, which are presided over by duly trained judges, one can only surmise that there may well be many innocent men among those 85 who were convicted. One of the judges recently told a grandparents support group in Ottawa that she has been a judge for some twenty years and has yet to come across a case of false allegations !!! This to a group of us who have been personally victimized, as demonstrated in front of the courts, by allegations which have no bearing to truth, though the courts repeatedly refuse to take action. 

[Maybe, this particular judge learned something, as she came out with a tough sentence against a mother soon after. See Dave Brown's article in the Ottawa Citizen, Wednesday, April 19, 2000:

"Judge's tough action gives new hope In a rare court move last week, a defiant Ottawa mother was sent to jail for 21 days for breaching custody and access court orders, and ordered to pay $9,000 in penalties. Of that amount, $4,000 is to offset the father's legal bill, and $5,000 is straight penalty to be paid to the father."

Donna Casey:

But the domestic court has come under fire from defence lawyers who say an accused's rights are being trampled by a political attempt to score more convictions. "The police are not doing a thorough investigation to determine if charges are appropriate but are just laying charges when there's a complaint," defence lawyer Norm Boxall says. The Crown's office is working on introducing an early plea model this summer that would see some first-time offenders granted a conditional discharge if they attend the court-ordered New Directions counselling program for men who assault their partners. 

"It gives victims more of a voice. It's much better than it was before," Du Pont says of the court that sees about 92 cases processed every month.

Du Pont says it's a quicker way for men to get the help they need without the black mark of a criminal record. [My note: plead guilty and you are not guilty]

But the new model could encourage accused abusers to plead guilty just to speed up the legal process, Boxall says.

With the police poised to launch an aggressive public education campaign on partner abuse next month, Hartley is "really hoping" reporting of partner abuse goes up as more people recognize the dynamics of power and control in their relationships.

3. The reliability of StatCan's data.

When I wrote to Statistics Canada and asked for clarification about certain anomalies between the "Homicide in Canada" and the "Family Violence in Canada" publications, Mr. Orest Fedorowycz, The Manager, Homicide Survey, Centre for Justice Statistics wrote to me:

"Parent-child homicide incidents by cause of death, 1997"

Table 1

  Accused was:
Cause of Death Father Mother TOTAL
Shooting 6 1 7
Stabbing 2 3 5
Asphyxiation 6 9 15
Beating 4 6 10
Shaking 2 2 4
Fire 2 1 3
Poisoning 1 1 2
Other (unspecified) 1 0 1
Totals: 24 23 47
  • "With respect to a gender-based breakdown for step-parents, the breakdown is 3 step-fathers and 1 step-mother." [end quote]
  • [another letter] "There were 24 incidents (with 37 victims) where the father killed the children; in 10 incidents (41.7%) the accused father committed suicide....I would like to inform you that any information that is not available in reports or in standard data tables will require a custom extraction from the homicide database. A cost of $40 per hour will be allocated to these custom runs."
These data have not been published. You can obtain them under the freedom of information act, though you will have to pay $40 per hour in order to get the truth out of them. e-mail: ccjsccsj@statcan.ca (I refused to pay by telling that as I was correcting their faulty data, I was actually providing them with free consultation service)

My comment:  the total number of accused fathers in Table 1 was 24. Considering that three of those were step-fathers, the actual number of natural fathers was 21. This an important distinction to make in view of custody awards. As it is frequently pointed out, many of the so-called SIDS deaths may actually be infanticides. Therefore, we have no reliable data to show which parent is the main perpetrator of child homicide.

Furthermore, I still do not have an explanation to the statement in the 
  • "Family Violence in Canada: a Statistical Profile, 1999," issued by the Centre for Justice Statistics: p. 39, table 5.5: 
  • Solved homicides of victims under age of 18 by accused-victim relationship, 1997: father 37, mother 25

    According to the manager of the Homicide Survey, the numbers should be 24 and 23, respectively.

    Text in "Family Violence in Canada":

    • The number of accused fathers increased ... to 37 in 1997.
    There could be some confusion as the "Homicide Survey" gives the "accused-victim relationship" on page 9 as: father, 37., without further explanation. It also states, in the table, and confirms in the text on the same page, that the number of mothers is 25.

    Interestingly, though the Manager assured me that the confusion would be cleared up in the subsequent issues, the same anomaly exists in the current "Homicide Survey". Their word is no better than their statistics.

    Next (Section 2)

    __________________
    Posted 2000 05 04
    Updates 
    2000 05 07
    2000 05 16 (to add information about mandatory arrest policy in Ontario)
    2000 05 20 (to clarify confusion between incidents and numbers of child murders)
    2002 05 29 (transferred portions of index to Table of Contents)