|Posted on July 21, 2009 at 10:22 AM||comments (1)|
Just read a great article about the need for measures to up the numbers of elected women, written by the head of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the the Status of Women. Don't know how long it'll be posted here:
So many people say, "We can't allot a percentage of elected seats to women" as if quotas were something terrible. Our voting system is based on geographical quotas so that certain areas of a province, state or country don't go under-represented. And yet we allow women, over half the population, to be chronically under-represented. If anything, your life is affected by your gender much more than by your locale.
Two answers to increase numbers of women: quotas and switching to a proportional system of voting.
|Posted on June 6, 2009 at 12:50 PM||comments (0)|
The reason why I'm putting my activist energy into getting more women elected is that until women gain fair representation in government, we won't achieve social or economic equality. So much of what controls us is laws and policies.
About 80% of our lawmakers (in Canada, the US and UK) are men. Actually, when you consider that only those in top positions, such as premiers, PM's, presidents, heads of parties and committees, who get to make decisions, then it's close to 100% men. Until women have an equal say in government, we won't make quick headway in things like pay equity and domestic violence.
For example, the judiciary is appointed, in Canada (and I'm no expert) by premiers and PM's. They take advice from others but they get the final say usually.
So we have male political leaders appointing mainly other men to sit in judgment of still others who might have threatened to kill their ex-girlfriends or beaten up their wives. No wonder we see precedents in law set from a male perspective.
To see if my suspicions were correct, I clipped out newspaper articles in New Brunswick about sentencing for various crimes with and without a gender slant. Here's what I found:
1. A man stole an ATV: 3 months in jail.
A man punched and kneed his wife in the head: 1 month, served on weekends.
2. The same man who stole the ATV first broke into (it said "entered", so maybe it was unlocked) a stranger?s house to steal the car keys: 12 months.
With a baseball bat, a man beat his way into his ex-girlfriend?s house to push and punch her and to smash her walls and dishes: 8 months.
3. A man was convicted of drug trafficking. He was found with 26 ecstasy pills in his pocket: 4 months in jail.
Another man was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend by punching her in the face. No jail time. Just a conditional sentence.
4. A woman committed robbery with a syringe: 3 years in prison.
A 48-y-old man got a 15-y-old girl drunk then had intercourse with her after she passed out. Later the girl suspected what had happened, there was an investigation and he confessed. 1 year house arrest.
That's rape, right? Sex without permission. One year of having to stay in your house is the punishment here. I doubt New Brunswick is any different from most places in North America and the UK.
We have centuries of precedents in law set from a male perspective. It seems that we punish minor crimes against property more harshly than minor violence against people, and crimes against strangers more harshly than crimes against family members. Am I wrong in this? But I've never heard anyone talk about it ? let alone complain.
If anyone has knowledge about sentencing comparisons, I'd love to know whether my conclusions are wrong. I'm about to promote a documentary that gives these examples and states the conclusions. If I'm wrong, I'd like to know now.
I'm not passing judgment (ha!) on male judges. And I imagine most women judges follow the precedents fairly closely because if they don't, the case goes to appeal, right? But if women had always been half the judges, then the relative harshness of sentencing would be much more in line with women's points of view. To me, crimes against partners and your own kids should be treated at least as harshly as crimes against strangers. And crimes of sexual assault should be punished much more harshly than crimes against property or minor drug trafficking.
And won't having half our judges be women slowly make a difference, as slightly longer and longer sentences are given for these offenses?