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Table of Contents for Eeva Sodhi's Web pages at Fathers for Life
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Activist Supreme Court Justices — Part I, Judges with an Agenda

Justices "without an agenda" who nevertheless collude to promote one:

Woman good – man bad;
Woman victim – man aggressor,

 — to hell with any evidence to the contrary.

Eeva Sodhi points out what is wrong with such views.

Both McLachlin and L'Heureux-Dubé are self-confessed feminists. In a just society no law can be applied according to the personal agenda or perception of a judge, especially if that judge openly embraces such radical ideology as feminism. We could hardly tolerate a member of the Aryan Nation to deliver a verdict concerning racial tolerance.

If our judges and law enforcement agencies are, indeed, trained by an organization which bases its dogma on partial truths and outright lies, as shown..., then they can be seen to be participants in the effort to subvert justice.

This is a document in four parts.  

  1. Part I — Judges with an agenda
       General evidence of all-pervasive, feminist anti-male bias in Canada's jurisprudence
  2. Part II — Family Violence
       Evidence of all-pervasive, feminist anti-male bias in Canada's jurisprudence in relation to family violence.  Part 2 deals not only with anti-male bias but also identifies evidence of a very strong bias towards denial of the culpability of women in cases of family violence against men and children.  Part 2 is contained on this page.
  3. Part III — Child Support and Alimony
       In this part of her critique of Madam Justice Beverley McLachlin's (Chief Justice of Canada) speech at the Family Law Dinner of the Ontario Bar Association Eeva Sodhi reveals the systematic design and implementation of a system for the planned destruction of the family, a system designed to put non-custodial parents (predominantly fathers) into poverty, to keep custodial parents (predominantly mothers) under- or unemployed, and to prevent any chance at reconciliation, joint custody or reasonable involvement of fathers in the upbringing of their children.
  4. Part IV — Best Interest of the Children and Conclusions
       In this, the last part of her four-part critique, Eeva Sodhi identifies the obscenity of a feminist jurisprudence which, ostensibly in the best interest of the children, acts contrary to the children's best interest by deliberately destroying the bond between child and father.  The conclusions of her critique contain findings that will without any doubt surprise many and shatter a considerable number of myths.

Part I — Judges with an Agenda

Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C.
Chief Justice of Canada
Family Law Dinner
Ontario Bar Association
Toronto, Ontario
Thursday, January 24, 2002
Reaction and Pro-action:
Bringing Family Law Advocacy Into the 21st Century


Response. Part I, R. v. Lavallée.

By Eeva Sodhi

In January Madam Chief Justice McLachlin declared that:

  • "We have stopped ignoring it ["family" violence, meaning "wife abuse"] and have put it on the social agenda."

Three months later her departing colleague, Madam Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dubé, announced that she did not know of any judge who has an agenda:

  • "It is not an agenda. It's a perception of what the law is…. I don't know any judge who has an agenda." [in: "Gate-crashing the old boys club" by Kirk Makin, Graeme Smith. The Globe and Mail (May 2, 2002); sorry, but the link to that article no longer functions, and the page was not archived in the Internet Archive.]

The Department of Justice recommends that:

  • "Step 3: Developing Messages. For example, you may develop two different information brochures on domestic violence: one relating to victims, largely women, and one relating to abusers, largely men"

Thus, even the Minister of Justice has an agenda as, by their definition and contrary to documented facts, no woman can be seen to be a perpetrator, or instigator, of family violence and no man can be seen to be a victim.

Judging by her speech and her record, Madam Chief Justice of Canada looks at family law through the gender lens that is supplied by the Department of Justice Canada.

Both McLachlin and L'Heureux-Dubé are self-confessed feminists. In a just society no law can be applied according to the personal agenda or perception of a judge, especially if that judge openly embraces such radical ideology as feminism. We could hardly tolerate a member of the Aryan Nation to deliver a verdict concerning racial tolerance. Voltaire once commented that to interpret laws is to corrupt them. To call interpretation either an agenda or a perception is wrestling with semantics.

One can not advance the goals of a political fringe group without promoting the interests of that group. Therefore, the mission of a feminist judge is to deliver judgements, as opposed to justice, that conform to her own ideology, the sole purpose of which is the destruction of the traditional social system, the cornerstone of which is the traditional family.

The driving force behind feminism, like all other modern political movements that have accepted the Marxist theory of victimiology as their rallying cry, is an all encompassing hatred against anything that it perceives to stand on its way.

In her speech the Chief Justice justifies her opinions mostly by citing herself, or citing cases where the justification for the orders are based on her decisions.

It is not ethical to refer only to the examples of case law that concur by the writer’s own ideas, especially as the writer herself has been the writer of, a participant in delivering, or an inspiration to, the cited judgement.

True to the feminist jurisprudence, the Chief Justice of Canada concentrates on the defunct victimiology dogma starting with the dubious R. v. Lavallée ([1990] 1 S.C.R. 852) ruling , which had more to do with a political statement than the deliverance of justice. By blaming the victim, without even examining the killer herself, the dead man was put on trial:

  • "Appellant, a battered woman in a volatile common law relationship, killed her partner late one night by shooting him in the back of the head as he left her room The shooting occurred after an argument where the appellant had been physically abused and was fearful for her life after being taunted with the threat that either she kill him or he would get her. … A psychiatrist with extensive professional experience in the treatment of battered wives prepared a psychiatric assessment of the appellant which was used in support of her defence of self-defence"
  • "He [the psychiatrist] explained her ongoing terror, her inability to escape the relationship despite the violence and the continuing pattern of abuse which put her life in danger"
  • Per Wilson J "The appellant did not testify but her statement made to police on the night of the shooting was put in evidence. Portions of it read as follows: "He said "wait till everybody leaves, you'll get it then" and he said something to the effect of "either you kill me or I'll get you" that was what it was. He kind of smiled and then he turned around. I shot him but I aimed out. I thought I aimed above him and a piece of his head went that way."

Note the initial, unverified statement that "the appellant had been physically abused", followed by: "he would get her". That can mean any number of things, yet it is subsequently quoted "he would kill her". The accused killer was not cross-examined nor was she asked to give a signed affidavit.

There is no evidence that he had ever pointed the gun at her. The evidence was that at least twice before she had pointed the gun at him. She had also been the instigator of at least some of the conflicts, how many, we will never know as the dead man cannot defend himself.

Excerpts from the Lower Court Judgments, Manitoba Queen's Bench (Scott A.C.J.Q.B.):

  • "On cross-examination he [Dr. Shane, the expert witness] reiterated that in his opinion her action was spontaneous to the moment to try to defend herself. The straw that broke the camel's back was the threat, "When the others leave you're going to get it", even though similar statements had been made to her on other occasions. According to what she told him, the accused felt compelled to shoot."
  • "Based on the information he had in his interview, it was his opinion that the acts of the accused were impulsive and not premeditated. He disagreed with the Crown's suggestion that Lyn Lavallee took the opportunity when it presented itself."

"He conceded that patients had, on occasion, lied and misled him in the past."

She told him that she had lied to other doctors in the past. The excuse that she "felt compelled to shoot" rings hollow and points to premeditation, as she still had the opportunity to leave with the others. Instead, she chose to shoot.

Excerpts from the Manitoba Court of Appeal (Monnin C.J.M., Philp and Huband JJ.) (1988), 52 Man. R. (2d) 274:

  • "This was an unusual case. The accused shot Rust in the back of the head when he was leaving the bedroom. The accused says Rust loaded the rifle and handed it to her. Friends of the accused and Rust, including the couple who had planned to stay overnight, were present in another part of the residence. In these circumstances, absent the evidence of Dr. Shane, it is unlikely that the jury, properly instructed, would have accepted the accused's plea of self-defence. The accused did not testify, and the foundation for her plea of self-defence was, in the main, her unsworn exculpatory evidence and the hearsay evidence related by Dr. Shane. Because Dr. Shane relied upon facts not in evidence, including those related to him in his lengthy interviews with the accused, the factual basis for his opinion should have been detailed in his evidence."
  • "This accused was acquitted by a jury of her peers on the basis of self-defence, which might strike one as being somewhat fanciful. We should not, however, search out semantic excuses to order a new trial, at high public cost, in the belief that the jury should have been more skeptical [sic] and arrived at a different verdict"

The judge did not hear the accused say any of the above things. What he heard is what Dr. Shane told him. Quite apart from his admitted professional bias Dr. Shane could not have relied on "facts" as untested allegations are nothing more than allegations.

The court noted further that Dr. Shane acknowledged his debt to Dr. Lenore Walker in the course of establishing his credentials as an expert at trial. Dr. Walker is known for her book "The Battered Woman" (1979). ["The Battered Woman " by Lenore E. Walker (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1979)]

The "battered woman defence" - formerly called the "battered woman syndrome" - is the brainchild of Lenore Walker, who based her book on a small sample of selected women in women’s shelters. Though Dr. Walker poses as a forensic psychologist, her doctorate is in education.

Her study was not based on empirical data, as she herself admits in the introduction to her book:

  • "This is a self-volunteered sample. These women were not randomly selected, and they cannot be considered a legitimate data base from which to make specific generalizations" [introduction, p. xiii].
  • "I am aware that this book is written from a feminist vision. It is a picture of what happens in a domestic violent act from the perspective of only one of the two parties. The men do not have equal rebuttal time" [introduction, p. xvii].
  • "Early on I decided that a woman's story was to be accepted if she felt she was being psychologically and/or physically battered by her man ... Battered women themselves are the best judges of whether or not they are being battered. I soon learned that if a woman has reason to suspect she is battered, she probably is" [introduction, p. xiv].

If a woman can expect a reward for alleging that she has been battered, and there are no repercussions if it is proved that she lied, she will allege that she has been battered, or that she is afraid of being battered.

What is battering? Dr Walker describes the case of a woman who admits physically attacking her husband:

  • " … there is no doubt that she began to assault Paul physically, before he assaulted her. However, it is also clear from the rest of her story that Paul had been battering her by ignoring her and by working late…" [p.98].

Dr. Walker concluded that the woman, rather than the man, was the victim. An unbiased observer might ask if the man was working long hours in order to provide a better standard of living to his wife, as expected by her.

True to the feminist ideology, Dr. Walker promotes the destruction of the family:

  • "Psychotherapy has generally emphasized the value of keeping families intact whenever possible. In working with battered women, however, psychotherapists must encourage breaking the family apart" (p.230).
  • "I was struck by what a beneficial alternative to the nuclear family this arrangement [communal housing and child raising] was for these women and children" (p.195).

According to her all-encompassing definition of "battering", virtually every woman who wishes to use the "abuse excuse" can be seen to have been battered.

Dr. Walker presents no credible data in her book. She cites selected sections of sources as evidence without making a reference to the original.

Madam Justice Bertha Wilson defended the court’s (including McLachlin) decision with the following unsubstantiated feminist myth:

  • "The gravity, indeed, the tragedy of domestic violence can hardly be overstated. Greater media attention to this phenomenon in recent years has revealed both its prevalence and its horrific impact on women from all walks of life. Far from protecting women from it the law historically sanctioned the abuse of women within marriage as an aspect of the husband's ownership of his wife and his "right" to chastise her. One need only recall the centuries-old law that a man is entitled to beat his wife with a stick "no thicker than his thumb"

The Supreme judges in Canada base their decisions on media attention. The media are at liberty to choose the issues that they wish to pay attention to.

Her profound statement is now quoted in the "Crown Counsel Police Manual" (Part V: Policy in Certain Types of Litigation. 7. Spousal Assault Prosecutions) with the leader:

  • "The Department of Justice has found that the vast majority of spousal assaults involve men assaulting women. Indeed, those were the facts in R. v. Lavallée where, in a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, Wilson J. made the following observations" [see above]

There are two major problems with that statement:

Problem no. 1. Statistical Data.

The Department of Justice could not have found "that the vast majority of spousal assaults involve men assaulting women". Some limited bi-directional research on spousal violence had already been carried out even in Canada by 1990, suffice to mention only the one done by Leslie W. Kennedy and Donald G. Dutton, who conducted the All-Alberta Study (AAS) on family violence in 1987. They found that one in nine Alberta women reported being physically assaulted or threatened by her spouse or partner in the previous year. However, one in eight men also reported abuse by their female partners. In the category of "severe violence," women committed assaults at twice the rate of men. The data on wife-to-husband were never released; they are available only to scholars who specifically request them. The final report was titled "The Incidence of Wife Assault in Alberta". [in: Kennedy, L.W. and Dutton, D.G., The incidence of wife assault in Alberta, University of Alberta, Population Research Laboratory #53, 1987, also published in the Canadian Journal of Behavorial Sciences, 1989.] ( Note: The original Population Research Laboratory #53 publication did not include the category "Wife to Husband" this was added by the research of Bob Adebayo from unpublished data in 1999.)

However, even if the complete results were hidden from the general public, the court researchers had free access to them. The information in the Crown Counsel Policy Manual is nothing short of being intentionally false.

Though the Department has been notified that, according to even Statistics Canada, the comment: "the vast majority of spousal assaults involve men assaulting women" is not true, they have not removed it from their documentation. [see also "The truth about family violence in Canada" ]

The Statistics Canada annual publication called "Family Violence in Canada" contains plenty of confusing editorial comments but little actual data. For example, p. 9 of the 1999 edition states that:

  • "Clearly, more all-encompassing definitions of family violence produce higher estimates of the extent of the problem"

Going by that criterion, every man, woman or child would be a victim, as well as a perpetrator. But, only women were, and still are for most surveys, interviewed, as is acknowledged on p.17, column 2, para 2 of the same issue:

  • " ... a strong preference for surveys using the random selection method of interviewing women in the population. This method reduces the biases inherent ..."

The fact that only women are interviewed constitutes an inherent bias in itself. Partial target group produces partial results. The one time "Violence Against Women Survey" (1993) by Statistics Canada, on which the feminist literature bases its victimization data and totally ignores the later bi-directional surveys, was itself based on a sample drawn from 12,300 interviews that were obtained from the approximately 19,000 women in eligible households contacted, a response rate of 54%. Considering the high percentage of refusals, the sample can no longer be considered to be "random" as is claimed. "Violence Against Women Survey: Data Sources and Methodology" effective date 1993.

Data sources for the recent editions of "Family Violence in Canada" are: Incident-based Uniform Crime (UCR2) Survey, Homicide Survey, Victimization surveys [including transition home and women’s shelter surveys], and Hospital Morbidity Database.

The UCR2 surveys give statistical data on reported incidents, not on individuals or substantiated facts.

The transition home and women’s shelter surveys count the number of admissions, not the number of women or children admitted to the facilities. Yet, the data are given as "X number of women and children". P. 42 (5.1) of the 2001 issue of "Family Violence in Canada" explains that "a person may be admitted more than once a year". In fact there often are several successive admission in any given incidence as the clients are moved between various shelters for perceived safety reasons. Each admission to a new shelter is then counted as a separate statistic.

On p. 43 of the same publication we are told that "71,460 women and children were admitted …" rather than that there were 71,460 admission. As there is no limit to the number of times that a person can be admitted or moved around, and that at leas 20% of the admissions are for other reasons than for abuse, one can only conclude that the statistics are grossly inflated.

Madam Chief Justice herself relies on, or plagiarises, the feminist sources when she makes the worn out quote:

  • "The evidence shows that almost one-third of women in Canada are assaulted at least once by a husband or intimate partner."

She chose to ignore the fact that most spousal violence is bi-directional.

Education Wife Assault, which is a United Way member agency, and is closely linked to the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto, if not actually the same organization, says the following:

  • "In 1993 Statistics Canada did a National Survey on Violence Against Women. They found out that a male partner has abused almost one out of three women in Canada. This included both physical and sexual abuse. Over half of these women were badly hurt." [see above for the veracity of the survey]
  • "A 1989 study showed that battering was the most common way North American women were injured. More women visited the emergency room for battering than for auto accidents, rapes, and muggings combined."
  • "It is true that men can be abused by a female partner. Still, far more women are abused by comparison. One study found that wife assault happens in almost three out of four cases of family violence. Husband assault only accounts for one out of every hundred cases. Men are far more likely to be assaulted by other men.see also http:/forever.freeshell.org/Sodhi/fvcans3.htm

I don’t want to go into the mathematics which seem somewhat strange, suffice to say that data by Statistics Canada correlates the worldwide findings that men and women are victimized in more or less equal numbers by their intimate partners.

Though the feminist claim, as seen above, is that battering is the main cause for women's emergency room visits, statistics prove otherwise. In the U.S., in 1997-98 2,191,000 women were seen at hospital emergency departments due to motor vehicle accidents, and all intentional injuries were responsible for 893,000 visits to emergency. No comparable Canadian data are yet available.

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics documents that

  • "… Of all persons treated for violence related injuries -- 7% had been injured by a spouse or ex-spouse; 10%, by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend; 8%, by a parent, child, sibling, or other relative; 23%, by a friend or acquaintance; 23%, by strangers. -- Females accounted for 39% of the hospital emergency department visits for violence-related injuries in 1994 but 84% of the persons treated for injuries inflicted by intimates. -- In almost 30% of all cases in the study, the relationship of the person inflicting the injury to the patient was not recorded for the study. Because the patient-offender relationship was unknown in about a third of all injuries of males, compared to a fifth of injuries of females, this finding should be regarded with some caution ... For female victims of violence, strangers and friends or acquaintances rather than intimates were responsible for the highest rates of crime".

According to the same report, the numbers of injury cases treated in hospital emergency departments are:


Intimate violence

Other types of violence

Unrecorded relationship

















  • The number of total victims is: female 513,721, male 814,005. All considered, the maximum number of women who are victims of intimate violence would be 300,785, men 362,191, or males would be 1.20 times more likely to be victimized by an intimate than females. If we allow that 50% of the unreported relationships for both men and women are actually intimates, the corresponding figures would be: women 252,558, men 182,574.5, or females would be 1.38 times more likely than males to be victimized by an intimate. That still is a far cry from the unqualified "5 to 8 times more" as is stated in the report. It is generally acknowledged even by the most radical feminist researchers that men are more reluctant than women to admit that they have been hurt by an intimate. It may not be too farfetched to say that most, if not all, of the "unrecorded relationships" by men would fall under the category "intimates", whereas the opposite could be true vis-à-vis women. [see Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes: "Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence": Research Report: "women who were physically assaulted by an intimate were significantly more likely than their male counterparts to report their victimization to the police"] http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/181867.pdf

Also see: OPENING THE DOOR: A Treatment Model for Therapy With Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse

" ... with males being even more reluctant than females to admit their own victimization, it is left to our imagination to conclude just what the full extent of male victimization is. Certainly it is greater than reports now indicate." (Blanchard, 1987, p. 20.)  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hppb/familyviolence/html/opening.htm

The "Education Wife Assault" website was updated on Nov. 25, 2001, yet the FAQs do not include a reference to the current data as issued by Statistics Canada.

Education Wife Assault claims that it is responsible to training the judiciary, among others:

  • "In partnership with the Roeher Institute and funded by the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, EWA developed and implemented training and information sessions on Women with Disabilities, Deaf Women and the Domestic Violence Courts to Crown Attorneys, Police, Victim/Witness Assistance Programme Staff, Judges, community agencies and disability organizations working with women with disabilities who are victims of domestic violence. Activities included developing a participants manual, facilitators manual and training plan, a "tool kit" for participants and a province-wide directory of services across Ontario"

If our judges and law enforcement agencies are, indeed, trained by an organization which bases its dogma on partial truths and outright lies, as shown above, then they can be seen to be participants in the effort to subvert justice.

Because of the extensive publicity that is given to the gender based perception of "violence against women", women are becoming increasingly sophisticated in this area and are more likely to report any domestic incident, even a perceived or "feared" one. Research has shown that women and men process past events in a different manner, thus any finding that more women than men were abused by former partners should be regarded with caution.

As men are not targeted by similar public education, they lag behind women in their readiness to address certain subjects in the questionnaires. Notably absent are questions that men would be more attuned to answer, such as: "Has your partner ever used, or threatened to use, the zero tolerance policies to make you to agree with her/him?"

"Fear" has become an integral element in "violence against women" questionnaires as more results of bi-directional surveys are published and women are found to be at least as aggressive as men.

Real fear is not difficult to detect; there are tell-tale physiological signs which cannot be masked. Then there is the feigned fear which is used to gain sympathy or any other desired feedback, the nature of which depends on the intended audience. Thirdly, we have the irrational, instigated fear which is hard to differentiate from the real. This may occur as an end result of feeling guilty. It may be also the fear that is created by the advocacy movement, including such organizations as the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto, that the Chief Justice so fondly embraces:

  • "Another example of pro-active conduct is the creation of courts specializing in cases of domestic violence. Ontario is a leader in this area. Organizations such as the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto give efforts like these high marks. So would I."

Education Wife Assault addresses women and men in a different questionnaire, as demanded by the Department of Justice Canada directives:

The Ministry of the Solicitor General (Canada) informs us that

  • "Though the numbers of [reports of] common assaults (where there is no evidence of physical assault) have increased, the most serious forms of assault show decrease. [Let us keep in mind that a report does not make a finding]. Fear of violence will remain disproportionate to the actual probabilities of violence."

"Drawing upon communications theory, Kasperson and his colleagues (1988) have presented a model of the social amplification of risk. At its simplest level, the amplification (or attenuation) of the perception of risk depends not only on what the message is, but also upon who transmits the message and how the receiver decodes and evaluates the message." [In: Gauging The Risk For Violence: Measurement, Impact And Strategies For Change 1994-09". -- James Bonta, R. Karl Hanson, Corrections Research, Solicitor General Canada, 30]

The messages transmitted by the feminist advocacy agencies through their public education programs, which are financed by the various women’s ministries of the various levels of governments, are designed to instil fear in women who may already be feeling guilty about their underhanded tactics in order to gain the upper hand during divorce and custody proceedings. Nothing begets fear like a guilty conscience.

Health Canada began the collection of relevant injury data only last year (2001). So far, no results have been released. A pilot study "Population-based Study of Hospitalized Injuries in Kingston, Ontario, Identified via the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program" by William Pickett, Lisa Hartling and Robert J Brison. Chronic Dis Can 1997; 18(2):61-69 found that:

  • "In 1994-1995 the rate per 10,000 of hospitalizations due to all injuries was for males 30.3 and for females 29.7; intentional (i.e. person inflicted) injuries for males 2.1, and for females 0.5. "

The report tries to justify the low number of intentional injuries reported by women:

  • " One exception to this is in the emerging area of violence against women as a public health problem, which has received some attention in Kingston and area in the shape of public education about the problem (McKenna K, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, Queens University, personal communication, 1996). ….One methodological concern raised by the present research is the extent to which underreporting of intentional injuries occurs in the hospital setting. This will be an important area for future research, especially as so few intentional injuries were reported by women in this study."

Not all women’s intentional injuries or deaths are perpetrated by men. Injuries resulting from domestic violence are a subgroup of intentional injuries. The above comment, presented by an assistant professor of women’s studies, is most interesting. "Public education" which precedes and then contradicts scientific data on a certain subject is usually called "propaganda".

Problem no. 2. The mythical "Rule of the Thumb"

British law since the 1700’s and American law predating the revolution prohibit wife beating. Though Judge Buller made such a ruling in an English court in 1782, (not 1767, nor 1824) there is no indication that it has ever been a law. The judge himself was subjected to ridicule as result.

In her "Training Manual for Counsellors and Advocates", Deborah Sinclair writes:

  • "You have heard the expression "rule of thumb". It’s origin was the English common tradition, summarized by William Blackstone in 1767 as the ancient right that permits a husband "to chastise his wife with a whip or rattan (stick) no bigger than his thumb. Blackstone stressed the need to confine the violence to within "reasonable grounds". So the "rule of thumb" was a way of regulating the husband’s right to chastise his wife".

However, this is not found in William Blackstone’s treatise on English common law, which says that though, under the old law, a husband was allowed to use physical discipline on his wife (no mention about thumbs) it no longer was permissible in 1765 when he wrote his treatise:

  • "But, with us, in the politer reign of Charles the second, this power of correction began to be doubted: and a wife may now have security of the peace against her husband; or, in return, a husband against his wife. … "

The feminist myth-makers themselves haven’t been able to come to an agreement about where and when the so called "law" was promulgated, though they all claim it to be after 1765. The Ontario Women's Directorate, Health Canada and other such governmental and quasi-governmental organizations claim that it is English Common Law that was proclaimed in 1767:

  • "For example, the widely used term "rule of the thumb" comes from a 1767 English common law that permitted a husband to chastise his wife with a whip or rattan no wider than his thumb" (This is attributed to Thorne-Finch, 1992)

However, Nicole Baer begs to differ. In her article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (1997;157[11] 1578-81) she claims that the phrase is based on an American law that came into force half a century later:

  • "Rule of the thumb comes from an 1824 American law that permitted a husband to "chastise his wife with a whip or rattan no wider than his thumb"

Yasmine Jiwani acting as a spokeswoman for the all-powerful Feminist Research, Education, Development & Action (FREDA) also puts the blame on the British:

  • "...There was a time in our venerated English common-law tradition (1767 to be exact), that a man could beat his wife without any remorse or social sanction as long as he used a whip that was no wider than the width of his thumb"

R. v. Lavallée, which was followed by the equally infamous Self-Defence Review by Judge Lyn Ratushny, is now hailed as the groundbreaking judgement that, once and for all, ended the subjugation of women by men. Yet, Lyn Lavallée was never called to testify. The Supreme Court judges, including Madam Justice McLachlin, accepted that feminist mythology and hearsay evidence by a psychiatrist, with a self-admitted professional bias, were sufficient grounds to exonerate a woman who shot a man in the back of his head and then claimed self-defence. Madam Justice Ratushny found that even if a woman had not been abused by her victim, she could have her sentence reduced as long as she claimed that she had been abused by someone sometime in her past.

The then Minister of Justice, Anne McLellan tried to find different ways to justify law reform that would allow women to use the battered woman defence, while simultaneously denying men the same defence.

In "Section two: Options for Reform. Considerations on Reforming the Provocation Defence" of the consultation paper called "Reforming Criminal Code Defences, Provocation, Self-Defence and Defence of Property" she proposed the following as a solution:

  • By tying provocation to self-defence, the defence of provocation could no longer be used by a person to justify killing a present or former partner in a fit of rage due to jealousy or the loss of control over the victim. This option would permit the use of the defence by women in situations of domestic violence who kill in self-defence but with excessive force in response to the provocation of physical or verbal abuse.

The entire consultation paper is devoted to exploring how the law could be applied by using the stereotypical assumption of violent men who kill in a fit of jealousy, and women as their helpless victims who occasionally have to kill in "self-defence", even if their victim is asleep.

Next: Part II, Family Violence.

whiterose.gif (6796 bytes)The White Rose
Thoughts are Free

Posted 2002 01 05
2002 06 09 (revised paragraph following injury table to make it more gender-neutral, and to show subsequent reference to Opening the Door)