PREMIER MUST ACT ON SKID ROAD PROSTITUTION
December 19, 2007
THE long and ominous shadow cast by men who beat, rape and murder brings fear and uncertainty to women in ways rarely experienced by men.
Since I began my journey in 1931, Vancouverites have lived through many changes and turbulent times – some sudden and dramatic, others gradual but pervasive.
Along the way a rising tide of violence towards women in Canada reached Vancouver. At first it came slowly, spreading insidiously through homes, schools, the workplace and our streets and byways. Then, in the 1960s, with the dawning of individualism, self-indulgence, consumerism and notional equality for women, a trickle of violence towards women began to surge. Now it is at high slack with no sign of ebbing.
In my twenty-six years on the bench at 222 Main St., I watched this rising tide of violence towards women, dismayed by the failure of the court to confront it with determination and deterrent sentences. Rather than speedy trials and significant sentences, offending men were able to manipulate plea bargained soft landings in a special court euphemistically referred to as “disposition court.”
I remember the late 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, times when women were safe in their homes and protected in public. Today a woman is as likely to be attacked in her home as on the street, and in public there is no comfort for a woman who ventures alone into an underground parking lot or onto a wooded pathway in a park.
Making matters worse, by the 1970s too many obsessive sociopaths had transfigured their violence into stalking women they wanted to control. This posed such a threat to women that Parliament responded, creating a new offence of criminal harassment.
Today our society has been struck by a thunderbolt of condemnation expressed in stark words on the front page of the Dec. 10 issue of the Province.
Robert Pickton Guilty of Six Counts of Second-Degree Murder. We Let These Girls and Women Down in Life. We’ve Now Let Them Down in Death.
Six murders committed serially leads to only one conclusion, by rational inference if necessary, that they were planned and committed purposefully in a horrifically sadistic manner.
A serial killer seeks his victims one by one, sequentially and, unless clearly insane, is engaged in the most evil of planned, sadistic, and deliberate first degree murder.
The jury verdict that Pickton committed second degree murder was flat out wrong.
Pickton is not insane – rather he is the embodiment of evil in its most sadistic incarnation.
“We let these girls and women down in life” can have only one meaning: that the continuing and sporadic disappearance and presumed murder of the most vulnerable of women, drug-addicted street prostitutes – mainly young aboriginals – beginning in the 1980s and increasing in the 1990’s – was a terrible crisis of enormous proportion.
What did successive mayors and council members of Vancouver and chiefs of police know and do about the missing women of Skid Road? They must tell us under oath why the malevolent vortex of our anarchic Skid Road was allowed to swallow up the most defenceless of women. It verges on malfeasance and that alone cries out for a formal inquiry.
“We’ve now let them down in death,” says to me that the horror of Skid Road remains unchanged and may even be worse for women of aboriginal ancestry. The Province quoted Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs as saying “I am so angry that our women have been treated like second-class citizens yet again with these second-degree murder verdicts. … Regardless of the outcome of this trial and regardless of whether the trials (concerning) the other 20 women go ahead there needs to be an inquiry. The whole issue was ignored and dismissed for so many years, even though fingers were pointed at the Pickton farm.”
Yet we must not be deluded into believing that an inquiry will bring real change to our hellish Skid Road.
Only our premier, Gordon Campbell can do that.
Mr. Premier, the Pickton case is a Mississippi gamblers buck-handled knife, signifying who decides the game to be played and who alone deals the cards; hence the saying “the buck stops here.” A buck-handled knife bearing the initials “Willy” is now on your desk Mr. Premier. You are the dealer. No more shuffling of cards.
Here’s a few aces to be dealt face up, right now.
· More detoxification facilities and adjunct residential treatment in and out of Skid Road.
· Insist that the federal government amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence for prostitutes to work the streets. This would enable police to take our most neglected and brutalized of young girls and women off the street; and before the much touted community court set to begin in 2008. Remember, it was the removal of the old Vagrancy C section from the Criminal Code that began the parade of drug-addicted street prostitutes forlornly teetering about on high strolls, low strolls, and kiddy strolls where they immediately became and remain prey for freaky, violent and amoral johns.
· Insist that the federal government create a specific “johns” offence, a hybrid summary conviction offence targeting street johns found in the company of street prostitutes with punishment ranging from a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 180 days without any opportunity for parole.
Mr. Premier, the Pickton case is a last call to society. Act now; get tough.
We must stop this open-air public market in which vulnerable girls and women are so easily taken away by freaky johns, sadistic street sociopaths and murdering psychopaths.
We will always remember the missing women of Skid Road, particularly whether the buck-handled knife remained on your desk, Mr. Premier, or was passed into limbo.
Contact Judicial Gadfly
or by posting your comment directly on the Writer’s Corner of www.realjustice.ca.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
PREMIER MUST ACT ON SKID ROAD PROSTITUTION
Posted by David Berner at 8:46 AM
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