Placeholder + Stephine Beck Update

by matttbastard

Sure would be nice if blogging, not The Day Job, paid the bills. Alas, my primary source of income has been extra demanding the past little while, hence the minimal/sporadic blogging from yours truly. Hopefully things lessen up soon–and that my wonderful, magnanimous, ever-so-talented cobloggers continue to occasionally remind everyone that, yes, this is actually a group blog.

Anyway, while life continues to get in the way of living for yours truly, please do head over to Womanist Musings for an update on the Stephine Beck case. To summarize: in response to a broad spectrum of outrage, the Crown is filing a motion of appeal with the Ontario Court of Appeal to overturn the 1 day sentence given to Wayne Ryczak after the St Catharines resident was convicted in the death of Beck, a local sex trade worker. Thank fucking reason.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Man Kills Prostitute, Gets Less Than 2 Years. What the FUCK?

by Isabel

The day after admitting he killed a woman and dumped her body on a rural road, a St. Catharines, Ont., man was released from jail.

Judge Stephen Glithero sentenced Wayne Ryczak, 55, to one day in jail on Thursday for the death of 29-year-old Stephine Beck.

The one-day sentence is in addition to time Ryczak already served since his March 5, 2007, arrest — time the judge said was equivalent to 30 months.

“Devastated, we’re devastated,” Beck’s mother, Alice Dort, said from her home in Nova Scotia shortly after a police detective broke the news by phone. “This is just so unbelievable.” “There’s no justice. None whatsoever. I’m just so disgusted.”

The Crown asked for seven to 10 years in jail.

Ryczak’s lawyer requested two years less a day to be served in the community.

After deliberating for 20 minutes, Glithero said a 30-month sentence in the penitentiary would be appropriate and Ryczak had already served it. Ryczak was also given three years’ probation.

Exactly what I needed to wake up to. Thanks, Canada!

This is fucking disgusting. A 30-month sentence is appropriate for killing a woman? Sure, if she has sex for money! After all, if you ladies happen to think you can do whatever you want with that vagina of yours, you deserve whatever it is that you get.

Fuck, I am so angry.

Update 05/17 (matttbastard): Ontario NDP Calls for Ontario AG to appeal 1 day sentence:

The Ontario NDP is calling on the attorney general to appeal the one-day sentence of a St. Catharines, Ont. man who plead guilty this week to manslaughter in the strangling death of 29-year-old Stephine Beck.

[…]

New Democratic Party Justice Critic Peter Kormos, in an open letter to Attorney General Chris Bentley, called on the province to ensure the sentence is appealed immediately.

“I tell you, sir, that the community is outraged,” Kormos wrote in his letter. “How can this sentence of one day, and it can barely be called a sentence, be justified?”

h/t pale via IM

Update 2 (matttbastard): From The St Catharines Standard:

“They just dismissed [Stephine Beck’s] life with that sentence,” said Dee Holman, a member of the community’s sex-trade task force. “They minimized her death.”

[…]

Holman said the sentencing made Ryczak appear to be the victim and minimized his use of drugs and prostitutes.

“(Beck) will never have a chance to get her drug and alcohol counselling,” Holman said. “Her life is gone.”

In sentencing Ryczak Thursday, Judge Stephen Glithero said he was not measuring the value of Beck’s life. “All life is valuable to us as a community,” he said.

He noted there were people in the courtroom for Wednesday’s plea hearing wearing T-shirts that read, “Sex work shouldn’t equal murder.”

“This was not a case whatsoever of anyone preying on a sex-trade worker,” Glithero said.

[…]

But Valerie Scott, executive director of Sex Professionals of Canada, which is in favour of legalizing prostitution, said a victim’s lifestyle is factored into court decisions.

“It happens all the time,” she said. “The laws against sex work continue to tell people that we’re disposable. It’s OK to kill us and murder us.”

The Ryczak sentencing puts the “gold seal of approval” on those actions, she said.

“If this were anyone else, it wouldn’t have gone down like that in court.”

Update 3 05/18 (matttbastard): Via ange @ light my heart on fire (all emphases mine):

Unfortunately, the case of Stephine Beck is not an anomaly. Within the last decade, six other women involved in sex work and living with substance abuse problems have been found murdered in the Niagara Region: Dawn Stewart, 32; Nadine Gurczenski, 26; Diane Dimitri, 33; Margaret Jugaru, 26; Cassey Cichocki, 22, and most recently, Shari Bacon, 36. Although the Niagara Regional Police convened a task force in 2007 and have since made one other arrest, Glithero’s sentence is reflective of a community-wide failure to value and protect the lives of some of the region’s most vulnerable citizens. The St. Catharines Standard routinely runs articles about “hookers loyal to their drug problems” (6 March, 2007) while the police department justifies its regular sweeping arrests of prostitutes (and subsequent public naming in The Standard, which does not report the names of men arrested for domestic abuse) by claiming that if you take away the supply, demand will vanish (July 2007). This appalling disdain for and ignorance of the realities and risks faced by sex workers is all the more horrifying when compared to the hysteria and moral outrage expressed by the entire Niagara community during and after the arrests, trials and verdicts of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. That Homolka’s plea bargain was considered a deal with the devil while Ryczak was set free immediately upon pleading guilty is shameful and hypocritical, and reflects a clear double standard when it comes to which lives are valued and which are not.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

PSA: The Humanitarian Void in Iraq

by matttbastrard

From Refugees International:

Uprooted and Unstable in Iraq

“We are getting tired,” an Iraqi mother told Refugees International on our recent mission inside Iraq. “We just need a decent house to live in and decent food to live off of…” This woman and her family live rent-free in a house provided by the Sadrist movement after being forced from their home. Refugees International found that Iraqi militias are the main providers of food, clothing, oil and other basic resources to 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis, because the Iraqi government and international community are failing to assist them. Our report, Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq, cautions that if this problem is not addressed, it will have dire consequences for the humanitarian and security situation in Iraq. The report recommends that aid organizations, including the UN, partner with local groups inside Iraq, and discourages refugee returns until more effective aid channels are established.

Also read Five Years Later, A Hidden Crisis, a new report issued by the International Rescue Committee’s Commission on Iraqi Refugees.

Related: via Feminist Peace Network, IRIN press release:

A study published in March by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on the mental state of Iraqis in Jordan and Lebanon has pointed to mounting social and economic problems as the cause of increased domestic violence.

[…]

“Most families prefer to sweep their problems under the carpet because [to them] reputation matters more than anything else,” said Shankul Kader from the Jordanian-Iraqi Brotherhood Society, a non-governmental organisation trying to help the Iraqi community in Jordan.

“The fact that most men are forced to stay at home due to the lack of jobs, and the lack of social interaction among the refugees, has heightened tension in households,” the study said. It revealed that 15 percent of women interviewed in female-only focus groups reported an increase in family violence.

“A well-raised Iraqi woman should tolerate everything in silence… My husband has no other way to get rid of his anger,” one woman told researchers.

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, over half a million Iraqis have moved to Jordan, hoping to return home when things improve.

Most Iraqis in Jordan are middle class, but over the years their savings have run down, and there are few jobs. Only about 22 percent of Iraqi adults in Jordan work; the rest are jobless, according to a recent study by the Norway-based FAFO Institute for Applied International Studies.

A large number of Iraqis rely on financial aid from relatives outside the Middle East, mostly in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden, while others rely on temporary jobs, as immigration rules prevent them from holding permanent jobs.

“Men resort to violence because of social and economic pressures. Iraqis in Jordan are living in constant worry about their future,” Shankul said.

Activists involved in helping Jordanian women survive domestic violence say their doors are open to Iraqi women. Asma Khader, a women’s rights activist and lawyer, said the Jordan Federation for Women is engaged in activities to help abused Iraqi women. “Social barriers remain the biggest challenge in tackling domestic problems,” she told IRIN.

Also see “Terrible things happened to me”: Violence against Iraqi women and girls and Voices of Iraqi Refugee Women and Girls in Jordan, both from the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, which also produced the following video on gender-based violence against Iraqi women and girls in Jordan:

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Sexual Violence Against Indigenous Women

by matttbastard

Read the Amnesty International Report Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA (PDF version here)

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers