Bonnie Mooney versus Solicitor General, Attorney General & RCMP
March 1, 2001
Contact: Fay Blaney
National Action Committee on the Status of Women
Phone: (416) 932-1718 [email protected]
There was a day, a long time ago, when battered women were expected to bring up charges against violent ex-husbands. With the long, hard-fought struggle of the feminist anti-violence movement, we have made the police responsible to women too. In the Mooney case, the police have breached that responsibility to act.
We rely heavily upon those authorities where the first point of contact is made. The policies that govern police behavior, whether it’s at the municipal or RCMP level are clear. It is no longer the responsibility of women to charge violent ex-husbands. It is a police responsibility to protect women in cases of violence. The difficulty arises when discretionary powers are at play. In addition to the patriarchal values and attitudes that were clearly operating in the Mooney case, we, Aboriginal women, poor women and women of color are often faced with discrimination by these authorities. These forms of discrimination serve to further devalue our lives.
The argument that the defense lawyer makes, that Bonnie Mooney was the “author of her own misfortune” is totally and completely unacceptable. In this day and age, it’s very hard to comprehend that victim-blaming would even be considered as a defense. The only thing that we can conclude from this position is that the institutions of justice are attempting to roll back the gains of the feminist anti-violence movement.
Our president, Terri Brown states that “We must make them accountable to uphold the law and to protect us, to make the lives of women in cases of violence a priority. They cannot afford to wait until something this serious happens.”
The defense lawyer, Carruthers argues that a protective order would have done nothing to stop the violence. The ineffectiveness of legal instruments is not a reason to disregard the issue of women’s safety. We agree that there have been numerous deaths of women at the hands of violent ex-partners because of the problematic implementation of policies, but we argue that the police must be held accountable to do their job, not to scrap VAWIR and other such policies because it’s difficult to implement. How many women have to die before they sit up and take notice?
If Bonnie Mooney’s case is successful in the courts, her case could have broad implications for all women across this country. If the courts rule that the police do, in fact have a duty to protect women in cases of violence, and that the police have breached that responsibility, then this is one more legal instrument in a long struggle to stop violence against women in this country.
Fay Blaney, NAC Executive Committee