(Actually, the joke was on me as this post was supposed to be published on April 1, just as my Easter post was gonna be posted on Easter, snort, but life got in the way.)
Sometimes, of late, it's starting to feel like every day is becoming April Fools' Day. In addition to the never-ending hoaxes perpetrated by industrial agriculture on both people and animals alike (Certified Humane, anyone?), this mad world seems to be getting madder by the minute in a myriad number of ways. Take the US election. (No, please, take it and make it go away already.)
Folk around the world are bewildered and baffled that a buffoon like Trump could have gotten this far. On the other hand, Canadian-born climate-change denier and he-said-what? ("...the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats") Cruz is just as scary. And as tempting as it may be to say that if American voters want either one of these jerks as their leader then they'll get what they deserve, unfortunately other countries will be impacted by this vote as well. Which isn't to say that Canadian voters, for example, have always been wise either (look at how long dictatorially inclined Stephen Harper was in power), but their vote didn't have quite the global impact the US election results will have.
Here in Canada, the Jian Ghomeshi debacle captured our attention and outrage. Sure, this case should not have gone to trial and the outcome was no surprise, but it still felt like it might as well have taken place 50 years ago. Because while the admittedly damn-good-at-her-job Marie Henein might feel that justice was served and that the Canadian justice system does an equally good job when it comes to sexual assault cases, I beg to differ.
First, winning and justice are two very different concepts that should not get confused. Second, while it's nice to pretend that objectivity and impartiality rule, let's at least admit that even judges bring their own biases to the courtroom. Especially as to how women who report sexual assault ought to behave. And really, that is ultimately the crux of any rape trial -- not whether an accused obtained consent, but whether the accuser can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they didn't give consent. The default position is that consent took place, which is weird when you consider that we don't require that people who are robbed, for example, prove that they didn't want to be robbed.
Put another way, women and men who report sexual assault have to prove that they're not sleazy lying skanks, and that everything they say or do before, during and after the assault (never mind that people react differently to trauma) can be used to prove their skankiness. So in the case of Ghomeshi who didn't even have to testify, it was the accusers who were asked to prove that they had not actually wanted to be punched, choked or have their hair pulled. Yes, they were not good witnesses (hence my belief that this case shouldn't have gone to trial), but unfortunately even the most perfect victims, if you will, face the same illogical burden of proof.
Third, just look at the statistics below. How can anyone think that with a conviction rate as ridiculously low as .03 percent that our justice system works when it comes to sexual assault? No, the system is a complete failure in this regard (see paragraph above), and should be considered an insult to, and by, everyone.
And when it comes to assault, women are almost never served. How often don't you hear, "why doesn't she just leave?" (instead of insisting that the perpetrator leave) when it comes to domestic violence? Because sadly, it's when she does leave that her life is really in danger. More women are killed after they leave their abusive spouse because despite the rhetoric of women and children being valued in our society, the evidence illustrates they're not. Notice that we seldom ask, "why does he abuse?" just as the emphasis is usually on women to prevent being raped, rather than on rapists to stop raping.
No, the REAL domestic terrorism happening in Canada, the US and other countries worldwide is the accepted violence perpetrated on women and children in their own homes, on the streets, in the workplace and as a weapon of war. In other words, everywhere, and every single day. I also have no problem including violence done to other animals (rather than on behalf of) in the definition of domestic terrorism.
So why am I talking about politics, sexual assault and domestic violence on a vegan blog? Well, in part because animal cruelty often accompanies domestic violence. Many abused women report having had their animal companion threatened, hurt or killed as part of the abusive behaviour of their spouse. Women can be reluctant to leave because of these threats, and not all shelters accept companion animals. Statistics also indicate that children exposed to domestic violence exhibit higher rates of abuse toward animals, so the links between human and animal abuse are at least starting to be more recognized.
But essentially, I think and talk about this stuff because violence and oppression are not species-specific. That is, the targets may be different, but the roots are the same. And as the Ghomeshi trial has shown, boy do we have a long way to go, baby. And that, dear readers, ain't no joke.