What an incredible story. From Nunavut justice minister demoted over domestic violence remark (CBC, 1/27/09):

Nunavut’s premier has stripped the territory’s justice minister of his duties over a remark that suggests women are partly to blame when they are assaulted during domestic disputes.

Eva Aariak said she has taken over the department from Louis Tapardjuk, who made the comment last week in an email.

“Often, in cases of domestic disputes, both parties share the blame but, according to the Criminal Code, the person who gets physical is charged, even though the other party initiated the conflict,” Tapardjuk wrote: “Often, the male is charged even though the conflict may have been initiated by the female partner.”

That’s exactly the truth, as has been supported by countless research. Yet “the premier said no victim of violence should ever be faulted for initiating a conflict and nothing can ever justify violence by a person in an intimate relationship.”

Huh? The person who initiates domestic violence should never “be faulted for initiating a conflict”?! The Premier says “nothing can ever justify violence by a person in an intimate relationship,” but I guess she makes an exception when the violence is committed by a woman, even if she initiated it.

Mercifully, another Canadian politician stood up for the fallen truth-teller. From Okalik criticizes Aariak for removing justice minister over email (CBC, 1/27/09):

Nunavut’s former premier has accused the current premier of stifling debate by stripping her justice minister of his portfolio because of comments he had made in an email to senior staff.

Paul Okalik, the MLA for Iqaluit West, said Premier Eva Aariak was wrong to remove Louis Tapardjuk as justice minister over the weekend, after Tapardjuk had sent a two-page email to senior justice staff voicing his views on Canada’s justice system.

In the email… [he] suggested that women who start domestic disputes share the blame if there is violence.

Okalik, who was justice minister as well as premier in the previous government, said Tapardjuk was only trying to start a debate. “That’s the only way we’re going to find solutions, is to have maybe differences of opinion on the sources of some of the problems we face,” Okalik told CBC News outside the legislature Monday. “But that doesn’t give you permission to just remove ministers from their portfolios”…

Nonetheless, the Premier stood by her decision because Tapardjuk’s truths were…”offensive”:

But Aariak stood by her decision to strip Tapardjuk of his portfolio, which she announced through a news release on Saturday. “The comments that he made about violence or the cause of violence were offensive,” Aariak told reporters.

It would have been nice if she had instead presented evidence that the minister was wrong, but instead we get the catch-all, feelings-oriented phrase “offensive.”

Some of the other headlines to the story, such as “Women ‘share the blame’ as victims,” are a clear distortion–they don’t “share the blame as victims”–they share the blame because they initiated the violence. If a small man picks a fight with a bigger man and loses the fight, who on earth would consider the initiator to be simply an innocent victim?

This isn’t blaming women for domestic violence because they didn’t have dinner ready–it’s assigning some blame to them for domestic violence when they themselves initiated the domestic violence. A man who hits his wife after she hits him is wrong, but the wife is too. And if this Premier really cared about women being hurt in domestic violence, she’d give the women a simple, common-sense piece of advice–if you don’t want someone to hit you, don’t hit them first.

I suggest readers post comments on this issue defending Tapardjuk and also Okalik, who stood up for him–to comment, click here.

Thanks to Jeremy Swanson for the story.

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