Condon On Women

(Restraining Order Pending)

Gordon Campbell has beaten the shit out of women of British Columbia. The misogynist prick has acted like an abusive and controlling husband by cutting off services that impact women the most and knocked women’s rights in the province back a full generation.

In an effort to both put women in their [work] place, Campbell and his beer-belly/wife-beater Liberals eliminated the Ministry of Women’s Equality, ended the pay-equity program and cut welfare for single mothers, while slashing funding to child-care and cutting jobs in health, education and the public sector – which are predominately filled by women. They also put the safety of women at risk by cutting funding to women’s centres, legal aid and health services and by eliminating the Human Rights Commission – which handled a high number of sexual harassment claims.

“I think it’s been very, very clear that this government…has an anti-women agenda,” says Michelle Dodds, executive director of the North Shore Women’s Centre. “So many of their funding cuts and policy changes directly target women and women who are in the most vulnerable positions.”

Last April’s $1.7 million cut to 37 women’s centres was particularly vicious and vindictive. Over the past 30 years women’s centres have played a critical role in communities, especially in rural areas, helping women with support and assistance when they have no where else to turn. The centres’ vocal disapproval, which got the United fucking Nations to single out Campbell’s cuts, caused too much embarrassment. Campbell couldn’t stand women with opinions and by cutting their funding, reversed three decades of grassroots work.

Campbell’s bastardized attitude towards women is especially surprising considering he credits his mother as his hero, who raised him after his father committed suicide when he was 13-years-old. You’d think he’d be at the feet of women, who continue to be the primary care-takers of children and the elderly, but instead he continues to ignore the reality of gender inequality and treats women like second-class citizens.

When Campbell took over in 2001, women in BC were already at a huge disadvantage and earned, on average, just 70 per cent of the average man’s income. Compounded by the fact that women are predominately forced to take on lesser paying clerical and administrative jobs, women also worked an average of 584 unpaid hours of care giving.

“Women weren’t starting from a position of full equality,” says Gillian Creese, a professor at UBC and co-author of a report on the effects of the cuts. “I think that’s where the current government started from–the assumption that we’ve dealt with all that and now we can ignore it. That’s not true here and it’s not true anywhere in the country. In fact we needed to make more gains but instead we’ve gone backwards.”

Campbell and the Liberals have tried to gloss over the violent nature of their polices by putting more money into transition houses, but women’s workers say this is a “band-aid” solution that doesn’t address systemic problems of abuse. Because of the lack of support and safety services, many women are forced onto the streets where shit really begins to spin out of control.

“When women enter underground economies, they’re so susceptible to violence, to the coping mechanisms like drugs, to being involved in sex industries,” says Raven Bowen, agency coordinator with the Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education Society and Green Party candidate for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. “So they’re pretty much signing the death certificates of all these women.”

Amazingly, despite Campbell’s low approval rating with women and the fact that he is up against two female leaders, his abusive treatment of the opposite sex hasn’t become a campaign issue. If Carole James or Adriane Carr can sway female voters, who make up over 50 per cent of the population, then the election could be theirs. But a Liberal victory on May 17 could send women in the province running to the transition houses.

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