Montreal, Quebec, by David MacRae, Feb. 3, 2001
Women who kill their children are given sympathy and sentenced to "treatment" while men who do the same thing are charged with murder and sentenced to life.
Perhaps it is not a coincidence that women are many times more likely to murder their offspring than men.
A hospital in Great Britain installed hidden cameras to survey children who they feared to be at risk of abuse by their parents. They found dozens of cases and made headlines about abuse by "parents" and "step-parents". The Life Channel chronicled the story (this version was translated and ran on Canal Vie as well).
What all the commentators carefully hid was who these "parents" were: there was one grandmother, one father... and thirty-seven mothers. Judging from the references to "step-parents", I suspect that the man wasn't really a father either.
How did the hospital choose the people to watch? Every case involved previous children who had died in mysterious circumstances. To be more precise, 37 killer moms murdered 40 children. Total jail sentences imposed: 0, even though some of the women confessed when confronted afterwards.
About 1300 child murders took place in the US last year. About 500 perpetrators were non-parents, roughly divided between men and women. Of the rest, only 30 (!) were fathers. In other words, mothers were more than 25 times more likely to kill their progeny than fathers. Yet somehow, men are viewed as being more dangerous to their children than women.
In Canada, many crime statistics are presented in such a way as to hide female malevolence. As an example, we do not break down statistics on child murder by sex of the offender. Consequently, this information is not available here. However, there is no reason to assume that things are any different north of the border.
This favoured treatment of women is not limited to child murder. Rose Cece and Mary Taylor, a lesbian couple in Toronto, decided on a lark to kill a police officer. Had a man done so, he would have been convicted with first-degree murder almost without regard to the facts. If not, police associations across the country would have been outraged. In fact, Cece and Taylor were convicted of manslaughter and no one commented.
At least they went to jail. Women are often let off with suspended sentences. As the Ottawa Citizen said in one case, "husband-killer Lilian Getkate's sentence of two years less a day at home is an insult to our sense of natural justice." The murderer herself reacted by saying: "I was startled. I took someone's life and I'm not going to jail. Of course I'm surprised by that." Once again, the Crown did not appeal.
Getting away with murder
This reluctance to convict women murderers goes back a long way. In fact, it is the reason for the invention of the crime of infanticide at the turn of the last century. Juries refused to convict women of murdering their own children.
Or their parents, it would appear.
Lizzie Borden took an axe
Gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
What the ditty doesn't mention is that the 1892 Boston jury let Lizzie off. One of the main reasons for this is that her judge, like the one in the Getkate case, practically directed the jury to acquit. Plus a change...
One difference between women who are committed to jail and those who are not appears to be familial relationships. Only two women have ever been convicted of first-degree murder in this country. Yvonne Johnson killed a man she barely knew. Sarabjit Kaur Minhas strangled her nephew. In other words, women are given greater latitude when they kill their husbands, parents or children. Of course, they always get some slack Cece and Taylor are proof enough of that.
The discrimination of the courts in favour of women is not limited to murder. It is true of all crimes. Officially, women commit 15% of serious crimes in Canada, almost certainly an understatement of the facts. Whatever the real number, they form approximately 1% of the people in our prisons. Texas statistics indicate that women are actually more likely to commit fraud than men. Despite this, men are ten times more likely to serve time for the offence.
There seems to be a fundamental refusal to admit that women are capable of committing crimes. When they do, we tend to downplay the act and to view her as the victim, not as the victimizer. A book has been written about the Johnson case. Its title is Stolen Life. Guess whose life the author feels was robbed. It isn't the man she killed.
While feminism may be partially responsible for this, the answer appears to be more profound. Lizzy Borden's parents died long before the appearance of this form of collective insanity. The reality is that people, in all societies, assume that the female of the species must be protected, even from the consequences of her own actions.
Whatever. The bottom line is that male misbehaviour, however you to define this word, is treated far more severely than equivalent female crimes.
September 29, 2004
SINGLE MOM Clara DaSilva admitted yesterday she danced the night away while her 2-year-daughter was dying of dehydration in a sweltering apartment. Tiny toddler Adrianna Maria DaSilva was abandoned for at least 33 hours in a 35C room before her mom discovered her dead on Sept. 9, 2002.
Clara DaSilva, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Justice David Watt will sentence her shortly after Jan. 17 following a five-day trial with one contested fact -- the allegation that her purse, with keys and cash, was stolen at a club the day of her child's death. Read More ..
ST. STEPHEN, N.B. - A New Brunswick judge says a woman who burned and dismembered her newborn son is criminally responsible for her actions.
Becky Sue Morrow earlier pleaded guilty to offering an indignity to a dead body and disposing of a newborn with the intent of concealing a delivery.
Judge David Walker ruled Friday that the 27-year-old woman may have been suffering from a mental disorder when she delivered the baby but that that was not the case when the baby's body was burned and its remains hidden.
It is not known if the baby was alive at the time of birth.
At a hearing last month, the court heard contrasting reports from the two psychiatrists. One said Ms. Morrow was in a "disassociated" mental state when the crime occurred. The other said she clearly planned her actions and understood the consequences. Read More ..
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, USA, August 26, 2008
HELSINKI, Finland - A court in Finland has convicted a woman of murdering her three young children and has given her a life sentence.
The Espoo District Court says Thai-born Yu-Hsiu Fu was found guilty of strangling her 8-year-old twin daughters and 1-year-old son in her home.
She tried to kill herself afterward.
The verdict on Tuesday says the 41-year-old woman was found to be of sound mind at the time of the murders.
Court papers show the murders were preceded by a bitter custody battle with her Finnish husband who was living separately from her at the time of the murders.
A life sentence in Finland mean convicts usually serve at least 11 years in prison.
Wednesday, May. 22, 2002
KINGSTON, Ont. (CP) -- An Ontario woman who was sentenced to 16 years in prison in one of Canada's stiffest penalties for child abuse will be released on full parole after serving less than half her term.
Lorelei Turner, 38, and her husband Steven were convicted of manslaughter in July 1995 for beating and starving their three-year-old son John to death in a case that horrified Canadians who followed the trial.
But on Wednesday, a panel of the National Parole Board in this eastern Ontario city ruled Turner will be released but placed on probation until July 2011.
Until then, she must remain within 25 kilometres of her residence, is not allowed unsupervised contact with anyone under 16, and must continue to receive counselling.
"The board would have looked at the risk and obviously found a low risk to reoffend," Carol Sparling of the National Parole Board said Wednesday. Read More ..
Australian Associated Press
December 05, 2008
A WOMAN who killed her infant son by jumping with him from the eighth floor of a city apartment block has walked free after being convicted of manslaughter.
Yeeda Topham, 40, of Roleystone near Perth, had pleaded guilty in the West Australian Supreme Court to a charge of unlawfully killing 21-month-old James Topham on November 5 last year. Read More ..
Fire Officials Claim Fire Intentionally Set
NBC4-TV, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
LOS ANGELES, USA -- Murder charges are expected to be filed against a woman whose infant son's body was found in a washing machine after firefighters doused what they say was an intentionally set fire, authorities said Tuesday.
Latunga Starks, 32, was taken into custody last night, according to the Sheriff's Department Web site.
Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Dennis Shirey identified the mother and her nearly 3-month-old son, Michael Kelvin Thompson. Read More ..
TORONTO SUN, May 23, 2003
It seemed a tragic coincidence - at first.
Craig and Kathleen Folbigg's first son died in his sleep at 19 days old. Their next child, Patrick, died two years later at nine months.
Still, it was after their fourth baby died before Australian police suspected something was terribly wrong.
In Sydney's New South Wales State Supreme Court this week, Kathleen Folbigg, 35, was found guilty of killing all four of her babies.
The jury's work would have been made much easier if they had been allowed to read Folbigg's entire secret diary. In it, she practically confesses to following in her dad's deadly footsteps.
"Obviously I am my father's daughter," the Australian woman wrote in her diary Oct. 14, 1996, having already killed three of her four children.
"But I think losing my temper and being frustrated and everything has passed. I now just let things happen and go with the flow. An attitude I should of had with all my children, if given the chance, I'll have it with the next one."
Folbigg was pregnant at the time with her fourth child. She would go on to kill her as well. Read More ..
Zachary Turner, a 13 months old baby, died at the hands of his fugitive mother, Dr. Shirley Turner, who killed him and then committed suicide on August 18, 2003.
Turner was facing extradition to the United States to stand trial for the 2001 murder of Dr. Andrew Bagby, Zachary's father.
28-year-old Dr. Andrew Bagby was found shot to death in Keystone State Park, 55 kilometres northeast of Pittsburgh, PA, U.S.A.
Turner fled to Newfoundland, Canada where Zachary was born. She was out on bail against the wishes of U.S. authorities at the time of Zachary's death. Read More ..
Canadian Press, (various newspapers across Canada, including the Toronto Star) Aug. 16, 2006.
ISLE LA MOTTE, Vt. A Montreal mother recovering from alleged self-inflicted wounds will be charged in the coming days with murdering her 8-year-old son, whose body was found in Lake Champlain, a Vermont state attorney said today.
I am going to prepare a charge of first-degree murder, Grand Isle States Attorney David Miller said in a telephone interview. Read More ..
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