Monday, March 24

No Laughing Matter - Margaret Mitchell

The woman who first brought the issue of spousal abuse to the forefront in Canada presents her memoirs

When Margaret arrived in Ottawa in 1979 she was shocked at the male-dominated culture. Fortunately her leader, Ed Broadbent, was a feminist convert, and most of her caucus members were sensitized to women's rights.

An incident in the spring of 1982 brought spousal abuse to the forefront of Parliament and the nation as a whole. Many male Members of Parliament responded callously to my statement that one in ten Canadian women was subjected to spousal abuse. Television cameras captured their outrageous behaviour and my furious response

As Mitchell tells it,
"On May 12th I rose in the House to raise the urgent need for government action on a serious and widespread issue. 'The parliamentary report on battered wives states that one in ten Canadian husbands beat their wives regularly,' I began. Before I could continue, an uproar of male shouts and laughter erupted, making it impossible for me to be heard. A nearby Tory joked, 'I don't beat my wife. Do you, George?' When the Speaker finally got order, I rose again in fury. 'Madam Speaker, I do not think this is a laughing matter. What action will the Minister responsible for the Status of Women undertake immediately at the federal level to protect battered women?'"

LINK: YouTube - Margaret Mitchell a Champion for Head Tax Families

1 comment:

janfromthebruce said...

It's very ironic that this NDPer was laughed at and ridiculed to no end back then, at something that is so mainstream now.

It should give all progressives strength in fortitude of ones convictions of right action in the onslaught of ridicule and diminution.

Taliban Jack comes to mind here.

Good post, and brings food to thought