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    How are family violence cases dealt with in Canada?
    Posted: 2012-09-04 05:00:35

    Physical violence in the family is treated as an assault in Canada in about the last 15 years. Violence takes many forms and it can be verbal, psychological, or physical. It is more common than is realized because it is not always talked about in public. Extreme cases end up in court.

    Violence in the family results from internal tensions in the family but also often results from outside tensions of society impacting on the family. For many immigrant families, the tensions of a job, income, migration, and cultural changes add to the stresses that a family must go through inCanada.

    The assumption that the violence is mostly against women is not entirely true but is more likely. No direct statistics are available in the immigrant communities. The percentage of Canadian women who report violence abuse by their spouse is 8.7%, and the percentage of men who report being violently abused by their spouse is 7%. Women are more likely to abuse verbally than physically.

    When a case is reported to the police, usually two policemen will arrive and interview each of the spouses separately. When evidence is gathered that a spouse was assaulted, a charge is laid against the offending spouse. The offending spouse is taken into custody and usually released on bail with a condition that he will not be allowed to go near the victim until the date of the trial. Where the accused is found guilty, the person will be jailed.

    At the time of the argument and scuffle, the child in the family, or the spouse, or even a neighbour may complain to the police. Once the police is called, the justice system takes over. The main function of the police is to protect society and any injuries to the victims, though not necessarily deal with the issue of family support. It is usually after the event of calling the police that the family becomes aware of the fact that when the husband is in jail, or not allowed to see the family, or cannot work to provide support to the family that the consequences of calling the police are far reaching and events no longer are in the control of the family.

    It is quite common for even the victim in the family to recant the facts and deny that the assault took place. The crown attorney does not have much discretion, except when the evidence is weak and will usually insist on taking the matter to the judge. The judge may let the person off or give a conditional discharge. Once the complaint is made, the legal and judicial system is more concerned about the assault, which is a crime, than the family unit because the criminal offences are offences against society. Recognizing that the wife will recant or deny the assault, the police are now taking video tapes or photographs of the injury or damage to be used at trial.

    In the South Asian families, the preservation of the family is usually very important and the spouse suffering violence will often be willing to deny the facts to keep the family together. If the police issues a subpoena to compel attendance at trial, she must appear to give evidence against her husband. If she does not appear, the case can be thrown out but there is a risk that she will be charged for breaching the subpoena. In such a case, she must see an independent lawyer to know what she should do.

    Public education and prevention of the family violence is important and it is important for families to know the consequences of such offences. Family counseling is available in all municipalities and is usually free of charge.

    Mr. Jay Chauhan has more than 30 years of experience practicing Commercial law, Family law, Immigration law, Wills and Estates, and Litigation. Mr. Jay Chauhan earned degrees, including a Bachelor of Science from the London School of Economics in England; a Barrister-at-Law at Lincoln's Inn in England; a Master of Economics at the Berlin University in Germany; and a Bachelor of Laws at Osgoode Hall in Ontario, Canada. He was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1972, England in 1965, and admitted as an Advocate in the State of Gujarat, India in 1982. You can learn more about Mr. Chauhan by visiting his website at
    or reading his bio.

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