OPP's decision not to release gender "repressive and regress

The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific social areas such as jobs, housing, services, facilities, and contracts or agreements. The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, sex, disability, and age, to name a few of the fifteen grounds. All other Ontario laws must agree with the Code.

OPP's decision not to release gender "repressive and regress

Postby Thomas » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:03 am

OPP's decision not to release gender "repressive and regressive," human rights lawyer says

A decision by Ontario's provincial police service to withhold the gender of anyone who is accused of a crime or is a victim of a crime is based on a faulty interpretation of the law and silences the people it's trying to protect, an Ottawa-based human rights lawyer says.

The OPP said earlier this week it has reviewed its policy and will continue releasing identifying information such as names, ages, hometowns and ethnicity, but not gender, because of concerns about the Police Services Act, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Ontario Human Rights Code.

"I'm a bit alarmed and concerned because the policy is based on a poor interpretation of the law, quite frankly. The law gives you what you may disclose, what is permissible to disclose, it's not restrictive," said Elie Labaky, a human rights lawyer who specializes in policing cases.

"Gender is not part of the list of information they may release, but they're releasing all kinds of other information that is not enumerated, either. I suspect this is not about gender. It's about controlling for liability."

An OPP spokesperson told CBC News the change came after a regular review of laws that govern police officers and the service's standard operating procedures.

Usually, the gender of a person is apparent from the name. However, where the gender is not easily discernible, OPP used to clarify in media releases. They no longer do so.

The issue could be easily solved by teaching front-line officers how to respect people of all genders and to ask people which gender they identify with, Labaky said.

"This approach is regressive and repressive," he said. "If you actually want to be progressive and implement the human rights code, you acknowledge there are non-binary people and there are trans people, you acknowledge their identities, you have conversations with them, you ascertain whether they want to be referred to as a male or female and in the odd event that you're not sure, don't disclose it. But to have a blanket policy? It's hyper-vigilance."

'Self-protective policy'

The OPP appears to be the only police service in Canada to refuse to disclose gender, though some, such as the Edmonton Police Service, have stopped disclosing the names of suspects and murder victims. Edmonton still releases gender and age.

There are other countries in which people accused of crimes are not identified, such as in the Netherlands, but that's a journalistic policy, not a police one, said Romayne Smith Fullerton, an associate professor in the faculty of information and media studies at Western University in London, Ont.

Much of her research focuses on what identifying information journalists reveal in different jurisdictions.

"This OPP policy sounds like a self-protective policy rather than one that is about privacy rights," Smith Fullerton said.

"These are matters of public record and the public has a right to know. It's the job of the media to keep an eye on all institutions, including the police. It makes it difficult to act as an oversight body if you don't have basic information. In Canada, transparency wins the day over the rights of an individual to privacy."

More training needed

Police are right to be careful about mis-gendering deceased people, said Stafanie Pest, a transgender woman from Windsor, Ont.

What gender should an officer report if someone's driver's license lists them as male but who is presenting as a woman, for example?

"Unless you ask the person, you won't know their gender and many mistakes can occur," Pest said.

The OPP's focus on gender is a sign that society is still tied to rigid rules about gender binaries, she said.

"I feel it's best to use non-gendered language whenever possible to be inclusive to non-binary communities."

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/o ... -1.5295205
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Avoiding causing offence is a bad reason for the OPP to with

Postby Thomas » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:04 am

Marni Soupcoff: Avoiding causing offence is a bad reason for the OPP to withhold crime stats

Building trust with communities — especially racial minority communities — should start with transparent, public information about who police are interacting with and how

People already have a complicated relationship with police. Gratitude, tension, distrust, support, anger, frustration, sympathy, fear, relief, dread, admiration, disgust — the combination of feelings an individual holds about officers of the law depends on the person’s history with law enforcement, as well as with the Hollywood movies they watch and the political commentary they take in. Sorting out those feelings just got even more complicated in Ontario, where at the same time that Toronto police officers are getting ready to begin tracking and reporting the race of citizens during certain interactions, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has implemented a new policy of not disclosing the gender of victims or suspected perpetrators of crime.

The point of the race-data reporting in Toronto, according to a police spokesperson, is to expose and “eliminate potential systemic racism” — a lofty goal that may exceed the reach of what is ultimately a small change in the information police jot down during incidents where they’ve used force or conducted a strip search. But it still seems like a constructive step since empirical data, rather than anecdotal evidence, is often the key component missing in conversations and research about police racial bias. Building trust with communities that currently have damaged relationships with police — especially racial minority communities — can only be helped by the existence of transparent, public information about who police are interacting with and how.

Interestingly, at least initially when the program begins in January, police will be recording their own impression of the race of the citizens they are dealing with; but they won’t be asking the citizens themselves. This could lead to inaccuracies, both purposeful and accidental. Yet it makes a good degree of sense since it’s hard to imagine much trust-building occurring if police had to demand “What race are you?” of every citizen they encountered in less than peaceful circumstances.

What if police get a person’s race wrong?

By leaving it to the officer’s observations, the policy ensures that some mistakes will be made. Should that stop the police from forging ahead? The Toronto police board doesn’t think so, nor do I. Race may be less clear-cut than we used to think and there will always be a possibility of deliberate misreporting, as well as just embarrassing confusion. It’s still worth best attempts at collecting the data because knowing something about statistical racial disparities in policing is better than knowing nothing. It’s the only way to hold police to account for their legal responsibility to treat all citizens equally.

That conclusion may not be shared by the OPP, which seems to have decided that safeguarding itself from the risk of making an embarrassing media misstep in gender classification is more important than keeping the public informed of relevant features of crimes. Does it matter that a domestic violence incident takes place between a man and a woman, or two men, or two women, or any another combination of gender classifications? Does it matter which person was the perpetrator and which person was the victim? For anyone living in the real world, of course it does. It’s hard to keep track of such underreported crimes as wives abusing husbands or violence against transgendered people if the only info we’re getting from police about a crime is that two human beings were involved.

The OPP’s stance is the result of a logical progression. The Globe and Mail reported that when explaining the new policy, OPP Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne noted that Ontarians now have the option to choose “X” (rather than male or female) as the gender on their driver’s licence. Her position, as paraphrased by the Globe, was that “officers should not be making assumptions based on a person’s appearance because there is a risk of misgendering someone.”

That’s taking the fashionable notion that there’s no such thing as gender, or that gender is purely self-defined, way too far. The OPP can surely remain sensitive to people’s self-definitions without just throwing gender out the window completely as though it’s as subjective and impossible to discern as a person’s favourite colour.

As with race, it’s impossible to make sure that government is treating people of all genders equally without keeping data on gender.

The Toronto police may find that their new policy on collecting and analyzing racial data is messy and imperfect — it will almost certainly cause some people offence and expose the police to new ridicule and criticism.

Good for them for having the courage to do it anyway because it is crucial to them performing their important job justly and equitably. Shame on the OPP for ducking their responsibility to do the same.

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/marni- ... rime-stats
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OPP’s new gender policy obscures violence against women

Postby Thomas » Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:14 am

The OPP’s decision to stop telling us the gender of victims and criminals, whether male or female, is an absurd decision in an absurd era. Once charges are laid, they’ll disclose names, ages, city or hometown and court date, but that’s it.

The Ontario Provincial Police, whose jurisdiction covers 2.3 million people across the province, wants to be seen as modern, so it presumably doesn’t want to risk misgendering someone, although apparently no one had complained it had done so, even in this era of transgender issues.

This is part of a strange trend, the erasure of women, and in this case the harm done to them by violent men.

The OPP shares the general tendency of all Canadian police forces to hold back as much information as possible from the media and the public. This latest move keeps data from the public in an era where data is the story.

OPP Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne suggested that, in these changing times, it would be wrong to look at someone, misgender them — mistake a woman for a man or a man for a woman — and send out that information, although accurate information on the gender of both accused and victim would be recorded and kept as usual.

They just wouldn’t tell us.

I say it might just bring up other problems with criminals named Lee and Pat, who share a name with law-abiding citizens of another gender. But it would be rare, just as rare as women attacking, beating and raping a large number of men, or so the OPP would imply if it followed this ludicrous policy.

Violent crime is overwhelmingly male and why pretend otherwise? Secrecy harms women. Alberta police tried this before, refusing to provide the names of women murdered by their partners to protect “family privacy.” Some police departments rebelled.

As Myrna Dawson of the Canadian Femicide Observatory told the Globe and Mail, “The bottom line is, if they go this route, there is no way to track men’s violence against women and there’s no way to track transphobic violence.” In this way, the torment and slaughter of women is hidden. In this way, the degradation of language proceeds, as does the backlash against feminism.

It’s a trend. The decision to change specific references to sexual violence — rape, fondling, groping, digital penetration — to the umbrella term of “sexual assault” was partly a feminist effort at ending stigma that ultimately lessened the view of sex attacks as serious crimes. “Sexual assault” is a dry term, as is “gender.”

Take “intimate partner violence” instead of “wife-beating.” It’s more inclusive but it’s jargon, just like the OPP referring to “the individual,” “the accused,” “the suspect” and “person of interest.”

Take “first responder.” Its use came to prominence in the aftermath of 9/11 as media despaired of differentiating among the mass of people who helped that day: firefighters, police, doctors, ambulances, nurses, engineers, FBI, sniffer dogs, coroners, photographers and media.

Now everyone is a first responder and everyone is on the “front lines.” As a measure of psychological suffering, it is a blunt instrument, a poor phrase.

Women are now hit with the latest. Gender is a construct, we are repeatedly told. Which it is, but which obscures the fact that sex is not. Male and female bodies are different. I have long thought that the primary reason for the degradation of women throughout history is that men are overwhelmingly physically stronger. Pretending this is not true does not help us.

“Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men,” a stunning new book by British journalist Caroline Criado Perez, reveals that almost every kind of data refers to men.

Almost everything is designed for men, including airplane seats, heart attack treatments, uniforms, office wear, medical instruments, pianos, keyboards, boardrooms and statistics. That treats a female as an ignorable form of male. The OPP decision makes it worse.

Men are the default. Women are the outliers, the freaks. If anyone happens to be offended by language, it is always women who must give way and consent to being erased.

Fine, the OPP is gender neutral. Crime is not.

There are many other issues that flow from the craze for gender neutrality, but many seem relatively anodyne compared to the blood, broken teeth and cracked bones of a woman beaten by a man twice her size and strength.

Women design their days and nights around news stories about sexual violence. We live carefully based on the information we have. May we continue to do that?

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-co ... women.html
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OPP shouldn’t conceal gender information

Postby Thomas » Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:33 pm

Researchers have long pointed out that good policies are based on good data.

But all too often reliable information about social problems just doesn’t exist, making it that much harder to come up with good solutions.

Sadly, that’s the case with gender-based violence. Which is why a new policy by the Ontario Provincial Police to stop disclosing the gender of victims or suspects in news alerts is the wrong move.

Researchers and the public rely on media reports to inform them about troubling trends that call for action. As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives concluded after conducting a study in 2013: “The difficulty of collecting data about violence against women has been a barrier to progress in ending that violence.”

The same could be said about violence against transgender people. Last week, for example, the New York Times lamented that “the paucity of reliable data makes it difficult to measure whether violence against transgender people has increased.”

The bottom line is that if gender-based violence isn’t measured, it can’t be addressed. Nor will it end.

The OPP says it will continue to collect gender information for its own internal use. But it won’t make it public for fear that officers might “misgender” someone and out of respect for gender diversity.

The problem is such a policy will accomplish just the opposite by concealing violence against women and gender-diverse people.

Further, experts say, the OPP’s insistence that the policy change is based on legal concerns that arise from the Police Services Act, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code does not hold water.

Human rights lawyer Elie Labaky, for one, says nothing in the privacy act would prevent the OPP from disclosing gender information in public police reports. He says it’s more likely that the force is “controlling for liability.”

In other words, the OPP is concerned it will end up before the Human Rights Tribunal for asking victims or suspects about their gender.

But Labaky argues that police should recognize there are non-binary people and trans people and acknowledge their identities.

Despite a lack of reliable statistics, the studies and tracking that do exist indicate that gender-based violence is endemic and increasingly common in Canada and around the world.

Back in 1993 a landmark study found one of every two Canadian women over the age of 15 had experienced some kind of physical or sexual violence.

More recently, Statistics Canada reported that the rate of police-reported violent crime in 2017 was 35 per cent higher for female victims, aged 24 and younger, than for their male counterparts.

Needless to say, these numbers don’t include women and girls who don’t report sexual or physical violence out of fear, shock and shame.

All indications are that crimes against transgender people are also increasing. According to Canada’s 2016 census data, for example, crimes targeting sexual orientation were more likely to be violent than hate crimes directed against other populations.

And while the New York Times decried the lack of official data on hate crimes directed at transsexual people, the known numbers it reported are alarming. So far this year, 18 trans people have been killed in the United States, a number the American Medical Association has described as an “epidemic.”

This is no time for the OPP to bring in policies that obscure the harsh reality about gender-based violence. This is the time to tackle it head on.

So far the OPP is the only police force in the country that has decided not to disclose gender. It should reverse this policy and other forces should not go down that road.

Only when a spotlight is shone on gender-based violence will money, resources, policies and education be directed at ending it.

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editori ... ation.html
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OPP's gender-neutral policy sets back reporting on violence

Postby Thomas » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:45 pm

Farquhar: OPP's gender-neutral policy sets back reporting on violence against women

Last year, 150 women were murdered by their partners in Canada and of those, 65 were murdered in Ontario.

We know this because police forces in Canada release this information to the public.

Over the years, anyone who has worked in the field of men’s violence against women recognizes that secrecy kills and maims women.

So, why has the Ontario Provincial Police decided to not release the gender of victims and criminals? The OPP thinks this new policy will bring them into this modern era of no gender, but it’s the wrong move.

(OPP spokeswoman Sgt. Carolle Dionne said last month that during a recent review of legislation, the force found the Police Services Act does not require that information to be made public. The force then proactively decided to stop releasing gender information out of caution and in an effort to “be progressive in the change of times,” she said. Dionne noted drivers’ licences and other identification documents are no longer required to list gender and “officers should not be making assumptions based on a person’s appearance.”

However, gender is the story when it comes to women being beaten and/or murdered by their male partners; gender plays a role in these cases so why pretend otherwise?

What this policy will do is hamper research into male violence against women. As Myrna Dawson, director of the Femicide Observatory and the Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative says, “the move is very concerning. Especially from a research point of view and particularly in relation to cases involving violence.

“The bottom line is if they go this route, there is no way to track men’s violence against women and there’s no way to track transphobic violence.”

In Alberta, some police departments refused to release names of women who had been killed by their partners in murder-suicides, citing family privacy concerns. Anti-violence advocates argued that more info was needed about every violent death in order to educate the community. Edmonton has recently reversed their stance.

I have long argued in this column that we need to shine the light on men’s violence against women, be it sexual assault by a stranger, assault by a family member or partner violence.

The more we talk about it, the less power abusers have over members of their own families or others. This move by the OPP is wrong-headed and will set us back years.

Despite what some men’s groups may say, statistically, women are battered and murdered by their partners at a much higher rate than men battered by women.

Here are some more statistics for you to consider:

women were victims of partner violence at a rate of four times greater than men;
the majority of victims of spousal abuse are females, accounting for 83 per cent of victims;
on average, a woman is killed by her intimate partner in Canada every six days; and
across Canada more than 3,000 women, along with 2,900 dependent children; are living in emergency shelters to escape abuse.
Here are some figures about the the cost of violence against women in Canada:

Criminal justice system — $684 million.

Police — $187 million.

Counselling — $294 million.

So, in one year it is costing $1 billion to try and deal with the issue of domestic violence in Canada.

The OPP has made the decision to become gender-neutral, but the problem is intimate partner violence is not. Women need to hear that this is happening in their communities.

If we don’t see it in the papers or hear about in the evening news, we will assume that we are alone, that it is only happening to us, instead of the one-in-five women in this country that it is happening to every day.

I would hope officials with the Ontario Provincial Police rethink this policy decision. Just because you are erasing women off the arrest reports doesn’t mean men’s violence against women is going away.

https://www.thesudburystar.com/news/loc ... inst-women
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