Canada’s new minister of health: She wears dresses
In a country where the public dress code is more restrictive than most other nations, a woman who doesn’t have a choice but to wear a dress at work is no longer out of the question.
It’s no longer unusual to see a minister wearing a dress to a conference or a party, or even to an official dinner.
Now it is common for ministers to have to wear them at public events, as well.
“This has become part of the way we communicate, but the rules have changed,” says Dr. Suman Bhattacharya, a professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine who has been studying gender-based violence for years.
“People are just more aware of this.
There’s a lot more people who are aware.”
Women who wear formal clothing at work are often expected to wear skirts, or skirts with a low cut, and often to wear gloves and a hat.
They also can’t wear the same kinds of jewelry or jewelry accessories as men, and are expected to adhere to more formal dress codes, like having a dress that can be undone and worn in the same way.
But for many, the rules are still in place.
Dr. Bhattatcharya is an associate professor at York University’s School of Medicine who has studied the role of gender-related violence in Canada for more than a decade.
In the past, there has been a focus on policing violence against women, which often involved using the criminal justice system to try to address the violence, she says.
“But what we’ve seen is a much broader, more complex conversation about how the system actually works, what kinds of resources are available to victims of this type of violence, and how it’s not just about police and courts.”
There are two primary ways in which violence against men is treated in Canada: the criminal code and the criminal law system.
In Canada, violence against male victims is treated differently than violence against female victims.
In Ontario, for example, the Criminal Code specifically allows for the death penalty for male victims.
But the death sentence is only possible for female victims, and only for a minimum of three years.
In British Columbia, the law provides a death sentence for male perpetrators, but only for women who have committed the crime of being a woman.
This makes it more difficult for women to seek justice for their male perpetrators because they can’t be charged, convicted, or sentenced to prison.
The Ontario court system has a different approach.
In addition to the criminal statute, there are various legal instruments available to men who are charged with offences against women.
For example, if a man is convicted of sexual assault against a woman, he can appeal the conviction to a woman’s court.
But if he is found not guilty, he cannot appeal his conviction to the courts of a province that has more lenient legislation for male offenders.
“We have laws that are aimed at preventing and punishing gender-specific violence against males, but we do not have legislation that addresses gender-neutral violence against females,” says Bhattacarya.
“Women are often seen as less likely to be victims of violence than men, but that’s not the case.”
Bhattarash says the Ontario government’s recent legislation is an attempt to address this gap.
“The bill makes clear that this type and severity of violence is not just directed at women, but it’s directed at males as well,” she says, adding that there are a number of specific measures in the legislation aimed at addressing violence against boys.
“There are different measures in place to deal with the cases of boys and young men.”
The bill also says the legislation will include measures to protect boys from being sexually assaulted by a female, and to encourage victims of domestic violence to report the incidents to the police, rather than the courts.
“It’s a big step forward in addressing the issue,” says Marni D’Orazio, an associate clinical professor at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto who specializes in gender-responsive sexual assault.
“They’re doing a lot of work to ensure that victims are able to report violence against them.”
The government’s efforts to address gender-violence include a $15-million funding package for gender-affirming clothing and accessories for male and female priests.
The government also recently announced a $50-million fund to help pay for gender recognition training for priests.
These initiatives have the potential to make a significant difference, Bhattamarya says, but there is more work to do.
“I think it’s important to remember that these are not the only things that need to be addressed, and we can only do so much to make sure that the women who are victims are not also the victims,” she adds.
“One thing we can do is to acknowledge that there is a gap that needs to be filled, and I think the minister has made some important strides, but they are not enough.”