Bail and Violence Against Women

Image: Zab Ethanne

Image: Zab Ethanne


On Saturday January 19th, in the early hours of the morning, Bridget Takyi left her home and two young children to walk to her car, to drive to her job as a waitress at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. She never made it. Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah140.jpgShe was attacked, stabbed numerous times and then set on fire. She was so badly burned, it took police nearly 24 hours to positively identify her body. It didn't take quite as long to arrest a suspect in the case. 

Police have charged Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah (right) with the first-degree murder of Ms Takyi. He is her former boyfriend, and the father of her children. At the time of the attack, he was on bail, following numerous charges of assault, assault with a deadly weapon and threatening to kill Ms. Takyi.  

This shocking case has raised once again the troubling issues surrounding charges of violence against women, the rights of the accused -- and the protection of victims.

These issues come up every few years, when the justice system fails to protect a woman like Bridget Takyi. Despite numerous reports, inquests, studies and conferences, we don't seem to be able to get this right. 

Michael Enright talks to Elizabeth Sheehy and James Morton

Elizabeth Sheehy teaches law at the University of Ottawa. She currently has a book in press with UBC Press, on the murder trials of battered women who kill abusive men.

James Morton knows the intricacies of the court room and the bail hearing inside out. He is head of litigation at Steinberg, Morton, Hope and Israel, a past-president of the Ontario Bar Association and has written numerous legal papers and books on evidence and criminal law.

A postscript:

A recent Department of Justice study shows that men charged with wife assault violate their bail conditions 50% of the time. Most worrisome, half of these -- that is, 25% of men charged with wife assault, commit further crimes against the women while on bail.

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