Maple Batalia was Gunned Down
More Deadly Violence Against Women
When Maple Batalia was born 19 years ago near Mumbai, her family says “it was the best gift we ever got in our lives.” And when the Simon Fraser University student was gunned down early Wednesday in a Surrey parkade, it was “the worst thing that happened to us in all our lives,” her devastated father Harry told
The Vancouver Sun. “I lost everything I had. My precious jewel is no more,” Batalia said of Maple. He said Maple never spoke a harsh word about anyone, but was having some trouble with a former boyfriend.
Maple’s father says he thought her ex-boyfriend had been harassing Maple may be responsible for the shooting. He spoke of an incident, a few days back, when she was out with friends at a coffee shop where her ex-boyfriend showed up was not happy to see her there. He pushed her, and then the coffee shop management called the police. There are conflicting reports that she had sought a protection order prevent her ex-boyfriend contact with her. RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen said police have not yet identified a suspect or motive in Maple’s death he wasn’t going to comment on information that Batalia had sought a no-contact order against a former boyfriend in recent months though he did say the Integrated Homicide Investigative team had several “people of interest”. Despite the comments from Maple’s family, the RCMP and the large media coverage, it is being speculated that her murder is not only a devastating personal tragedy but also another example of gender-based violence by men against women.
At this early stage there are so many questions still to be answered.
Surrey, British Columbia
For the past 19 years, Surrey Women’s Centre has been doing the work to address violence against girls and women in Surrey, BC. Their 2010 – 2011 Annual report included the reality that since 2006 ten women have been killed by their partners in the city of Surrey alone.
Amarjit, (17) and Ranjit, (15) were shot by their step-father. Sukwinder was beaten with a rifle that killed her two sons
Manjit Panghali, (39) pregnant was strangled and her burned body was found in Delta, BC. her husband was found guilty of her murder over four years later.
Navreet Waraich, was stabbed by her husband.
Amanpreet Kaur Bahai, (33) was murdered, found face down in a pool of blood with one of her four children crying next to her body. Her husband and two other suspects were charged and the case remains in the courts.
Shemina Hirji Cheema, was found dead and though her husband was never identified a suspect in her murder he killed himself two months later.
Manjit Kaur Sandhu, and her 22 year old daughter Sabrina were shot to death. Manjit’s husband pleads guilty to manslaughter in October 2009.
Melissa Chatham, (24) was beaten to death in front of her ex-boyfriend’s son. Her ex-boyfriend was charged with second degree murder and plead guilty to manslaughter. It is important to note that he was sentenced to nine years and with time served he is already eligible for unescorted temporary passes.
Maria Catroppa, (69) was stabbed to death in her bed. Her husband was convicted of second degree murder.
Marianthi Teresa Tsanas, (25) was shot several times and found lying in the middle of a Surrey street suffering with fatal gunshot wounds. Her boyfriend, the only suspect in her murder later kills himself.
Jennifer Ferguson, (40) was found dead and her live-in boyfriend is charged with one count of manslaughter.
Ravinder Bhangu, (24) was stabbed while at work. Her husband is facing one count of first degree murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of assault with a weapon. The assault charges pertain to an attack on a witness who stepped in to try to stop the stabbing.
Maple was shot to death, succumbing to the impact of numerous gunshot wounds. Gun violence, gun control and violence against women is hotly debated. Gun control is a highly polarized issue and we offered these comments about the presence of guns increasing the lethality as reported in The Georgia Straight.
The Coalition for Gun Control offers the following:
“What we do know is that throughout the world, gun
s figure prominently in the cycle of violence against women. Women are at risk of being victimized by their intimate partners. While the vast majority of gun owners are male and more men are killed with firearms than women – women’s experience with firearms is different. Studies of abused women in many corners of the world, including in Canada, report remarkable similarities in the behaviour of abusers, especially amongst those who rely on guns to underpin their violence. Firearms increase the chance that assaults will escalate into murder; are frequently part of the cycle of intimidation and violence that many women face in their homes, and are used against women when they are present during domestic conflicts. On average, one in three women killed by their husbands in Canada are shot. Often children are also victims, as the presence of firearms not only increases the lethality of domestic violence situations, but the number of victims.”
“For every women killed or injured with a firearm, many more are threatened with guns. A study done in the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island on family violence in rural settings found that two thirds of the women indicated there were firearms in their home said knowing about the firearms made them more fearful for their safety and well-being. Women were more likely to express concern for their safety when the firearms owners were not licensed, and the firearms not registered or safely stored. In Alberta, shelter worker estimated that at least 40% of her clients had been threatened with a gun. The presence of firearms is a particular risk factor for domestic homicide. Early studies showed that family and intimate assaults involving firearms were twelve times more likely to result in death than intimate assaults that did not involve firearms. A study of women physically abused by current or former intimate partners in the United States revealed a fivefold increased risk that the abusing partner would murder the woman when he owned a firearm.6 Recent work reinforces the fact that access to firearms is also one of the top five risk factors associated with domestic murders of women in Canada. In Ontario, a province where only 15% of homes have firearms, 55% of individuals who committed domestic murders of women had access to guns, which reinforces the idea that a gun in the home dramatically increases the risk of death in domestic violence situations.”
In Canada, homicides of women with firearms dropped by over 63 percent. Gun control proponents believe this drop is a result of progressive strengthening of gun laws (1991-2005), while murders of women with other means (stabbing, beating etc.) declined by only 38 percent as illustrated by the following graph from The Case for Gun Control: Reducing Domestic Homicide:
|Murder of Women with Firearms||85||43||32|
|Murder of women without firearms||185||152||115|
The International Coalition Against Gun Control position has been that guns don’t cause violence people cause violence. “If Canada continues to implement gun control, There will be only two groups of people enjoying and benefiting from the use of firearms. The criminals and those supplying the criminals.” “Why don’t we have to license kitchen knives?”
One of the difficulties for us in our work is that the male partners of women we see, except for the assaults against their female partners, they are otherwise law abiding and don’t come to the attention of the criminal legal system. If and when there is law enforcement involvement and charges are laid then they are prohibited from possessing all weapons including firearms. Contrary to popular belief, women in violent relationships are more at risk of being killed in the process of or after leaving an abusive relationship than while in the relationship.
This is truly complex and entering into the polarization of the gun control issue is not our priority.
We are standing in spirit with Maple’s family and friends and we were profoundly moved by the outpouring of love and support for her at the vigil held at Holland Park in Surrey, Friday, September 30th. We want whoever was responsible for her death to be held accountable.
At Battered Women’s Support Services, approximately 10% the women who access our services are living in Surrey, BC. Many women and their children throughout BC are navigating violence and threats of violence including the presence of guns and other weapons including women who access our services. We work with women to assess threat, risk and lethality and to develop safety plans which may include calling the police or seeking orders of protection. As a social problem, violence against women in intimate relationships is a challenge we engage in every day.
Deadly violence is ever present reality in our work and we are truly trying to save lives. We think we are saving lives. We take our work seriously providing support for survivors and creating hope…as one woman told us yesterday,
“I left and survived, I want other women to know they can too.”
We have heard from members of Melissa Chatham’s family alerting us to a factual
error in our posted. The change has been made. We are indebted to Jennifer Storey for assisting us with this correction.
October 7, 2011