Property vs Human Value

One of the driving forces for me sticking to my rigorous schedules, my many classes and almost impossible tuition payments is what I call the WOW effect. Simply put, the WOW effect is just that, every time, in almost every class I experience something that is a complete learning experience. Sure, there are lots of names, places and theories, but in almost in every class there is a piece of knowledge given that makes me stop and think then sit back and rethink it and digest its contents in my poor brain.

This summer I’m studying the academic world of the Sexual Offender, and Sexual Deviancy & Violence, perhaps one of the strongest evoked public pinioned subjects in Western society today. The dominate themes are psychology and sociology, the make up of this seminar style class is made to create thought provoking insight into this little known world. Public opinion is abound, and the media uses it to, at any opportunity, to sell its wears with. So understandably so the public perception going into this course is of very mixed and unbalanced preconceptions.

The first step in learning the aspects of these types of crimes is to explore and examine the historical context of sexual crimes, starting with our oldest records of human civilization, then working right up to present day examining our laws and public opinions in our many societies. But it was looking at how women are treated (and valued) throughout time and cultures that created a spark of enlightenment for me, and most of the class. It was the part of the chapter talking about medieval Europe, in particular about Italy during the 12th and 13th century, that the prof asked us to look at the laws then of property crimes vrs rape.

The class paused as the question was presented: “Is rape considered a more serious crime then property crime today, than compared to medieval Europe”?

The class was silent, but then a few hands went up. At first the general consensus was that indeed rape was thought to be a more serious crime compared to property crimes now. We were all bitten by the world of public opinion as we tried to build a case of all the data that supported stronger laws against rape and sexual violence. It was until we actual compared the two sections of the Canadian Criminal Code that the dark surprise leap out at us. The maximum punishment for property crimes is life, while the maximum for Sexual Assault in Canada is ten years. In Canada, as is in most modern (and not so modern societies), not much has changed since the medieval period as crimes against women are less than that of property crimes.

[CORRECTION] May 26, 2008, My prof just informed us today that there is a form of sexual assault that indeed carries a maximum sentence of life in prison called Aggravated Sexual Assualt under Section 273(2) of the Canadain Criminal Code. It should also be pointed out too that so far since this legislation has been created, it is extremly rare to have someone chardged under this offence.

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