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Pre-2008 Posts

Robert Pickton on Trial for Murder, Male Terrorism (May Trigger)

What will it take for women to recognize that globally, as women, we are targeted for destruction? What specific cataclysm in the history of our social subordination will forge in us, as a fundamental element of our identity, an awareness of the fact and the means by which our specific social group is being destroyed? Which outrage against us will so shake the conscience of the world that it will force us to acquire a preparedness for dealing with our own possible demise? — Natalie Nenadic, from “Femicide”

On February 8, 2002, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver, B.C., issued a press release, published on the Vancouver Rape Relief website, one of the few remaining rape relief centers run by our sister radical feminists/lesbian separatists, which read, in part:

Women are missing from the downtown eastside… Each of those women has children and parents and siblings and friends. … A fellow named Robert Pickton is named as a “person of interest” in this case. … It was noted in the media that [Pickton] was a “person of interest” some time ago.  What did the police do to “serve and protect” the women who live and work in this neighborhood? … the numbers of women missing from the dowtown core has increased alarmingly in the past few years. …These attacks are primarily about sexism.  It is not men who are disappearing in droves from the streets of downtown. 

We want to point out that these women are women. They are women as much as the woman who shops on South Granville; the woman who goes to classes at UBC; the woman who walks the picket line for her union. These women are often identified in the media as Aboriginal prostitutes and drug addicts. They are more vulnerable to attack because they are poor and addicted; and because of racism which undervalues people of Aboriginal descent, but they are attacked mostly because they are women. They are more vulnerable to attack than other women in part because housing, money and other social supports are less and less available to them.

…The police and the government need to take us seriously. One is too many. Fifty is outrageous. We are tired of memorials

Yesterday, women from the same Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre gathered in front of the courthouse where Robert Pickton is being tried for slaughtering the women they had worried about, searched for, and on behalf of whom they had organized rallies and actions.

C.J. Julian

The women sang, they drummed, they performed a Lillooet women’s warrior song.  “To me it means strength,” said C.J. Julian (above).  We are here to represent [the missing women].  It is an honoring song.”

Robert Pickton, the man charged so far with murdering 26 women, whom I blogged about last week, is on trial this week for the murder of six of the women.  These are the women whose lives he confessed to having taken:

Sereena Abbotsay

Sereena Abotsway

Sereena Abotsway was born with fetal alcohol syndrome in a bad area of town. Her parents died when she was young, her father from his drug habit.   Foster parents cared for her from from the time she was four until she was 17, when she was placed in a group home, where she, too, was introduced to drugs.  Although she was prostituted, she was an activist for the women she worked with, and when women she knew began disappearing from the streets of Vancouver in the ’80s and ’90s, she attended rallies, demanding action.  She herself disappeared in August 2001 at the age of 29, and her remains were later dug up and identified on the Pickton farm.

Mona Wilson

Mona Wilson

Taken from a First Nations reserve in Alberta, Mona Wilson lived in a treatment center as a young girl, but was removed when she was found badly beaten in a hallway.  She lived with foster families until she was 18.   She became addicted to heroin when she was on her own and was prostituted.  She disappeared in November 2001 at the age of 26, as she was trying to turn her life around.

Angela Joesbury

Angela Joesbury

Angela left home with her boyfriend when she was 16 years old, fleeing parents struggling with alcoholism and mental illness who had abused her.  Her boyfriend, as it turned out,  was a drug dealer who provided her with drugs.  She was prostituted and violently abused by a series of pimps.  She had her own daughter, then disappeared in June 2001.

Brenda Wolfe

Brenda Wolfe

Brenda Wolfe’s friends say she was never prostituted. Although she had briefly been addicted to drugs, she had turned her life around and before she disappeared, she was working as a waitress and a bouncer in a local eatery.  She defended prostituted women when they were attacked or in danger, but became one of Robert Pickton’s alleged victims nevertheless. She disappeared in February 1999.  

Georgina Papin

Georgina Papin

Georgina was a First Nations woman, one of eight siblings, who spent most of her life in foster care.  Although she struggled with drug addiction, she stayed in close touch with a daughter, who lived with her grandmother.  She had seven children but had lost custody of them because of her problems with drug addiction and because she had done some time in prison.   She disappeared at age 34 in 1999.

Marnie Frey

Marnie Frey

Marnie Frey grew up in a Christian family and attended Christian school for a time.  At 18 she had a daughter.   She encountered people who introduced her to drugs, became addicted and was finally prostituted, but she always stayed in touch with her family, sometimes calling up to eight times a day to check on her little girl.  Her final call was made in September 1999.  Her remains were among those recovered on Pickton’s farm.

Pickton Farm 

According to the prosecuting attorney in opening statements, shortly after Pickton had been arrested, and while he was in jail, he described to an undercover police officer who was posing as a cellmate how he (Pickton) had killed 49 women on his farm (pictured above).  He said he was planning to kill one more woman to “make it an even 50,” but said he’d become “sloppy” about the killings.  At one point he tried to cut a deal, asking what it would take to get police to close down the investigation and leave the property, saying police should “get back to him.”

Body parts, including blood and DNA of the dead women, were found throughout Pickton’s farm– in pig pens, stuffed into garbage bags, in his trailer and motorhome, in soil samples excavated during police searches.    The severed heads, hands and feet of Andrea Joesbury, Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson were found stuffed into five-gallon plastic pails in a chest freezer and in a trash can outside a slaughterhouse on the property.  Jawbone fragments and teeth of Marnie Frey and Brenda Wolfe were found,  and a bone of Georgina Papin’s hand was discovered among other bones in debris and manure in a pig pen.

In Pickton’s trailer, police found Sereena Abotsway’s asthma inhaler in a bloody bag and a date book which had once belonged to Angela Joesbury.  A .22 calibre revolver with a dildo stretched over the gun barrel yielded DNA profiles of Pickton and Mona Wilson, and Brenda Wolfe’s DNA was found on a key to a pair of handcuffs in a duffel bag which also contained guns and leg irons.

Despite the confession, which was recorded and which will be shown to jurors, Pickton’s attorney says he didn’t kill the women and that jurors should consider Pickton’s level of intelligence, and other things.

Women knew, for years, and even decades, that their friends and sisters on the street were disappearing.  Repeatedly they asked for help in finding the women and ending the disappearances.  Pickton had been arrested once, all the way back in 1997, when a woman who had been at his farm ran bloody and cut to a neighbor’s house.  But he was released, never formally charged.

Now he stands trial.   What will it take for the world to recognize and acknowledge, what men do to women, the way men slaughter women, after raping them, while raping them, while torturing them.  I will be writing about this as the trial continues, for the sake of these women, for the sake of the women who have loved them, searched for them, and cried out on their behalf, and because it would be wrong not to shout from the rooftops what this man said he did to these women.  They weren’t “killed.”  A man,  or men, killed them, brutally,  as though they were nothing.  If it is ever to stop, we have to cry out, and cry out, and cry out.

Heart

Discussion

23 thoughts on “Robert Pickton on Trial for Murder, Male Terrorism (May Trigger)

  1. This is too horrible for comprehension.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | January 23, 2007, 10:34 pm
  2. If you are a woman of any aboriginal ancestry, or a feminist like Rhondda, you know that like atrocities happen over and over and over, in the north, usually one native woman at a time, from native and white men alike, and when desperate disenfranchised women move to urban areas, this is their choice of occupations. I am waiting for the next shoe to drop: that Pickton or his friends were making movies of some of this.

    Posted by Pony | January 23, 2007, 10:50 pm
  3. I turned on the tv to a story about this, and at first I thought it was about the Ipswich murders in England. These kind of MURDERS OF WOMEN BY MEN happen so often that they’re like a kind of continual terrorism.

    When will any real opposition happen?

    Posted by roamaround | January 23, 2007, 11:39 pm
  4. This is so horrible. There are no words to describe this.

    Why can’t it just be said that these are men murdering women, why can’t people make the links?

    Posted by Laurelin | January 24, 2007, 12:01 am
  5. ***If it is ever to stop, we have to cry out, and cry out, and cry out.***

    Statements like this always bother me because I get an image of helpless women who can’t do anything but “cry out”. Cry out to whom? Men? The power structure? Millions of women recognize and acknowledge what men do to women but their energies are just too scattered to effectively put an end to it. The genesis of the problem lies deep in the structure of society and how we live our lives, including isolation in nuclear families. Women need to live, work and play together in greater numbers. There is power in numbers. Lone women are sitting ducks for male predators.

    Posted by Branjor | January 24, 2007, 1:09 am
  6. Yeah, true. I think I want to cry out cry out cry out because I am not sure women *do* recognize and acknowledge what men do to women. I think, honestly, that most women pretend all sorts of stuff. They don’t face up to what men do. They don’t go there. And neither do most men, including men who hurt women. It’s like this big game everybody plays where the violence that happens somewhere “out there” to people “over there” is heinous, with the violence men do to women somehow of a different order, so that it doesn’t have to be considered in the same way.

    I don’t think women are helpless. But until they face up to what happens to women on a global scale, they won’t help themselves, or women, for that matter, hence, me, yelling.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | January 24, 2007, 1:20 am
  7. I think what pisses me off the most is that all the defence has to do is cause some doubt in the jury and they have to find him not guilty. One little doubt, like maybe he didn’t act alone, or maybe he was too stupid to know what was going on at his farm. I would also guess that no sense of the deep hatred for women in our society will ever get mentioned. This was an act of a deviant, not someone following the logic of patriarchy is how it will be framed. And the defence will invoke the horror that no one man could possibly do this, so to confuse the jury about being fair. No one will say that pigs and women are equated in the minds of men. Just saying.

    Posted by rhondda | January 24, 2007, 1:24 am
  8. Oh, my sisters, my heart cries for you and the horror you went through. There aren’t enough tears, although they continue to weep through my closed eyelids, my very pores, to express my thoughts. When will enough be enough? When we’re all dead or so beaten into submission and subserviance that we might as well *be* dead?

    Posted by JJ | January 24, 2007, 2:33 am
  9. Yeah, JJ. And all of you. 😦

    In light of the discussion in the Sexpresso thread, I keep thinking about the way that the man who slaughtered these women knew how to do it because he slaughtered animals. In this world, men are the slaughterers– you know?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | January 24, 2007, 6:20 am
  10. We know that violence against animals is often a predictor of violence against humans. Maybe that’s just as true if you slaughter animals for a living as it is if you do it for “fun.”

    Posted by Branjor | January 24, 2007, 12:25 pm
  11. Branjor,

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Brilliiant post.

    And that’s what women were starting to do, in the early 70’s. This was a real threat to men.

    So, as a counteroffensive, they sweetened the deal for *propertied* married women, and set about aggressively pornographying all of us to divide us into intensely competing individual sex commodities.

    Women used to gather in circles of work and friendship to cook and sew and educate our children, even though we were owned and contolled on an ididvidual basis, one man one woman, by males. This was traditional, and throughout the ages has created a limited measure of solidarity amongst women with which to help survive the brutalities of patriarchy.

    But now, we have the cooking and sewing done in male-controlled mass slave environments where women cannot create and share skills and support and create our own social environments.

    Add to that the relentless pervasive pornogrifying, well, I’ll just call it mass public sexual slavery, of women and girls, and we have a severe survival crisis for females.

    I don’t know how it will happen, how women will manage to achieve it, but yes, we need to physically group together over time and space to reclaim our female energy, our joy and creativity. Strength in numbers. How will we ever be able to do this without using land ownership to gain a toehold?

    Land ownership is totally male-controlled.

    I wish I knew how we can get from here to where we need to go.

    Mary Sunshine

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | January 24, 2007, 1:29 pm
  12. Branjor you must be aware that most of the people in this world “slaughter animals for food”.

    Posted by Pony | January 24, 2007, 2:11 pm
  13. heart – i’m under the impression that you’re blogging from the states. if this is the case… i live in montreal, and was just thinking last night about whether this trial was (finally) getting any kind of international attention from news media. can you tell me if you’re hearing anything about it in the news where you are?

    i’m torn between what is most respectful of the victims – to have the exact information about their torture, death and the desecration of their bodies quite publically and repeatedly available, or to give more muted coverage of the specifics. does not being so explicit in the press about what happened to these women do more favours for the accused than it does for the vicitms? i don’t know. at least part of me wants to know exactly what happened to better equip my rage and grief, and fuel some kind of action.

    i was talking to some friends the other day, about the case, and writing or doing creative work in relation to it. i had started working on a poem, but then got to wondering how many more poems about dead women am i gonna have to write? and how long until they all become the same poem?
    one of my friends replied ‘forever’…. i sincerely hope that that’s not the case.

    Posted by sarah | January 24, 2007, 3:14 pm
  14. Sarah– yes, it’s getting attention now all over the world actually. It was reported here when Pickton was first arrested, maybe because I live in the Pacific Northwest not far from B.C. The attention it is getting sucks though. Why is it that all the headlines are: “Pickton says charges are hogwash!” To me, that’s because everybody wants to believe the charges are hogwash, nobody wants to believe what happened, happened. Of course guys like this, all the way down to everyday garden variety abusers, *always* deny their abuse. They always deny everything. A lot of the time that works. Here the guy is, body parts in his freezer, saying he never did it.

    But then again, that word, “hogwash.” If he said it, and if he was intelligent, which he doesn’t seem to be, that could be a very evil, sadistic thing to say. In my opinion, it’s also sadistic when the press uses the word. These are women, butchered on a pig farm. You’re going to quote Pickton describing the charges against him as “hogwash” and plaster that all over the news? Given that we all know that to men like this, women might as well be pigs. I would be livid if I were a family member or friend and saw those headlines. I’m livid and I’m not a family member or friend.

    Not to mention, a prostituted woman, Lynn Ellingson, is going to testify that she saw a woman be butchered by Pickton.

    I had all the same thoughts you did about describing what was done to these women. There is always the risk of titillating the butchers who haven’t got caught yet, the wanna-be butchers of women, the men who butcher women in their imaginations and get off on it. But regular news media is going to be all over that, in part because it IS titillating to misogynists and haters, so my thinking is to foreground the women, and never to use a photo of the man who slaughtered them. Never give him that. It’s tempting, because he is really a traditionally evil-looking man, but that doesn’t mean anything, Ted Bundy did the same thing and he was a traditionally handsome, clean cut guy.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | January 24, 2007, 5:49 pm
  15. ***Branjor,

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Brilliiant post.***

    Thanks Mary!🙂

    Posted by Branjor | January 25, 2007, 1:57 am
  16. I just realized recently I went to school with Brenda Wolfe in Coalhurst, Alta. Only I knew her as a Belanger, which is why I didnt recognize the name right away. She was such a good person, we had even discussed the idea that we may be related, as I am related to the Belanger family somehow. I too remember her as a protector, she protected me from getting beat up many times. We lost touch when we were 14 when I came back to BC and ranaway from home.I cant believe how close I came to ending up on that farm. I am truly blessed that I am safe, but my heart still aches for my friends that I lost, and for the sisters we may still lose. I pray to the Creator that justice will be found for these women. Something must be done so that they may rest.

    Posted by Aimee | February 17, 2007, 7:23 am
  17. Yeah Aimee we know the Metis and native family names don’t we. We know who are kin are.

    Posted by Pony | February 17, 2007, 6:00 pm
  18. who OUR kin are.

    Posted by Pony | February 17, 2007, 6:01 pm
  19. Hi. Well. i am 16 years old. My mother knew Robert, She was friends with him or something, I am not entirely sure. But she would party with him. It is said he gave his pig meat out to friends, family or whatever. If my mother was given anything of that, that would mean that We have both eaten Human, Thats just a start to make someone sick to their stomach compaired to what he has done. Mymother was also a prostitue and has slept with him most likely, She lives still, I am thankful for. I was taken away from my mother and am not extremely close to her anymore but the thought that if she dies like that sickens me. And then to think of all thoes friends and family that did actualy loose their loved ones. I Wish I could just hug them all, I could not do anything about it, but am sorry, so sorry. Such a sad thing to happen, Such an evil person, heartless, and no sympathy. Well. I have a lot to say but I will end it here if anyone ends up reading this. Bye

    Posted by Amanda | April 21, 2007, 7:57 am
  20. I read your words Amanda and I most certainly feel your closeness to this brutal story. Today Robert was found guilty of murder for the first of his victims. It will be a place some people can move on from, but it will not be the end. There are still women in crisis on the streets of Vancouver, there were when I was there and there they are still. The world is not kind to them and, although this story should make us more understanding, it won’t. Still the faces will turn away, still the hurt will be in their eyes, still the evil predators will wait for their chance. All parents, ….. always keep your children close to your heart, do not let them walk out the door with hate on their lips, do not abandon them, no matter what shape we are in, make sure they are loved. Love does not cost money, Love is all they need, but it has to come from the right people. They cannot look for love and find a Robert. Keep them safe. Never forget these women… not ever. Keep all of them in your heart. For the sake of those who walk after them…… because there will always be lost women, it is the way of humans.

    Posted by Gretchen | December 10, 2007, 2:29 am
  21. You will find the same thing happening in Juarez Mexico, only this time it is hundreds and hundreds of women murdered and missing. So many are missing that Amnesty International has become involved and is putting pressure on authorities on both sides of the border (Mexico & USA) to solve these murders. We here in Canada need to write our Politicians to bring back the Death Penalty for the Robert Picktons and Clifford Olsons of our nation! Let us take up the American flag and bring justice back to our country.

    Posted by Donna | June 3, 2008, 7:50 am
  22. If women ruled a country, do you think rapists would ever live?

    Posted by Satsuma | June 4, 2008, 4:17 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: UPDATE on Vancouver’s 69 Missing Women: Murdered by Men, Remembered by Women — Pickton Found Guilty of Second Degree Murder « Women's Space - February 13, 2012

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