Report submitted to federal government highlights police abuse against Indigenous women

June 19, 2017
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

Degrading strip searches and groping by male officers. Slamming a woman's head on the sidewalk during an arrest. Unwillingness to report crimes due to fears of police harassment. Threats. Intimidation. Racial discrimination. Fears of retaliation.

These are just some of the accounts in a Human Rights Watch submission to the federal government to be released Monday that focuses on police treatment of Indigenous women in Saskatchewan. The organization documented 64 alleged cases, since 2014, of police abuse against aboriginal women in the province.

Its findings, based on interviews with more than 60 Indigenous women, suggest problems of policing in Indigenous communities aren't just confined to cases in northern B.C., about which Human Rights Watch released a 2013 report detailing RCMP threats and assaults, or Val-d'Or, Que., where women have filed complaints against police of sexual violence and intimidation.


"What was surprising … was just how the same subset of problems with policing, and the same types of policing abuses, are happening across the board – that we're seeing the same patterns," said Farida Deif, Canada director for Human Rights Watch, in an interview, adding that this points to "much larger systemic issues of institutional racism and discrimination, and certain stereotypes of Indigenous women as having 'high risk lifestyles.'"

The abuse documented includes excessive use of force, police neglect when women reported domestic violence and fear of retaliation if women filed a complaint against a police officer.

The submission is based on six weeks in the field last year. Researchers interviewed 64 Indigenous women, whose identities were withheld due to privacy and safety concerns. They also spoke with social-service providers, such as women's shelter staff, and police authorities in the province.

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