Royal Canadian Mounted Police Under Scrutiny For Abuse of Aboriginal Women
In a report released on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that many aboriginal women in British Columbia have been the victims of discrimination, aggressive use of police force, and even sexual assault by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The report, titled "Those Who Take Us Away," features in depth interviews with 50 aboriginal women along the "Highway of Tears" in British Columbia where numerous aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered. Researchers also interviewed 37 family members of missing or murdered women and girls. The women interviewed describe scenes of excessive use of force on girls under the age of 18, abuse of strip searches, and even accusation of rape and beatings.
Meghan Rhoad, who helped write the HRW report, said in a press release, "The threat of domestic and random violence on one side, and mistreatment by RCMP officers on the other, leaves indigenous women in a constant state of insecurity. ... Where can they turn for help when the police are known to be unresponsive and, in some cases, abusive." She told the BBC, "There's frustration, there's distrust of authority... There's not only a feeling that the police don't take their reports seriously, but that they will themselves be responsible for mistreatment."
In a statement released by the RCMP in response to the report, the force wrote "In a written response to a series of questions posed by Human Rights Watch in fall 2012, the RCMP emphasized the seriousness of allegations of police misconduct and that these allegations must be brought forward for proper investigation. We also explained that complaints could be made to the RCMP directly, to the Commission of Public Complaints against the RCMP or to other independent investigative bodies without fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, five months later and none of these allegations have been brought forward for investigation." The statement concluded with the RCMP stating that it would need time to thoroughly review the report.
At the end of the report, the HRW calls on the Canadian government to issue an inquiry into the allegations as well as work with indigenous communities and the RCMP to reform investigative policies relating to women and girls.
Media Resources: BBC 2/13/2013; CBC 2/13/2013; Globe and Mail 2/13/2013; Human Rights Watch 2/13/2013; Toronto Sun 2/13/2013
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .