Monsef, Serve Indigenous Women/Girls with Disabilities who are Targets of Sexual Violence

Monsef, Serve Indigenous Women/Girls with Disabilities who are Targets of Sexual Violence

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Maryam Monsef, as the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, it is your responsibility to stand up for all women and girls. This includes Indigenous women and girls with disabilities who are bigger targets of sexual violence. Your voice is needed in serving the interests of intersectionally oppressed Indigenous women and girls as daily they are faced with racism, sexism, and ableism thus making their lives especially laden with barriers and misery. Many are unable to navigate the structural oppression imposed; this includes administrative processes. It is for this reason that we ask that you not shuffle off your responsibility to the Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller.

It is now known that Indigenous people have a higher rate of disability that is more than double (2.3 times) the national average (Durst and Bluechardt, 2001, p. 17). See: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=DE0EBCC91A7F02304AB68D8465EB69CD?doi=10.1.1.710.4243&rep=rep1&type=pdf

This higher rate of disability is the consequence of Canada’s oppressive and genocidal laws, policies, practices, and processes that have led to the destruction of our governance systems and institutions, substandard housing, poor nutrition, neglect, more physical accidents, and poor health care. The incredibly sad thing about this is within the context of intersectional oppression that again includes racism, sexism, and ableism, Indigenous women and girls with disabilities are easier and thus bigger targets of sexual violence because sexual offenders know many of us are blind and/or deaf and thus we cannot see them coming, cannot hear them coming, and consequently unable to run to a safer place.

Disturbingly some of these women and girls are paralyzed and exist within institutional walls and thus again cannot defend themselves. What is more, many of these women and girls embody and carry their trauma of sexual violence into Canada’s prison system where many are incarcerated. These institutions are ill equipped to serve these women in a way that is needed.

Intersectional feminism and critical theory has fleshed out the thinking needed to understand that when we take care of the more oppressed we take care of everyone. See: https://www.lynngehl.com/follow-the-turtle.html

In 2007 Canada became a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 16, Freedom from Exploitation, Violence and Abuse, in part reads: “States Parties shall put in place effective legislation and policies, including women- and child-focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.” See: https://rabble.ca/news/2016/02/indigenous-women-and-girls-disabilities-bigger-targets-sexual-violence

As the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, we ask you to stand up and act on behalf of Indigenous women and girls with disabilities. Indigenous women and girls with disabilities have higher medical expenses, higher educational expenses, and higher living expenses. They need your help. Required are more resources to be allocated for solutions such as accommodations that meet their particular needs. One immediate step must be to meet their needs in terms of acquiring Indian status registration which would serve in terms of medical and education needs, and providing services and funding to Indigenous women’s organizations whose demographic serves these Indigenous women and girls with disabilities. In addition we call for more funding to be directed to research this matter.

It is now known that a practice of the failure to act can constitute an act of genocide. Although the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report offered 231 Calls for Justice, it failed to address the particular needs of Indigenous women and girls with disabilities. Regardless of this most unfortunate oversight, a national policy or response that fails or omits to address the needs of Indigenous women and girls will once again be a neglectful policy of genocide.

Minister Monsef, Indigenous women and girls need you to stand up for them and take concrete action.

Miigwetch