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Ontario funds research on sexual assault against Indigenous women

June 2016

Canadian Indigenous women
©Maxine Noel, artist, courtesy of Canadian Art Prints and Winn Devon Art Group, INC

Scientist Dr. Janice Du Mont is launching a new study on how police affect Indigenous women’s use of sexual assault services.

Ontario’s ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced $250,000 funding for three research projects, including Dr. Du Mont’s, as part of a long-term strategy to end violence against Indigenous women. Dr. Du Mont and collaborators Dr. Anita Benoit, interim associate director of the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto and adjunct scientist at WCRI, and Sheila MacDonald, provincial coordinator of the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care and Treatment Centres, will analyze data collected from Indigenous women who have visited sexual assault centres in Ontario, comparing their situations and the services they receive to non-Indigenous survivors.

Canadian Indigenous women are three times more likely to be victims of violence than non-Indigenous women. But we know very little about when and why they report sexual assaults to police. Neither do we know if involving police makes them more likely to seek help in other ways, such as asking for a sexual assault kit or having forensic evidence collected, which may help with charges and convictions. “Historically, many Indigenous women and girls have not had positive experiences with police,” Du Mont says. “This granting opportunity is to look at whether the responses related to justice and policing could be improved.”

The researchers will provide recommendations for policy-makers, police, health care providers and others from their findings.

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