Neglecting Québec's Women: Police Are the Problem
by Mira Miller
October 31, 2015 | Voices
Enquête, Radio Canada’s investigative service has released a report on sexual and physical violence committed against aboriginal women in Val-D’Or by SQ officers stationed there. This report states that some of these women have been forced to perform sexual acts for officers and have been beaten if they refused. In addition, officers are being accused of picking up intoxicated women, driving them far out of the city and forcing them to walk back alone in the cold as punishment. The police union’s president, Pierre Veilleux, claims that these allegations are “worrisome” yet they are “only allegations.” He states that these officers must be seen as innocent until further proof.
I cannot even express how angry this makes me. Time and time again, we see cases where men in authoritative positions take advantage of women, and time and time again, society defends and protects them from the consequences they deserve. Why is it that it is acceptable to automatically assume a woman is lying when she comes forward with what has happened to her (an extremely difficult thing to do, might I add)? To make matters worse, society does nothing but shun the women for it. At the same time, we do everything in our power to convince ourselves and others that these men are innocent. We would rather label all women as attention-seekers than actually blame a man for his actions. Why is it that we must believe the officers’ innocence, yet Veilleux has no problem essentially calling these women liars? Veilleux warns people not to “jump to conclusions,” meaning we shouldn’t believe them at all.
Veilleux also finds a way to invalidate these allegations by claiming that there is a “bigger problem” in the aboriginal communities that these women are from – whatever that means. If anything, aboriginal women are more vulnerable because of the ever-present racism against communities they live in, making the abuse even more appalling.
To me, this doesn’t reflect an issue in the aboriginal communities, but rather an issue in the force of the people who are our so-called “protectors.” It is one thing for a woman to fear strangers as she walks home at night, but if she has to fear those that are paid to supposedly keep her safe in addition to that, then she can never truly feel safe. Everyone becomes a threat now, including the police.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the police force has been involved in a situation like this. The SQ are known to work by their own rules, and cover each other’s tracks for the crimes they commit. When allegations are made against them, they often take it upon themselves to investigate the problem quietly, and almost never press charges against their own men. They have even been known to press charges against accusers in order to make their problems disappear. Where are the juries?
These officers evidently care more about protecting each other than the public. Over the weekend, every single officer that is located in Val D’Or called in sick in order to make a “statement.” Basically, people were harmed, and so the rest of the community was punished for it.
When I think about this horrific case and the way these men are being protected, I can’t help but think of Bill Cosby and the 50+ women who have come out with allegations of sexual assault against him. Even with the immense number of women who have spoken out, there are still people who defend him, claiming that these women want money or fame and that he is undoubtedly innocent. This scares me beyond belief. What kind of world do we live in where we believe the rapist instead of the victim? Is it not our duty as citizens to stand up for the vulnerable and demand justice instead of implicitly telling people that we don’t care about their stories and that they should keep quiet? We would rather pretend there is nothing going on than face the truth. If you ask me, I believe people will continue to deny it, until one day, they are on the receiving end of it, and nobody will speak up for them.