As a youth court worker, it has never been the high profile cases, pews filled with press and families, but more often the silence that have impacted me dearly.
Last Thursday, Parminder Johal, a lawyer with the Youth Criminal Defence Office asked me to see an eighteen year old girl in custody for breaching her probation. The girl had a minor record and was being held in custody for a warrant going back years. Her crime: Not completing an apology letter and forty hours of community service hours. A Summary Offence, she should not have been held in jail under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. I entered the interview room: a small cubicle with metal tables, a phone and wall of Plexiglas. When she entered; a petite Aboriginal girl, I could see her face was swollen, yellow and black, looking like old fruit. She threw a nervous smile and was missing a tooth. I introduced myself, “I’m here to help you and provide…”
“I’ve been raped,” she interrupted. Her lips quivered, eyes welled up, and finally she just looked down and cried.
I waited a few minutes. “Perhaps,” I finally said, “somebody else…”
She shook her head and wiped her cheeks with her sleeve. “But you said you’re here to help me? Somebody has to listen? Don’t they?”
A lot of people should have been listening!
She told me she had been at a motel room with some friends. There were drinks, “But I didn’t drink much! I think my drink was spiked,” she added and waking up, bruised, bleeding from her vagina, called her mother frantic, who called the Edmonton City Police Service . As first responders, her expectations as a victim of sexual assault were different than what transpired. The Officer/s ran her name, found she had an old warrant and arrested her.
According to the girl, the only acknowledgement by the police about being raped, was once released she could attend any police station and fill out a statement.
It gets worse you read the entire post.