Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Rape of Inuit Women in the mainstream media

The following article from the Journal de Montreal – the trashiest daily paper in Montreal – nevertheless deals with the very important subject of sexual violence against First Nations women. Of course, they wouldn’t mention colonialism, residential schools, racism, or anything like that… but then, y’know, i looked around and none of the other papers newspapers were even covering this, nor could i find (though i imagine there must be some) links to left-wing or feminist reporting about the rise of sexual assaults reported to police in Nunavik.
So, with the feeling one gets when quoting the right-wing press, here i have translated the article… please send feedback and better sources of information!
(i actually did find a few links, though none specifically dealing with the increase in sexual violence complaints in Nunavik – i listed these links at the end of this posting.)


Unheard of Levels of Rape!

By Jean-Philippe Pineault, Sunday November 13th 2005

The has been a explosion in the number of sexual assaults in the Inuit villages of Nunavik, in Quebec’s Great North, where 36 times as many rapes have been reported than in the rest of Quebec. This is unheard of!

The flood has reached dangerous levels this year. The Regional Police of Kativik has noted a dramatic rise in the number of sexual assaults.

Whereas the police registered 61 complaints in 2003 and 91 last year, over 130 assaults have taken place in this area where just 7,500 Native people live. So in just three years the number of assaults has more than doubled.

Given that these figures only take into account the first eight months of 2005, it is not unreasonable to expect that the total number of assaults may top the 160 mark, thinks Lucien Brassard, co-director of the police.

In comparison, in the province of Quebec there are roughly 70 rapes for every 100,000 people. In the Great North it is over 2,600 assaults per 100,000 people.

The Tip of the Iceberg

“It is really crazy!” says the only crown prosecutor in Nunavik, Suzanne Ricard.

“Sexual assaults here have become like public drunkenness in Montreal,” she says. “It accounts for 80% of my criminal cases.”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. With the rule of silence that reigns in Inuit communities, very few women denounce their aggressor.

“The true numbers are unbelievable,” says Carole Tremblay, of the Centre de l’Aide et de Lutte aux Aggressions à Caractère Sexuel (CALACAS).

“These are small villages and everyone knows each other,” she says. “There is family pressure for the women to not say anything.”

In comparison, only one in ten women who are sexually assaulted in Quebec file a complaint. The numbers are much lower amongst the Inuit.

A Cycle of Violence

Zoe Brabant, who has worked for five years as a nurse in Nunavik, claims that women are taking big risks if they choose to denounce their aggressor.

“These communities are very tightly woven, and a woman who filed a complaint would sort of be obliged to leave,” she explained. “But where can she go?”

“The worst part of it, is that people there don’t even see it as a problem” according to Liliane Archambault, a nurse a Kuujjuaq. “It is trialized, and so the cycle of violence continues.”

And when a victim does file a complaint, it is not rare for her to withdraw it the next day, complains a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We are offering a guard service,” he said. “We lock him up for the night, but the next day he is released.”

  • 95% of sexual assault victims in Nunavik are Inuit. Almost half are minors.

Other Resources
(compiled by Kersplebedeb, NOT the
Journal de Montreal!)

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1 comment:

  1. One annoying thing about this article, and most discussion of sexual assault is that it NEVER refers to men. Women are passive victims, and men are rarely, if ever, referred to. "only one in ten women who are sexually assaulted".