The Barbra Schlifer Clinic offers legal help, counselling and language interpretation to women who have experienced violence.

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Ottawa Citizen OpEd: Today Marks 30 Years Since The Last Federal Leaders’ Debate on Women’s Issues – And It’s Time For Another One

Andrew: Time for another federal leaders’ debate on women’s issues

“Friday marks the 30th anniversary of the first — and only — leaders’ debate on women’s issues in a Canadian federal election campaign.

On Aug. 15, 1984, Brian Mulroney, Ed Broadbent and John Turner sat down together at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto to tell Canadians how their policies would impact women’s lives. As the chair of the political science department of the University of Ottawa at the time, I was invited to moderate the debate.

Looking back, I am proud to have been part of that important moment in Canadian history. I have seen a lot change for women over the last 30 years, but remarkably many of the issues the leaders debated then — including child care, pay equity, violence against women, and women’s role in global peace and security — continue to be just as pressing today as they were back in 1984.”

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On OW and looking for administrative work? Join the Schlifer Team!

(This position is part of the Investing in Neighbourhoods Program of the City of Toronto, eligible candidates must be in receipt of Ontario Works.)

If you are an administrative professional who wants to engage in a self-reflective, ethical & collaborative practice that is non-judgmental, empathic and reflects the vision and mission statements of the Clinic, we have a new opportunity for you to join our team!

A 1-year, part-time Counselling Department Administrative Assistant contract position is currently available at the Clinic.

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Toronto Star Article: BSCC Executive Director, Amanda Dale, Comments on ‘Extreme’ Custody Case Involving The Jailing of a Single Mother

Ontario attorney general must step in to ‘extreme’ custody case: Editorial

Published on Sun Aug 03 2014

“The case of a single mother languishing in jail for nine months over a custody case raises questions about our justice system – and cries out for intervention. Indeed, that’s what Toronto lawyer Barry Swadron, on behalf of the woman’s family, asked Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur to do in a July 14 letter…Swadron says his client is physically and financially unable to return her daughter from China while she languishes in jail. Amanda Dale, executive director of the Barbra Schlifer legal clinic for women, says: “It appears to be an incredible Catch-22 that she is involved in.”

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read Jim Rankin’s piece in the Toronto Star, where the Schlifer ED is quoted extensively:

“Amanda Dale, executive director of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, is familiar with the case and calls it an “extreme example” of what the legal clinic sees with women dealing simultaneously with family and criminal court matters.

“There are these contradictory intersections in the legal system where women are trying to deal with their family matters at the same time as there are outstanding, or pending, or never fully prosecuted, criminal charges, and the twain shall never meet,” said Dale. “There’s no sensible accounting for what’s going on in both sets of legal proceedings.

“The facts of the case appear to clearly call for further investigation. It appears to be an incredible Catch-22 that she’s caught in.”

N.S. Case Ruling: Court Drops Sexual Assault Charges Against The Accused

The Schlifer Clinic is disappointed by the recent decision to drop sexual assault charges against the accused in the N.S. case, in which a woman reported she was sexually molested by her uncle and cousin as a child and  has spent six years fighting for her right to testify while wearing her niqab at the criminal trial.

The Schlifer Clinic previously acted as an intervener in N.S.’s case,  before the Supreme Court on December 8, 2011, arguing that compelling the removal of a complainant’s niqab would be a disincentive to the reporting of sexual assaults and impede access to justice for an already marginalized group of women.

In December, 2012, the Supreme  court ruled that trial judges  are to decide in individual cases whether or not witnesses can wear a niqab while testifying. In 2013,   Justice Norris Weisman of the Ontario Court of Justice deemed that in order to testify in the case, N.S. would need to remove her niqab.

In early 2014, N.S. moved forward with the case, testifying without her niqab with the public excluded from the courtroom.

The Barbra Schlifer Clinic takes issue with the comments by defense counsel, Douglas Usher, suggesting that police response in sexual assault cases is governed by pro-women policies rather than the outcomes of police investigations and their determination that there are reasonable and probable grounds to lay charges. Sexual violence against women of colour is growing at an alarming rate and continuing disincentives to report (such as the outcome of the N.S. case) within the criminal justice system will continue to exacerbate the problem.

The outcome of this most recent N.S. case sets a dangerous precedent in adding further deterrents and systemic barriers to Muslim women reporting sexual assaults. The Schlifer Clinic commends the resiliency and courage of N.S. in fighting for her right to access justice.

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“Toronto woman who lost fight to wear niqab in court ‘disillusioned’ after Crown drops sex assault case” -Katrina Clarke, National Post

“She is extremely disillusioned that she will not even have an opportunity to have her allegations heard on their merits,” David Butt, the complainant’s lawyer, said on Monday.

“I’m probably only stating the obvious to say that these lengthy proceedings took an immense personal toll on her,” he said. “At some point perhaps in the future she may well wish to speak, and perhaps speak quite loudly, about… how those who self-identify as having suffered childhood sexual abuse are treated by the court system,” Mr. Butt said.

The 38-year-old woman, who can only be identified as N.S. due to a publication ban, alleged the two relatives sexually assaulted her when she was a child.


More on Supreme Court decision in records case

Supreme_Court_of_Canada_2The Globe and Mail’s Sean Fine quotes Schlifer ED: ‘Amanda Dale, executive director of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic for women, said the ruling protects sex-assault victims from being discredited by the frivolous use of police documents. “We would have seen an increased reluctance to contact the police in cases of violence,” if the ruling had gone the other way’.

The Barbra Schlifer Clinic, and our counsel, Joanna Birenbaum and Sue Chapman, wish to thank the Legal Aid Ontario for its support in pursuing this important intervention.

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Globe and Mail quotes from Schlifer Clinic Supreme Court submissions

Court curbs access to victims’ police records in sex-assault cases

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic for female victims of violence also intervened, arguing that a major reason women do not report sexual violence is that they fear their private information will be disclosed to the men who have abused them.

“Women who experience multiple inequalities, such as women with mental and physical disabilities, Aboriginal women, poor women, street-involved women and childhood sexual assault survivors, are significantly more vulnerable to sexual assault, often by multiple perpetrators,” the clinic said in a written argument to the Supreme Court. “They are also more likely to be ‘heavily documented’ by state institutions, including police, in a myriad of circumstances.”

see full article by Sean Fine