Monday, July 13, 1998


p. A15.

Memo to police: Let there be no more Jane Does

Bravo to The Star for your July 7 editorial about Jane Doe's successful civil suit (Police must act on Jane Doe ruling). Shame on the Toronto Police!

I am delighted with Madam Justice MacFarland's ruling and her statements regarding the systemic bias and sexism by the police against women.

Yet again, it has been demonstrated that our police system is structured and operated in such a way that women face despicable sexism and discrimination from those whose designated purpose is to "serve and protect."

Our police obviously serve a purpose and in some issues they may even do well. However, we have seen time and time again how they flagrantly and flippantly underserve, refuse to serve, re-victimize and use for their own purposes those very women who come to them for service and protection, especially those who already have faced abuse or violence.

Yet why is it that after judges, inquires, police tribunals and the like repeatedly have found discrimination, sexism, and grossly improper behaviour among some of our police, that the police system still has not changed?

Let us remember Robin Gardner Voce who was sexually abused -- she claimed she was sexually assaulted, and I certainly believe her -- in the back of a cruiser in an underground parking lot back in the mid-1980s by two Metro cops, who were then dismissed from the force.

The perpetrators were not just the two officers, but the entire police system, which further abused her so much that she committed suicide before she ever got to hear the "guilty" finding against the two officers.

Let us remember another Jane Doe who was repeatedly sexually assaulted over a period of time by a police sergeant, who used his badge to extort sex from her against her will and threatened her. Again the police system rallied around their own to protect him (he pleaded guilty at his Police Act hearing to charges of corruption and was demoted to first class constable) and re-victimize her. She, too, is no longer with us.

While these women may not have died at the hands of the police, they were nonetheless victims of systemic harassment, because the way that the police system treats women is so abominable that it become as bad as, or worse, than the original assault.

We are all fortunate that the current Jane Doe has fought the system to demonstrate the injustice that is rampant throughout our police force and to end it. Her courage and tenacity -- mediocre words for a 12-year fight -- have brought us all closer to a more just system that truly serves and protects all of us.

How many Jane Does do we need to have before real change happens from deep within and all throughout the Metro Toronto Police Force?

It's time the police got off their public relations soapbox and did something to really improve public perception and that is to change themselves and how they treat women and other groups who routinely face discrimination and hatred.

I have only one thing to say to our cops who are there to serve and protect all of us: Just do it!

Lorraine Katryan

More about Jane Doe... [Toronto '98] [News by region] [News by topic]

Created: September 3, 1998
Last modified: September 3, 1998

CSIS Commercial Sex Information Service
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710