Canada Refugee adjudicator says woman’s choice to keep baby means rape never happened

15:06  11 february  2020
15:06  11 february  2020 Source:   globalnews.ca

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Children and women are being raped by traffickers inside a refugee camp in northern France On Friday the archbishop of Canterbury said the government’ s decision meant that child refugees Minors are assaulted and women are raped and forced to pay for smuggling with their bodies.”

Medical experts said Akin's statement is false, and many women ' s rights groups found the phrase "legitimate rape " demeaning.[1] Akin's comments had a far-reaching political impact, changing the focus of Similar statements on rape and pregnancy continued to be made at times prior to the election.

a close up of a piece of paper: Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board letterhead. Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board letterhead.

Sexual assault and gender-based violence experts say they are deeply disturbed by the recent decision of a Canadian refugee adjudicator who said it “does not make sense” that a woman would keep a child conceived by rape.

The adjudicator also said she would have expected the woman to report the rape to medical professionals and her family “if, indeed, it took place.”

READ MORE: Calls for change at refugee board after woman asked why husband didn’t ‘just kill’ her

“(I am) sensitive to the subject of rape, but the claimant’s explanation does not make sense as to why she would keep a child who would remind her of being raped, unless that is not the case,” wrote Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) adjudicator Sarwanjit Randhawa in her April 2019 decision.

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Over the past few weeks, women across the world have recounted tales of harassment and sexual assault by posting anecdotes to social media with the hashtag #MeToo. Most subjects in these studies freely acknowledge nonconsensual sex — but that does not mean they consider it real rape .

The majority of sexual assault victims don’t acknowledge that they were raped right away, if ever. One key aspect is that many people aren’t sure if what happened to them was ‘really’ rape . As Rape Crisis England & Wales spokesperson Katie Russell says , “people can find it very difficult to name

During a hearing held roughly two weeks earlier, Randhawa asked the claimant if she considered having an abortion when she found out she was pregnant.

READ MORE: Refugee judge asks woman why her husband wouldn’t ‘just kill’ her

The woman said, no, it was her first child and she is against abortion. She also said she knows what it’s like to grow up without parents and that it isn’t the baby’s fault how she was conceived.

Still, Randhawa asked the woman why she chose to keep her baby.

“If you’re raped, why would you keep a child of rape?” she asked.

The Federal Court overturned Randhawa’s decision when government lawyers conceded she deprived the woman of her right to procedural fairness and natural justice.

Nneka MacGregor, executive director of Womenatthecentre, an organization that works to end gender-based violence, says she is appalled by Randhawa’s apparent lack of understanding about sexual assault, abortion access, and a woman’s right to choose.

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A woman who becomes pregnant after a rape may face a decision about whether to raise the child, to make an adoption plan, or to have an abortion. The false belief that pregnancy can almost never result from rape was widespread for centuries.

Abortions due to rape may seem like a good, easy way to help a victimized woman . From an ethical and logical standpoint, a baby conceived through violence is as blameless and innocent as RCRC correctly points out that pro‑lifers must never condone a single abortion, and must never apologize

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MacGregor is calling on the IRB to take immediate steps to stop adjudicators from re-victimizing vulnerable claimants.

“It’s offensive,” MacGregor said. “It's not anomalous, it's not one rogue judge. It's on the regular, it's enough that people should be concerned.”

‘Horrified but not surprised’

Global News has previously reported on the IRB’s mishandling of sexual assault and gender-based cases, as well as claims that the board does not do enough to discipline refugee judges when they get things wrong.

In December, IRB appeals judge Jennifer Pollock ruled that a different refugee judge breached procedural fairness and violated the board's gender guidelines by repeatedly asking a woman fleeing domestic abuse why her husband didn’t “just kill” her. The board has also launched an internal review of the case.

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He said that rape was the result of poor choices made by women . “Wearing the wrong kind of clothes, eating the wrong kind of food, going to the wrong kind of places,” he said . It is a familiar notion, here and elsewhere, that women entrance men into rape by wearing particularly cute skirts.

If it says rape is okay, rape is okay."[35] Elaborating on this, she states in response to these passages, "Clearly, these laws do not take into account the female' s perspective. Trible devotes a chapter in Texts of Terror to the rape of the concubine in the Book of Judges, titled "An Unnamed Woman : The

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A 2018 investigation revealed allegations of “sexist” and “aggressive” behaviour by two former refugee judges, including one who demanded to see colour nude photos of a sex trafficking victim.

In response to these reports, the board said it takes allegations of wrongdoing seriously and that it investigates concerns in accordance with “fairness and due process.”

The IRB has, however, said there should be “no doubt” about the competence and professionalism of its members.

But Kaitlin Bardswich, development manager at Women's Shelters Canada, an organization that provides services to women fleeing abuse, says she has significant doubts about the competence of some refugee judges.

“Horrified but not surprised,” she said, referring to Randhawa's conduct.

Bardswich says Randhawa’s decision suggests she is ignorant of the lived experiences of sexual assault survivors, many of whom choose to keep children conceived by rape.

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It means that many victims and survivors who can’t medically “prove” their rape are denied the It means that communities fail to protect and support those who experience assault. Let’s look at why It’s often assumed that the male perpetrator forcefully penetrates the woman ’ s vagina with his penis.

Mike Pence said that if abortion were allowed in cases of rape , then women would try to get raped … Pence also tried to offer his opinion on what would have happened had he allowed rape victims I mean , Indiana’ s economy is struggling as it is, and having thousands of women absent from their

According to a 1996 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, roughly 34,000 American women become pregnant each year after being sexually assaulted. The study showed that, on average, 32 per cent of survivors choose to keep their children, while half choose to have an abortion.

And even in the most extreme circumstances, such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide where roughly 20,000 children were conceived by rape, many victims chose to keep their children.

For a refugee judge to say a woman’s explanation for keeping a baby does not make sense is “horrifying,” Bardswich said.

“If that can happen in a genocidal situation, it can happen anywhere,” she said.

Bardswich is calling on the IRB to stop decision-makers from casting doubt on women because of how they act after being sexually assaulted. And if the board is unable or unwilling to do it, she says the government should step in.

READ MORE: Woman who says she was raped by MS-13 gang member challenges constitutionality of Canada-U.S. border deal

“It’s the government’s responsibility,” she said. “They purport to be a feminist government … I think they need to put that into action.”

“Questioning women about how or why they did something after being raped, that’s not something we should be doing.”

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When Rape Brings Babies . Conceived in violence, raised in neglect and shame, children born of rape in other Indeed, it is no exaggeration now to say that, when it comes to the issue of violence against women and midst, including those with no choice but to bring babies conceived in violence to term.

Judges rely on ‘myths,’ stereotypes

Gillian Hnatiw, a lawyer who specializes in sexual assault law and chairs the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, says Randhawa’s questions and ruling are “saturated with disbelief and skepticism.”

She also says the board must stop refugee judges relying upon myths and stereotypes, such as expecting sexual assault survivors to report their attacks to police, medical professionals or family members.

Other myths include thinking women commonly lie about being sexually assaulted, expecting women should leave their abusers sooner, or believing that what a woman wears can lead to her being raped, Hnatiw said.

Refugee judges also routinely focus on inconsistencies in claimants’ stories as a way of challenging their credibility. But in cases involving sexual assault or domestic abuse, the board’s guidelines say adjudicators must consider how trauma affects a woman’s ability to recount past events, specifically saying women may have trouble remembering certain details.

In this case, Randhawa questioned the claimant about alleged “differences” in her account of being attacked. At first, according to the documents, the woman said she was gang-raped. Later, when speaking to a psychiatrist, she said she was assaulted by two men.

READ MORE: Silenced by fear of deportation, why a woman who survived attempted murder is speaking out

But the alleged differences aren’t actually differences, Hnatiw said, because there’s no legal definition of the term “gang rape” in Canada.

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Society creates these myths, scaring women before they are even raped . Another reason for the acceptance of rape culture is the "just-world" hypothesis which claims that what happens to an individual in life is inherently tied to their actions and thus seen as justly deserved.

I know women who have said yes after being worn down all night, over and over. You can only push a man off you so many times. Interestingly, which of these responses happens to you depends on the mixture of the hormones present at the time of the attack.

“It’s sadly not an uncommon thing for decision-makers in our society to allow rape myths to creep into their decisions,” she said.

“But these decisions from the IRB are, I would say, almost on a different level of disconnect from the law.”

Concerns require ‘immediate attention’

After declining to answer nearly two dozen questions about this story, IRB Chairperson Richard Wex sent a letter to refugee advocates across Canada saying the board is introducing new measures to make sure decision-making is done “efficiently, fairly, and in accordance with the law.”

This includes enhanced monitoring of refugee judges to “promote quality assurance” with how they conduct themselves during hearings, and annual, third-party reviews of the board’s refugee protection division.

Wex also said he believes the cases reported by Global News are “by no means systemic or representative in nature.” Still, he said they are concerning and that they “point to an area requiring immediate attention.”

In response to these reports, the board is imposing mandatory “refresher training” for all refugee judges, Wex said. The IRB also plans to set up a team of judges with specialized training to decide gender-based claims and to update its gender guidelines for the first time since 1996.

Wex’s letter also referenced concerns about the board’s ability to hold refugee judges accountable for their bad behaviour. He stopped short of admitting any specific problems with how the IRB disciplines judges, but said he is “personally committed” to making any changes necessary to strengthen the existing process.

But lawyers, such as Raoul Boulakia, say there’s no fixing the existing system, and that the board must implement an independent panel with the power to investigate refugee judges.

Boulakia also says training is only as good as what judges are willing to absorb.

MacGregor, meanwhile, says the board needs to rethink the way it approaches concerns over the mishandling of gender-based cases.

READ MORE: Immigration board ‘revamping’ complaint process after Global News investigation

While she doesn’t dispute Wex’s claim that the vast majority of decision-makers do their jobs well — none of the experts Global News spoke with dispute this claim — she says the board must accept that in some cases, there are adjudicators whose behaviour and decisions show they act with little to no regard for the rules.

Global News asked the IRB if anyone from the board talked with or disciplined Randhawa after her decision was reversed. The board did not answer this question, adding that it is now reviewing the matter and that it would be inappropriate to comment further.

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