“Any erosion of access to justice for a sexual assault victim makes all women more vulnerable to attack”
The Clinic was one of three interveners in a case involving a Muslim woman’s right to testify about sexual assault while wearing a niqab, a veil that covers the face except for the eyes.
In November 2011, we argued before the Supreme Court of Canada in the NS case against forcing the defendant to remove her niqab, arguing that forcing the removal of the complainant’s niqab would
- likely undermine the truth-seeking function of the criminal trial. Any rule, procedure or practice that impedes a witness’s ability to give evidence freely may undermine that function. Forcing a Muslim woman to remove her niqab has the potential to be a traumatic invasion of her privacy and personal security, which, in turn, may influence how she gives her testimony
- impede access to justice for women who wear a niqab by discouraging them from reporting sexual assaults and, as a result, effectively isolating them as a class of individuals that is denied legal recourse for sexual violence.
“Any erosion of access to justice for a sexual assault victim makes all women more vulnerable to attack,” Executive Director Amanda Dale said.