Male police officers are strip searching, groping and roughing up Indigenous women in Saskatchewan, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Monday.
The organization says it has documented 64 allegations of violent abuse toward Indigenous women at the hands of municipal police and RCMP officers. The RCMP says it will “take time to thoroughly review” the report, adding that allegations of police misconduct “are serious and demand a full investigation.”
The cases were identified during six weeks of field research between January and July 2016, but the incidents themselves stretch back many years.
When Indigenous women report violence to police, they told Human Rights Watch, they are often met with skepticism. The organization found that inadequate police accountability mechanisms are exacerbating a deep distrust in police, the report found.
As a result of its findings, Human Rights Watch is calling on the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to investigate police abuse. It also calls on municipal police and the RCMP in Saskatchewan to end strip search of women by male officers, except in extraordinary circumstances.