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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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The Cross Gender Monitoring Project
3rd and Final Annual Report

v) Sexual Harassment Policy

It is important to note that 54 of the 89 staff who responded to our questions on this issue felt there should be a policy that prohibits sexual harassment of FSW and clearly see such a policy as including harassment by other inmates, contract workers and volunteers as well as staff. This reconfirms our previous findings that a sexual harassment policy is wanted and needed to prevent incidents, send a clear message as to the unacceptability of such behaviour, provide a basis for education/training, and encourage victims to come forward. Such a policy should also clearly identify what is prohibited, protect complainants during and after a complaint, spell out the process for investigation, and specify consequences of sexual harassment.

This recommendation also concurs with the Arbour Commission where it was also recommended that "the sexual harassment policy of the Correctional Service be extended to apply to inmates".17

Recommendation 9:

As recommended in out First and Second Annual Reports, it is recommended that CSC develop a sexual harassment policy that clearly prohibits sexual harassment of inmates by staff. This policy must clearly articulate whatever option for handling of such complaints is chosen.

The Senior Deputy Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner for Women Offenders has recently informed the Co-Monitors of the progress on this issue. The Deputy Commissioner for Women states in a letter of March 24, 2000 that "work on a permanent global harassment policy instrument is being conducted by the Working Group on Harassment, established to develop a response to the recommendation on harassment policy from the Reports on Human Rights in Corrections. The Working Group is exploring the creation of an all encompassing Commissioner's Directive with separate standard operating practices on staff-staff, staff-offender, offender-staff and offender-offender situations as well as processes to investigate/resolve such situations. Given the complexity of this project, and our requirement for consultation during policy development, a draft global policy is not anticipated before the end of this year."

The Co-Monitors welcome such action. A clear policy on sexual harassment is essential to prevention of sexual misconduct by staff. It will be clear what is not permitted, and the consequences for violation of the policy are important to stopping at least some perpetrators from "crossing the line drawn" in such a policy.

17 Op cit. p. 217