More than an Empty Gesture: Enabling Women with Mental Disabilities to Testify on a Promise to Tell the Truth

25:1 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, pp. 31-55, 2013

Posted: 2 May 2013

See all articles by Janine Benedet

Janine Benedet

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law

Isabel Grant

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

In this article, the authors use the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. DAI to examine the issue of competence to testify in sexual assault prosecutions for women with mental disabilities. While, the authors support the outcome reached by the majority of the Court, they raise questions about the reasoning, including the equation of women with mental disabilities with children. The authors consider what types of questions will now be appropriate in a competence inquiry and raise cautions with respect to the reliance on lay and expert witnesses to assist in the competency inquiry. It is argued that allowing women who can communicate their evidence to testify is a small step towards the criminal justice system confronting the high rate of sexual assault against women with mental disabilities and the difficulties in prosecuting these cases.

Keywords: Competence, Testify, Sexual assault, Mental disability

Suggested Citation

Benedet, Janine and Grant, Isabel, More than an Empty Gesture: Enabling Women with Mental Disabilities to Testify on a Promise to Tell the Truth (2013). 25:1 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, pp. 31-55, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2256731

Janine Benedet (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada
604 822 0637 (Phone)
604 822 8108 (Fax)

Isabel Grant

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

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