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This Public Service Announcement is based on the D.A.I Supreme Court case that recognizes the right of people with disabilities to be believed when they report sexual assault and abuse.
What the D.A.I. case is and why it is important
On February 10, 2012 the Supreme Court of Canada announced a decision in a court case called “D.A.I.”, that recognized the right of people with disabilities to be believed when they report sexual assault and abuse.
D.A.I. involved a young woman with an intellectual disability who reported that her step-father had sexually assaulted her. At the first court case, the judge did not believe that the young woman understood what an “oath” or a “promise” to tell the truth was, so they dropped the case and the stepfather was freed from the charges.
The DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada and the Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund (LEAF) got involved stating that this was not fair and that they needed to hear this case again. DAWN and LEAF stated that women with intellectual and other “mental” based disabilities should be able to testify against their abusers, even if they can’t explain what truth or promise means.
The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with DAWN and LEAF and ordered a new trial.
The D.A.I case recognizes that women and men with intellectual and other disabilities should be able to testify if they can describe the abuse that they experienced. Before this decision, women and men with disabilities, especially intellectual disabilities, were not seen as being truthful about their experiences of abuse. This decision was very important because it recognizes that regardless of how a person communicates, they should be able to go to court and report and describe the abuse that they experienced. This case supports our rights as people with disabilities to be believed and to make sure that our abusers are put on trial and if found guilty, punished for their crime.