Anastasia Boldireff’s case goes to the Human Rights Tribunal

The Concordia PhD student finally receives justice on gender discrimination complaint filed against the two officers in her case.

Since 2019, Concordia PhD student Anastasia Boldireff has been demanding justice for the discrimination she had suffered at the hands of two police officers who discriminated her during her criminal harassment case. Now, she’s finally receiving it.

On March 1 of this year, Boldireff’s complaint against the two officers was upheld by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission and taken to the Human Rights Tribunal. 

In October 2019, Boldireff was stalked by a non-Concordia student. Her stalker followed her on Concordia campus and eventually assaulted her in broad daylight. 

She went to the police station where she was told to come back later. Boldireff returned with a Concordia security guard after she had made a statement with Concordia security. The Concordia security guard was asked to leave. The officer asked her to answer questions that he wrote on a clipboard and slid to her underneath the plexiglass. 

Upon answering each question, she returned the clipboard, and the officer wrote down another question. Each time she tried to talk with the officer and explain that she was scared, the officer asked her to write it down. It was only when she told the officer “Don’t you want his phone number?” that the officer wrote down a question requesting the phone number of the accused. Boldireff asked “Is he in the system?” and she said that the officer nodded and looked surprised and left.  

The officer returned with his supervisor. The officer’s supervisor then entered the room and asked Boldireff more questions about the accused. 

“I had just written it down, but I was asked to repeat myself. I described [the stalker] to the best of my ability, and the officer had his arms crossed. He was leaning back and he said, ‘Well, he sounds like a good-looking man, a soccer player. Why don’t you go on a date with him?’ and then he laughed,” Boldireff said.

She asked for an escort home since she didn’t feel safe, to which one of the officers asked: ‘Well, is he [the stalker] there now?” She told him that she was scared for her life and he rejected her access to a safe ride home. Realizing the officers wouldn’t provide the support she needed, Boldireff asked if there was any other advice they could give her before leaving. Boldireff said that the supervisor said, ‘you should consider what you’re wearing’. 

“It was a terrible interaction and things escalated from there [with the suspect] and I wasn’t provided the immediate support or sense of dignity,” she said. 

After that interaction, Boldireff filed a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner. It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that she got in touch with the Concordia Student Union Legal Information Clinic (LIC). They immediately put her in touch with the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) to receive the help she desperately needed. CRARR filed a complaint on her behalf against the two officers for gender discrimination, stating that they were “violating her right to equality, dignity, and security of the person,” as was detailed in the press release. 

“I don’t think there’s any excuse for a police officer to not treat a victim of crime, of any crime, without the basic need for dignity,” Boldireff said.

Now, the Human Rights Commission upheld her complaint against the two officers. In CRARR’s press release sent to The Concordian, the commission is asking for “$8,000 in moral damages from the City of Montreal and the two officers, and $2,500 in punitive damages from the two officers.”

The commission is also asking for training on the reality lived by people who file complaints for crimes involving sexual violence to be implemented for police officers. This is to ensure that there’s no gender-based stereotypes in the handling of these cases. 

After years of searching for help, Boldireff felt a sense of justice being served following this decision.

“It makes me feel supported. It makes me feel that if the Human Rights Commission is supporting this case, then fundamentally they’re supporting the belief that women should not experience [derogatory] gender-based comments at a police station,” Boldireff said. 

She’s continuing to advocate for safe spaces for victims who go to report their sexual violence cases, and for them to have guidance from social services such as CRARR.

She continues to voice how imperative it is that “victims should be believed when they’re coming forward, believed and supported, especially by the police who were meant to serve and protect [them],” Boldireff said.

As grateful as Boldireff is for the Human Rights Commission’s decision being in her favour, she is still waiting on the Administrative Police Ethics Tribunal’s decision from the hearings of her case last fall.


Questioning women’s genders: the ongoing repression of women athletes of colour

Category: Woman — A film about the lived realities of women athletes deemed men because of their achievements 

In coordination with four other Concordia groups, Cinema Politica organized its weekly screening of renowned political documentaries with the film Category: Woman, on Oct. 17. 

The film, directed by former olympian Phyllis Ellis, relates the story of three women athletes from around the world who are condemned for their achievements: Caster Semenya from South Africa,  Dutee Chand from India, and Annet Negesa from Uganda.   

Surpassing other women in their categories or breaking records made them objects of an investigation into their gender. They were accused of being male and had to undergo medical examinations. 

While the media put into question their gender, they were attacked from all sides. 

The accused women were deemed to have a higher than “normal” testosterone level and were told they needed to medically alter their bodies to continue to compete.

“They told me it was a medical evaluation, but they did a series of tests to test my testosterone levels,” Negesa said. 

Phyllis noted that “women were prohibited from competing because they wanted to create a so-called level playing field” with other women. 

This is known under the name of the hyperandrogenism controversy. 

While some of these athletes changed categories, others like Annet had to undergo surgery to reduce testosterone levels in order to continue to compete in their sport. 

“I am a female, I was born a female, I will race as a female,” Negesa stated in the Q&A. 

After beating the 200m running record, Dutee Chand’s gender was questioned. The Indian 100m racer won her case against the IAAF, now called World Athletics, questioning her gender — and thus, her performance. 

Expecting to get qualified for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Chand was actually dropped by the Athletics Federation of India, who stated that “hyperandrogenism made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete.” 

The athlete appealed her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne where she won, and was able to continue to compete. Her story is not that of most women threatened by the hyperandrogenism controversy. 

As Phyllis noted, “Men can be celebrated as being different, but no one is asking Michael Phelps to cut off his legs, or stopping them to compete, to level the playing field.” 

It has been repeatedly deemed that women who were succeeding in their domain could not be women and therefore needed to have their androgen levels tested. Several remarkable female athletes have faced exclusion from competitive sports because they had higher than the deemed normal testosterone levels in their bodies.

Through the film, we follow Negesa’s story from getting accused of being male, to having to undergo surgery. 

Negesa is the first person in the world to come forward with her story. She started the Q&A by stating, “I was a victim of the IAAF regulations.” She said this with intense resentment, as she went on to explain her story. 

“It demolished everything I was working for.”  

She’s now in Berlin seeking asylum because she receives death threats in her home country of Uganda based on questions of her gender. 

Phyllis ends the film on a note of resistance: “They want to protect women, we don’t need protection.”

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