This project explored some of the obstacles to women’s access to meaningful justice in the child protection system by engaging in a “Court Watch” that paid attention to gender bias, denial of due process, and racial disparities in child custody hearings.
Why this project?
Child protection proceedings raise significant issues of gender equality because women, and especially single mothers, are disproportionately affected by these processes.
What we did
We worked in conjunction with Sheway and used volunteer participants to monitor court hearings dealing with child custody issues. Participants observed and recorded the behaviour of judges and other court officers, with particular attention paid to gender bias, denial of due process, and racial disparities.
Our findings laid the foundation for a discussion paper that addresses three main issues:
- Meaningful access to justice;
- Women’s right to meaningful participation in child protection proceedings; and
- Services needed to ensure that women with addictions receive fair treatment in the justice system.
West Coast LEAF also previously ran a Court Watch program in 2005. You can read the final report of that project here.