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‘The system ultimately has to change’: Montreal woman claims police were insensitive in dealing with stalking

“There were a lot of instances of neglect ... where my safety wasn’t really taken into account,” said Anastasia Boldireff, who claims five Montreal police officers dismissed her when she sought help. Brittany Henriques reports.

By Brittany Henriques and Justin Slimm

MONTREAL (CityNews) – A Montreal woman is speaking out after she says police were insensitive when dealing with alleged criminal harassment two years ago.

Concordia University PHD candidate Anastasia Boldireff says Montreal police officers were insensitive, inappropriate and neglectful on two separate occasions when seeking help regarding her alleged stalker in 2019.

The Center for Research-Action on Race Relations says the man accused of stalking her has a long criminal record of sexual assault.

Boldireff is speaking out to raise awareness and demand systemic change within the police and justice system.

“I felt like I didn’t have the support of the police, I didn’t have the support of my peers, I didn’t have the support of my university,” Boldireff told CityNews.

“There were a lot of instances of neglect, a lot of instances where I was trivialized, where my safety wasn’t really taken into account,” she added.

Boldireff filed two complaints with the police ethics commissioner. One of which reached conciliation while the other is still under investigation. She says the two years of fighting has left her frustrated and traumatized.

“When I went to the police, I was turned away and there was a follow up 911 call and there was a complaint that I issued regarding this call,” she explained.

Boldireff says she was forced to leave Montreal because she says she was scared for her life and felt she wasn’t being supported.

“What we’re the most concerned about is this kind of systemic gender bias or systemic gender discrimination — the barriers that until today that many women still face when they try to access the justice system for their own protection, for their own safety,” Fo Niemi, executive director of Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).

“The system ultimately has to change I think that that starts with sexual assault training for everyone who encounters a victim of sexual crime any sexual crime and that includes and should include criminal harassment,” Boldireff said.

In a statement to CityNews, Montreal police said it could not comment on the file “to avoid interfering in the current process and compromising it.

“However, anyone who feels wronged by their interactions with Montreal Police (SPVM) can file a complaint. Complaints must be lodged with the official bodies for the process to take its course. There are several mechanism for doing this. The complaint process will not, however, take place in the media.”

According to Statistics Canada the rate of sexual assault was nearly 11 times higher in victims who reported that they were victims of stalking 12 months prior to having been sexually assaulted.

In 2014, 18 per cent of stalking victims indicated that the person stalking them escalated to grabbing or attacking them with this number jumping to 22 per cent in 2017.

“When we hear stories of these women not being taken seriously, not being believed, not being respected and not being treated with equality and dignity it is still really disturbing and further justifies the ongoing need for the training of police officers for protocols and procedures on how to provide effective support and sensitive protection,” Niemi added.

The alleged stalker in the case is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 24.

Boldireff is expected to attend.

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