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« The description "person with a vagina" is loaded», says Biron

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Minister Martine Biron standing in the House (Archive photo)

  • Anne Marie Lecomte (View profile)Anne Marie Lecomte

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Minister Martine Biron says n& #x27;have “no regrets” for having had a motion adopted by the National Assembly denouncing a judgment of the Supreme Court which, according to the minister, “invisibilizes women” by using the terms “person having a vagina.”

In an interview at Tout une matin, Monday, on ICI Premiere, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women denied attributing intentions to Judge Sheilah Martin, who wrote the judgment in which the words “person with a vagina are used only once.

The judgment of more than a hundred pages uses the word woman 67 times, but Minister Biron persists in defending the adoption of a motion which deplores the choice of words specifically, and not the decision rendered by Judge Martin.

It is an excellent judgment which advances women's rights, I recognize it, continues the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, who claims to have read it before submitting her motion. Martine Biron says she also recognizes that the judgment uses the word "woman" 67 times and only once this description of the woman as "person with a vagina".

It's a loaded description and one that causes debate in society, she continues, however, and I don't think, myself, that the 67 references to women trivialize this reference.

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The Supreme Court could not ignore that the specific expression “person with a vagina” ; is debated in our society.

A quote from Martine Biron, Minister responsible for the Status of Women

In the opinion of Minister Biron, to talk about the biology of women and of its sensory specificities, the highest court in the country could have found a completely different expression to do so. The minister did not provide examples of other expressions, but she wonders whether the judge wanted to use this expression, or if it is an honest error. .

We will never know, says Martine Biron, who adds that it is the Supreme Court that speaks; word choice is important.

The judgment sets a precedent and will be used in other instances, she insists, recalling that the motion she was filed was unanimously adopted by the National Assembly on Thursday.

The motion unanimously adopted by the National Assembly on Thursday goes as follows:

That the National Assembly denounces the choice of words used in a recent Supreme Court judgment to designate women; That she reiterates the importance of retaining the word “woman”; That she dissociates herself from the use of terms or concepts that contribute to making women invisible; May she recall the significant gains made in recent decades to advance women's rights and the need to protect these acquired rights.

Rendered by the Supreme Court on March 8 (New window), the decision concerns two causes of sexual assault (unrelated to each other) and stipulates the following for one of these causes: When a person with a vagina credibly and with certainty testifies to having experienced penile-vaginal penetration, the trial judge must be able to conclude that she is unlikely to be mistaken.

In a commentary published on March 13 about this judgment, the daily The National Posthad postulated that, for the Supreme Court, the complainant in a sexual assault case should be referred to as “a person with a vagina”. Writing Tristin Hopper in the Toronto daily: The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it was problematic for a trial judge to refer to an alleged victim as a “woman”, implying that the A more appropriate term should have been "person with a vagina".

On X, on March 14, Minister Biron said she was very proud of the unanimous adoption of this motion and wrote that by choosing not to use the word ” ;woman", we make them invisible.

After so many years of fighting, women's rights must continue to be respected.

A quote from Martine Biron, Minister responsible for the Status of Women, on social media “>But on the subject of this controversy, Rachel Chagnon, dean of the Faculty of political science and law at UQAM, declared this to Radio-Canada.ca: presuming that the Supreme Court of Canada used the expression “person with a vagina in his judgment to avoid using the word woman is a good example of an unfounded assumption.

The rule against unfounded logical assumptions, explains Rachel Chagnon, serves to ensure that judges cannot base themselves on prejudices or stereotypes when making judgments.

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