Activists hope for reforms
By Jack Boland, Toronto Sun

Wed, July 28, 2004

AN INTERNATIONAL refugee rights organization is hopeful yesterday's ruling on a Grenada woman who faced deportation after reporting a rape will aid those facing similar situations in the future. Sima Zerehi from the group No One Is Illegal said women with non-status immigration situations are often victimized both by criminals and by immigration officials who want to deport them without giving them a chance to face their attackers in court.

"These are women who were apprehended because they picked up the phone and dialed police at the moment they were being beaten, raped and had no other option," Zerehi said.

"This happens without ever being able to, at least, have the satisfaction of facing their perpetrators and saying that this is why I should not be deported," Zerehi said.

If yesterday's deportation hearing had gone through, the woman would have been deported today -- the same day her attacker makes an appearance in a Toronto court.

Zerehi said she knows of at least three situations in the past year when women in similar circumstances faced deportation "without having their day in court."

In yesterday's case, the woman was arrested by immigration after reporting a rape.

NDP citizenship and immigration critic Bill Siksay said he believes justice now has a chance. "Her testimony is integral to the case. And I don't think any Canadian would want to see a serious matter like that not dealt with in court appropriately," he said.