Canadian authorities have launched 14 criminal investigations into alleged rapes of aboriginal women by police officers in their patrol cars while on duty.
Philippe Couillard, the premier of Quebec Province, announced the police probes on Thursday after accusations were made by several women to the media. The prosecutors will decide whether to lay charges after reviewing the cases.
Several alleged female victims had earlier revealed that police stopped them while they were on the road, then beat, handcuffed, and raped them before dumping them on the road and destroying their mobile phones.
“It’s unacceptable to use your position or powers to sexually assault women, particularly vulnerable women,” said Quebec Public Safety Minister Lise Theriault, adding that Quebec’s rape laws would be reviewed.
The accusations came days after the Canadian prime minister-elect, Justin Trudeau, won the country’s national elections. During his campaign, Trudeau promised to hold a national inquiry into cases involving hundreds of murdered or missing aboriginal women.
More than 1,200 indigenous women and girls have disappeared across Canada – many for decades, rights groups say, with some even suggesting that indigenous women were eight times more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous ones.
Aboriginals account for nearly 4.3 percent of Canada’s population of over 35 million, but they struggle with poverty and desperation as well as high rates of crime and suicide.