The New-Brunswick Aboriginal Duty Counsel Project

6. GENDER

The majority of duty counsel clients were male. Ninety-nine clients, 67.8 % were male, and 49 clients, or 32.2 % were female. The vast majority of criminal accused are typically male. However, the female representation seems a great deal higher than what one might expect. For the entire Ontario legal aid plan criminal legal aid caseload, males made up 83 % and females made up 17 % in 1996-97.[7] In a previous study of duty counsel clients in the Province of Manitoba, males made up 81.5 % of the clientele, while women made up 18.5 %.[8]

Table 6.1 below shows data representing the percentage of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women served by duty counsel in New Brunswick. During the two years prior to the project, Aboriginal women made up a relatively large proportion of all Aboriginal contacts with duty counsel compared with non-Aboriginal people.

Table 6.1: Percentage of Women Receiving Duty Counsel Services; Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal

Aboriginal
Regular Duty Counsel Service
  1996 - 1997 1997 -1998 1998 - 1999
  No. % No. % No. %
Male 156 79.4% 122 75.8% 86 72.3%
Female 38 19.6% 39 24.2% 33 27.7%
Non-Aboriginal
Regular Duty Counsel Service
  1996 - 1997 1997 -1998 1998 - 1999
  No. % No. % No. %
Male 458 86.6% 362 89.4% 439 92.4%
Female 71 13.4% 43 10.6% 36 7.6%

Women in this sample make up almost twice the proportion of the client base as Ontario generally or the Manitoba sample. The Ontario and the Manitoba data represent general legal aid populations, not Aboriginal specific groups. It appears that Aboriginal women are charged by the police more frequently than what might be expected. It is not clear at this point what this much larger representation of women in the sample means with regard to legal aid service.



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