Moka Dawkins Says Toronto Jail Experience Violated Her Human Rights

Denio Lourenco
A view of the Toronto South Detention Centre, seen from the back, in Etobicoke, Ont. (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

“He came out of nowhere.”

That’s how Moka Dawkins describes the first of many alleged attacks against her inside the Toronto South Detention Centre, one of Canada’s most violent all-male jails.

“I was completely naked and standing in the shower when this guy snuck in and punched me multiple times in the back of my head,” Dawkins, who is on bail, told HuffPost Canada. “I had no idea why this was happening to me.”

According to a court-filed affidavit, Dawkins alleges the altercation took place in the winter of 2016 and ended once guards were able to intervene and remove the other inmate.

She said her experience illustrates how Ontario’s jail system fails to protect transgender inmates from violence and discrimination. Dawkins is a transgender woman who has spent the last four years incarcerated at Toronto South and Toronto East Detention Centres, first while awaiting trial and then during a sentence for manslaughter.

“Inmates insult me on a daily basis. They call me a ‘tranny’ or ‘faggot’ and guards do nothing to prevent this from happening,” Dawkins said.

Moka Dawkins has filed a human rights complaint about her experiences in Ontario correctional centres. 

HuffPost Canada reviewed court documents and conducted more than 10 interviews as part of this story. Dawkins filed a complaint in March about her experience inside the Toronto South Detention Centre that’s now before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. It alleges that she was rejected as a food server in the jail because of her gender identity and expression. The complaint also alleges that the derogatory language used by the corrections officers and the rejection of her request to be a food server were violations of her human rights. 

The submission continues, “Ms. Dawkins has had cause to fear for her safety due to corrections officers failing to adequately protect her which Ms. Dawkins submits is a direct result of her gender identity and gender expression.”

The claims by Dawkins don’t surprise Stacey Jennifer Love, an LGBTQ support worker who works with inmates in 10 Ontario...

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