Sexual Battery: Gynecological Treatment in the Mercer Reformatory, 1939-40

AuthorConstance Backhouse
Gynecological Treatment in the
EVDon the edge of her narrow bed, in
alockedcel lsevenby fourfeeti nsizei nthe AndrewMercerReformatory
for Women. The cell was lit with a bare bulb. The toilet facilities consisted
ofa ne namel pail and lid Classied by lawas incorrigible because she
was pregnant out of wedlock and living with a Ch inese man, Velma was
serving atwelvemonthsentence inthe womensprisoninTorontoOneof
the fewwomen proled in this book who is still living Velma Demerson
generously consented to a series of interviews to supplement the records
ofhercaseA ssherecal lsitthat rstnightin theMercerJune she
wasoverwhelmed bya premonitionthat something dreadfu lwas about
to befall her.
Thenext morni ngVelma andfort ysixot hernew inmates were sentto
the medicalexa mining room They led in onebeh indt heot herforming
a long line from the exami ning table out into the hall. The female physician
who serviced the Mercer was dressed in a white medical c oat, with a black
band wrapped around her head. She demonstrated how she wanted the girls
to mount the table by stepping on a box. The object of the exercise was to con
ductanintern algynecological examination ofallfort ysevenwomenbefore
noon. There was no assistant present. No one took the trouble to make notes.
Thepa cewas sorapid that twoex ami nationswer ecompl etede veryve min
utes. One of the earliest to mount the table was a girl in her last tri mester of
pregnancy. Velma was shocked at her treatment: “The girl was crying, and
we had to stand around and watch. We could see everything. There was
Above: Andrew Mercer
Frank W. Mickleth waite Colle ction, L ibrary an d Archives C anada, E003 8495555
Courtesy of Velma Demerson

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT