Sexual Assault is on the Rise in Canada.

AuthorTuttle, Myrna El Fakhry

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Though sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada not declining, many incidents are not reported to police for reasons including victim blaming and low confidence in the justice system.

In August 2022, Statistics Canada reported that sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada not declining. According to the report, the sexual assault rate in 2021 was the highest since 1996. There were more than 34,200 reports of sexual assault in Canada in 2021, an 18 per cent increase from 2020.

Despite the increase in reporting, the number of sexual assaults reported to police is still very low. In 2019, only six per cent of sexual assault incidents that took place the previous year had been reported to police.

Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sexual violence is "any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person's sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting."

Sexual violence is a form of gender-based violence. Anyone can experience sexual violence and sexual assault, but women and girls are at higher risk. It can take place between people in romantic relationships, in families, at work, and between friends and strangers. It usually happens in private places between people who know each other.

Sexual violence includes sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Sexual assault is "any unwanted act of touching or threat of touching, directly or indirectly that violates the sexual integrity of any person. It is sexual assault regardless of the relationship of the victim/survivor to the perpetrator."

Sexual harassment can be "comments, behaviour, and unwanted sexual contact. It can take the form of jokes, threats, and discriminatory remarks about someone's gender or sexuality. It can happen in person or online."

In R v Ewanchuk, the Supreme Court of Canada said that "violence against women is as much a matter of equality as it is an offence against human dignity and a violation of human rights." The Court cited R v Osolin where Justice Peter Cory asserted that sexual assault "is an assault upon human dignity and constitutes a denial of any concept of equality for women" (at para 69).

It is important to note that the police can respond to all forms of sexual assault but only some forms of sexual harassment. A person who experiences non-physical forms of sexual harassment for example...

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