Improving the reporting, charging and prosecution of sexual assaults against adults
March 8, 2017 - Ottawa, ON - Department of Justice Canada
The safety and security of Canadians are of paramount importance to our Government. We also believe that public confidence in the criminal justice system is essential. For victims or survivors of sexual assault, building this confidence requires that we address the significant barriers they face in reporting the crimes to police and testifying in court.
Today, on International Women’s Day, the Government of Canada is a hosting a knowledge exchange on the current realities of reporting, charging and prosecuting cases of sexual assault against adults in Canada. In Canada, as in other countries, most sexual assaults are not reported to police and when they are, they are less likely than other crimes to result in a guilty verdict. Complainants, including Indigenous women, face unique challenges, including facing social stigmas, being questioned about intimate details of their lives or not being believed.
With the participation of criminal justice professionals, academics, victim service providers and government policy makers, the forum will examine promising practices from within Canada and other common-law jurisdictions that aim to strengthen the criminal justice system’s responses to sexual assault crimes.
“Sexual assault is far too prevalent a problem, crossing social boundaries and affecting communities across Canada. It is a significant barrier to women's equality and has grave effects on the lives of survivors and Canadian society as a whole. The Government of Canada is working with governments at all levels, and in partnerships with non-governmental organizations, to transform the criminal justice system to better respond to incidents of sexual assault.”
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
According to Statistics Canada's General Social Survey (self-reported crime), only five per cent of sexual assaults perpetrated against individuals 15 years or older were reported to police in 2014, as opposed to 31% from all crimes.
Of those sexual assaults reported to police, less than half (43%) lead to charges being laid (2015 Uniform Crime Reporting Survey -police reported crime).
Data from the 2014/15 Integrated Criminal Court Survey show that less than half (43%) of those sexual assault cases that went to trial resulted in a guilty verdict, as opposed to over half (63%) for all crimes.
87% of self-reported sexual assault victims in 2014 were women.
In the fall of 2016, up to $12 million over three years was made available under the Victims Fund for projects designed to improve the criminal justice system’s responses to sexual assaults against adults. This funding has been made available to provinces and territories, municipal governments, bands, criminal justice professional organizations and non-governmental organizations.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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