'Should I go to the police?'
How many victims of violent crime find themselves contemplating this question?
It's more common for sexual assault survivors to stay silent than victims of almost any other type of crime.
Even if they get to this point of deliberation, a vast majority of them won’t do it. In fact, approximately less than 12 per cent of sexual assault victims in Canada end up reporting to police.
It becomes cyclical – where a lack of reporting results in lower conviction rates and lower conviction rates discourage reporting. For every 12 who report, only three will end in a conviction; a dispirting statistic to victims, who may choose not to report and further decrease the odds of convicting perpetrators.
According to data reported by the YWCA, approximately 460,000 women experience sexual assault in Canada every year. And it is a heavily gendered crime; 86 per cent of those victimized are women and girls.
Social and cultural stigma surrounding sexual assault is evolving, but factors discouraging reporting can be linked to biases more concretely established in elements of the Canadian justice system.
This article was adjusted to reflect a previous mistake in data entry.
- By Nina Grossman