Because “No” Really Means No!

A 2003 survey conducted by Statistics Canada, found that there were 23,425 reported cases of sexual assault throughout Canada in 2003 alone. What is most disconcerting is that only 6% of such criminal offences are actually reported to friends, family or police authorities. Actual figures are much higher than those reported and registered.

Another misconception sees sexual assault as random acts of predation initiated by strangers. That is, for the most part, false. In fact, a third of sexual assault cases occur within dating and acquaintance scenarios.

‘Sexual Assault’ is itself a term that has a broad range of possible definitions. It is always perpetrated without seeking the consent of the second party. Although a common outcome in most cases, sexual intercourse is not the only form of sexual assault. Groping, kissing and even verbal aggression are equally as severe in the eyes of the Law.

Section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada provides a definition of and outlines both ‘assault’ and ‘sexual assault’ as follows:

A person commits an “assault” when:

(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.
(2) This section applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault,  sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault.
obtained where the complainant submits or does not resist by reason of the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;
(b)  threats or fear of the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;
(c)   fraud; or
(d)   the exercise of authority.
(3) Where the accused alleges that he believed that the complainant consented to the conduct that is the subject matter of the charge, a judge, if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that, if believed by the jury, the evidence would constitute a defence, shall instruct the jury when reviewing all the evidence relating to the determination of the honesty of the accused’s belief, to consider the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for that belief.

(Taken  from http://www.lawyers.ca/statutes/criminal_code_of_canada_assault.htm)

Sexual assault is a serious public safety issue where SFU is no exception. The SFU Campus Security’s Personal Safety Guide warns that sexual assault cases are largely underreported. Many victims felt ”overwhelmed by a man’s arguments and pressure. Drugs and alcohol were also common stimulants. Assaulted women (or men) rarely tell anyone or seek much needed help.

If you agree that this issue matters and deserves much more attention than it gets, please join The Women’s Center on Thursday, December 2nd at 1:30 PM at TC3014 (at the 3000 level of the Rotunda; right above the Transportation Center). A Working Group Meeting will be held to address the need for a Sexual Assault Center at the SFU Burnaby campus. Men and women of all ages, races and sexual orientations are welcome to participate.

To learn more about the meeting or to inquire about possible volunteer opportunities, please email womenctr@sfss.caor call (778) 782-5843.

By Jamal Saad