At present, a very small number of sexual assault cases reported to police across the country result in a trial. Men in Canada know that they can beat and rape women and children with impunity. As one of our callers, for whom the Crown has decided not to press charges against her rapist, said to us, “Rape, effectively, is legal in Canada”.
For you, as city council members, who we trust to take seriously the lack of women’s safety in Vancouver and the high number of women and children in Vancouver who are victims of sexual violence, we urge you to demand the following data from the VPD in order to effectively evaluate their work responding to sexual assault:
How many of the sexual assault cases were “cleared by charges?”
How many of the sexual assault cases that were initially “cleared by charges” actually ended up with the case proceeding to trial?
Even with a feminist advocate on her side, the vast majority of women will be failed by the criminal justice system. In 2019, although sexual assaults reported to police rose from 4,419 in 2018 to 5,553 in 2019 (a 25.7% increase), charges laid actually decreased in that same period from 1,786 to 1,768.
To uphold the principles of transparency and accountability we must have all judgements in sexual assault trials transcribed and posted online so that judges’ decisions in sexual assault cases will be available for public scrutiny
Applying the Jordan ruling to cases of sexual assault, let alone to cases in which charges were laid before the Supreme court of Canada made the ruling, contradicts the criminal justice system’s premise of offenders’ accountability and justice for the victims.
Although the VPD are keen to showcase their so-called efforts on sexual violence, for front-line anti-violence workers, it rings hollow and doesn’t square with what we hear every day from women who’ve been raped and/or beaten.