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.
We need a complete transformation of all levels of the criminal justice system. We need a civilian oversight of police investigations into cases of sexual assault that will include front line feminist advocates. We need an open and ongoing review that will not simply result with sexual assaults being classified under different codes but instead restore investigations being done and appropriate charges being brought forward.
In recent years, media reports about trials in sexual-assault cases across the country exposed judges’ ignorance about sexual assault laws, about Parliament’s intentions behind the laws and the Supreme Court of Canada’s applications of the laws.