Justice and Support Lacking for Sexual Assault Victims

The statistics of sexual assault are bleak. Sexual assault is the least reported crime in Canada with only 6 out of every 100 incidents reported to police. Date rape sexual assaults are reported at a rate under 2%. Most sexual assaults are committed by someone close to the victim, with 60% of victims under the age of 17.  In North America, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted sometime during their life.

Another alarming statistics now being examined is the rate of sexual assault cases being marked as Unfounded. These cases signify that the Police conducted an investigation and have determined that no violation of the law occurred or was attempted. Once a sexual assault case is marked as Unfounded, it is no longer considered a valid allegation.

The Globe and Mail’s recent reporting on the rate of Unfounded sexual assault cases across Canada motivated Paula Lam, a Co-ordinator for Peel Committee Against Women Abuse (PCAWA) to delegate at a recent Peel Regional Police Board meeting. The Unfounded rate in Peel Region is 25%. This compares to 7% in Toronto, and 19% nationally.

Ms. Lam is asking for increased training for Police, Child Care Workers and First Responder’s, increased accountability, and an external review to help improve and change the way the system deals with victims of sexual assault from reporting, investigation and through to the court process.

The Globe article is forcing many Police Department’s across the country to re-evaluate how they deal with sexual assault allegations so that victims are not fearful of reporting.

The controversy around Unfounded rates is compounded by under-funding in Peel Region for support programs for sexual assault victims in Brampton. Hope 24/7, a local organization that has supported victims for over 23 years has opted to close its doors on Friday’s because of under-funding.

In this episode of Brampton Focus, we speak with Paula Lam, Coordinator for Peel Committee Against Women Abuse (PCAWA) and Nicole Pietsch from Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centers (OCRCC). We discuss why so few sexual assaults are reported and what their organizations offer for emotional support and counseling