VBA News Awareness Campaign Day 5: Canada

This is a new VBA campaign in which we will be discussing a topical news article that is related to sexual assault/abuse. The articles that we discuss are related to countries with the 10 highest rates of sexual assault/abuse in the world; highlighted on the map we have displayed on the VBA homepage. Through this campaign, we aim to shed some light onto the damaging narrative(s) which encompass these global injustices.

Country: Canada

Case: How Indigenous Women are Disproportionately Affected by Sexual Assault in Canada

Sexual assault/abuse is a pervasive form of violence in Canada. Though most other violent crimes have been declining in Canada since 1999, the rates of sexual assault have stayed the same (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2016). Certain groups of people are also much more likely to be victims of sexual assault than others. For example, women were 10 times more likely than men to be sexually assaulted based on police reports in 2008. In addition to this, younger people, women with disabilities, single women, unemployed or low-income women, and aboriginal women all have heightened risk of experiencing sexual assault when compared to the general population (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2016).

         Today, I want to focus on the aboriginal women in Canada and their experiences with sexual assault/abuse. A national study (Du Mont et al., 2017) found that indigenous women are not only more likely to experience sexual assault/abuse, but the sexual violences that they live through tend to involve severe levels of bodily harm. Because of this, they are more likely to seek health care from a hospital after these experiences, and doctors need to be aware of the sociological differences between indigenous and non-indigenous women seeking care. These indigenous women tend to be younger (between the ages of 12-18) at the time of their sexual assault/abuse, and the assailant is more likely to be their parent, guardian, or other relative, rather than an intimate partner. Due to this, indigenous people are more likely to receive safety planning or be referred to a child protection agency, but are slightly less likely to rate their overall care as good or excellent (95.7% for indigenous people, 99.1% for non-indigenous people). It is imperative that survivors of sexual assault/abuse keep receiving this level of care and safety planning to make sure that these damaging experiences are not repeated, or they are not put into another unsafe situation.

Indigenous women in Canada deserve more. We need to be made aware of Canada’s discriminative culture towards their indigenous female populace. In doing so, we can decrease the rates of sexual assault/abuse in the same way that other crime has decreased. Protect indigenous women.

References:

Du Mont J, Kosa D, Macdonald S, Benoit A, Forte T (2017) A comparison of Indigenous and non-Indigenous survivors of sexual assault and their receipt of and satisfaction with specialized health care services. PLOS ONE 12(11): e0188253. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0188253

Canadian Women’s Foundation, Fact Sheet: Sexual Assault and Harassment, updated August 2016, canadianwomen.org