There is no denying that sexual assault of any and all types continues to be a cancer upon our societies. Governments of all stripes wax poetic about real change in the way these crimes are investigated, prosecuted and punished. So where is the change? The only number that goes down consistently is the percentage of assaults reported to authorities. Victim support organizations report of ever increasing numbers of survivors and reluctance to trust the police, the courts and our governments to fix this societal issue.
The judicial system is supposed to be unbiased and informed on all criminal matters. Former Federal Court judge Robin Camp and Nova Scotia Provincial judge Gregory Lenehan demonstrate this is not necessarily the case. Law enforcement is supposed to respect complainants and deliver proper investigations. Formal complaints against police demonstrate this is not consistently done. Governments claim to want to stop the culture of sexual assault. Male Liberal MPs are accused of harrassment of female NDP MPs, so the internal investigation is confidential. Senator Don Meredith resigns for abusing his position and having sexual relations with a minor. Female politicians walk the walk but scant little progress happens over partisanship aims. Rona Ambrose sat in Privy Council for 9 years, but says now is time to fix things when in opposition and heading out the door. Judges insist they can police themselves. Defense counsel groups insist changes to the Criminal Code are not the answer.
Julie Lalonde is an Ottawa-based women's rights advocate and public educator. She works with various organizations dedicated to ending sexual violence, engaging bystanders and building communities of support. Julie has won numerous awards for her work including the Governor-General's Award in Commemoration of the Person Case. The View Up Here welcomes Julie to examine this societal illness.