A Survivor-focused Analysis of Canada’s Legal Responses to Sexual Violence

This report provides an analysis of existing legal responses to sexual violence against women. It focuses specifically on how and whether these responses meet the justice interests of sexual assault survivors. This report serves two purposes:

  1. It furthers our understanding of the elements of particular justice mechanisms that are beneficial for survivors, as well as those that are problematic.
  2. It identifies gaps in Canada’s legal response to sexual assault, to better understand how an alternative to existing legal systems might fill those gaps.

The report is divided into four parts:

  1. An introduction to the context of sexual violence in Canada
  2. The particular justice interests that female survivors of sexual violence seek from the legal system
  3. An examination of legal avenues to justice for sexual violence, and their capacity to meet the goals associated with the justice interests of survivors
  4. Conclusions regarding elements of a justice model that do or do not work for survivors

Special thanks to Karen Segal and Shaun O’Brien (in her capacity as LEAF’s Legal Director and then Executive Director & General Counsel in 2018) for their work drafting this report.

For an overview of alternative avenues to justice for sexual assault survivors, we encourage you to read Part Two of the Due Justice for All report.

The Due Justice for All Project was generously funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada (formerly Status of Women Canada).

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