Education for Judges?

judge-desk-gavel

Manitoba’s provincial government recently decided to not make any changes to the training judges are required to attend regarding sexual assault law. This is in spite of other provinces, like Ontario, enforcing training for all new judges (some would like the training to be mandated to all existing judges).

Sexual assault stands out as statistically unique in Canada’s courts, and this is not just a Canadian problem. According to the most recent General Social Survey, only one in twenty victims of sexual assault perpetrated by a stranger are reported to law enforcement, compared to one in three other crimes resulting in victimization as defined by the survey. We know that more than half of all sexual assaults are committed by partners or acquaintances, and these are even less likely to be reported to law enforcement.

All of that is part of sexual assault cases having the very lowest conviction rate of all violent crimes tried in Canada. Only 0.3% of sexual assault incidences result in a conviction. In fact, of the cases that actually end up before a judge, fewer of them result in a conviction than any other violent crime.

Victims of sexual assault also report higher rates of PTSD and disruption in their lives than victims of other crimes. One in four victims of sexual assault experience difficulty carrying out regular daily activities after an assault. And when all is said and done, one in three women and one in six men will have an experience of sexualized violence.

Let’s sum this all up by saying three things:

  1. Sexual assault happens a lot.
  2. The vast majority of people who commit sexual assault face no consequences for their actions.
  3. A big chunk of our population is left reeling because of sexual assault.

Maybe we could ALL use some more education about sexual assault and consent and how to prevent this shockingly common tragedy. This data should inspire a revolution in the public conversation about gender, sex, and relationships. If it’s money that we care about, the cost of prevention can’t be anywhere as high as the cost of sexual assault. Educational programs like our SADI program should be expanded and brought to every school!  I bet that would include some future judges!

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