Sexual assaults still a problem amid declining crime rate, says Statistics Canada

Nov 24, 2015 | News

By Christine Tippett

Crime rates are declining in Canada – except for sexual assaults, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

One in five Canadians 15 years and older reported they had been victims of a crime in the last year, down from one in four Canadians ten years earlier.

The data was collected through the General Social Survey (GSS) and was based on self-reported incidents of victimization.

The types of crime measured in the survey include violent victimization – sexual assault, robbery and physical assault – and household victimization – breaking and entering, theft of motor vehicles or parts, theft of household property and vandalism.

The rate of all crimes measured decreased over the ten-year span but sexual assault numbers remained stable, the report said.

One statistic revealed in the report said only five per cent of sexual assaults were reported to police, while one-third of all other victimization incidents are reported to police.

Janet Wilson, the manager of Violence Against Women program at Family Service Toronto said there are many different reasons why this may be a phenomenon.

Women often feel intimidated to report sexual assaults, it’s very difficult to go through the court process and the women have to share a lot of personal information when they report these incidences, Wilson said.

“Very often the perpetrator gets off,” she said. “Women are often blamed for being provocative or provoking the sexual assault.”

Wilson said Family Service Toronto often works with new immigrants and they are even less likely to report sexual assaults.

According to the survey, women also reported a higher rate of violent victimization than men in 2014, contrary to previous results.

“This difference was mainly attributed to the relative stability in the rate of sexual assaults, an offence mostly involving female victims, along with a decrease in the rates of other violent crimes, which mostly involved male victims,” the report said.

The report stated that despite significant differences between self-reported victimization data collected through the survey and police-reported crime data, both show similar overall trends over the past 10 years.

Here is a breakdown of the key findings in the report:

Other key findings include:

  • Canadians who reported using drugs had a rate of violent victimization four times higher than non-users
  • People who binge drink were also associated with a higher risk of victimization
  • Aboriginal people had higher victimization rates than non-Aboriginal people – particularly Aboriginal women
  • People who have been abused by an adult during childhood reported a rate of victimization two times higher than those who had not been abused
  • Those with a mental health-related disability or a learning disability were four times more likely to be victimized than the rest of the population surveyed