Wynneís plan to combat sexual violence is bold and hopeful
Brenda Cossman is a professor of law at the University of Toronto.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced on Friday her governmentís new
three-year plan to combat sexual violence. Entitled ďItís Never OkayĒ, the
initiative has multiple prongs, from public awareness to funding for sexual
assault centres to legislative change. Itís a plan about what can be done, right
here, right now, on the ground, by her government. No more hand wringing, no
more passing the buck to other levels of government, no more debating or
studying whether there really is a problem.
ďItís Never OkayĒ lets the statistics around sexual violence do the talking.
ďThere are 460,000 assaults in Canada each year. For every 1000 sexual assaults,
only 33 are reported to the police; 12 result in charges laid; only 6 are
prosecuted and only 3 lead to conviction.Ē
There is clearly a problem. And the government does not pull its punches in
bluntly naming the source of the problem: misogyny and rape culture. The plan
even succinctly defines rape culture as ďa culture in which dominant ideas,
social practices, media images and societal institutions implicitly and
explicitly condone sexual assault by normalizing or trivializing male sexual
violence and by blaming survivors for their own abuse.Ē Some wonít like it. But,
the government decided it was more important to get serious about sexual
violence. You can almost hear them saying Ďtoo bad, it is what it is, letís deal
The plan recognizes that there are no simple answers, and the responses must be
as broad reaching as the problem.
There is the bold multi-media public awareness campaign, encouraging bystander
involvement. The ďWho will you help?Ē video spot shows a series of assaults in
the making, with the attackers turning to the camera, saying ďthanks for keeping
your mouth shut,Ē No, itís not subtle. Itís hard to watch. That is the point Ė
we are all implicated if we do not step forward and do something.
There are legislative changes Ė from eliminating the two-year statute of
limitations on civil sexual assault claims and claims of sexual assault before
the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to allowing victims of violence to
break their leases with less than 60 days notice. The government took a deep
look at laws within its jurisdiction, and is fixing the ones that it can.
There is the pilot project to provide victims of sexual assault free legal
advice, as they go through the criminal justice system. It recognizes that its
hard Ė very hard Ė to be a sexual assault complainant, and it is going to see
what it can do to make it a least a little easier.
There are the training initiatives Ė for Crown attorneys and other lawyers,
police and educators, health care workers and others on the front line of
dealing with victims of assault and harassment. It recognizes that despite the
best of intentions, everyone on the front line could do a little better.
Colleges and universities will be required to adopt sexual assault policies,
with clear complaint procedures and protocols. Many already have them, but they
are going to have to get better, clearer and require student input.
And the jewel in the crown: the provinceís new sexual education curriculum that
will ensure that students learn about consent, respectful relationships and
gender inequality, through grades 1 to 12.
Instead of simply focusing on punishing those who have offended, it is about
teaching the next generation to be better sexual citizens. Itís about nipping
rape culture and misogyny in the bud. Itís about stopping sexual assault before
it ever happens. Itís a hopeful statement of the power of education.
The plan sees a role for law in combatting sexual violence. But, it also
recognizes that law alone is not the answer. While the criminal justice system
could do a better job, the plan moves beyond a focus on punishment. It is as
much about changing social norms. It is about prevention and education. It is
about the future.
Finally, built right into the plan is the acknowledgement that itís not going to
solve all the problems. It establishes an ongoing roundtable on sexual violence
to review the initiatives and to keep coming up with new ones.
Itís bold. Itís humble. Itís hopeful. It wonít end sexual violence in three
years. Sexual norms change slowly. Iím always one to find limitations Ė itís my
job. But, itís awfully refreshing to see a government taking the lead on a
complex social and legal issue, and seeing what it can do, right here, right
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Premier Wynne has yet to address the issue of the Ontario Government's lack
of recognition of violence towards men by women.
The funding imbalance equates effectively to a promotion of violence by women
towards men and further inequality under law than equality.
We now live in a Province dominated by extreme feminist ideas that have an
agenda of ever increasing government funding while never ever, spending a cent
for equality under law to remove the financial incentives known as "the rape
lottery" whereby the government pays lottery style winnings in tax free money
for women who are successful in obtaining convictions against men simply on a
she said versus a he said.
Premier Wynn has yet to deal with the legal issues of rape by women or men when
other factors are considered. Such as, a lack of consent to protected sex when
only protected sex was consented to.
Or, where women claim they cannot get pregnant while actually carefully planning
to become pregnant to ensure yet another child grows up without a father who is
also forced to pay for the torture he receives.
Ottawa Mens Centre