SPSSI 2002 Symposium
June 28, 2002, 3:00-4:45PM
Toronto Hilton
Toronto Ontario, CANADA

[The full text of all of the presentations will be provided as they become available.
For an abstract of the symposium see below at the bottom of this page.]

Legal Disparities and the Child Witness

Laura Park, PhD
Consultant, Child Sexual Abuse

Legal Disparities and Adult Sexual Assault

K. Edward Renner, PhD
Evaluation Research

To '..understand equality, and make it part of our thinking..': Toward Fairness and Equality in Sexual Assault Law

T. Brettel Dawson, LL.M.
Department of Law Carleton University, and
Senior Advisor, Context Education, National Judicial Institute of Canada

Social Action Against Sexual Assault

Wendy E. Hovdestad, PhD
Consultant, Sexual Violence

Abstract of Symposium

In Canada, adult and child victims of sexual assault and abuse face legal disparities in how they are treated by the Canadian criminal justice process, resulting in a failure of social justice. Empirical research is presented documenting the sources of these disparities through confounding the nature of women’s and children’s relationship with the men who sexually assault and abuse them, with the judicial criterion for leniency. As a consequence, the criminal justice system itself contributes to a perpetuation of the very problem for which it is the official remedy by "discounting" the severity of male sexual violence. The result is unequal treatment and protection of the law for women and children which violates the standard of fundamental justice. Legal challenges are described which may be made to address the failure of the judicial process to provide equality and fairness to women and children. In addition, applied materials and procedures are described which may be used by grass roots community and human rights groups to raise awareness of these issues at the local level to promote the process of social change. The empirical data are similar to those found in other countries, and in particular in the United States. The interpretation of the results, and the applied social-action materials, are applicable to other countries where the legal issues of sexual assault and abuse are similar to those in Canada

Return to Reference Material

Home Page