Amidst the recent discussions surrounding rape culture and its perpetuation in society, The CBC news network recently conducted an investigation into reports of sexual assaults on Canadian campuses. The investigation was conducted over the course of six months and collected data from 87 Canadian universities and campuses including the University of Ottawa.
It revealed that more than 700 sexual assaults were reported to Canadian universities between 2009 and 2013. According to the data collected, when adjusted by population size, Acadia University had the highest number of reports. The University of Ottawa was also included in the study. With a student population of about 35,700, only 10 reports were filed.
While a school might have a higher rate of reports, it does not necessarily mean that there are more cases of sexual assaults at the school. It might also imply that the institution simply has a better system of filing reports than other schools. Overall when compared to the national averages of reports on sexual assault, the statistics from Canadian universities and colleges are very low, which leads to the troubling conclusion that many victims are suffering in silence.
When contacted Yamikani Msosa of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa stated “it’s not that the laws or services don’t exist, the normalization of rape culture is the problem.” Msosa also encouraged the assessment of how universities uphold accountability, the infrastructure available on Canadian campuses and questions the accessibility, and the visibility of services. As well, she advocated for the assessment of the availability of education and literature surrounding rape on campuses.
While some universities refused to participate in the survey, these reports highlight the importance of universities treating sexual assaults as a serious violation, as well as creating a safe, supportive, visible and accessible environments that makes victims of sexual assault – both male and female- feel comfortable to report incidences of sexual assault on campus.