In Canada, less than 10% of an estimated 460,000 sexual assaults are reported to police, according to 2004 data from Statistics Canada.
Too often, people question why the remaining 90% choose not to report their assaults. This puts an unfair blame and burden on victims.
There are many reasons why a woman may choose not to report a sexual assault. She may fear for her safety if the perpetrator is not charged and remains at large.
She may feel ashamed or embarrassed, not wanting to be judged by friends, family, or coworkers. Even if she does report the crime to police, they may consider the case “unfounded” if they don’t think there’s enough evidence to lay charges.
In cases of sexual assault, the burden of proof is high and prosecution relies heavily on the victim’s testimony. Many women feel re-victimized in telling and retelling the story and being questioned by police and lawyers.
Rather than asking why victims don’t report sexual assault, we should ask why there are so many sexual assaults in Canada and how the criminal justice system can better serve the victims.