A timeline of rape culture in Canada

Examining the evolution of rape culture in Canadian universities over the past three years.

Victimization of women is five times higher than that of men in cases of reported sexual assault. (Photo: Clare Shrybman)

From Rehtaeh Parsons to the SMU rape chant, consent and rape culture have been hot topics in Canadian media over the past few years.

Sexual assault is a difficult topic for many to discuss and also report. In 2009, Statistics Canada reported in their General Social Survey that 88 per cent of sexual assaults in Canada go unreported to the police. In 2007, the rate of reported sexual assaults in Nova Scotia was 75 per 100,000 people and was higher than the national average of 65 per 100,000.

Halifax and its surrounding area have been at the forefront for some of the most recent stories involving rape culture, and over the past year many who live in the city have been attempting to make a change.

Committees have arisen within university campuses to address issues of sexual violence, such as the task force let by Wayne MacKay at SMU.

Hacker group Anonymous organized protests outside of Halifax district RCMP offices to demand justice for sexual assault victim Rehtaeh Parsons.

StudentsNS released a report in the past month examining perceptions and misunderstandings surrounding what constitutes consent during a sexual act.

Recently, the province’s Department of Community Services announced two new chairwomen for the Nova Scotia’s first sexual violence strategy, a three-year strategy, which will focus on prevention and resources for victims.

As a result of the recent occurrences, growing interest in rape culture, and a widespread misunderstanding of what constitutes consent, the team at UNews has decided to put together a series of articles discussing rape culture and why consent matters.

Over the next week UNews will be publishing one article a day examining topics surrounding consent and rape culture beginning with a timeline of some of the most discussed events involving rape culture and universities over the past three years.




8 thoughts on “A timeline of rape culture in Canada

  1. I really disagree with parts of this piece, particularly some of the events used on the timeline. “Rethaeh Parsons taken off life support”? That is NOT an example of rape culture. The events surrounding her case, yes, but NOT her being taken off life support. That was an ill chosen title. Also, the sexual assaults at UBC are not an example of “rape culture” they are an example of… sexual assault. While I think it is honourable to write about rape culture, I think this piece needs more research and I also think we should be focusing on educating people about rape culture, and not pointing fingers at places and people who are doing something wrong.I think this article is beating a dead horse and discredits your earlier articles about rape culture, consent and so on. As a fellow student and journalist, I am disappointed with unews.

  2. Why are these the only schools you mention? In fact why are only universities being mentioned but the title says ‘rape culture in Canada’? I think there is a big presumption that you are actually able to create a timeline of rape culture… without even defining what you are calling rape culture.
    I also think that if you’re going to try and pinpoint events that have promoted rape culture in Canada, you shouldn’t be using instances that are still being heard in the courts. As far as I’ve heard the former McGill players have not been convicted of any wrong doing to this point.

    1. Hi Sarah!

      Thanks for your comments.

      No schools were specifically targeted, we merely wanted to discuss occurrences of rape culture and issues regarding consent at Canadian universities. There are plenty more events and we could have included events outside of universities and outside the country but as I said in the comment below- it could be infinite, tragically.

      If you read the entire article you will see we state we want to discuss matters involving consent for Canadian universities, we’re UNews after all. (university news)

      In regards to the McGill football players, we commented that they are currently facing charges and have not been convicted. It still remains a topic which has been discussed in the Canadian media and therefore adds to the discourse on this- instances like that are
      part of why people are concerned and passionate about this issue.

      Thanks for your input and for keeping up with the other workshops.

      1. Now that the charges of the Mcgill players have been dropped, can you complete your timeline to show that charges have been dropped on nov 18th 2014? For completeness, if anything?

  3. 1. No clear definition of what constitutes as, ‘rape culture.” Three years ago, this term was not in existence in the mainstream population, so an attempt to create a timeline based on something so complicated and ill defined is impossible and highly problematic. We need to have a working definition of ‘rape culture’ before anything else can happen.

    2. There is no ‘start’ or ‘end’ to rape culture. A timeline is completely inappropriate. Sexual assaults have been occurring on university campuses, well, since…exactly. No one can pinpoint something like that. And why were these particular cases chosen in the first place?

    3. Everything in this article is presented as fact by the lack of interviews and secondary information. Sure, statistics are helpful, but to single out instances of what counts as rape culture needs more backing-up.

    I’m sorry to say, but this is a poor start to a five-part series on issues as important as sexual assault and consent.

    1. Hi Nova Scotia Student

      Let me begin by stating I’m aware that this issue is very controversial and hard to discuss. I and other at UNews in are in no way attempting to explain rape culture, merely to discuss it.

      This timeline is just the beginning of a series of articles to discuss the a series involving both rape culture and consent.

      There will be more discussion, interviews and insight to come, this is just an intro.

      Also- true you can not create a timeline for rape culture in general, nor would we attempt to. We merely wanted to discuss some of the significant events involving universities dealing with issues of consent and rape culture in the past three years- and that is stated in the timeline.
      Just to explain, we don’t think all of this began three years ago- I just chose to examine three years worth of certain events-otherwise it could be infinite.

      A definition of what constitutes rape culture will be part of the bigger final product but in the meantime I would explain in under this general definition:

      “a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women.”

      Thanks for reading and for your input.

  4. rape culture is just a thing you social science dummies like to fling around, surprised you didn`t tell someone to `check their privilege`, go back to tumblr

  5. The fact is it’s everywhere. Just recently a group of teenagers in New Zealand were caught with a facebook page where they’d post videos of themselves raping girls they’d intoxicated and drugged. I can say for sure the same culture exists here in Australia.

    I think the problem has to do with a combination of the sexualisation (is that a word) of popular culture (music videos, coke commercials etc…) and plain old misogyny.

    I think that a logical argument can be established on the preceding premises which could explain in some part the culture that exists today.

    1) Sex is important (pop-culture)
    2) Women-who cares (religious and cultural hangups)
    =Rape culture

Comments are closed.