August 9, 2013

With the charges being laid in connection to the Rehtaeh Parsons case, our thoughts continue to be with Rehtaeh’s family.

Making and distribution of child pornography charges have been laid in this case, which sends a message to the community that these actions are criminal and will be taken seriously. Given the prevalence of the spreading of pornographic images through new technologies, we must continue to push for more education and awareness on these issues as well as the new laws.

We have been hearing from people today who are deeply concerned and confused as to why sexual assault charges were not laid in this case because, under Canadian law, consent cannot be given when a person is intoxicated. The RCMP and Halifax Regional Police have stated that there was not sufficient evidence to support a charge of sexual assault. Due to the constraints of the law and the complexities of sexualized violence, the reality of how people are sexually victimized is not always reflected in the law. It is important to keep in mind that even though sexual assault charges were not laid, that does not mean that sexual assault did not occur.  In order to prevent a similar situation from occurring again and to heal and move forward as a community we need to change rape culture that condones and perpetuates sexual victimization, improve our understanding of consent, improve sexual assault response, and increase sexual assault programs and services in Nova Scotia.

We would like to remind the public that there are options available for victims of sexual assault. Avalon Sexual Assault Centre provides confidential services though our counseling and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs. We always believe people when they tell us that they have been sexually assaulted and encourage victims to seek support.  As a community we all have a responsibility to take action to prevent sexualized violence, to hold accountable those people who commit sexual offences, and to support people who have been sexually abused and assaulted.  Start By Believing.