Skip to main content

Canada Sexual-assault complaints increase significantly in the wake of #MeToo, Statscan reports

The number of sexual-assault complaints filed with police and classified as founded increased sharply in Canada after the #MeToo movement went viral in October, 2017.

The increase was most pronounced in Quebec, according to a study published Thursday by Statistics Canada.

Researchers compared two periods – before #MeToo, from Jan. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017, and after, from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017.

Story continues below advertisement

Quebec saw the largest increase in sexual assaults reported to police, rising 61 per cent after #MeToo. The rate jumped to 20 complaints per 100,000 population from 12.4.

Newfoundland and Labrador saw the second highest increase, rising 36 per cent, and Manitoba was next at 27 per cent. The other provinces and territories were below the national average increase of 24 per cent.

Nationally, the figures show an average of 74 sexual assaults a day reported to police after #MeToo, compared with 59 a day before.

The study looks at sexual assaults reported to police that were subsequently deemed to be a founded criminal offence. It does not include all complaints, and the accusations have not necessarily led to criminal charges.

“This sharp increase in police-reported sexual assaults following the #MeToo movement does not necessarily reflect a rise in the prevalence of sexual assaults in Canada, but is likely attributable to a combination of factors, including an increased willingness of victims to report to police,” the study’s authors wrote.

Other factors include heightened awareness of what constitutes sexual assault, public messages from police forces urging victims to come forward and changes in police practices when it comes to classifying sexual assaults as founded or unfounded.

The rise was most marked in Quebec, where several high-profile cases of alleged misconduct led to sustained media and police attention.

Story continues below advertisement

“For example, in October, 2017, the Montreal Police Service implemented a dedicated hotline for reporting sexual assaults in the wake of #MeToo and high-profile accusations of sexual assault and harassment, both internationally and within Quebec,” the report stated.

Marie-Christine Michaud, the spokeswoman for a crime victims’ assistance centre, said the movement played an important role in encouraging victims who had previously been reluctant to come forward.

“The message that was sent, people felt that if they denounced or went for help, we would believe them,” she said.

The report noted that 2017 recorded the highest-number of police-reported assaults since 1998, due in large part to the spike in reports in the last three months after #MeToo began.

And contrary to assumptions that most complaints stemmed from long-past incidents, three out of four complainants were reporting incidents that had occurred within the previous month.

The biggest rise in complaints occurred in urban areas, with Quebec City topping the list with a 78-per-cent increase. Sherbrooke, Que. came second, while Brantford, Ont. recorded the third-biggest increase.

Story continues below advertisement

Nine out of 10 victims were female.

And the number of reported assaults on school campuses – while still a minority of reported cases – rose by 59 per cent.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter