Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Statscan said the effort aims to fill gaps in the data on gender-based violence in Canada – one of the issues examined in a Globe and Mail series that highlighted shortcomings in the way the country tracks data.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

A national survey on gender-based violence shows one in three women in Canada were subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour while in a public place in 2018. Women also experienced higher rates of online harassment and unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace than men.

The Statistics Canada survey is the agency’s first to include incidents that may not be criminal, but are on the continuum of gender-based violence, from unwanted sexual attention such as whistles and catcalls to comments about gender or sexual orientation.

The findings illustrate that harassment is still prevalent in Canada. They show that women are more than twice as likely as men to experience unwanted sexual behaviour in public spaces, such as public transit, a restaurant or the street. A male stranger was most often the perpetrator for both women and men who experienced these behaviours.

Story continues below advertisement

The results show “this is still a serious issue, and that more attention needs to be paid to what happens in public places,” said Samantha Wells, senior director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, who has studied aggression and victimization experiences among young people.

The survey also found that three in 10 women over the age of 15 have been a victim of sexual assault outside of an intimate relationship at least once, nearly quadruple the rate of men. And most violent crimes of this nature still aren’t reported. Just 5 per cent of women said the most serious incident of sexual assault they experienced was brought to the attention of the police.

Statscan said the effort aims to fill gaps in the data on gender-based violence in Canada – one of the issues examined in a Globe and Mail series that highlighted shortcomings in the way the country tracks data on everything from gender equality to health outcomes, labour shortages and domestic violence. A Globe investigation into the way the country’s public transit systems measure and handle sexual misconduct found almost 4,000 incidents of harassment or sexual assault in recent years.

Of the women who were targeted by unwanted sexual behaviour in public, one in eight – or 629,000 women – said the most serious instance was on public transit.

This finding “backs up what we already know, and it legitimizes the work that we’ve been doing,” said Julie Lalonde, director of Hollaback! Ottawa, a group that aims to end harassment in public places. It’s crucial to have “quantitative, national, very recent data” to prove that this remains a widespread problem, and to work on policies aimed at prevention, she said.

Young and LGBTQ people are especially affected. Among women and men, those aged 15 to 24 and those who were not heterosexual were most likely to experience unwanted sexual behaviour in public, Statscan said.

In the workplace, 29 per cent of women said they were the target of inappropriate sexual behaviour, compared with 17 per cent for men. The most common form was sexual jokes. More than half of men and women reported witnessing inappropriate behaviour on the job.

Story continues below advertisement

Current insights on the scale of the problem are of “fundamental importance,” said Peter Jaffe, academic director of the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. “I talk to too many people who think this is [a problem from] yesterday. And you have to remind people that it’s still a problem today, and it’s not going away unless there’s collective action across the community.”

Experiences of unwanted sexual behaviours in public places in the past 12 months, by type of behaviour and gender, provinces, 2018

Women

Men

31.8%

Any type

13.4

24.8

Unwanted sexual attention

5.5

Unwanted comments about sexual orientation or assumed sexual orientation

3.7

3.9

11.7

Unwanted comments about sex or gender

5.9

4.4

Indecent exposure

3.1

17.3

Unwanted physical contact

6.3

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Experiences of unwanted sexual behaviours in public places in the past 12 months, by type of behaviour and gender, provinces, 2018

Women

Men

31.8%

Any type

13.4

24.8

Unwanted sexual attention

5.5

Unwanted comments about sexual orientation or assumed sexual orientation

3.7

3.9

11.7

Unwanted comments about sex or gender

5.9

4.4

Indecent exposure

3.1

17.3

Unwanted physical contact

6.3

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Experiences of unwanted sexual behaviours in public places in the past 12 months, by type of behaviour and gender, provinces, 2018

Women

Men

31.8%

Any type

13.4

24.8

Unwanted sexual attention

5.5

Unwanted comments about sexual orientation or assumed sexual orientation

3.7

3.9

11.7

Unwanted comments about sex or gender

5.9

4.4

Indecent exposure

3.1

17.3

Unwanted physical contact

6.3

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Unwanted sexual behaviours at work, by gender and type of behaviour, provinces, 2018

Women

Men

18%

Inappropriate sexual jokes

12

15

Unwanted sexual attention

4

13

Unwanted physical contact

5

8

Suggestions that you do not act the way a man or woman is supposed to act

5

Someone insulted, mistreated, ignored or excluded you because of your gender

10

3

Someone insulted, mistreated, ignored or excluded you because of your sexual orientation

2

1

Someone insulted, mistreated, ignored or excluded you because you are, or are assumed to be, transgender

0.5

0.6

29

Experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work

17

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Unwanted sexual behaviours at work, by gender and type of behaviour, provinces, 2018

Women

Men

18%

Inappropriate sexual jokes

12

15

Unwanted sexual attention

4

13

Unwanted physical contact

5

8

Suggestions that you do not act the way a man or woman is supposed to act

5

Someone insulted, mistreated, ignored or excluded you because of your gender

10

3

Someone insulted, mistreated, ignored or excluded you because of your sexual orientation

2

1

Someone insulted, mistreated, ignored or excluded you because you are, or are assumed to be, transgender

0.5

0.6

29

Experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work

17

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Unwanted sexual behaviours at work, by gender and type of behaviour, provinces, 2018

Women

Men

18%

Inappropriate sexual jokes

12

15

Unwanted sexual attention

4

13

Unwanted physical contact

5

8

Suggestions that you do not act the way a man or woman is supposed to act

5

Someone insulted, mistreated, ignored or excluded you because of your gender

10

3

Someone insulted, mistreated, ignored or excluded you because of your sexual orientation

2

1

Someone insulted, mistreated, ignored or excluded you because you are, or are assumed to be, transgender

0.5

0.6

29

Experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work

17

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Experiences of unwanted sexual behaviour online in the past 12 months, by type of behaviour and gender, provinces, 2018

Women

Men

18.4%

Any type

13.6

Being sent unwanted sexually suggestive or explicit images or messages

10.7

6.5

Pressure to send, share or post sexually suggestive or explicit images or messages

3.7

1.8

Posting or distributing, or threatening to post or distribute, intimate or sexually explicit images without consent

1.6

1.6

4.4

Threatening or aggressive messages sent to a group or on social media

4.2

10.2

Threatening or aggressive e-mails or messages directed at you personally

7.6

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Experiences of unwanted sexual behaviour online in the past 12 months, by type of behaviour and gender, provinces, 2018

Women

Men

18.4%

Any type

13.6

Being sent unwanted sexually suggestive or explicit images or messages

10.7

6.5

Pressure to send, share or post sexually suggestive or explicit images or messages

3.7

1.8

Posting or distributing, or threatening to post or distribute, intimate or sexually explicit images without consent

1.6

1.6

4.4

Threatening or aggressive messages sent to a group or on social media

4.2

10.2

Threatening or aggressive e-mails or messages directed at you personally

7.6

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Experiences of unwanted sexual behaviour online in the past 12 months, by type of behaviour and gender, provinces, 2018

Women

Men

18.4%

Any type

13.6

Being sent unwanted sexually suggestive or explicit images or messages

10.7

6.5

Pressure to send, share or post sexually suggestive or explicit images or messages

3.7

1.8

Posting or distributing, or threatening to post or distribute, intimate or sexually explicit images without consent

1.6

1.6

4.4

Threatening or aggressive messages sent to a group or on social media

4.2

10.2

Threatening or aggressive e-mails or messages directed at you personally

7.6

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Follow related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
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.

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:

  • 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.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies