On June 11, 2016, Canada’s Supreme Court released its landmark ruling on incest.
While many other nations have similar laws on the books, the country was the first to make it a crime to rape a child.
Now the issue has caught the attention of a number of Canadian legal experts, who are working on a new study that could eventually lay out the legal framework.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, so it’s pretty fresh,” says Jennifer Sorensen, a professor of criminal law at the University of Toronto and a co-author of the forthcoming study.
“It’s really an unprecedented moment for this issue.”
The ruling was a landmark ruling that changed the legal landscape on child sexual abuse and its relationship to child abuse and neglect.
In essence, the law now requires child sexual abusers to be held to a higher standard of proof than child abusers who sexually abuse their own children.
The ruling came in the wake of a landmark court case in Alberta that set a clear standard for the criminalisation of child sexual exploitation.
In that case, the Crown had argued that a person had no legal obligation to keep a child safe from sexual abuse, and therefore no legal responsibility to provide protection for the child.
The court disagreed, ruling that the criminal liability arose because the perpetrator was “acting under the direct control” of the child, or the child’s mother, who was “the victim” of sexual abuse.
Sorenesen is also the co-ordinator of the Child Sexual Abuse Response and Support Program (CASEP) at the Simon Fraser University Law School.
“This is really a watershed moment,” she says.
“Because we’re now talking about child sexual violence against children.
It’s not just sexual violence, it’s also physical and emotional abuse, whether it’s a relationship that’s been broken, or whether it happens to a family member.”
Sorenders team has been researching this issue for more than a decade.
She’s written about the legal system, including how Canadian law is evolving in the era of the Internet.
“What’s been striking to me is the complexity of the law that exists in Canada,” she explains.
“There’s this huge gap in the criminal justice system between child sexual assault and child sexual offence.
There’s a huge gap between child abuse in Canada and child abuse elsewhere.”
Soretes study is the first in a series that will help the court to define what constitutes child sexual victimization.
The report will examine the scope of child sex abuse and sexual abuse of children across Canada, including the prevalence of child abuse by men, the impact of the criminal law on child victims and the impact on the criminal code.
Soretens team has already identified key questions that it wants to answer.
What is the definition of child rape?
What are the consequences of child-victimization?
What constitutes child abuse?
Is there a difference between child-perpetrated sexual abuse in a relationship and child-reported sexual abuse?
How much do offenders in Canadian courts face jail time and other sanctions?
What is criminal liability for sexual abuse perpetrated by a man versus a woman?
“There are really huge gaps in the law,” Soretys team says.
Sonts research will help to inform the criminal legislation, which has a myriad of legal requirements.
The first part of the research will be looking at the legal definition of “child rape,” which means a sexual act between two adults of the same gender, regardless of age.
Somets law will then look at the consequences for the victim, and the consequences on the victim’s family, for a perpetrator who is also a child-survivor.
Sotters report will also look at child sexual offender statutes in Canada.
What are these laws?
Are they strict enough?
Is it a criminal offence to give consent to sexual acts?
Is child sexual offending considered child abuse when it is committed by a woman against a man?
Soretns team hopes that the study will inform the courts and the criminal legal system on what constitutes sexual abuse by a male versus a female, and how that varies across jurisdictions.
“We’re trying to develop this framework to guide the criminal system in the future, and hopefully we’ll be able to identify things that can be done to better serve those victims and those victims’ families,” Soren says.
The study will include data collected from more than 2,000 cases and will also include an online survey that will allow the public to get more information about the issue.
For now, Sorents is focused on collecting the data to help lay out how the law has evolved in Canada in the past decade.
The new law was passed in 2003 and came into effect in 2010.
The majority of cases that are prosecuted are now child abuse, according to the government’s data, and Sorenns team is hoping to determine the impact that the new law has had on those cases.
Sores study will also examine the impact the