The following is part of our project “Increasing Access to Justice for Older Adult Victims of Sexual Assault: A Capacity Building Approach”, funded by the Justice Canada Victims Fund.Learn more about this project or consult the full list of resources





Thursday April 19th, 2018

10 AM to 11 AM Pacific Time

Sexual assault has the lowest conviction rate of any violent crime in Canada.  The recent critical examination of the criminal trial process for sexual assault has tended to focus on younger women victims. However, sexual assault can and does occur at all stages of women’s lives. Prof. Grant and Benedet's work looks at sexual assault against older women with a view to identifying the barriers to effective prosecutions of sexual assault for this group of women. This is part of a larger study examining whether those barriers shift at different stages of the lifespan of complainants.  They set out to compare what we know about sexual assault against older women from the social science literature to the picture painted by 20 years of case law in Canada.

In this webinar Professors Grant and Benedet will begin by providing a brief overview to the law of sexual assault in Canada and an explanation of how the application of those laws raises unique challenges for complainants who are older women. They will briefly review the social science literature and what it tells us about particular ways in which older women are vulnerable to sexual violence. This will be followed by a discussion of what they found in their case law study and how the picture of sexual assault against older women painted by cases that are actually making it to trial is very different from what social scientists are telling us about the actual incidence of sexual violence against older women.  Finally, they will offer tentative explanations for this discrepancy and describe areas for much-needed future research in Canada.

This presentation will be followed by a brief Q & A 

About the presenters

isabel grantIsabel Grant
Professor Isabel Grant's main research interests lie in the areas of criminal law and violence against women. She is particularly interested in the law and policy issues surrounding male intimate partner violence against women, sexual assault, homicide, and HIV non-disclosure. She is currently working on an SSHRC-funded project on sexual assault across the lifespan.  She teaches in the areas of criminal law, sentencing, homicide and mental health law.  She also has worked on a number of Supreme Court of Canada interventions with Women's Legal Education and Action Fund and CACL.


janine benedetJanine Benedet

Professor Benedet’s areas of teaching expertise include criminal law, labour law, the law of sexual offences and legal ethics. Her current research focuses on sexual violence against women, including prostitution, pornography and sexual assault.  She is currently researching the barriers to successful criminal justice system responses to sexual assault for women and girls across the lifespan, as well as the use of criminal law to target sex buying and pimping.  She is an Associate Editor of the Criminal Reports.