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Summaries: Statistics Canada’s Recent Reports On Gender-based Violence And Public Safety

Complied by: Farrah Khan and Arwen Sweet

In September 2020 Statistics Canada released four reports on sexual violence, sexual harassment and discrimination from the Survey on Individual Safety in the Postsecondary Student Population (SISPSP) in 2019 and the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS) in 2018. Here’s a snapshot of the highlights to support and inform advocacy at your PSI.

Students’ experiences of unwanted sexualized behaviours and sexual assault at postsecondary schools in the Canadian provinces, 2019 by Marta Burczycka, Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics. Release date: September 14, 2020

In 2019, Statistics Canada conducted the first cycle of the Survey on Individual Safety in the Postsecondary Student Population (SISPSP). The purpose of the SISPSP is to collect information on the nature, extent and impact of inappropriate sexual behaviours and sexual assaults that occur in the post-secondary school-related setting in the Canadian provinces. Students’ understanding and perceptions of school policies related to these issues were also collected.

  • In 2019, 71% of students at Canadian postsecondary schools either witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized behaviours in a postsecondary setting (on-campus, off-campus or online) with 45% of women and 32% of men experiencing unwanted sexual behaviour themselves.

  • 1 in 10 women experienced a sexual assault in a postsecondary setting during the previous year. About 1 in 5 women who were sexually assaulted said that the assault took the form of sexual activity they did not consent to after they had initially agreed to another form of sexual activity (ex: agreeing to have protected sex and then learning it had been unprotected sex).

  • Most women (80%) and men (86%) who had experienced unwanted sexual behaviours stated that the behaviours were perpetrated by fellow students.

  • Less than 1 in 10 people who experienced sexual assault or unwanted sexual behaviours spoke about what happened with someone associated with their school (such as a teacher, peer support group or someone else associated with either the school administration or a student-led service). The most common reasons for not accessing school resources or support were that they saw what happened as not serious enough to report, had a lack of knowledge about what to do or mistrust in how the school would handle the situation.

  • Most students (91% of women and 92% of men) chose not to intervene, seek help or take other action in at least one instance when they witnessed unwanted sexualized behaviours. They reported not acting because they felt uncomfortable, because they feared negative consequences, or because they feared for their safety.

Students’ experiences of discrimination based on gender, gender identity or sexual orientation at postsecondary schools in the Canadian provinces, 2019 Release date: September 15, 2020

The Students Experience presents findings on the prevalence, characteristics and impacts of experiences of discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation among Canada’s postsecondary students. Using data from the 2019 Survey on Individual Safety in the Postsecondary Student Population, it explores the experiences of students aged 18 to 24 at Canadian institutions (17 to 24 for students living in Quebec). The context in which discriminatory behaviours occurred-where they happened, who was responsible, and who was an around-provides insight into actual and perceived equality on campus.

  • Almost half (47%) of students at Canadian post-secondary institutions witnessed or experienced discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation in the past year. Women were more likely to have experienced discrimination themselves (20% women vs 13% men).

  • Students who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or with another sexual orientation other than heterosexual (LGB+) were more likely to experience discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation in the postsecondary setting than non-LGB+ students. LGB+ students were also more likely than their non-LGB+ counterparts to experience impacts on their emotional and mental health due to discrimination.

  • Findings suggest that transgender students were considerably more likely to have experienced discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. 40% of transgender students say that they had experienced discrimination of this type in the postsecondary context in the previous 12 months, compared to 17% of cisgender students.

  • Other demographic groups that were overrepresented in those experiencing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender or gender identity were students who reported living with a disability (24%, compared to 13% of students who did not report living with a disability) and students who reported wearing visible religious symbols, such as a headscarf or turban (20%, compared to 16% of students who did not report wearing visible religious symbols).

  • The majority of students (71%) said that a fellow student was responsible for at least one instance of discrimination based on gender, gender identity or sexual orientation that they experienced in the postsecondary setting. Fewer students (12% of women and 7% of men) who had experienced discrimination said that a professor or instructor was responsible.

  • Few students who experienced discrimination spoke about it to someone associated with the school (such as a faculty member or counsellor) despite reporting serious mental health impacts as a result of discrimination, such as anxiety (14% women and 11% men), depression (7% women and 6% men), and fear (6% women and 5% men).

Experiences of violent victimization and unwanted sexual behaviours among gay, lesbian, bisexual and other sexual minority people, and the transgender population, in Canada, 2018 by Brianna Jaffray, Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics. Release date: September 9, 2020

In 2018, Statistics Canada conducted the first cycle of the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS). The purpose of the survey is to collect information on Canadians’ experiences of unwanted sexual behaviours in public spaces, at work, online, as well as experiences with physical and sexual assaults and violence in their intimate partner relationships. Data on physical and sexual assaults and intimate partner violence will be analyzed in a separate report to be released later. Some key highlights from the survey include:

  • According to the 2018 Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS), an estimated 1 million people in Canada identify as sexual minorities—that is, they reported their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, bisexual or a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual. In addition, approximately 75,000 people indicated that they are transgender – that is, that their assigned sex at birth was different from their current gender – or they reported a gender other than male or female.

  • Sexual minority Canadians were more likely to have experienced recent or historical physical or sexual assault than heterosexual Canadians. Violence targeting sexual minority Canadians was also more likely to result in injuries than violence committed against heterosexual Canadians.

  • Sexual minority Canadians were also twice as likely to report experiencing inappropriate behaviours in public, online and at work in the 12 months preceding the survey when compared to heterosexual Canadians.

  • Transgender Canadians were more likely to have experienced violence and inappropriate behaviours in public, online and at work than cisgender Canadians both in the last 12 months and since age 15.

  • Sexual minority Canadians were more likely than heterosexual Canadians to report that they considered their mental health to be poor or fair (32% versus 11%). They were also more likely to have seriously contemplated suicide in their lifetimes (40% versus 15%) and to have been diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder (41% versus 16%).

  • Transgender Canadians were more likely to report their mental health as poor than cisgender Canadians, and also more likely to have seriously contemplated suicide in their lifetimes or to have been diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder.

Gender-based violence: Unwanted sexual behaviours in Canada’s territories, 2018 by Samuel Perreault, Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics. Release date: August 26, 2020

In 2018, Statistics Canada conducted the first cycle of the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS). The purpose of the survey is to collect information on Canadians’ experiences of unwanted sexual behaviours in public spaces, at work, online, as well as experiences with physical and sexual assaults and violence in their intimate partner relationships. Data on physical and sexual assaults and intimate partner violence will be analyzed in a separate report to be released later.

  • In the territories, 35% of women and 16% of men experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in public spaces in 2018. In addition, 31% of women and 16% of men experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace, and 24% of women and 16% of men who had used the Internet were targets of unwanted behaviour online.

  • Unwanted sexual behaviour was found to be more prevalent towards people who identify with more than one group that has historically been marginalized. For example, nearly two-thirds (62%) of LGBTQ2+ people living with a disability experienced inappropriate sexual behaviour in 2018 (compared to 43% of LGBTQ2+ people with no disability, 33% of those with a disability who were not LGBTQ2+, and 20% of non-LGBTQ2+ individuals who had no disability).

  • People who are targets of repeated instances of gender-based violence were more likely to have experienced negative consequences, to rate their mental health as poor, and to report having contemplated suicide than people who were targeted once or twice.

  • For both women and men who experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in a public space and unwanted sexual behaviour online, they reported that the perpetrator was most often a man acting alone.

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Suggested Citation: Khan, Farrah. and Sweet, Arwen. (2020, September). Summaries: Statistics Canada’s Recent Reports on Gender-Based Violence and Public Safety. Courage to Act. www.couragetoact.ca/blog/statscansummaries

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