Violence against women
Sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking
Women's Web gratefully acknowledges the University
of Alberta Sexual Assault Center (UASAC) for granting us
permission to reprint its materials and resources on our website.
Be sure to visit the UASAC
website for additional information, resources, and link
to other sites.
If you have been sexually assaulted, be sure to go
immediately to your local hospital or police detachment.
If you are unable to get to a hospital, call the police, your
community sexual assault center, or your community's 24-hour
Sexual assault is a serious crime. Compassionate
support is available and such crimes must be reported to the
What is sexual assault?
In Canada, sexual assault is the legal term used to
refer to any form of sexual contact without voluntary consent.
Kissing, fondling, sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, and oral
sex are all examples of sexual assault if they are done without
Consent obtained by force through pressure, coercion, force,
or threats of force is not voluntary consent.
What is consent?
Under §273.1 of Canada's Criminal Code and in reference
to sexual assaults, "consent" refers to:
the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the
sexual activity in question.
Consent is not given if:
- It is given by someone else;
- The person is unconscious, drunk, stoned, or sleeping;
- It is an abuse of power, trust, or authority;
- The person does not say yes, says no, or through words or
behavior implies no; or
- The person changes her or his mind.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwanted comment, gesture, or action
of a sexual nature. An example of harassment may be a group of
males outside the cafeteria who are rating all females as they
Sexual harassment includes unwanted attention, demands, or a
pattern of jokes or insults that affect your job, work, school
environment, or chances to obtain a service.
In Canada, sexual harassment falls under Human Rights Law, a
civil legislation, and not the Criminal Code of Canada. If you
are a resident of Canada, sexual harassment may be reported to
your provincial or territorial human rights commission, rather
than to your police detachment.
Under §264 of Canada's Criminal Code,
No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that
another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other
person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection
(2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances,
to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.
The conduct mentioned in Subsection (1) consists of:
- Repeatedly following from place to place the other person
or anyone known to them;
- Repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly,
the other person or anyone known to them;
- Besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the
other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries
on business or happens to be; or
- Engaging in threatening conduct directed at the person or
any member of their family
In Canada, every person who contravenes this section is guilty
- An indictable offense and is liable to imprisonment for a term
not exceeding five years; or
- An offense punishable on summary conviction.
Stalking can be broadly defined as willfully,
maliciously, and repeatedly following or harassing another person.
Being stalked can be a frightening, frustrating, and life changing