The has been many months since the revelations that

The recent onslaught stories about sexual harassment
have provided reasons for great reflection by many people. It has caused those in influential positions to
reflect on how they treat others in the workplace. Most importantly, it has
empowered many people, particularly women, to feel confident knowing they have
the right to live free from harassment and speak out when being sexually
violated. Recent studies conducted by Statistics Canada displayed that as much
as one in three women are affected by sexual violence in Canada and it also
confirms that 43% of women have been sexually harassed in their workplace
(Canadian’s Women Foundation, n.d.).

Although it has been many months since the revelations
that came in daily in wake of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and
other Hollywood stars, they are still sparking conversations today. In
addition, it may perhaps sparked a cultural shift regarding sexual violence and
hopefully into Canadian workplaces as well. Women were more than twice as
likely as men to say they had experienced unwanted sexual contact while at work
(Canadian’s Women Foundation, n.d.). This new wave of action against dominant,
predatory figures in Hollywood is a crucial step in addressing the prevalence
of sexual assault. It’s good that dozens of female public figures are publicly
coming out about Harvey Weinstein’s deliberate acts, but since most women who
come forward about sexual assault are often discredited, blamed, socially
ostracized, or faced with retaliation, resulting in frightened victims. In
fact, only 5% of sexual assaults were reported to the police in 2014
(Canadian’s Women Foundation, n.d.). This is because most of the victims don’t
have a million-dollar safety net to fall back on and that’s why a change is
needed to the Canadian criminal justice system.

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Workplace sexual harassment was
defined by the Supreme Court of Canada as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual
nature that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse
job-related consequences for the victims of the harassment” (Lublin, 2017).
This is a rather broad definition of workplace sexual harassment. Any unwanted
sexual behaviour should be considered as sexual violence. A survivor could be
severely affected by all forms of sexual violence, including unwanted fondling,
rubbing, kissing, or other sexual acts. There are also many forms of sexual
violence that involve no physical contact, such as stalking or distributing
intimate visual recordings (Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2017).

All of these acts are serious and can
be damaging. In a Global/Ipsos Reid poll, the most common reason women provided
for not reporting a sexual assault to the police was due to feeling young and
powerless (56%) (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2016). Forty per cent of
respondents said they stayed silent because of the shame they felt and 29%
placed the blame on themselves for the assault (Canadian Women’s Foundation,
2016). Others worried that reporting would bring dishonour to their families,
feared retaliation from their attacker, or had no faith in the criminal justice
system (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2016).

Society’s understanding of sexual violence can be
influenced by misinterpretations and false beliefs. Thus separating myths from
facts is also critical to stopping sexual violence. One of the most thought of
myths of sexual assault come from those who believe that sexual assault is most
often committed by strangers – but a recent study disproves that. The latest
findings by Statistics Canada demonstrate that based on the majority of sexual
assaults that were laid by the police; about 87% of victims knew their
assailant most commonly as a casual acquaintance, a family
member, or an intimate partner (Rotenberg, 2017).

The backlash on Harvey Weinstein rose
men, and in addition to women, to speak up about sexual violence in their
workplace. This is important because with more people talking about the
problem, we can hope that society is heading to a “new normal.” So instead of
supporting lawyers who work to silence victims, workplaces should try evolving
the culture from a patriarchal system of entitlement to one where victims never
have to be afraid. Although there are still people who disagree that sexual
violence is occurring in their work place, we should not omit that real change
requires strength, determination and understanding, that we’re all flawed individuals
who must and can grow. Without that, the alternative is a toxic and divisive

To conclude this, it is advised you
have conversations about sexual violence with your friends, family, and
acquaintances. In order to have a net positive effect on our society, we need
to change society’s perspective on sexual violence and continue conversations
that lead to change.



















Anderson, B. (2017, October 31). Sexual harassment of women is
widespread in Canada. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from 

Canadianian Women’s Foundation. (2016, August). Sexual
harassment and assault fact sheet (Publication). Retrieved January 18,
2018, from Canadian Women’s Foundation website: 

Canadian’s Women Foundation. (n.d.). Sexual assault and harassment.
Retrieved January 14, 2018, from 

Ireland, N. (2017, November 01). More than half of adult women in Canada
have experienced ‘unwanted sexual pressure,’ online survey suggests. Retrieved
January 14, 2018, from 

Lublin, D. (2017, November 30). What counts as workplace sexual
harassment in Canada? Retrieved January 18, 2018, from 

Queen’s Printer for Ontario. (2017, December 14). Let’s stop sexual
harassment and violence. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from 

Rotenberg, C. (2017, October 03). A statistical profile of sexual
assaults reported by police in Canada between 2009 and 2014. Retrieved January
18, 2018, from