Newly released research suggests Sask. has one of the highest rates of sexual victimization in Canada
REGINA -- A massive research project that involved more than 1,000 survivors of sexual violence has now been published.
The report, titled "Sexual Violence in Saskatchewan: Voices, Stories, Insights, and Actions from the Front Lines" was spearheaded by the University of Saskatchewan's Community-University Institute for Social Research and has the backing of the federal government, Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and more.
It brings details to light on the state of sexual violence in Saskatchewan.
"One of the challenges in this area is the persistent silence, the discomfort with talking about these issues," said Isobel Findlay, a researcher on the report and the co-director of CUISR.
According to the report, Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of sexual victimization in the country, something those who worked on the project hope it can help address.
Some of the project's findings helped in the development of Saskatchewan's first Sexual Violence Action Plan, released in May 2019.
"It tells you what we think are the key steps that we need to take over the next five years to address sexual violence that are the most urgent with the idea that we keep renewing that action plan in the years to come," said Patience Umereweneza, another researcher for the project.
The goal of the research is to create a better understanding of existing strengths and possible gaps in both local and regional services relating to sexual violence.
One section the report addresses is barriers to accessing supports like concerns over staying anonymous, past negative experiences and more.
"A lot of it is not that the services are wrong," Umereweneza said. "They just need to be tweaked to make sense to the reality of survivors."
It also addresses the criminal justice system and law enforcement. Both were among the lowest satisfaction rates from the 1,000 plus survivors of sexual violence surveyed during the research.
The research group spoke of the difficulties survivors face during court proceedings as the victim is often the only witness. But any change to how proceedings are carried out would need to be carefully balanced with the defendant's right to a fair trial.
"So many voices said that they didn't come forward because they knew about the adversarial nature of the court system or they wished they hadn't," said Marie Lovrod, an associate professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the U of S who worked on the report.
More details from the report can be found on the Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan website.