Over 30 years ago, the term rape was taken out of Criminal Code of Canada and was instead replaced with the broader term of sexual assault. While many legal analysts have said that such an umbrella term is problematic and cannot encompass the full scope of sexual assault, Conservative MP Rob Anders has become the most vocal in spearheading the drive to bring the rape charge back. The Calgary MP also said that there needs to be a mandatory minimum sentence for anyone convicted of the crime.
Anders says that rapists are not adequately punished after they are convicted of sexual assault. He argues that a linguistic return to “rape,” gives proper context to the seriousness of the crime, which would naturally result in a more fitting and harsher punishment to those convicted of it. Anders believes that most serious sexual assault cases are downgraded and not treated seriously by the criminal justice system, and gropers and rapists are lumped together and they both end up with similar sentences even though they were there is stark discrepancy in the nature of their crime.
The controversial MP is also a proponent of giving mandatory sentences to those who are convicted of rape, with the minimum sentence being eight years in prison for a first offence and 10 years for each subsequent conviction. Anders says he’ll introduce the bill later this month, and expects to face constitutional challenges.
Edward Prutschi, SUN News’ legal analyst and criminal lawyer and partner at Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman, went to “Straight Talk and Hard News” to discuss the matter in greater depth. Mr. Prutschi clarifies that in the current legal system, any sexual misconduct is characterized by the wide-ranging term of sexual assault, from unwanted groping to sexual violence. Mr. Prutschi says that the public needs to be aware that although they both fit under the “sexual assault” offense, they are definitely neither prosecuted the same way nor are they sentenced the same way.
Mr. Prutschi provides some historical context and clarity as to why the term rape was replaced in the first place, and why the term was problematic. The term was replaced not because defense lawyers were finding that their clients were being mistreated or unfairly demonized, it was because Crown attorneys were having a very difficult time getting convictions in scenarios where they were something short of penile penetration.
Edward Prutschi is a sexual assault lawyer in Toronto, listen to the rest of this fascinating discussion: