There should be institutional support for victims of sexual assault

Victims of sexual assault are unlikely to report the crimes. There are many reasons for this but one of the key reasons is that they do not trust the police or the justice system. All too often, that lack of faith is completely justified.

According to the YWCA, in Canada only 3 out of every 1000 sexual assaults result in a conviction. Given those odds, it is not surprising that victims are reluctant to come forward and face the psychological and emotional consequences of making allegations public.

It seems to me, however, that there is a solution - or at least part of a solution - to the problem.

Once allegations are made, there is support available for the accused but not the victim. By law the accused is assured legal representation, and rightly so. The prosecutor, however, is not an advocate for the victim, the prosecutor is an advocate for the state.

Among other things this means that they have an interest in pursuing only those cases that they think they can win and, one way or another, getting the matter off their plate quickly so that they can move on to the next. There is no advocate for the victim, but that doesn't have to be the case.

As a male who has not been a victim, I cannot be of much use, but others can.

It seems to me that if past victims, attorneys, and possibly even some police came together they could create a support structure for victims. This could include emotional support, legal advice and help in dealing with the police.

If a victim went to the police with an attorney to insure they were treated properly, things would likely start very differently than they do now. Attorneys and interested police officers could also help to insure that the victim is treated respectfully and professionally and that the case is handled properly, followed up by police and prosecutors and that prosecution is at least seriously considered.

Again, none of this is exactly my area. I don't know what form it should take and I know that in various places, certain resources already exist. It seems to me though that lack of support and representation for victims is one of the most glaring holes in a bad system.

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