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An Exploration of How Rape Myth Acceptance Affects Sexual Assault Trials in Canada
Rape myth acceptance continues to make its way into our criminal justice system. It is expressed in sexual assault trials during cross-examinations of complainants and in a judge or jury’s decision-making processes. Prejudices and biases about sexual assault and its victims infiltrates societal views about the offence and people involved; thus, affecting reporting and conviction rates. This project illustrates how rape myths are used and accepted by justice professionals during trials and how it affects sexual assault case outcomes. This is showed with landmark cases where myths were the backbone of the decision-making process in deciding the offender’s guilt for the offence. Using an exploratory and descriptive analysis of the selected literature and focusing on specific cases, this project suggests that a negative cycle of rape myth acceptance is still persuasive and stems from court misconceptions into society and vice versa. While there are other reasons why low-reporting and low-conviction rates may occur, the role that rape myth acceptance plays within the court's system has a significant impact on how sexual assault cases are dealt with and especially on how they are damaging to current and future victims. While this project’s primary focus is on an institutional level (the court system), it also highlights the importance of resolving this issue on a societal level as it affects everyone. Due to the negative effects of rape myth acceptance, this project also makes recommendations about how to better educate our society as well as ensure justice professionals are continuously educated and consciences about sexual assault, its victims, and its laws.
Sexual assaultRapeRape mythsRape myth acceptanceStereotypesSexual assault lawsCourt misconceptions
Tavcer, D. Scharie
Mount Royal University
This thesis was completed by Sheridan A. Barr. All rights reserved to the information provided within this document.
Undergraduate Student Research