More than half of Canadians don’t know what sexual consent is


Although knowledge of consent has increased by 33% since 2015 in the Canadian population, more than half (55%) of them still do not understand the need for both positive and ongoing consent from their partner as Canadian law defines it.

This is the damning portrait painted by the new study by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, conducted last October with one of 1,511 Canadians on the understanding of consent. The understanding of having a positive consent, for example by giving consent and/or by participating enthusiastically and continuously, by ensuring their maintenance throughout the sexual act, would be higher among those under 54 years of age ( 52%) and lower among those aged 55 and over (34%).

This is a sign that Canada desperately needs to invest in consent education and effective violence prevention measures for all age groups.

Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation

“While it seems that a growing number of people know what consent is, it is worrying to see that this is still not the case for a large part of the population”, explains the president and general manager. of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Paulette Senior in a press release.

The study recalls that approximately 4.7 million women, or 30% of all women aged 15 and over, have experienced sexual assault outside of an intimate relationship. Young women, those with disabilities, Indigenous women or members of the LGBTQ2+ community are at greater risk of experiencing sexual violence. In total, 42% of Canadians know a woman who has been the victim of sexual violence.

“So many women, girls and Two-Spirit, trans and non-binary people face this violence in their lifetime,” said Paulette Senior. We all need to be better prepared to support survivors without judging or stigmatizing them, as they often choose to talk to people they trust.”

According to her, it is necessary to « hold political leaders accountable » to encourage them to strengthen the fight against sexual violence.

To support the population, the Canadian Women’s Foundation launched the Responding to the Call for Help initiative, which offers tools to react to signs of violence and to support survivors of violence.

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