Duty to Rescue Through the Lens of Multiple-Party Sexual Assault

Renu Mandhane

Abstract


The lack of culpability for bystanders fails to capture the reality of the situation for sexual assault victims. It is probable that the presence of bystanders causes further psychological harm to the victim. Yet, the law allows bystanders to watch as a woman is dehumanized free from any obligation to help the victim. The lack of culpability for voyeurs is morally reprehensible and suggests that traditional sexual assault analysis is inadequate for dealing with cases of multiple-party sexual assault. It is submitted that reform within the Criminal Code is necessary to ensure culpability for such morally repugnant acts. One solution is to enact a duty to rescue provision for cases where the victim is in the midst of a violent criminal attack and the rescuer is able to assist without injury to him/herself. While such a reform represents a large departure for Canadian law, this change is warranted to protect women and to make the justice system more accountable to female victims of multiple-party sexual assault. If the system becomes more aligned with the victim's perspective, it is probable that more women will report incidents of sexual assault and, in particular, incidents of multiple-party sexual assault.


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