Trigger warning: Mentions of Rape and Sexual Assault
There are a host of Provincial Issues in which citizens of Chatham-Kent feel over
looked but access to proper immediate care for survivors of rape and other sexual violence is not one of those issues.
It is estimated, 460 000 sexual assaults occur yearly in Canada. Of those assaults, only 8% are reported to the police and a mere 0.3% of the estimated 460 000 to a conviction.
This can be broken down into a few major issues which can be discussed, but for the purpose of this article let's continue to discuss rape kit accessibility.
Rape kits are commonly known as the most substantial proof that someone has undergone sexual assault. They involve samples being taken from places where DNA of the perpetrator can be found, and tests to prove that assault has occurred.
A quick phone call to The Chatham Kent Health Alliance can tell you that anyone who believes they are a victim of sexual assault can walk into the emergency room and be registered under The CKHA Sexual Assault Program, where they have the opportunity to walk through the process of completing a rape kit with the option of submitting evidence to the police.
Although the instances of victims choosing to report sexual assaults to the police after the completion of a rape kit are quite low, due to various factors including; fear of retaliation, lack of financial preparedness and other evidence which may cause issues for the victim; having rape kits accessible in Chatham-Kent is a large step towards self-sustainability for the local medical system.
Victims in many municipalities across the country are forced to travel hours to have access to rape kits and other important services. Large pockets of provinces like Nova Scotia and British Columbia have little to no access to kits requiring victims to drive upwards of 4 hours to experience this already emotionally draining ordeal.
As the justice system begins to work towards the necessary reform for victims of sexual assault to feel more confident reporting instances of rape and other similar assaults, Chatham-Kent is on the right track having 24/7 access to these kits, both for medical reasons and for when victims of sexual assault are prepared to take on the difficult task of speaking up.
For those looking for support surrounding sexual assault in the Chatham-Kent area and across Ontario:
Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres
Chatham Kent Women's Centre
Chatham Kent Sexual Assault Crisis Centre
CKHA Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre
Limits of a Criminal Justice Response to Sexual Assault by Holly Johnson
Chatham Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre
Canada has a Rape Kit Problem by Hilary Beaumont