You may have an idea of what sexual and gender-based violence looks like, but the truth is it can take on many different forms. The Government of Alberta defines sexual violence as, “An act committed against someone's sexual integrity without that person’s freely given consent.” This type of violence can take many forms including - but not limited to - sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation. According to Women and Gender Equality Canada, gender-based violence is committed against a person due to their gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender; it is not limited to physical assault and can include jokes that demean the LGBTQ2S+ community. Both sexual and gender-based violence are against the law and are considered violations of basic human rights and bodily autonomy.
While people of all ages, races, and genders can experience sexual and gender-based violence, there are certain populations who are more vulnerable due to deeply rooted systemic oppression. Discrimination such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and ableism can cause these populations to face higher levels of violence.
Sexual and gender-based violence is a public health issue that has far-reaching impacts and causes significant trauma. Not only does it affect the physical, mental, sexual and emotional health of the individuals who directly experience the violence, but it can also have long-lasting and negative health, social and economic effects that span generations, impacting families and sometimes entire communities.
Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. They should not be discriminated against based on gender identity or expression, age, race or ethnicity, ability, or any other identity factor.