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Helping New Brunswickers Know the Law

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July 2, 2007

Booklet explains sexual assault law



FREDERICTON (CNB) – A new publication, No Means No: Understanding Consent to Sexual Activity, has been released by Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB). This plain-language booklet explains the sometimes confusing legal aspects of consent to sexual activity.

“This booklet will act as a valuable educational resource for parents, teachers, social workers and many front line service providers who may come into contact with individuals who have been sexually assaulted or have questions or concerns about some aspect of sexual activity,” said Deborah Doherty, executive director of PLEIS-NB. “These intermediaries need access to reliable, easy to understand information about the law which they can share with their clients.”

Lorraine Whalley, executive director of the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, who collaborated in the development of the booklet, explained the importance of educating the public.

“Terms like ‘consent’ to sexual activity can be confusing. For example, people may not realize that although the age of consent in Canada is 14 years, there are protections in our criminal law for youth who are under 18 years of age,” Whalley said. “They cannot consent to sexual exploitation, paid sex, or sex with a person who has a relationship of trust or authority over them, nor can they give consent to someone on whom they are dependent. Also, Internet luring of young people is now covered in the Criminal Code of Canada, and it is important that the public know this.”

Attorney General T. J. Burke said it is important that the laws be clearly and easily understood by the public, especially when it comes to sexual assault and the exploitation of youth. “It is important that front line workers as well as the general public understand the legal meaning of consent and who can give it and in what circumstances,” he said.

In developing this publication, PLEIS-NB worked collaboratively with the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre. Other participants in the review process included the Victim Services Branch, Department of Public Safety; Public Prosecutions Branch, Office of the Attorney General of New Brunswick; and health care and social services providers. Funding for this booklet was provided by Justice Canada.