Source: (1999) LL.M. thesis, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Downloaded 28 February 2005.
This thesis examines the issue of gender equality in the Canadian criminal justice system. It dissects two specific issues, the disclosure of a sexual assault complainant’s therapeutic or counselling records and the prosecution of domestic assault charges. Within these two issues it is argued that the criminal justice system has failed to treat female victims of violent crime fairly and equally. Moreover, it is suggested that this failure is anchored in a neglect of the appreciation of the unique gender issues connected to these matters within a contextual framework. With regards to the disclosure issue, a fundamental tenet, the presumption of innocence, and the accused’s right to full answer and defence conflict with the complainant’s rights to privacy and equality before the law. It is noted that where these rights conflict the courts have “balanced” the male accused’s rights above those of the female complainant. The legislation enacted to address this issue and the courts’ response to its constitutionality is examined to reveal the rationales relied upon by the courts to support their positions. As well, the evolution of female rights is presented through the treatment of similar issues within the jurisdiction of Canadian civil law. (author’s abstract)
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