Majority of Canadians lack full understanding of sexual consent, poll finds

File photo. Alfonso Cacciola/E+

TORONTO – An online poll commissioned by the Canadian Women’s Foundation suggests most Canadians are lacking knowledge about the definition of sexual consent.

According to Canadian law, consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity, which can be withdrawn at any time.

While 96 per cent of Canadians agreed that sex should always be consensual, 67 per cent of those surveyed didn’t fully understand what that means.

Only a third of the respondents identified that consent can be revoked at any time during a sexual encounter.

Pollsters also found about one in 10 Canadians believed consent is not required, or they didn’t know if it’s required, between spouses or long-term partners.

The online poll of 1,500 Canadians was conducted by Angus Reid Forum on April 8 and 9. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

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The Canadian Women’s Foundation released the poll findings to coincide with the launch of its annual Campaign to End Violence, which runs throughout May.

“Most sexual assaults in Canada are committed by someone the victim knows and trusts,” said director of violence prevention Anuradha Dugal in a release.

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together – sexual consent is always required.”

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