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Proposed changes to sexual assault law not enough, says head of London Abused Women’s Centre

The head of the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) is calling out the Liberal government’s proposed changes to sexual assault law as not good enough.

READ MORE: Government bringing sexual assault law up to speed with the courts, times

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced Tuesday new legislation that, among other things, makes it clear an unconscious person can’t consent to sexual activity.

“It’s always been the law that an unconscious person cannot consent to sexual activity,” said Megan Walker on Wednesday.

The real problem, she says, is the judiciary not being experienced enough to follow those laws and the government’s failure to address the totality of male violence against women.

“We saw just recently in Halifax where a judge ruled that a taxi driver was not guilty for sexually assaulting a woman who was so inebriated and passed out that she couldn’t consent,” she said. “This is a real problem we have.”

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READ MORE: Appeal of Halifax cab driver’s acquittal moving ahead as legal documents served: Crown

Walker added she’s worried that by rehashing the same laws, abuse against women will be a problem still being tackled 40 years down the road.

“We would hope for a bigger picture response from the Government of Canada rather than rehashing existing legislation,” she said.

The proposed changes would also look to expand rape shield provisions to include text messages and other communications of a sexual nature or for a sexual purpose, either from before or after the sexual activity in question.

It would also make it clear that a complainant has the right to a lawyer during rape shield proceedings, which are designed to keep a complainant’s sexual history from being used against them.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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