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Gunn, Rita and Candice Minch.

Winnipeg, University of Manitoba Press. 1988. 148pp. paper, ISBN 0-88755-144-0 (cloth) $19.95. 0-88755-618-3 (paper) $12.95. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Esther Hutchinson

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

The under-reporting of sexual assault is a well-known fact. This study addresses the reasons why so many women do not report assaults or fail to follow through on initial complaints.

Beginning with a broad survey of the factors in society that place women in a position of powerlessness, the authors discuss how societal attitudes affect the treatment of assault victims. Society sees many factors as relevant to the amount of protection the victim "deserves." Societal attitudes also pressure the victim, who may blame herself for getting into the situation. All these factors and more militate against equal treatment of victims and equal prosecution of offenders. The authors of this study are well qualified to deal with the topic. Rita Gunn is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Manitoba and a research consultant with University of Manitoba Research Ltd. Candice Minch is a research and policy analyst with the Attorney General's department in Manitoba.

The evidence is based on two studies. One was conducted with seventy-five victims who contacted a sexual assault clinic. The other analysed police data in 154 cases, classifying those eases that did not proceed to prosecution, noting at which step in the process they were dropped, and discussing how the legal process works against the victim's pursuing the charges. An index, as well as a comprehensive bibliography of secondary sources, is included. There is much material for discussion, although the treatment of the subject is probably more suited to college level or public library.

Since most assaults occur on girls in the student age range, it should be read by counsellors who might have to refer or counsel a girl in that situation. The academic nature of the discussion should not distract us from the ways that the Justice system is failing women.


Esther Hutchinson, Spruce Grove Public Library, Spruce Grove, Alta.
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