Reported sexual assaults jump 23% in Calgary — which agency says might not be all bad

AHS raises age limit for Sexual and Reproductive Health clinic patients in Calgary Zone

A specialized team that deals with sexual assaults in Calgary says it saw a 23 per cent increase in cases last year — which might be more positive than it appears.  

The Calgary Sexual Assault Response Team is made up of doctors, nurses and crisis workers who work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide medical treatment and support — with or without police involvement and evidence collection — in the four days following a sexual assault.

"It's my hope that these numbers are going up because people are feeling more supported and are more aware of the resources that are available to them," said Dr. Rabiya Jalil, a physician on the team. 

'People aren't feeling guilty anymore'

The reported cases climbed by 63 to 343 in 2016, from 280 a year earlier.

Aside from a dip in 2014, the number of visits to the team have been steadily growing over the past five years, from 263 cases in 2012.

Meg Sloane, the manager of the team, said she believes the fear of coming forward is fading.

"I think primarily it's due to all the high-profile social media cases going on. It's about all of the campaigns — the I Believe You campaign — people aren't feeling guilty anymore. The new normal is to talk about sexual assault," she said. 

"Let's talk about Kelly Oxford and her Twitter account, in terms of reaching out with her campaign that one million people shared their stories of assault. They came forward after she shared her story — one million people came forward to share their stories of assault. People aren't afraid to speak out anymore."

- MORE CALGARY NEWS | The difference between a strep A infection and strep throat

- MORE CALGARY NEWS | Albertans will be consulted before pot rules set by province: Premier Rachel Notley