Breaking the Silence on Father-Daughter Sexual Abuse of Adolescent Girls: A Case Law Study
(2020) 32:2 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law
60 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2020
Date Written: 2020
Adolescent girls are targeted for sexual violence at a rate higher than females at any other life stage. Girls most often face sexual violence at the hands of men that they know and trust within their own families, yet this type of abuse has largely evaded scrutiny from the #MeToo movement. In this article, the authors seek to revitalize the discussion of sexual abuse against adolescent girls by their fathers. The article is part of a larger study that examined all Canadian judicial decisions involving sexual offences against girls between the ages of twelve and seventeen inclusive over a three-year period. An examination of these cases shows that more than one quarter of all reported decisions involving sexual assault against adolescent girls were committed by stepfathers and biological fathers. The authors found patterns of violence similar to those of coercive control described by adult women in intimate relationships, with men exerting controlling behaviours that extended beyond the sexual activity itself. While conviction rates were relatively high, they were lower for fathers than for other groups of perpetrators. The authors conclude that sexual abuse by fathers may be the easiest to perpetrate, the hardest to uncover, and the most damaging to victims.
Keywords: sexual assault, fathers, teenage girls, incest, child abuse
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