What is Sexual Exploitation?

Although the age of consent in Canada is 16, in some cases you can still be convicted of an offence for engaging in sexual activity with someone over the age of 16 but under the age of 18. If you are in a position of trust or authority towards a young person, or the young person is in a relationship of dependency with you, or exploitative of the young person, you could be convicted of the offence of sexual exploitation.

Parliament passed s. 153 of the Criminal Code to protect young persons who are in a vulnerable position towards certain persons because of an imbalance inherent in the nature of the relationship between them. In 1988, Bill C-15 created this offence, stemming, in part, from a 1984 report on Sexual Offences Against Children, commonly referred to as the Badgley Report. This report recommended the criminalizing the sexual conduct between minors and adults, but went further and listed categories recommended for an absolute prohibition (including teachers, parents, babysitters and employers, for example). Parliament did not adopt this strict standard. Instead, it focused on providing for a factual inquiry by the trier of the fact into the characteristics of the relationship rather than on its categorization. As a result, judges have to decide based on the facts in each individual case whether or not the nature of the relationship between the parties meets the definition in s. 153 of the Criminal Code beyond a reasonable doubt.


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