Over the last couple of weeks, Instagram pages have popped up denouncing acts of sexual violence and harassment in the tattoo industry in Canada. An account called @victimsvoicestattoo_canada writes in a post dated July 10, 2020 that their goal is to “shine a light into the dark recesses of our tattoo community in the hopes to affect positive change. Times up tattooing”. Similar pages have emerged for particular provinces, for example, @victims_voices_alberta and @victims_voices_bc are both active and appear to provide the same platform. These pages and other similar pages include numerous accounts, mostly from women, and mostly anonymously, of tattoo artists at various shops who have sexually assaulted clients. In some instances, tattoo shops and individual tattoo artists have responded to these allegations through their own social media channels.
News coverage of these allegations and the Instagram accounts has so far been sparse, but a recent article from Radio Canada provides a summary of some of the allegations made and notes that the limitation period for filing a civil claim of sexual assault or battery was recently eliminated in Quebec pursuant to Loi 55, which received Royal Assent on June 12, 2020. It is important to note that this is also the case in other provinces, including Alberta. This means that a person who has experienced a sexual assault, has suffered an injury (including a psychological injury), and wants to pursue a civil claim against the perpetrator of the assault are not subject to the ordinary 2-year limitation period. While people who have experienced sexual assault are, of course, able to report these incidents to police, the civil process offers an alternative that can compensate victims for losses or injuries they have suffered.
According to another story from the CBC, a low-cost legal clinic in Montreal called Juripop has seen a staggering increase in calls since the Instagram accounts became active. The executive director of Juripop, Sophie Gagnon, told the CBC that they opened close to 100 new files last week with calls coming in every 15-20 minutes.
The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAA) reports that up to 97% of sexual assaults are never reported to police and that nearly 40% of Canadian women will experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. Individuals who have experienced sexual assault in Alberta can find out more about services available to them through organizations such as the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.
Pursuing a civil lawsuit can play an important role in the healing process and for certain individuals. If you have questions about bringing a civil claim for sexual assault or sexual abuse, contact HMC Lawyers online or by phone at 1-800-480-3534 to arrange a confidential discussion.