Winner of the 2009 Canadian Law and Society Book Prize
Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada, 1900-1975 is an engaging and powerful book about sexual assault crimes in Canadian history by one of Canadaâ€™s foremost legal historians. Using a case-study approach, Constance Backhouse explores nine sexual assault trials from across the country throughout the twentieth century. We move from small towns to large cities, from the Maritimes to the Northwest Territories, from the suffrage era to the period of the womenâ€™s liberation movement. Each of these richly-textured vignettes offers insight into the failure of the criminal justice system to protect women from sexual assault, and each is highly readable and provocative. The most moving chapters document the lawâ€™s refusal to accommodate a woman who could only give evidence in sign language, and the heartbreak of a child rape trial. Backhouse deals sensitively and deftly with these difficult stories.
This book is the best kind of legal historyâ€”a vivid exploration of the past which also gives us the tools to assess the efficacy (or in this case lack of efficacy) of the legal system.
Published for the Osgoode Society for Legal History.
"Superbly written and riveting, this legal history of sexual assaults opens a window, long closed, into the myths and stereotypes which, for so long, have inhabited our laws while also revealing the incredible pain and injustices suffered by victims. A great book!"
"This engaging and powerful book demonstrates the ubiquitous nature of sexual assault in 20th century Canada and, as the author puts it, â€śthe appalling failuresâ€ť of the Canadian justice system. Constance Backhouse is a pioneer in the field of feminist legal history and continues to make a substantial and provocative contribution with this highly readable volume on sexual assault crimes in 20th century Canada . . . . While the book provides many reasons to be depressed about lawâ€™s inability to eradicate sexual assault, Backhouseâ€™s words and analysis are inspiring and refreshing."
"A brilliant anatomy of sexual assaultâ€”both law and legal history. There is no book quite like this: the legal analysis leaps from each personâ€™s individual story and trial transcript with awesome dexterity. Constance Backhouse is a spectacular writer. This is the way to learn law!"
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: â€śDonâ€™t You Bully Me . . . Justice I Want if There Is Justice to Be Hadâ€ť: The Rape of Mary Ann Burton, London, Ontario, 1907
Chapter 3: â€śOn pensait que la fille Ă©tait bonne Ă rienâ€ť: Fiola, 1917
Chapter 4: The Prosecution of Henry Kissel in the Roaring Twenties in Halifax
Chapter 5: Sexual Battery: Gynecological Treatment in the Mercer Reformatory, 1939â€“40
Chapter 6: Sexual Assault and Disability: Saskatchewan, 1942
Chapter 7: Child Witnesses â€” â€śBy Psychological Definition . . . A Disservice to the True End of Justiceâ€ť: SouliĂ¨re, 1951â€“52
Chapter 8: Canadaâ€™s First Capital â€śLâ€ť Lesbian Sexual Assault: Yellowknife, 1955
Chapter 9: â€śSordidâ€ť but â€śUnderstandable under the Circumstancesâ€ť: Kohnke, Croft, and Wilson, 1967
Chapter 10: â€śImprisonment Would Be of No Assistance to the Accusedâ€ť: Angione, 1974
Chapter 11: Conclusion