Quebec’s demand for rape kits on rise following pandemic reopening

“We associate it to the reopening of bars and restaurants,” says Kelly Laramée, an intervener at CALACS, as she point out the threefold increase in demand for rape kits in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Felisha Adam reports.

By Felisha Adam

The number of women asking for rape kits in Quebec’s Eastern townships – East of Montreal – has risen in recent weeks, and advocates are linking it to the easing of pandemic health measures and the reopening of bars and restaurants.

“The increase started around the 12 of February, and we associate that to the reopening of the bars and restaurants due to the pandemic, because it is the date that it reopened, but also because most of the girls and women that we met told us that they went to those establishments or they went to a bar, to a restaurant,” explained Kelly Laramée, intervener at Le Centre d’Aide et de Lutte Contre les Agressions à Caractère Sexuel (CALACS).

The organization helps both English and French-speaking sexual assault survivors. Laramée says the increase in assaults in the last seven weeks has seen a threefold increase in demand for their services.

“We used to go with the women at the hospital for the rape kits about one time a week or so, and now we go around three times a week,” she said.


“We also think that the increase is linked because girls and women have a better knowledge of their resources and of their rights with to the fact that we talk about it and the fact that they know that they can use these resources.”

The Eastern townships’ public health authority, confirmed to CityNews it has received 21 requests for rape kits since the beginning of February, but added the number may not be an accurate indicator of just how many women have been assaulted as some may decide to use other support services without asking for a kit.

“Although sexual assault incidents are not decreasing, I think that the community of support is increasing for sure,” explained Meaghan Connelly, junior co-chair of the Bishops University Sexual Culture Committee.

Connelly says while much at the university has not changed, students are able to be more open about their experiences. An online platform to report experiences has been a helpful tool.

“Definitely a lot more helpful for survivors because then they feel more comfortable because they have this option to say that something happened,” said Connelly.

Laramée reminds people of the importance of staying vigilant and stepping in or reporting if they think someone may be in danger.

“It is our responsibility to make sure that the person is safe and that she’s okay and I think that if we choose to intervene, well, the worst case scenario is that we are wrong and the person is fine.”

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