Beginning in the late 1970s and continuing into the early years of the next decade, feminists provided compelling evidence that under the existing rape laws a woman's sexuality was treated as “property” belonging to a man. They emphasized that rape was an aggressive invasion of a person's physical integrity and in 1983 rape was redefined in the Criminal Code as a form of assault. The use of physical assault as a metaphor had the effect of shifting the emphasis of the essence of sexual aggression away from a woman's sexuality as property to the coercive nature of the act. A decade later, the evidence suggests this was an ill-conceived change. Redefining rape as a sexual assault, and measuring the severity of the crime by the level of physical violence, has established the legal and social expectations that the woman must be injured to be a “legitimate” victim. This paper advances the proposition that treating a woman's sexuality as property, as did the old rape law, was correct, and that a more appropriate metaphor is robbery. The metaphor of robbery treats a woman's sexuality as property, but achieves reform by shifting ownership from the domain of a male to the woman herself. Robbery implies the use or threat of force, but, unlike assault, does not require harm to the victim as evidence of the robbery. The theoretical proposition that conceptualizing the essence of sexual aggression as “assault” has failed and that “robbery” may be more appropriate was evaluated by examined every case of sexual assault (n = 50), physical assault (n = 158) and robbery (n = 82) that appeared before the Halifax Law Courts between 1983 and 1988. This legal profile of sexual assault was compared to the alternative profile created by examining every case (n = 593) of sexual assault reported to the local sexual assault service during the same time period.
De la fin des années 1970 jusqu'au début de la décennie suivante, les féministes ont fourni des éléments de preuve démontrant de façon convaincante que la sexualité des femmes était traitée comme la propriété des hommes aux termes des dispositions législatives existantes concernant le viol. Elles ont fait valoir que le viol était une intrusion agressive dans l'intégrité physique de la personne et, en 1983, le viol a été redéfini dans le Code crimi-nel comme une forme d'agression. L'utilisation de l'expression <