‘A huge victory for women’: Criminal Code change makes it easier for sexual assault survivors to remove publication bans on own names

'A huge victory for women': Criminal Code change makes it easier for sexual assault survivors to remove publication bans on own names
Kelly Favro speaks with CHEK's Kori Sidaway about the changes made to the criminal code on Oct. 27, 2023.

A Victoria woman who fought to remove the publication ban on her name so she could tell the story of her sexual assault has been successful in Ottawa in lobbying for a change to the Canadian Criminal Code.

“This is a huge victory for women. This law has been around since 1988. So this is 35 years of publication bans where most, if not all, victims were never informed before a ban went on their names,” said Kelly Favro who campaigned with My Voice, My Choice.

Favro first told CHEK News her story in June of 2021, recounting the details of her violent sexual assault, but also the re-traumatization she faced while going through the court process.

Four years after her perpetrator was convicted, she found out she had a publication ban on her name, preventing her from identifying herself publicly without potentially facing jail time and big fines.

Favro says it was put in place without her knowledge or consent.

“No one told me what it meant, I didn’t know what that entailed,” said Favro in 2021.

It took her seven months to remove that ban. A lengthy, complicated process that she says court administrative staff and even lawyers didn’t know how to do.

In the Senate Thursday, Bill S12, which makes changes to the Criminal Code with regards to publication bans among other items, was officially adopted before being given royal assent.

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The bill simplifies and streamlines the process of modifying or removing a publication ban.

“This bill is critical in terms of empowering victims, victims of sexual assault and violence who have gone through the court process and have been subject to publication bans,” said Federal Minister of Justice Arif Virani in a video shared on social media.

Favro says the changes will create a safer system, but that there’s still more work to do.

“Not everybody enjoys the protection from a publication ban. We deserve the right to our story and we deserve to be asked if we want a publication ban right from the get-go,” said Favro.

She hopes Crown lawyers take the cue even if the Criminal Code doesn’t require it to get consent from their clients from the outset.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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