Who are International Students

International Students are foreign nationals, who may be temporary residents, refugee claimants, or individuals without immigration status.

Students require a study permit to study at a designated learning institution (a school approved by a provincial/territorial government) for a program 6 months or longer.

International Students and Gender-Based Violence + Sexual Violence

  • International Students are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault, both on and off campus, and are more likely to be targeted because they may have: limited knowledge of Canadian criminal laws, language barriers and/or trouble identifying sexual violence
  • More than 80% of rapes that occur on campuses are committed by someone known to the victim /survivor, such as an intimate partner


  • Gender-Based violence: refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue. – UNHCR
  • Sexual Violence: is an umbrella term for any non-consensual sexual behaviour, actions, or threats that are unwanted.
  • Sexual Assault: any non-consensual sexual contact/activity, including the threat of such activity. It can involve the use of physical force, intimidation, coercion, or the abuse of a position of trust or authority.


Consent is an enthusiastic freely given agreement to engage in sexual activity. Without consent for sexual activity, any sexual contact is sexual assault. Consent should never be assumed or implied and can always be withdrawn at any time. Asking for consent is a part of creating healthy relationships.

Remember, having consented on a previous occasion does not constitute consent to all future sexual consent. You can say no at any point or time.

Challenges and Barriers

There are many unique challenges and barriers that International students can face. These can include financial exploitation, racism and isolation. Remember you do not have to face these challenges alone. There is support, resources, and help in every university and community.

Myths and misconceptions

Unfortunately, there are still many myths that are being taught and circulated around gender-based violence, abuse, and the people affected by it. Please see the list below to help clarify some of the most common myths.

Safety Tips + Looking out for one another

Studying Abroad in Canada is an exciting and new experience that International Students should look forward to. Coming to Canada may provide you with many new opportunities in your education, career and social life but can also be difficult due to learning a new language, new customs and different culture. Whenever you are somewhere new your safety should always be a priority. Below we have listed some things to keep in mind during your time in Canada.

  • Keep in Contact with at least one person regularly
    • When arriving or leaving somewhere (especially when it’s really early or late or dark out), let someone know when you’ll be home or when to expect you to arrive at work, and that you will call or text them when you have safely arrived.
    • If you own an iPhone use the friend My Friends App, this allows you to share your location at all times with contacts you have picked
  • Stay Alert while travelling/walking
    • Regardless of what transportation you are using having your house/work or car keys in your hands ready to go saves time and allows you to enter the building or car right away instead of fumbling and looking for them
    • If you are walking, take a route that is populated and well-lit, even if it takes longer doing this could save your life
    • Although its nice to listen to music, it’s safest to not have your headphones in especially when walking, waiting at a bus stop or unlocking a door
  • Housing Safety
    • If you live in an apartment don’t hold the door open for unknown people
    • Do not open the door unless you are expecting someone and always check the peephole before unlocking
    • Keep doors and windows locked especially when you are not home
  • Look out for one another
    • If you see something say something by being an active bystander.
    • If possible coordinate a time to leave campus with a classmate and transit/walk

Finally, remember to always stay alert and trust your instincts. If a situation, person or opportunity seems unsafe listen to your gut and leave. Call 911 if your safety is ever compromised.

MOSAIC programs for International Students

Students who are 19+ can access many of MOSAIC’s other programs that support those experiencing any type of abuse, violence, exploitation or crime.

Please check out our other programs which include:


Who is most at risk for Gender-based Violence?

Gender-based happens in all communities, cultures, and faith groups, at every age, and in every income group. However, some women are especially at risk. Immigrant women may be more vulnerable to domestic violence due to economic dependence, language barriers, and a lack of knowledge about community resources. Newcomers traumatized by war or oppressive governments are much less likely to report physical or sexual violence to authorities, for fear of further victimization and deportation (Rupaleem Bhuyan et al., University of Toronto, 2014).

Source: (canadianwomen.org)

Are the majority of sexual assaults committed by strangers?

While there are certainly instances of sexual assault being perpetrated by strangers, the vast majority of sexual violence happens at the hands of someone the victim knows and often loves. It could be a friend, partner or someone you work with.

(Source: voicesforwomen.ca)

I was assaulted by someone of the same gender. Should I report it?

Yes. All cases of sexual misconduct are investigated and adjudicated in the say way, regardless of gender.

(Source: clarke.edu)

What does it mean to “blame the victim” for sexual violence?

Only one party is responsible for sexual violence: the perpetrator. Blaming the person who is abused is victim-blaming. It’s unfair and dangerous. It can make people believe abuse is their fault and makes them less likely to seek help and report what happened. (Source: canadianwomen.org)

Contact Information

Email: vpp_studentsupport@mosaicbc.org

ISAFE Project



Enhanced Safety Guide

Who are International Students

Canadian International Students & the Global Pandemic Law (Webinar)