Voyeurism as a Criminal Offence: A Consultation Paper (Abridged Version)

The Concept of Voyeurism

Voyeurism may be considered in two ways. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines a voyeur as "a person who derives sexual gratification from the covert observation of others as they undress or engage in sexual activity."

Voyeurism may also refer to a sexual disorder or paraphilia. Voyeurism paraphilia is characterized by :

  • a), recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviours involving voyeuristic activity, and
  • b), the fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviours cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning...

Many individuals include voyeuristic fantasy or behaviour in a repertoire of sexual fantasies. It is only when these fantasies become a focus for an extended period of time (six months or more) and cause distress or impairment in one's life that this would be diagnosable as a paraphilia.[1]

The voyeurism paraphilia often accompanies other personality disorders such as exhibitionism.[2] According to some psychiatric studies, 20% of people involved in voyeurism will go on to commit more serious sexual assault offences.[3]

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