No means no

No means no

Friday, 16 June 2017

Sexual assault – What's happening?

On 17 July 2015 Stephanie Anderson from SBS wrote an article titled Sexual assault: How common is it in Australia? According to Anderson, “Australia has one of the highest rates of reported sexual assault in the world, at almost 92 people per 100,000 of the population, according to the United Nations.” Her article gave statistics from NSW - she said that 3,951 sexual assaults were reported to police, but only 18% of those – 715 - were charged, 52% of those were found guilty – 374 – and 44% of those – 168 – got full sentences. That's only 4% of the total reported to police. And yet she acknowledged that few sexual assaults were ever reported to police. Eighteen months later, JaneGilmore wrote in an article titled “Terrifying truth about rape convictions: ‘It shatters your belief that the world is a safe place’”, saying that “A report just released from the Crime Statistics Agency found that in 2009 and 2010, over 3,500 rapes were reported to Victoria Police. Of those, a tiny 3% ended in a court conviction.” Those stats probably won't change throughout the rest of this country.

An unnamed writer for ABC wrote an article on 2 September 2016, titled How the justice system lets sexual assault victims down.  She'd been on a night out with some friends when she had been drugged and raped  by a “colleague and friend who I trusted”. She said all the stuff that we know about: that women are blamed for rape because we drink, we wear the “wrong clothes” and we “ask for it”. September 2016. Why is this still happening? 

In the USA, testing of 12,669 backlogged rape evidence kits in Los Angeles led to convictions for rape cases which were more than 20 years old. Thousands more got tested in many other states, and Case Western Reserve University on Cuyahoga County, Ohio, suggested that testing kits can prevent future rape. They also said “[b]ased on our research in Cuyahoga County, we found that untested rape kits also represent a missed opportunity to identify an unknown offender, confirm the identify of a known offender, connect an offender to previously unsolved crimes, even possibly exonerate innocent suspects, as well as populate the federal DNA database.” Why are so many kits not tested within a date/time period after the rape?

In February 2017, Conversation wrote that bystanders who witness sexual harassment and sexual assault often don’t intervene. They say that “[b]ystanders can fear social embarrassment and breaching social norms” or that “men are more likely to adhere to the aforementioned myths and misconceptions about sexual violence”.
Earlier this year, university studies on rape claims at universities which were being covered up and taken less seriously than plagiarism were wrote about in an ABC article (February), and SMH wrote their own article about university sexual policies being “inconsistent” and “confusing” (March). According to Conversation in April, 39 universities have done a national research project on sexual harassment and assault, and will release their findings. This is a well-written article, and should be read to understand what is happening – if anything is happening – to prevent future rape here.
Some of the reporting is increasing, which is essential, according to an article from ABC yesterday. Women are now feeling more comfortable about reporting sexual assault on public transport. The Victorian Crime Statistics Agency and the Centre Against Sexual Assault both say that the reported cases have increased significantly – possibly because the sexual assaults have doubled in the last four years. 

'Perhaps' we all need to keep reading the articles, the university studies, compare the statistics from previous years up to now. CASA provided a fact sheet entitled “Statistics about sexual assault” this year. It can inform you.

'Perhaps' we need to be aware.

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