Victims of Violence

The sexual violence epidemic against women in the UK

An estimated one out of 14 women worldwide above the age of 15 say they have been sexually assaulted by someone other than their partner, according to a new international study.

The Lancet study, published this month, was conducted by researchers at: the South African Medical Research Council, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the World Health Organization.

“Our findings highlight the need for countries to have their own population-based data on the levels of sexual violence by different perpetrators to improve understanding of the magnitude of the problem and the main risk factors, and to develop appropriate policies and responses, including primary prevention interventions and comprehensive services to treat victims of sexual assaults,” Professor Naeemah Abrahams from the South African Medical Research Council in Cape Town said in a press release.

The unseen world of sexual assault, rape, and family abuse has hit home to many UK residents after official figures released in January reveal that there were an estimated 406,000 victims of sexual assaults last year and nearly one million victims of stalkers. More than two-thirds of these were women.

According to the figures, more than 1.1 million or 7 per cent of women have been victims of some form of domestic abuse in the past year, certified crime figures uncovered in the UK.

The latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales also exposed that nearly 5 million women or 30 per cent of the adult female population have experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16.

In 2011 through 2012, the police recorded a total of 53,700 sexual offences across England and Wales. The most serious sexual offences of ‘rape’ (16,000 offences) and ‘sexual assault’ (22,100 offences) accounted for 71 per cent of sexual offences recorded by the police.

The new official analysis follows the not guilty verdict for TV actor William Roache on charges of rape and indecent assault 6 February. Campaigners such as Rape Crisis England and Wales criticize the verdict saying it let the criminal justice system off the hook while the victims in a high profile rape case like this can be “re-traumatized” by press coverage and possible acquittals.

In January 2013, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office released its first ever joint Official Statistics bulletin on sexual violence, entitled An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales.

It reported that approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year, which accounts for 400,000 women sexually assaulted each year.

“Our commitment to tackling rape does not stop at the borders of the UK. Women and children are disproportionately affected in situations of conflict and post-conflict where they face a high risk of sexual violence. Rape is increasingly used as a weapon of war,” said MPs, Theresa May and Lynne Featherstone, in a press release. “Our action plan to tackle violence against women and girls, published alongside our response to Baroness Stern’s review, sets out our commitment to tackling sexual violence and rape at an international level.”

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