We have known for some time that the number of convictions for rape and sexual assault are only the tip of the iceberg. Now, thanks to a survey of more than 15,000 women and men across Britain, we have a clearer idea of the true scale of the problem. In Britain one woman in 10 and one man in 70 have experienced sex against their will since they turned 13. More than half of them have never told a soul.
For those who support victims of sexual violence, these findings – from the third, published on Tuesday – will be a bleak confirmation of what they already suspected. For the rest of us, they are sobering statistics that indicate for the first time just how prevalent sexual coercion is among ordinary people living ordinary lives.
The public debate about sexual violence invariably alights on police handling of cases and on prosecution and conviction rates. Much progress has been made in recent times, althoughBaroness Stern’s independent reviewof rape and the justice system concluded that implementation of best practice was patchy.
But tackling non-consensual sex through the police and courts alone can never be enough. We must think of sexual coercion as a public health issue too, as something not only to be prosecuted, but also to be prevented. To do that, we must first reach a shared interpretation of the meaning of sexual coercion so that victims can properly understand what has happened to them, and we can all work harder to stop it from happening to others. [Rest.]
- Rape Is Grossly Underreported In The U.S., Study Finds (huffingtonpost.com)
- 1 in 10 women have been forced into sex against their will (dnaindia.com)
- Blaming victim, poor coordination slow US drive on sexual violence (trust.org)