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Facts about sexual violence

Definition

Under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 [implemented December 2010] rape is defined as:

"penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth by the penis without consent. However, there is a range of sexual assault and abuse which does not fit with the legal definition of rape. These can be just as distressing and have just as much of an impact."

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Prevalence

  • Recent global prevalence figures indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. (Source: WHO Factsheet on Violence Against Women (updated January 2016) at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/
  • Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner. (Source: WHO Factsheet on Violence Against Women (updated January 2016) at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/
  • In 2015/16, 1,692 rapes and 117 attempted rapes were reported to the police in Scotland (Source: Recorded Crime in Scotland 2015-16 at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00506122.pdf
  • In the same period, 10,273 sexual offences were reported – this was an increase of 7%, from the 9,557 sexual offences recorded the previous year (Source: Recorded Crime in Scotland 2015-16 at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00506122.pdf)
  • While figures for many crimes in Scotland are going down, for sexual offences they continue to rise. Sexual crimes have been on a long-term upward trend since 1974, and have increased each consecutive year since 2008-09. Sexual crimes are at the highest level seen since 1971, the first year for which comparable crime groups are available. (Source: Recorded Crime in Scotland 2015-16 at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00506122.pdf)
  • One in ten women in Scotland has experienced rape & one in five women in Scotland has had someone try to make them have sex against their will. (Source: Natsal-3: key findings from Scotland: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0047/00474316.pdf )
  • 2% of men in Scotland have experienced rape. (Source: Natsal-3: key findings from Scotland: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0047/00474316.pdf
  • At least 43% of the 10,273 sexual crimes recorded in 2015-16 by the police related to a victim under the age of 18.
    (Source: Recorded Crime in Scotland 2015-16 at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00506122.pdf)
  • In England & Wales the number of sexual offences (64,205) recorded in 2013/14 was the highest recorded by the police since 2002/03.This figure showed a 20% increase compared with the previous year and within this, the number of offences of rape increased by 26% to 20,745 incidents, while the number of other sexual offences increased by 17% to 43,460 incidents (Source: ONS Crime Statistics Chapter 1: Violent Crime & Sexual Offences – Overview, Appendix table A4, Year Ending September 2014 – at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/crime-stats/crime-statistics/focus-on-violent-crime-and-sexual-offences--2013-14/rpt-chapter-1.html?format=print ).
  • A survey of 1000 young people in England published in 2015 found that, 41% girls and 14% boys reported they had experienced sexual violence (Source: ‘Safeguarding Teenage Intimate Relationships (STIR) Connecting online and offline contexts and risks Briefing Paper 2 : Incidence Rates and Impact of Experiencing Interpersonal Violence and Abuse in Young People’s Relationships’ Christine Barter et al, 2015 - http://cesie.org/media/Briefing-Paper-2_ENG.pdf )
  • A study undertaken by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine revealed a culture of sexual coercion in which young men pressure young women to agree to anal intercourse (Source: Anal heterosex among young people and implications for health promotion: a qualitative study in the UK at http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/4/8/e004996 )

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Nature of rape and sexual assault

Scotland

England & Wales

  • Overall, 28.3% of women and 14.7% of men had experienced any domestic abuse since the age of 16
  • Of those who had experienced a serious sexual assault since the age of 16, the majority took place in the victim’s home (38%) or the offender’s home (24%). For 10% of victims it had taken place in a park, other open public space or on the street
  • Just over two fifths of victims of sexual assault had been the victim of serious sexual assault more than once since the age of 16 (44%) with nearly half of these respondents reporting being a victim more than three times (19% of all victims)
  • Each of the categories of abuse showed significantly higher prevalence for women compared with men. The largest difference between the sexes was shown for sexual assault, with 19.9% of women and 3.6% of men having experienced sexual assault (including attempts) since the age of 16 (Source for England & Wales: 2013/14 Crime Survey for England & Wales (CSEW) Chapter 4: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences - Intimate Personal Violence and Serious Sexual Assault (Date 12 February 2015) at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_394500.pdf)

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Perpetrators

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2012/13: Sexual Victimisation & Stalking states that:

  • 83% of those who had experienced serious sexual assault since the age of 16 said that that they knew the offender in some way.
  • 54% said that the perpetuator was their partner.

(Source: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2012/13: Sexual Victimisation & Stalking: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2014/06/3479)

The 2013/14 Crime Survey for England & Wales states that:

  • The majority of female victims of serious sexual assault have experienced at least one incident of serious sexual assault by a partner/ex-partner since age 16 (56.0%). In contrast, for less serious sexual assault around a quarter (23.8%) of victims had experienced at least one incident where a partner/ex-partner was the offender
  • For the majority of female victims of serious sexual assault, the offender was a partner / ex-partner or someone who was known to them other than as a partner or family member (47% and 33% respectively) with one sixth reporting the offender as a stranger (16%)

(Source: 2013/14 Crime Survey for England & Wales (CSEW) Chapter 4: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences - Intimate Personal Violence and Serious Sexual Assault (Date 12 February 2015) at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_394500.pdf)

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Criminal justice

In Scotland during 2016-17 there were:

1,755 rapes and 123 attempted rapes reported to the police
Source: Recorded crime in Scotland 2016-17: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/09/3075

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2016-17 (which gives data on prosecutions and convictions) has not yet been published.

In Scotland during 2015-16 there were:

  • 1,692 rapes & 117 attempted rapes reported to police
  • 216 prosecutions
  • 104 convictions

Sources: Recorded Crime in Scotland 2015-16: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00506122.pdf

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2015-16: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00516039.pdf

In Scotland during 2014-15 there were:

  • 1,797 rapes & 104 attempted rapes reported to police
  • 270 prosecutions
  • 125 convictions

Note – the figures for recorded crime and prosecutions are not directly comparable as one measures incident and the other accused.

Sources: Recorded Crime in Scotland 2014-15: (http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0048/00484776.pdf) and

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2014-15: (http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00494474.pdf)

Research suggests the rate of false allegations is no higher for rape than for other crimes.

(Source: Rape Crisis Scotland briefing paper: http://www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/campaigns/false-allegations/ )

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Attitudes

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2014: Attitudes to violence against women in Scotland (http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0048/00489760.pdf )

There is evidence to suggest people believe that in certain situations woman are at least partly to blame if they are raped. Only 58% said that a woman who wore revealing clothing on a night out was ‘not at all to blame’ for being raped, and 60% said the same of a woman who was very drunk. Around a quarter (23%) agreed that ‘women often lie about being raped’ and nearly 2 in 5 (37%) agreed that ‘rape results from men being unable to control their need for sex’.

The Havens “Wake Up To Rape” Report (2010)

Revealed widespread attitudes blaming women for rape - of over 1000 people interviewed more than half held victims responsible in some circumstances e.g. 28% of these people included “provocative” dress as an instance where women to some extent responsible.

You can see a summary of findings from this report at: http://www.womensgrid.org.uk/archive/2010/02/21/wake-up-to-rape-research-summary-report-of-haven-commissioned-survey/

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Some useful sources

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