‘My word against his’: Colossal system failure in sexual assault cases | SMH

The feeling of arms violently pushing *Samantha onto the couch is etched into her memory as if it was yesterday.

Far more than a statistic, Samantha is, however, among the 22 per cent of women who have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. She is also among the 92 per cent who don’t report the violence to police for myriad reasons – hers being a fear of retraumatising herself in the unlikely prospect her offender is brought to justice.

Seven per cent of reports to police end in guilty verdicts

New figures released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) paint a troubling picture for sexual assault victims. They show the overwhelming majority of reports made to police never make it to court, and even fewer result in a guilty verdict.

BOSCAR tracked the progress of sexual assaults reported to police in 2018 through the criminal justice system.

Of 5869 sexual assault incidents reported to police, fewer than 15 per cent resulted in charges being laid, the study showed.

Fewer than half of the cases that did go to court resulted in a finding of guilt, leading to an overall conviction rate of about 7 per cent of all reports made to police.

Figures show a monumental systemic failure: experts

Experts say the criminal justice system is failing sexual assault survivors.

Chief executive officer of the Women’s Legal Service NSW, Katrina Ironside, was not surprised by the BOSCAR findings.

While there had been a recent increase in awareness of sexual assault, Ironside said that had not led to a trauma-informed legal system that supports survivors and it “treats them as a criminal or a witness in their own matter”.

“Victim-survivors are still blamed for provoking perpetrators,” she said.

Source: 12ft

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