Speaking the unspeakable: Australia’s rape problem

Australian women are sexually assaulted at twice the rate of women worldwide. More than one in five — or 2.3 million — Australian women aged over 15 are survivors of rape. But only 17% of sexual assaults are reported to police and many do not tell anyone when they are sexually assaulted.

A report released by the Crime Statistics Agency in February revealed that only 3% of rapes reported to Victoria Police from 2009 to 2010 ended in a court conviction. Of 41 allegations made against perpetrators who already had at least six prior sexual offences recorded, almost half went nowhere at all. . . .

Violent, sexual imagery dominates the media and public space. By the age of 12, 70% of boys and more than half of girls have been exposed to mainstream pornography. More than 85% of scenes of mainsteam pornography contain some sort of physical or verbal aggression. Significantly, 94% of that aggression is directed towards women (Source: Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-selling Pornography Videos, University of Arkansas.) and the most popular pornography category is “Teen”.

n 2006, VicHealth conducted a meta-study on the effects of violent sexual imagery. It found: “Exposure to sexually violent material increases male viewers’ acceptance of rape myths, desensitises them to sexual violence, erodes their empathy for victims of violence, and informs more callous attitudes towards female victims.”

By the age of 15, one in three girls and one in six boys will have been sexually assaulted.


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