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Sexual Assault Under Reported

Many rape cases are not reported and some police responses to sexual assault reports are "insensitive", a parliamentary inquiry has found.
The Legislative Review Committee, in a 135-page report tabled in Parliament yesterday, says that case of rape in marriage are less likely to be reported. Major law changes are recommended in a bid to increase the conviction rates for sexual assault.
Figures given to the committee show that in 2002, of 628 reports of rape, only 19 guilty verdicts were recorded.
Only 10 guilty verdicts were recorded in 725 offences of indecent assault and 31 guilty verdicts were recorded in 254 unlawful sexual intercourse offences reported to police.
The report says barriers to reporting sexaul assaults include a lack of confidence in the criminal justice system, fear, social stigma, ongoing relationships and feelings of guilt and shame.
Cases less likely to be reported include those involving childern, people with disability and intra-familial assualt, "especailly rape in marraige".
Recommended law chages:
Introducing the offence of non-consensual continuation of sexual intercourse for incidents where consent is withdrawn.
Automatically granting comlainants the option of giving evidence by closed circuit TV or behind a screen.
Ensuring an unrepresented accused ina sexual assault case cannot personally cross-examine a complainant.
Earlier this month, Premier Mike Rann announced he had asked the Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, to investigate the state's rape and sexual assault laws so legislation could be introduced as a priority after the March state election.

Adelaide Advertiser (1-12-2005)

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