Rape and Sexual Assault
Sexual violence is any kind of unwanted sexual behaviour. It takes many forms: unwanted touching, fondling, sexual harassment, pressurised sex, flashing, sexual assault and rape. Most forms of sexual violence are criminal offences in Scotland, and all of them have a significant and harmful impact which can be equally distressing as rape itself. Sexual violence is an abuse of power and a form of control which causes humiliation, pain, fear and intimidation. Instances of sexual violence occur more commonly than is realised - as many as one in four women are estimated to experience sexual violence at some point during their lives. It can happen to anyone - women, men, girls and boys. No one ever deserves or asks for it to happen.
In Scotland, in 2019 sexual crimes increased by 8% from 12,487 to 13,547. The recording of these crimes is at the highest level seen since 1971, the first year for which comparable groups are available
The actual figure is higher than that due to low reporting. Figures from 2014 – 15 showed that only 16.8% of people who were victim-survivors of rape reported it to the police. See link for more information
Research indicates that only 58% of people in Scotland believe that a woman who wears revealing clothing on a night out is ‘not at all to blame’ for being raped, with 60% saying the same of a woman who is very drunk. Around a quarter think that ‘women often lie about being raped’ and nearly 2 in 5 believe that ‘rape results from men being unable to control their need for sex’. See link for more information.
Scottish Crime and Justice Survey findings showed that 35% of women do not feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark.
In Scotland 'rape' is defined as when a man uses his penis to penetrate someone's vagina, anus or mouth without their consent (the person did not agree to it). 'Attempted rape' is when a man tries to rape someone but does not manage to. The term 'sexual assault' covers a range of offences which someone might be charged with by the police where they, without consent or any reasonable belief they consented: sexually penetrate the vagina, anus or mouth; sexually touch the victim or engage in any other form of sexual activity which resulted in physical contact.
Further statistics from Scotland:
- 4% of women have experienced serious sexual assault since the age of 16, compared with 1% of men (Source: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2012/13: Sexual Victimisation & Stalking)
- 43.97% of the abuse experienced by survivors in touch with Rape Crisis Centres in Scotland in 2014-15 was rape; 30.69% was child sexual abuse (Source: Rape Crisis Scotland Annual Report 2014-15)
- Sexual abuse occurs more often in the survivor’s home than in any other location (37.66%) (Source: Rape Crisis Scotland Annual Report for 2014-15)