Assembly survey reveals unreported rapes

Wednesday 02 July 2008 11:46

Three members of the Welsh Assembly have been raped but have never told the police or sought any help, according to a survey released today.

A questionnaire sent to all 60 AMs by Plaid Cymru's Nerys Evans reveals one was a victim of domestic abuse who also did not report the ordeal.

Of the eight anonymous responses - one from a man and seven from women - five said they knew someone who had been sexually assaulted.

None of them said the incidents were reported to the police, including the three who said they were victims of rape themselves.

All the AMs said they knew someone who had been abused by a violent partner. Only two of the victims went to the police and three sought help.

Miss Evans said: "I am surprised at the results. They are pretty shocking. It just shows how widespread violence against women and domestic abuse is."

A separate survey of students, also released today, found 34% thought a woman was at least partially responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted if she was drunk.

Some 64% knew women whose partners had hit them and 41% knew women who had been coerced or pressurised into sex.

Amnesty International and the NUS, which carried out the survey, called on the Assembly Government, universities and colleges to launch a campaign against sexual and domestic violence.

Miss Evans said there was a particular problem in isolated parts of the country where women did not know who to turn to.

"There are so many rural communities in Wales where there's no access to help," she said.

"Although services for victims are improving across different parts of Wales, it is imperative that we bring attention to this issue in order to bring the message home that violence against women is unacceptable, and that is why I'm calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to fund a public awareness-raising campaign here in Wales."

Amnesty International's programme director in Wales, Cathy Owens, said: "If we are going to break the cycle of violence that sees a third of all women in Wales suffering from some sort of violence, then we need to start by challenging attitudes towards violence against women amongst students and the population at large.

"The Welsh Assembly Government should consider a comprehensive campaign aimed at preventing violence - making it far less acceptable on our campuses and in our communities."

NUS Wales women's officer Jo Roberts said: "We have been calling for some time for better services for students who have suffered violence, and these results confirm not only that domestic abuse amongst students occurs far too often, but that students don't know where to turn when it happens."

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