Despite the fact that sexual violence is predominant in our society there seems to be little public awareness on the seriousness of this social problems in America. Some have argued that Hollywood and the movie industry tends to glamorize sexual violence in some of their films, and this inclination tends to lessen and diminish the seriousness of this problem within the American society.To enhance more understanding of sexual violence let us take a look at what constitutes sexual violence.
What is Sexual Violence
Sexual Violence definition varies from place to place but most sources have many universal common denominators on what makes up sexual violence. Many sources define it as a sexual act which is being obtained or an attempt to obtain such act, by means of violence, or through exercise of coercion. It could also mean unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment through denigrating sexual comments. Sexual violence also occurs in many ways or forms, another example is the sexual violence of trafficking of women and girls for sex and prostitution. As can be seen from this broad definition, According to the sexual violence center this crime is a very serious public health problem confronting many societies of the world. It is therefore very important that sexual violence awareness month of April each year is observed by everyone to draw additional attention to this crime.
What is Sexual Assault
According to the United States Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape”. From this definition one can easily see that sexual assault is the same thing as sexual violence, it is simply the case of choice of words.This means that both terms could be interchangeably used to mean the same thing. Sexual assault is a specific term of the broader term sexual violence which includes many other types of sexual crimes against women.
Sexual Violence leads to other Crimes
Sexual violence often leads to many other crimes usually directed against women such as rape, suicide, murder, sexual assault or honor killings, predominant in Fundamentalist societies. Sexual violence facilitates the spread of diseases particularly sexually transmitted diseases such as Hiv-Aids, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and others. Sexual violence often leads to other human rights violations common in many countries of the world. But there are many more forms of sexual violence, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center,”A new law for college campuses — which took effect recently — expands the definition of sexual violence to include dating violence and stalking and to clarify that same-sex assaults are covered, too”. In fact sexual assault and violence touches all genders, race ethnicity and creed, and according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center it is occurs within the Gay and Lesbian communities as well.
Sexual violence statistics in the U.S
Despite the fact that sexual violence is widely spread problem in most countries in the world, yet the statistics of cases of sexual violence is widely underreported. There is little available data on sexual violence Part of the reason for wide scale underreporting of this problem includes shame and embarrassment. Some sexual offense victims also have some fear that their accounts may not be believed, and others worry about possible reprisals from the perpetrator of such crime. Many of the victims also worry about possible implications on the legal process, some have predisposed beliefs that the police and the judiciary process are not likely to do much for them. The national center on domestic and sexual violence offers help and information to help victims of this crime find help and needed support.
According to data provided by the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) :
44% of Sexual assault victims are under the age of 18;
80% are under the age of 30;
Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted;
Every year in the U.S, 237,836 sexual assault cases are reported,
60% of sexual assaults are not reported to Police;
97%of rapists will never spend 1 day in Jail,
(Source: Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)
These alarming statistics underscores the magnitude of sexual violence problem in the United States. When one takes into consideration, the fact that 60% of all sexual abuse cases remain unreported to authorities one begins to understand the degree and size of this problem and the need for more work and efforts, to be directed towards education, and creating more public awareness of the problem. It is only through such methods can more victims be encouraged to come forward and report sexual assault cases. It is also significant to note that 97% of rapists do not spend one day in Jail, this is alarming statistics which needs to be widely reported.
The Office on Violence Against Women encourages all Sexual Abuse, Assault and Violence Victims to report all cases of these crimes to their local police or to the Office on Violence Against Women 145 N St., NE, Suite 10W.121 Washington, D.C. 20530 Tel-202-307-6026 Fax: 202-305-2589 Email: [email protected] There is a need for more awareness to be created within the public domain on the seriousness and magnitude of sexual violence and assault on its victims in the United States.
National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
In light of the growing sexual assault and violence cases in the United States, President Barrack Obama has issued a proclamation declaring every April as the month in which all Americans should come together and renew their stand against sexual crimes which according to the president “affronts our basic decency and humanity”: According to President Obama, ” Sexual assault threatens every community in America, and we all have a role to play in protecting those we love most — our mothers and fathers, our husbands and wives, our daughters and sons”.(White House, Office of the Press Secretary).
In the President’s Proclamation remarks, he also noted that the goal of his administration is to end the outrage of sexual assault which the president believes happens not only in the mainstream of the American civil society but also occurs in the Armed Forces of the United States. One hopes that with such proclamation the attention and interest of the public would be drawn to this problem with the hope of not only creating more awareness for its existence but also taking more proactive steps and measures aimed at reducing its occurence in the United States.
This article discussed the growing problem of sexual assault and violence in the United States. The provided data and statistics does indeed show, that this is a very serious problem, and that many victims are afraid to come forward and report sexual attacks, for fear of reprisals and other negative repercussions on them. One hopes that with the President Obama’s proclamation of every April as the Awareness month for sexual violence and assault, that many citizens would become more aware of the dangers of this type of crime on the American public as a whole, and hopefully this article will contribute in a small way towards creating the much-needed awareness of the existence of sexual violence and crimes not only here in the United States but throughout the world.