Why More Young Women Than Ever Are Speaking Up About Sexual Assault 

They're speaking up

8 November 2017

Article heading image for Why More Young Women Than Ever Are Speaking Up About Sexual Assault 

 While new figures show assault and harassment against women are on the rise, White Ribbon say it’s the sign of a social shift.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety survey was released Wednesday – showing the number of women who have been sexually harassed in the past year is up 13 percent compared to 2012.

While 17 per cent of women say they’ve been sexually harassed in the past year, this number jumps to 38 per cent for women aged between 18 and 24.  

Libby Davies, CEO White Ribbon Australia, said while the numbers were upsetting the organization understood the numbers to be increasing as more women understood their rights.

“Statistics on violence is increasing because women are now reporting,” Ms Davies said.

“Women are feeling more confident to report incidences that in the past has been very kept silence and about which many women in the past have been made to feel shamed.”

She said the accusations against disgraced Hollywood film producer, Harvey Weinstein, signified part of a change in cultural and social values.

“Young women these days have much greater understanding of their rights and the responsibilities of the total community, including men, to treat them with respect.

The Harvey Weinstein case makes it clear that women and men are now speaking out around acts that were in the past kept silent.

“There’s a momentum to say  ‘No longer are we going to normalise this type of activity’, ‘no longer are we going to see it as appropriate behaviour’ and the more people speak out about it and the more men stand alongside women to identify the issues here, then we will continue to see this dialogue and we will continue to see these issues brought to the surface.”

The study found one in five Australian women have experienced sexual violence in their life time and one in four women have experienced violence from an intimate partner.

Ms Davies  acknowledged men and women experience violence in different ways.

“We do understand that men definitely are subject to violence – but the statistics are very different for men.  Men are more likely to experience violence from a stranger where as women are more likely to experience it from an intimate partner.

She said the survey continued to highlight the need to campaign against violence toward women.

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