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Rape and sexual violence in Northumberland – Would you report? Dr Nicole Westmarland Co-Director Durham Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse.

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Presentation on theme: "Rape and sexual violence in Northumberland – Would you report? Dr Nicole Westmarland Co-Director Durham Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rape and sexual violence in Northumberland – Would you report? Dr Nicole Westmarland Co-Director Durham Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse

2 ∂ Conclusions There is a strong commitment across the voluntary and statutory sector in the North East to work with victims of inter-personal violence. This is true across the range of forms of violence. Compared with the national picture, service coverage for sexual violence and for forced marriage is particularly strong. There are questions over the accessibility of services in rural areas. The organisations and their service provision are concentrated in the middle and south of the region. There were few services dedicated to the north of Tyneside. Although some organisations in theory offer services in Northumberland and to the west of Durham, for example, in practice these populations may not be accessing them because of distance. Westmarland and Alderson (2009)

3 ∂ Recommendations Recommendation 1: A needs assessment of service provision in rural areas should be conducted. Recommendation 2: Organisations should collect data to show what proportion of their clients are from rural areas. (For more, see report …)

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6 ∂ … it must be highlighted that some of the sexual violence services covered very large areas, and it is debatable whether victims would actually travel to access them. For example, there are no sexual violence services further north than Newcastle, although REACH (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) does cover the whole of Northumbria … However, the accessibility of services in rural areas (Northumberland and the west of Durham) is particularly concerning.

7 ∂ Which country in the world has the highest percentage of people living in rural areas?

8 ∂ At what number does the United Kingdom appear on this list?

9 ∂ The prevalence of rape and sexual assault is relatively similar across urban and rural areas. Recent statistics suggest that 2.1% of women living in rural areas (compared to 2.6% in urban areas) have been a victim of a sexual offence in the last 12 months (Home Office, 2013). Other studies have found the opposite to be the case. Despite this, the majority of research on sexual assault has focused primarily on urban areas. This may be due to researchers failing to consider ‘rurality’ as a factor for special consideration (Lewis, 2003), even when conducting research into barriers to services (Logan et al., 2005). Very little research on the topic. Rape in rural communities

10 ∂ Specific challenges in rural communities People who live in rural areas can face “victim isolation” from services (Lewis, 2003). This may be due to various factors, including: Long distances Unpaved and unlit roads Lack of medical facilities Unsympathetic and untrained staff Denial of the seriousness and frequency of sexual assault can also be a problem within rural communities – for example the notion that “full on rape” doesn’t happen in the area (Dietrich & Mason, 1998).

11 ∂ So, what do we know? Logan et al. (2005) identify 4 main dimensions which present barriers to rural women who have been sexually assaulted: Availability – services cover large geographical areas Fewer resources; shorter opening times; longer waiting lists Accessibility –sexual assault is not prioritised by the police or criminal justice system, courts do not like to deal with these cases. Acceptability – poor response from CJS Police were interrogating, intimidating and confusing Experiences with the court system described as “disastrous”, “male focused” and “a disregard for humanity” Affordability – this dimension may not be as much of an issue in the UK as in the USA where the study was conducted.

12 ∂ Reporting to the police – what we know about rural women Women in rural communities face specific pressures when deciding whether to report sexual violence. These include: Rural social culture - this can be more conservative and dependent upon traditional gender roles than urban societies (Logan et al., 2005; Neame & Heenan, 2004). –The police may also display less progressive views on sexual violence. Lack of anonymity due to greater familiarity amongst smaller communities (Lewis, 2003). –Police much more likely to know the perpetrator or his family/friends. Lack of police presence, resulting in longer waiting times (Neame & Heenan, 2004). Failure to prioritise sexual violence by the police and the local courts, poor treatment of victims (Logan et al., 2005).

13 ∂ What we know about women and reporting decisions in the Northumbria police area Women in Northumbria consider rape to be an extremely serious crime. 99% said that rape by a stranger was extremely/very serious. 100% said that rape by someone known was extremely/very serious. Similarly, women feel that rape should be given a high priority by the police, even when taking into account the other demands on the police. 99% said that rape by a stranger should be given very high priority. 97% said that rape by someone known should be given very high priority.

14 ∂ Women did not think the police took rape as seriously as they should. This was reflected in a gap between the percentage of people who thought the police should take rape extremely seriously, and the percentage of people who thought the police actually did take it this seriously. 37% of women thought that the police should take stranger rape more seriously. 54% of women thought that the police should take rape by someone known more seriously.

15 ∂ Respondents were asked if they would report rape if it happened to them. 88% said that they would definitely report rape by a stranger (overall 89%). 67% said that they would definitely report rape by someone known (overall 68%).

16 ∂ What do we already know about women's reporting decisions? It has long been known, by both the voluntary sector and by the police themselves, that many victims of rape do not, for a variety of reasons, make formal police complaints. Around 1 in 10 women who are in contact with Rape Crisis have also made a police report. Many Rape Crisis workers themselves would not report it to the police if they were raped someone known to them. Many police wouldn't make a report.

17 ∂ The three major reasons for would report (same for stranger/known) 1.To prevent harm to others/to catch and stop the offender. 't's a very serious crime! I wouldn't want it to happen to anyone else! The deserve to be prosecuted! 2. It is illegal and a serious crime. Think this would be worse if you know them! They need stopped from repeating it. They need to be punished! 3. To get justice/the perpetrator deserves punishment. Rape is emotionally destroying and should be seen in that way by the authorities.

18 ∂ 1.Worried about a negative response from the police/criminal justice system Because of the way its treated by the police and courts 2. Concerned they wouldn’t be believed Nothing would be done 3. Trauma of investigation Would not like the cross-examination. The three major reasons for would not report – stranger

19 ∂ The three major reasons for would not report - known 1.Worried they would not be believed Because it happened and I thought people wouldn't believe me 2. Concerned about police response I feel the criminal justice system, revictimises people who experience this type of crime, and they rarely see justice. 3. Trauma and embarrassment of investigation Would not like the cross examination

20 ∂ References The research I have discussed today can be found at: reports/ Westmarland, N. & Brown, J. (2012) Women’s views on the policing of rape, domestic violence and stalking within the Northumbria Police area: Durham University and Northern Rock Foundation. Dietrich, L. & Mason, R. (1998), "There's no full-on rape here: Confronting violence against women in a country town", Women Against Violence: An Australian Feminist Journal, no. 4, pp Home Office (2013). An overview of sexual offending in England and Wales, Home Office: London. Lewis, S. (2003). Sexual assault in rural communities. Logan, T. K., Evans, L., Stevenson, E., & Jordan, C. E. (2005). Barriers to services for rural and urban survivors of rape. Journal of interpersonal violence,20(5), Neame, A., & Heenan, M. (2004). Responding to sexual assault in rural communities. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Westmarland, N. & Alderson, S. (2009). Inter-personal violence in the North East: Mapping of Services and Prevalence Estimates, Durham: Durham University.

21 ∂ Contact and more information… To become a member of Durham CRiVA – To contact me – To follow me Westmarland and Ganoli (2011) International Approaches to Rape, Bristol: Policy Press.


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