Sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under- reported violent crime (American Medical Association, 1995). Thus, the number of reported rapes is lower than both incidence and prevalence rates (Walby and Allen, 2004).
The legal requirements for reporting rape vary by jurisdiction — each U.S. state may have different requirements while other countries may have less stringent limits.
Since the vast majority of rapes are committed by persons known to the victim, the initiation and process of a rape investigation depends much on the victim's willingness and ability to report and describe a rape.
Biological evidence such as semen, blood, vaginal secretions, saliva, vaginal epithelial cells (typically collected by a rape kit) may be identified and genetically typed by a crime lab. The information derived from the analysis can often help determine whether sexual contact occurred, provide information regarding the circumstances of the incident, and be compared to reference samples collected from patients and suspects.
In the United Kingdom, figures on reported rape cases show an ongoing decline in the conviction rate, putting it at an all time low of 5.6% in 2002. The government has expressed its concern at the year-on-year increase in attrition of reported rape cases, and pledged to address this "justice gap" (Home Office, 2002a).
Prevention and treatment
As sexual violence affects all parts of society, the response to sexual violence is comprehensive. The responses can be categorized as: individual approaches, health care responses, community-based efforts and actions to prevent other forms of sexual violence.
"Recovery from sexual assault is a complicated and controversial concept."
Support groups, usually accessed by "umbrella" organizations (see List of anti-sexual assault organizations in the United States) are prevalent, including some on-line.
StatisticsA United Nations report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries.
In 2007, 40% of the 90,427 forcible rapes reported were cleared by arrest or "exceptional means." Exceptional means refers to situations where the victim refuses to provide information or assistance necessary to obtain an arrest, the defendant dies before being arrested, or the defendant cannot be extradited from another state.
The Australian Women's Safety Survey conducted by the Bureau of Statistics in 1996 involved a random sample 6,300 women aged 18 and over. It produced incidence finding of 1.9 per cent for sexual assault in the previous 12 months. Known men accounted for over two-thirds of assailants (68%). Only 15% of the assaulted women in the sample reported to the police.
In Cambodia, rape is estimated by local and international NGOs to be common, but only a very small minority of these assaults are ever reported to authorities, due to the social stigma associated to being the victim of a sexual crime, and, in particular, to losing virginity before marriage (regardless of how this happened). From November 2008 to November 2009, police had recorded 468 cases of rape, attempted rape and sexual harassment, a 2.4 percent increase over the previous year. Breaking the Silence – Sexual Violence in Cambodia is a report produced by Amnesty International, and released in 2010, which examined the situation of sexual violence in Cambodia. The report found that, in the small minority of rapes which are reported, a very common response is for law-enforcement officials, including police and court staff, to arrange extralegal out-of-court 'agreements' between the victim and the perpetrator (or their families), in which the rapist pays a sum of money which is shared between the authorities and the victim (and her family), after which the victim has to withdraw any criminal complaint against the perpetrator, and public prosecutors close the case. When a rape is investigated, a complainant is generally expected to pay an extralegal sum of money to the authorities, to ensure that the court investigates the case, otherwise progress is slow, and it may take over two years for anything to happen. During the pre-trial period, there is always a risk that the perpetrator’s family will pay a bribe to secure his acquittal or reduced charge.
CanadaThe most frequently cited research was conducted by Statistics Canada in 1992, which involved a national random sample of 12,300 women (Johnson and Sacco, 1995). The research found that over one in three women had experienced a sexual assault and that only 6% of sexual assaults were reported to the police.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
In eastern Congo, the prevalence and intensity of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world. It is estimated that there are as many as 200,000 surviving rape victims living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today. A new study says more than 400,000 women are raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo annually. War rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo has frequently been described as a "weapon of war" by commentators. Louise Nzigire, a local social worker, states that “this violence was designed to exterminate the population.” Nzigire observes that rape has been a "cheap, simple weapon for all parties in the war, more easily obtainable than bullets or bombs."
South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world with more than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children reported in 2000, with welfare groups believing that unreported incidents could be up to 10 times higher. In 2001, a 9-month-old was raped and likely lost consciousness as the pain was too much to bear. Another 9-month-old baby was raped by six men, aged between 24 and 66, after the infant had been left unattended by her teenage mother. A 4-year-old girl died after being raped by her father. A 14-month-old girl was raped by her two uncles. In February 2002, an 8-month-old infant was reportedly gang raped by four men. One has been charged. The infant has required extensive reconstructive surgery. The 8-month-old infant's injuries were so extensive, increased attention on prosecution has occurred. A significant contributing factor for the escalation in child abuse is the widespread myth in HIV ravaged South Africa that having sex with a virgin will cure a man of AIDS.
One in three of the 4,000 women questioned by the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency said they had been raped in the past year. More than 25% of South African men questioned in a survey admitted to raping someone; of those, nearly half said they had raped more than one person, according to a new study conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC). A 2010 study led by the government-funded Medical Research Foundation says that in Gauteng province, more than 37 percent of men said they had raped a woman. Nearly 7 percent of the 487 men surveyed said they had participated in a gang rape. Among children, a survey found 11% of boys and 4% of girls admitted to forcing someone else to have sex with them while in another survey among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that 'jackrolling', a term for gang rape, was fun.
According to a news report on BBC One presented in 12 November 2007, there were 85,000 women raped in the UK in the previous year, equating to about 230 cases every day. According to that report one of every 200 women in the UK were raped in 2006. The report also showed that only 800 persons were convicted in rape crimes that same year.
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male. Some types of rape are excluded from official reports altogether, (the FBI's definition for example excludes all rapes except forcible rapes of females), because a significant number of rapes go unreported even when they are included as reportable rapes, and also because a significant number of rapes reported to the police do not advance to prosecution. According to United States Department of Justice document Criminal Victimization in the United States, there were overall 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005. Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992 and United Nations Populations Fund, 2000a). Factoring in unreported rapes, about 5% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. 1 of 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape. More than a quarter of college age women report having experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14.
The U.S. Department of Justice compiles statistics on crime by race, but only between and among people categorized as black or white. The Uniform Crime Reports classifies most Hispanics into the "white" category. There were 194,270 white and 17,920 black victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2006. According to Anthony Walsh, "Gary LaFree's rape data for the 45-year period revealed that blacks were arrested for rape an average of 6.52 times more often than whites."
Drug use, especially alcohol, is frequently involved in rape. A study (only of rape victims that were female and reachable by phone) reported detailed findings related to tactics. In 47% of such rapes, both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking. In 17%, only the perpetrator had been. 7% of the time, only the victim had been drinking. Rapes where neither the victim nor the perpetrator had been drinking were 29% of all rapes. Contrary to widespread belief, rape outdoors is rare. Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone's home. 31% occur in the perpetrators' homes, 27% in the victims' homes and 10% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7% occur at parties, 7% in vehicles, 4% outdoors and 2% in bars. From 2000-2005, 59% of rapes were not reported to law enforcement. One factor relating to this is misconception that most rapes are committed by strangers. In reality, studies indicate the following varying numbers:
|Source:||Current or Former Intimate Partner||Another Relative||Friend or Acquaintance||Stranger|
|US Bureau of Justice Statistics||26%||7%||38%||26%|
|Australian Government Statistics||56%||10%||27%||8%|
|UK Home Office (for comparison)||45.4%||13.9%||29.6%||11%|
Most rape research and reporting to date has been limited to male-female forms of rape. Research on male-male and female-male rape is beginning to be done. According to psychologist Dr. Sarah Crome, fewer than one in ten male-male rapes are reported. As a group, male rape victims by either gender often get little services and support, and legal systems are often ill equipped to deal with this type of crime. Denov (2004) states that societal responses to the issue of female perpetrators of sexual assault "point to a widespread denial of women as potential sexual aggressors that could work to obscure the true dimensions of the problem." Due to these reasons, it is likely being substantially under-reported, with the probable cause being the double standard. Some legal codes on rape do not legislate against women raping men, as rape is generally defined to include the act of penetration on behalf of the rapist and some legal codes do not legislate against women raping men. In 2007, the South Africa police investigated instances of women raping young men. Little research has been done on female-female rape.