A fifth of women in England and Wales have experienced sexual assault since the age of 16: Rape Crisis responds to ONS report

A fifth of women in England and Wales have experienced a sexual assault, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). More than three million women aged between 16 and 59 are estimated to have been subjected to sexual offences, including rape, attempted rape and sexual assault by penetration. The numbers were contained in a detailed analysis of data for the year to 31st March 2017 released on the 8th February 2018. It said the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated that 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16, equivalent to 3.4 million female victims and 631,000 male victims. An estimated 3.1% of women (510,000) and 0.8% of men (138,000) aged 16 to 59 reported that they had experienced a sexual assault in the last year. 

The report said: "The year ending March 2017 Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 12.1% of adults aged 16 to 59 have experienced sexual assault (including attempts) since the age of 16, equivalent to an estimated 4 million victims."

Rape Crisis England & Wales said: "These figures highlight once again the very high levels of sexual violence perpetrated each year in England and Wales and the millions of victims and survivors who are impacted. It's important to remember too that these striking figures don't include children aged 15 and under or adults aged 60 and over, so the true prevalence of sexual violence is even greater than they suggest. Meanwhile, Rape Crisis Centres are experiencing unprecedented need and demand for their specialist services year on year.

In the year covered by the ONS report, the Rape Crisis network in England and Wales answered its highest ever number of helpline calls - 202,666 in total, or nearly 4,000 a week - and delivered over 450,000 sessions of specialist support, including advocacy, emotional support and counselling, an increase of 29% since 2015-16. The need for significant and sustained investment in specialist Rape Crisis services - to ensure victims and survivors receive the support and justice they need and want when they need and want it - has never been more clear or more urgent."

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