Working with the University of York, Survive will be highlighting the challenges throughout the week
Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2021 starts on 1 February and Survive will use this opportunity to dispel myths about sexual violence and highlight facts and figures about its prevalence and devastating impact.
Says Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Mags Godderidge: ‘Sadly, hundreds of thousands of people are traumatised every year by sexual violence. The majority do not report the crime, partly because they fear no-one will believe them.
“Myths about rape, sexual assault and child sexual abuse make it harder for survivors to report what has happened to them. Most incidents never see the inside of a courtroom and as a result most perpetrators are never held to account.
The Crime Survey of England and Wales indicates that tens of thousands of people are raped every year, yet prosecutions for rape in England and Wales dropped to an all-time low of just 2,102 in the year ending March 2020. Only 1439 prosecutions resulted in a conviction.
Mrs Godderidge continued: ‘These figures tell a story. Simply put somethings wrong; somethings not working and something definitely needs to change. We are encouraging as many people as possible to join the conversation this national week. They can add their voices to thousands of people across the UK saying #itsnotok.”
Mrs Godderidge explains why they are working with the University of York on this initiative: ‘The University of York is one of the largest employer in the city and they have a significant student population.
“In running activities alongside the university Sexual Violence Liaison Officers, we hope to change opinions and empower the whole university community with the knowledge they need to challenge commonly-held myths whenever and wherever they are encountered.
Earlier this month, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Yorkshire Post found over 80 police cautions had been issued in Yorkshire for sexual offences including rape, since 2015.
‘Cautions for rape are a symptom of a much bigger problem,” says Mrs Godderidge. “The reporting and criminal justice system is stacked against survivors. We know that 90% of rapes are committed by a person known to the victim such as a friend, acquaintance, colleague, partner, or ex-partner.
“So why so few prosecutions? The answer partly lies in a system which appears to still put survivors ‘on trial’ and a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which often bases its decision to prosecute on the likelihood of winning. Survivors deserve better and the CPS needs to be bolder and braver in its decision-making.
According to figures published by the Local Government Association, sexual violence in Yorkshire and the Humber over indexed the figure for the rest of England – 3.02 offences per 1000 versus 2.54 per 1000 for the 12 months ending Q2 2020.
Click to read about the myths, facts and figures regarding sexual violence.