A hyper-sexualized society can expect many complicated aspects around the issue of this basic biological drive—and an understandable confusion of terms. So we begin by looking for sexual definitions and how they’re used in this Infopedia.
Encarta World English Dictionary defines sexual assault this way:
Sexual assault (is) an incident that involves sexual contact that is forced on somebody, or to which somebody cannot consent.
Sexual harassment, which includes lascivious, sneering or possessive looks, texting or sexting that is uninvited and/or embarrassing, may precede, and by some may include, sexual assault.
The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape.”
The U.S. Bureau of Statistics separates rape from sexual assault, while we will allow them to overlap. In general, our topic Rape will deal particularly with individuals, and with psychological considerations of forced sex, while our topic Sexual Assault here will be broader emphasizing systemic, global and cultural features. It will consider the way women are being assaulted in U.S. high schools, universities, and in the military.
Often played down for commercial or ideological reasons, the objectification of women’s bodies and the insinuation that men have a right to women’s bodies is a part of this complex problem.
We also know that power and control over women is a more dominant motivating force in sexual assaults than lust. Video games and some popular music contribute to such a sense of male entitlement.
According to the World Health Organization research of global prevalence data, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
CrowdVoice reports that 70% of women living in India endure some form of domestic abuse and that sexual violence against women, including incest and child molestation, has increased significantly since 2007. Every day, according to NCRB, 93 women in India are raped, and the conviction rate for rape in 2013 was just 27%. Kidnapping and honor killings are also on the rise and are being vigorously protested by women activists (http://crowdvoice.org/sexual-assault-in-india, accessed 25Jul14).
Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted.
Each year there are about 237,868 victims of sexual assault.
60% of sexual assaults are not reported to police.
97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
Almost 2/3 of assaults committed by someone known to the victim.
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
There has been an alarming rise in sexual assaults in U.S. high schools, college campuses and on military bases. 33% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 17. 82% of all juvenile victims are female. Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault (http://www.nsopw.gov/en-US/Education/FactsMythsStatistics, accessed 25Jul14).
There were, in the U.S. military, 5,061 sex assault reports in 2013, representing a 50% increase. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the victims of these sexual assaults are “not only human beings, they are fellow soldiers, sailors and Marines. We cannot let them down….The best way to combat this crime is to prevent it.” The Obama administration is stressing the importance of measures that will reduce sexual assault in all areas of our society.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
What about this article disturbs or angers you? What questions do you have from it about the issue of sexual assault?
Would you agree that definition of terms and statistics are necessary in discussing this issue? As we discuss sexual assault, how do we prevent it from being reduced to statistics, definitions, and policies?
What to you is the most painful, and what the most discouraging, aspect of this subject?
The after-effects from sexual assaults on victims and families are hardly imaginable; the cost to society incalculable.
For people of faith, relationships are not controlled by power, and sex is a special sign and seal of an intimate loving relationship. Sexual assaults of any kind are violations of a fundamental principle of justice.