‘The Hunting Ground’ – a shocking documentary which hit hard to home being a fellow university student with its eerie and blunt depiction of the issue of sexual assault on college campuses in The United States. Directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering, the film aims to combat the invisible war taking place on masses of American campuses around the country.
In 2014, The Whitehouse released guidelines on how campus sexual assault cases should be handled. The Hunting Ground presents how a number of these American universities which are prominently under investigation by the Department of Education, mishandled their sexual assault and rape accusations.
The 103 minute documentary uses techniques such as face-to-face interviews and confronting graphics and imagery to frame the stories of both victims and perpetrators. A variety of male and female students speak to the camera recounting their personal stories of being assaulted on campus and afterward being denied of justice by their own university. Studies from the film suggest that 16-20% of women in America are sexually assaulted on campus therefore the film focuses on its core argument that universities are often failing to act when victims of sexual assault come forward seeking justice. Universities are downplaying their incidents of sexual assault and instead selling themselves as a brand with financial incentives.
Through the visual imagery and personal representations, the film meets its endeavour in adequately reflecting the dissonance currently encompassing the present conversation surrounding sexual assault and rape. The stories of those affected are delivered solemnly and honestly ensuing the film being a must watch in the industry of cine-activism.
The Hunting Ground was first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2015 and is now subsequently broadcasted on TV channel CNN. Watch the trailer here:
Sexual assault happens everywhere, no matter what culture, ethnicity, race or region.
These cases are very hard to analyse resulting in it being a rarely reported crime in many countries around the world. The more advanced and developed a country is, the more available the access to statistics are leading to large numbers of cases going unreported in third world countries.
Cultural barriers also influence the reporting rates of sexual assault and rape as victims in some countries may be much less likely to report due to the social shame cast on women who have been subjected to sexual violence.
Here we countdown the top 10 most notorious countries for sexual assault and rape crimes. You may be surprised to find that some of the most well developed countries have made the list.
10. Denmark – according to a survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights conducted in 2014, 1 in 3 women in Denmark have suffered some form of sexual assault with 5% having been raped.
9. Zimbabwe – according to statistics by Zimbabwe National Statistics, 500 women in Zimbabwe are sexually assaulted monthly and at least one woman is raped every 90 minutes.
8. Australia – in 2012, 51,200 Australians over the age of 18 were estimated victims of sexual assault and at least 70% of these cases occurred by family, friends or school and work colleagues.
7. Canada – according to the Huffington Post, 1 in 4 Canadian women will be sexual assaulted throughout their lifetime with 460, 000 sexual assaults per year.
6. New Zealand – according to the Minister of Justice Publication Report, 1 in 3 females and 1 in 6 males will be sexual assaulted prior to the age of 16 and every 2 hours there is a sexual violence attack in New Zealand.
5. India – in India there are 93 rape cases per day and 94% of these cases are by someone known to the victim including relatives, parents and neighbours.
4. England – according to a report called ‘An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales’, 1 in every 5 women have experience some sort of sexual violence post age 16 with an estimation of 85, 000 victims every year both male and female.
3. USA – according to statistics by George Maston University, about 19.3% of women and 2% of men have been raped throughout their lives and 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted at least once. According to RAIIN, every 107 seconds a sexual assault case occurs in the US.
2. Sweden – according to rape crisis Sweden, the country has the highest rate of rape in Europe with statistics showing 1 in every 4 women are victim to sexual assault or rape.
1. South Africa – there is an estimated 500, 000 rape cases every single year and more than 40% of women will suffer from rape abuse in their lifetime. Only 1 in 9 of these cases are reported however therefore the actual number of cases is extremely high.
On last month’s episode of ABC TV’s ‘The Weekly’, host Charlie Pickering spoke out about the issue of victim blaming. He made a strong point by stating “the way we talk and think about rape makes women responsible for preventing it.”
Comparing a sexual assault victim to a convenience store that had just been robbed he stated “it was open all night and had its goodies on display” therefore it was ‘asking for it’. I thought that sounded stupid as of course that’s something we would never say. But those three words ‘asking for it’ is something society says to many sexual assault victims.
In the media there are constant claims about victim’s responsibility in assault cases and that somehow they are to blame when they are assaulted. They don’t stand up for themselves, they wear the wrong clothes, they walk in the wrong places and to finish they play the victim.
You would hope this was only the view of the minority however according to a recent Australian survey which results left me shocked, 1 in 5 Australians believe women are partly responsible for their own rape if she has been drinking and 1 in 6 believe that when a woman says no she actually means yes.
Victim blaming attitudes are something that place victims in more danger and it is important to know when it occurs, how it occurs and how to prevent it.
When does it happen? Generally the closer the relationship between the victim and perpetrator, the more likely victim blaming occurs. Therefore it happens often in close relationships such as married couples or partners.
Why is it dangerous? Victim blaming attitudes make it harder for victims to come forward and report the assault. It is never the victims fault, it is the perpetrators choice. With these attitudes, society is allowing the perpetrator to continue sexual assault and violence whilst avoiding liability for these actions.
Why does it happen? By accusing the victim, others are distancing themselves from an unpleasant occurrence making them out to be different to them and therefore creating a false sense of safety with the attitude it could never happen to them.
What form is it in? General victim blaming statements include “she was drunk” “she provoked him” or “she shouldn’t be with him”.
What can be done? We need to change the question from “why does the victim stay?” to “why does the perpetrator abuse?” through challenging typical victim blaming statements and the excuses of abusers.
We need to confront the issue of victim blaming and stop spreading victim blaming attitudes in the media therefore victims will gain the support they need.
Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Don’t wear revealing clothing. Sound familiar?
Debunking the myths surrounding sexual violence is a significant piece in a persisting puzzle.
These speculations are years old and have become embedded in society’s values over time and although the issue is becoming more recognised in society, the misconceptions are persevering and constantly being pressed by the media and educational institutions.
Students, parents and the general public are receiving the wrong information, victims are not getting the ample support they need and perpetrators are walking away freely.
These myths need to be debunked and education needs to happen. This post aims to share the truth behind 12 common sexual assault misconceptions.
Most sexual assault cases are committed by strangers
This is one of the most, if not the most prominent mythology associated with sexual assault. The vast majority of cases are committed by someone known and trusted by the victim with only a minute amount by strangers. 70% of cases are committed by someone known to the victim personally with the remaining 30% being primarily by a person the victim has met in a social situation and only a small 1% of cases are by a stranger (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012).
Most sexual assault cases take place in unfamiliar isolated areas
As most cases of sexual assault are not committed by strangers they therefore do not always take place in dark alleyways or isolated streets. These cases commonly occur somewhere well known to the victim such as their own home.
Sexual assault perpetrators are generally bad and scary people
Yes, many may be frightening however this statement is generally untrue. Sexual predators are ordinary people and come in all different shapes and sizes. They are often people you trust such as your friends, family and partners.
Sexual assault is provoked by a sexual longing
Sexual assault is not motivated by a sexual need or lusting but is an act of power and control with a desire by the perpetrator to dominate the victim.
Sexual assault only happens to physically attractive young people
ANYONE can be a victim of sexual violence even if they do not consider themselves to be typically good-looking. Victims can also be of any age or gender.
Only women are victims of sexual assault
Although women, specifically aged between 16 and 24, are most likely to be victims of sexual violence, men can also experience forms of sexual assault either from another man or a woman.
Victims lie about being sexually assaulted
It is not easy to evaluate the frequency of false reporting however studies around the world have found that only 1- 8% of sexual assault accusations are discovered to be false and thus false accusations are very rare.
It is the victims fault if they act inappropriately
This misconception needs to be set straight. It is NEVER the victims fault. Victim blaming is very recurring and extremely dangerous and is especially common if the victim was drinking, taking drugs, flirting, dressed provocatively, acting promiscuously or was walking alone at night. It needs to be understood that it is always the perpetrator at fault.
It is not sexual assault if the victim did not struggle or say no
Generally ‘no’ means ‘no’ but in this case we need to focus on ‘yes’ meaning ‘yes’. Anything other than a clear ‘yes’ should not be considered consensual and therefore any situation like this should be ended. There are other ways to tell if someone is non consensual including them saying things such as ‘I’m not sure about this’ or ‘I don’t think I want this’. Silence can also be a sign of a lack of consent.
It’s not sexual assault if the victim willingly went into the bedroom or a secluded space
Typical story. A girl and a boy are at a party. They both have a few too many drinks and they end up in bed together. According to statistics by The University of the Sciences, 84% of men involved in sexual assault offender cases did not realise what they did was a case of sexual assault. Voluntarily going somewhere with someone, for example a bedroom, does not take the victims right away to say no. It is in no way ever too late to withdraw consent.
It’s not sexual assault if they are married or in a relationship
Unfortunately in sexual assault cases, the closer the relationship between the victim and perpetrator, the more likely it is alleged as consensual and not a serious concern. This myth is therefore extremely dangerous and needs to be addressed. Sexual violence is sexual violence whether married, partners, friends, acquaintances or strangers and being in a certain relationship with someone does not give them any right to ever sexually abuse you.
Most cases of sexual assault are reported and end in prosecution
Sexual assault is one of the most difficult offences to prosecute with approximately 85% of cases never coming to attention of the criminal justice system. The vast majority is not reported to police and of the cases that are reported only a small number proceed to trial with an ever lesser amount resulting in prosecution.
These myths encourage the view that sexual assault in some cases is okay when truthfully it is NEVER okay. If we can disseminate knowledge of these myths we can encourage a society with a more constructive and optimistic attitude towards speaking about sexual assault and ultimately sexual crimes will be reduced.
Please start conversation and share with your friends, family, fellow students and colleagues and aim to replace these fictional statements with FACTS.
Sexual assault is defined as any act that makes a person feel uncomfortable, intimidated or frightened.
Sexual assault can be committed against both men and women and can be committed by both men and women. However, women aged between 16 and 24 are most commonly victims to this form of abuse.
Firstly, let’s learn the facts.
Most cases of sexual assault are committed by men against women
Most victims of sexual assault know or have recently met the perpetrator
Most acts of sexual assault are also criminal offences and therefore illegal
Most sexual assault cases are not reported to the police
There are limitations in the justice system and evidence is hard to provide in many cases
Sexual assault is a form of abuse of power
Sexual assault occurs in many forms including:
Posting of sexual images without consent
Use of drugs and alcohol to impair a person’s capacity to make sexual choices
Any unwanted sexual act such as rape
Why is the problem persisting?
When most people think about sexual assault they imagine a stranger jumping out at a vulnerable victim in a dark alley. Although this may happen in some cases it is very rare. This is a very common belief held by many in society alongside many other misconceptions surrounding the issue.
Education levels of both men and women regarding the issue of sexual assault are significantly low with many schools and communities focusing on stranger rape and other forms of sexual assault rather than the most common form date rape. Sexual assault is one of the most difficult offences to prosecute with approximately 85% of cases never coming to the attention of the criminal justice system (NSW Rape Crisis Centre, 2007) . This is a result of under reporting stemming from the blurred definition and trust by many in the mythologies associated with it.
By generating conversation, the truth behind these misconceptions will be uncovered leading to a higher understanding and awareness. This will further lead to higher rates of reporting and prosecution.
Despite the rising awareness of sexual violence in today’s society, there is still much dispute over the classification of sexual assault and date rape as intolerable and criminal behavior.
This is due to the many misconceptions and mythologies associated with the issue which have developed over time negative attitudes towards talking about it and therefore created a polarisation of opinions and understandings in both males and females.
Yes, sexual assault is a difficult topic to talk about. However, this does not mean there is something wrong with being open about it and discussing it.
There is a lack of conversation and truth surrounding the issue and the message “it’s alright to talk about it” needs to be promoted.
This blog is aiming to create a virtual community of trusting individuals who can turn to each other for both support and the sharing of opinions and stories.