Sydney, Jan 13 (IANS) An enhanced online sexual assault reporting option was unveiled on Friday in Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) state, which enabled victims of sexual assault to provide information without having to take part in a formal police interview.
The NSW police force said in a statement that while victims of any crime are always encouraged to make a formal report, it is acknowledged that victims of sexual assault often do not wish to speak about their experiences nor speak with police and go through the legal process, reports Xinhua news agency.
From Friday, the Sexual Assault Reporting Option (SARO), initiated in 2012, is now accessed through the online community portal and is available in 12 languages, making the reporting option more accessible to victims.
The updated option replaced the old process of printing and completing a 14-page document and emailing the State Crime Command’s Sex Crimes Squad, said the state police.
According to their record, the number of SARO reports continues to steadily increase each year, with the monthly average increasing from 64 reports in 2021 to 70 in 2022.
“While trauma affects individuals in different ways, reporting can be therapeutic for those victims who wish to share their experience and do so online from their own home or a safe location. For some victims, this may be their first disclosure of the sexual assault,” said State Crime Command’s Sex Crimes Squad Commander Jayne Doherty.
Released in August 2021, a national report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that 2.2 million women and 718,000 men aged 18 years and over in Australia have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, including childhood sexual abuse and/or sexual assault since the age of 15.
The report also highlighted that between 2010 and 2019, police agencies recorded 221,751 victims of sexual assault, while 83 per cent of the victims were female.
In that period, the police-recorded victimisation rate for men rose from 26.1 to 34.8 victims per 100,000 males, while that for women jumped from 143.8 to 174.8 victims per 100,000 females.