RainLily, the first sexual violence crisis centre in Hong Kong, launched a report in March 2019 summarizing their findings of cases from 2000-2018 during which time they handled over 14,000 requests-for-assistance regarding sexual violence.
Linda SY WONG, Executive Director of RainLily, on the key findings of the study:
1. The rising trend of reported cases
Of the 3,611 sexual violence cases reported, rape cases take up the majority (64.2% or 2,318 cases), followed by indecent assault cases (30.0% or 1,083 cases), and sexual harassment cases (5.8% or 210 cases). The overall picture through years is demonstrating a rising trend of all kinds of sexual violence cases. The study has found that cases involving indecent assault had the most considerable rise, followed by sexual harassment cases. The trend reflects the continued severity of sexual violence against women in Hong Kong but is also evident that more survivors are determined to seek help over the years.
2. Most of the perpetrators are known to their victims
The research has also revealed that over 80% of perpetrator are known to the victim, reported relationships include relatives, intimate partners, friends, and colleagues. This finding debunked the myth that sexual violence is mostly perpetrated by strangers. Moreover, more than half of the sexual violence cases took place in residential premises, over one-tenth of the victims were cohabitating with the perpetrator when the incident occurred. Only approximately 10% of the cases were happened in a public outdoor space (e.g. on street, or Public Park).
3. Serious and common delay reporting phenomenon
The study counted the days between when the assault happened to when it was reported to RainLily, it has been uncovered that victims took an average of 1389 days (approximately 3.8 years) before reaching out to RainLily. The data has recorded over 10% of victims had a delay of 10 years or above before coming forward for assistance – with the longest delay to be 58 years. Of the 3,611 cases, only 10% of the victims would seek help from RainLily within a day, the delay is significantly obstructing a victim to gain timely access to appropriate assistance. Across the three categories, cases of indecent assault displayed the lengthiest delay, with an average of 2,455 days (approx. 6.7 years), followed by rape cases (average 959 days, or approx. 2.6 years), and sexual harassment (average 634 days, or approx. 1.7 years). It should be concluded that the situation of delay-reporting is a very common and worrying.
4. The vulnerable situation for children and female teenagers
The report found that over 20% of cases involved a victim that was under the age of 16 years old when the assault happened, with the youngest victim to be only 1 year old. In terms of relationship with perpetrator, 45.1% of under 16-year-old cases involved a perpetrator that is a family member or relatives. This relationship takes up only 5.8% for cases that involved a 16-year-old or above victim. Additionally, nearly 30% of under 16-year-old cases were living with the perpetrator when the assault happened. This takes up merely 10% for victim above the age of 16. The study also highlights that victims under the age of 16 in average delay their reporting for assistance for 4,814 days (approx. 13.2 years), the duration is ten times the average for victims above 16 years old (444 days, or approx. 1.2 years). These worrying figures show that victims of different backgrounds face very different obstacles, and children and female teenagers are particularly vulnerable to handling sexual violence and the related issues.
The report has concluded that sexual violence against women is still a crucial issue that lacks sufficient awareness and proper intervention in Hong Kong through these years. The concerning delay-reporting situation further affirms the urgent necessity in perfecting a mechanism and environment that encourage victims to seek help as soon as possible. The report suggests the government and all sectors of the community to increase their effort in combating sexual violence, that includes reform and improvement on preventive and supportive measures.