New research has revealed almost all sexual assaults in New Zealand went unreported last year.
The New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey interviewed 80,000 people about their experiences with crime and found 29 percent of respondents had experienced sexual violence in the last 12 months - with women three times as likely to be violated than men.
Almost 30 percent of the adult population said they had experienced sexual violence in their lifetime and a shocking 94 percent of assaults were not reported to police last year.
Ministry of Justice sector deputy secretary Tim Hampton says the results are "sobering".
"The levels of crime being experienced and the number of victims is nothing for New Zealand to be proud of," he said on Wednesday.
"The sexual violence data in this report reinforces a lot of what we already know about victims and the level of non-reporting to police."
For comparison, 94 percent of motor vehicle thefts were reported but victims of sexual violence stayed silent.
Victims advocate Ruth Money says the results of the survey are "a national shame".
"It's so upsetting that we have been having this conversation for so many years - in 2015 the Law Commission report said up to 80 percent of sexual violence goes unreported," she told The AM Show on Wednesday.
"When are we going to take action? When are we going to fix this so survivors feel nurtured and safe?"
She says there are many reasons sexual violence goes unreported ranging from fear to shame, but that it should be the responsibility of the justice system to ensure people who have been assaulted are treated kindly.
Money says victims often feel shamed for their experiences in court.
"You have survivors reporting the court is worse than the rape - that's disgusting it's awful, it's a national shame."
When questioned why they did not report their experience to police, 27 percent of respondents said it was because "police couldn't have done anything".
The survey aims to inform agencies about the experience of crime in New Zealand so they can tailor responses to not only sexual violence but other issues such as domestic violence, burglary and fraud.
The survey aims to inform agencies about the experience of crime in New Zealand so they can tailor responses to not only sexual violence but other issues such as domestic violence, burgalry and fraud.
“It’s information like this that can help shape our response as a nation to supporting those experiencing disproportionate levels of crime and hardship,” said Hampton.
The survey found that Māori are 38 percent more likely to be the victim of a crime compared with the national average of 30 percent. The same goes for single parent households at 37 percent and disabled people at 40 percent.
Hampton says he hopes the data will bring about change in the lives of New Zealanders.
“I urge those who read and use this data to remember to look beyond the statistics and see the individuals whose lives are being torn apart by crime.
“It is my hope that this report will go a long way to helping improve the quality of life for many.”
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