Family and Sexual Violence Prevention Minister Karen Chhour emotional over new sexual crime figures

Warning: This story discusses sexual assault. 

The Family and Sexual Violence Prevention Minister appeared emotional during an interview about a recent rise in sexual crime with Newshub on Thursday.  

New Ministry of Justice figures show a recent rise in convictions of sexual offending. Since 2020, the number has increased each year. 

It's particularly evident when looking at sexual crimes against under-16s. Convictions rose from 1600 in 2020 to nearly 2400 last year. 

Kate Rose was 9 years old when she was sexually abused by her uncle. 

"Things would happen, like, he'd take me for a drive and then park up in a paddock and do things that he shouldn't do... touch me, make me touch him," Rose said. 

"I have seen men that look like him and it makes me sick." 

Thirty years later, she had the courage to approach the police and her uncle was arrested. 

"Yeah, it upsets me, because yes, it's gone up," Rose said of the new figures. 

Karen Chhour, the Family and Sexual Violence Prevention Minister, also appeared emotional on Thursday during an interview about the data. 

"Making sure we're not sugar-coating this issue, it's important because it feeds into a lot of other social issues later on in life. That shouldn't be happening and we have to stop being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff," Chhour said. 

But the minister highlighted a silver lining. 

"This data is really helpful to know where to place those resources," she said. 

Police said there has been an increase in reporting of sexual crimes, which could help explain the spike in convictions. They attribute that to the better service being offered to victims of sexual offending by way of care and support from specialist police staff. 

"Yes, there is an increased reporting level," criminal barrister Jo Wickliffe said.  

But as a criminal lawyer, Wickliffe said there could be another explanation for the rise in convictions. 

"In 2020 and 2021, we didn't really have many jury trials going ahead because of the pandemic and now that we are, those trials are actually just happening and that's why they're now showing up as convictions." 

For Rose though, even one sexual crime is too many. 

"I'm just disgusted and I know that many people haven't come forward. That's why I'm telling my story," she said.