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Friday, Dec. 24, 2010
Support for assault victims
The National Police Agency's crime statistics for 2009 show that 8,090 cases of rape and indecent sexual assault were reported to police that year.
A survey by the Justice Ministry shows that out of 1,021 people who were released from prison in 2000 after serving prison terms for serious crimes, 322 committed the same crimes within 10 years. The recidivism rate for rape was 38.5 percent, the second highest following the rate of 39.1 percent for robbery. An NPA survey also shows that out of 740 people who were released from prison in the past five years after serving prison terms for sexual crimes against children, 105 again became the targets of investigation for sexual crimes.
Attention should be paid to the fact that not all sexual crimes are reported to the police. A recent survey hints that only about 13 percent of sexual crime victims report to the police, translating into some 60,000 sexual crimes in 2009. Forty-four organizations belonging to the National Network for Victim Support report that out of some 20,000 cases about which people contacted them for help in fiscal 2009, some 3,900 or 19 percent were sex offenses.
The NNVS says that while the number of sex offenses has been on the rise, many victims hesitate to report to the police. Because sex-offense victims are hurt both physically and psychologically and are likely to be subject to misunderstanding or prejudice, it is vital to establish a sufficient number of places where such victims can seek and get advice and help without worries.
An Osaka hospital has started stationing an expert counselor to give advice to sex-offense victims over the phone. They also can come to the hospital to receive medical examinations and treatment. They will be introduced to lawyers and counselors. Institutions like this should spread across the country.
To increase the number of such institutions, cooperation among the police, local governments and private sector organizations will be indispensable. The first and key step for improving the support for sex-offense victims should be to educate people so that they will discard any prejudice toward such victims.