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Young women most likely sexual assaut targets

Young women remain most likely targets in sexual assault

Young women around the age of 20 remain the most common targets of sexual assault in New Zealand.

A leading crisis support agency in Auckland says 70 per cent of its callouts now come from women aged 11 to 25.

HELP, the agency providing support and counselling for people who have experienced sexual assault, says women between 16 and 24 are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other demographic.

Agency spokesperson Kathryn McPhillips says the figures are the tip of the iceberg.

A significant amount of sexual violence continues to go unreported, and when police complaints are made, very few result in a conviction.

“Communities need to realise that sexual violence is a mainstream problem and not just a women’s issue,” she says.

“Many of us know at least one person who has been raped, assaulted or abused, and there are many more who have never spoken about their experiences. What’s more, familiar surroundings do not result in added security because many sexual assaults happen within the victim’s home.”

“Some women complain of feeling pressured to finish counselling before they are ready. When government funding runs out, the agencies that do exist are left to pick up the bill. But we believe that with the right support, most people do move on to lead a fulfilling life.”

HELP says the government has made progress by introducing an Action Plan for the Reduction of Community and Sexual Violence.

In a separate initiative, ACC has recently welcomed a $200,000 contract with HELP for a one-year ‘pilot’ approach to services targeting sexual violence.

“The next steps are to work collaboratively to improve service accessibility for all New Zealanders, and to improve community understanding of the issue,” says McPhillips.

*Fundraising First

In a bid to raise both urgently needed funds and awareness, HELP has today announced plans for a major new charity art auction, to be held in May.

The HELP Art Auction will be hosted at the Auckland Art Gallery on the 5th of May, during Rape Awareness Week.

More than 20 artists have contributed to the inaugural event, including Jan Negro, Dalene Meiring, Kura Te Waru Rewiri, Ian Kingstone, and photographer Fiona Pardington.

The money raised from this year’s auction will go towards HELP services, including ongoing counselling, court support, and prevention work.

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