Anti-Violence . Sexual Assault 

Sexual assault within marriage

In many countries sexual assault by a husband on his wife is not considered to be a crime: a wife is expected to submit. It is thus very difficult in practice for a woman to prove that sexual assault has occurred unless she can demonstrate serious injury.

The report of the Special Reporter noted that light sentences in sexual assault cases send the wrong message to perpetrators and to the public at large: that female sexual victimization is unimportant.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a growing concern for women. Employers abuse their authority to seek sexual favors from their female co-workers or subordinates, sometimes promising promotions or other forms of career advancement or simply creating an untenable and hostile work environment. Women who refuse to give in to such unwanted sexual advances often run the risk of anything from demotion to dismissal.

But in recent years more women have been coming forward to report such practices -- some taking their cases to court.

In her report, the Special Reporter stressed that sexual harassment constitutes a form of sex discrimination. "It not only degrades the woman", the report noted, "but reinforces and reflects the idea of non-professionalism on the part of women workers, who are consequently regarded as less able to perform their duties than their male colleagues."

For more info
Published by the United Nations Department of Public Information DPI/1772/HR--February 1996


Rape can occur anywhere, even in the family, where it can take the form of marital rape or incest.  It occurs in the community, where a woman can fall prey to any abuser. It also occurs in situations of armed conflict and in refugee camps.

In the United States, national statistics indicate that a women is raped every six minutes. In 1995, the case of a Brazilian jogger raped and murdered in New York City's Central Park drew international attention once again to the problem. The incident occurred only a few years after an earlier sensational jogger-assault case in which the victim -- an American assaulted in the same general area of the park -- barely survived after her assailants left her for dead.

Relations between residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa and American GIs were thrown into turmoil in 1995 after two marines and a sailor allegedly kidnapped and raped a 12-year-old girl.

The Special Rapporteur's report underlines the importance of education to sensitize the public about the special horrors of rape, and of sensitivity training for the police and hospital staff who work with victims.

For more info
Published by the United Nations Department of Public Information DPI/1772/HR--February 1996

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