Adult sexual violence in Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia

6 Dec 2007

Knowledge about sexual violence against women from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds is scant. Anecdotally, levels of sexual violence are purported to be high, but national victimisation surveys may not capture, or may misrepresent, the extent of sexual violence in these communities. While many of the reasons for not reporting sexual violence to police are likely to be similar to those for mainstream women, women from diverse backgrounds can face additional cultural and related factors affecting their ability and/or willingness to report violence. This paper reports on findings from a multi-dimensional study investigating these issues. Participants indicated the need for appropriate interpreters when reporting sexual violence, a preference for female police officers to handle the case, protection of complainants, and more effective dissemination of information on how the criminal justice system processes sexual assault cases. There is a clear need to address fundamental attitudes and beliefs within particular communities about sexual violence and this will require strong community leadership and the support of local community members.

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