To mark International Women’s Day, Amnesty International released two reports looking at sexual violence in locations across the developed and developing world; specifically Cambodia and the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
“In poor and rich countries alike, women who are raped or abused have little chance of seeing their attackers brought to justice,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.
“It is shocking that in the 21st century with so much legislation designed to ensure women’s equality, that virtually every government fails to protect women or to ensure that their abusers are held to account for their crimes.”
Amnesty International’s reports show that victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence seeking justice face many obstacles. These include inadequate, negative or dismissive responses by police, medical and judicial personnel. Given the pervasive indifference of authorities, many women feel ashamed or blame themselves and don’t even try to report these crimes to the police.
In instances where women do go to the police, their claims for reparation and justice are rarely met. The two reports found that prosecution rates for rape are among the lowest for any offence.
“Unless the sexual violence is also accompanied by physical violence, it is simply not taken seriously,” said Widney Brown. “A woman who survives the rape without significant physical injury is often stigmatized or held responsible for a crime committed against her while the rapist often faces limited, if any, social or legal sanction.”
Though the legal systems examined in the reports vary greatly, Amnesty International found that all contain gaps and discrepancies which discourage women and girls from seeking justice for crimes committed against them.