Australian Institute of Criminology

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Date rape: a hidden crime

Media Release

05 July 2000

Media release from Senator, the Hon Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Justice and Customs

Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said today the latest research from the Australian Institute of Criminology highlighted the under-reporting by women of date rape. The Minister made the comments in releasing the Institute's latest research paper; Date Rape: A Hidden Crime.

"Date rape is a controversial crime," Senator Vanstone said. "Getting sex through physical violence is clearly seen as rape, however date rape may not involve physical violence."

"It is important to understand that using other forms of coercion to obtain sex, even if no violence is involved, is also rape - the fear of violence, detention, intoxication with alcohol or a drug and deception can all be factors relevant to whether the woman has consented. Of course rapes involving any of those factors can be just as traumatic for the person being coerced."

"Although it has been an offence for a very long time, date rape has only recently been acknowledged as a serious social problem. This is in contrast to rape in marriage which was only criminalised less than 30 years ago."

"According to a 1996 Women's Safety survey, 89 per cent of rape victims know the perpetrator, and of these victims, 25% were the current partner, boyfriend or date of the victim in the 12 months prior to the survey. If previous partners are added to the figure, the percentage is as high as 37%."

"It is clear that date rape is rarely reported to the police. Victimisation surveys show that the sexual assaults reported to the police are only the tip of the iceberg."

"Young men and women can see sexual coercion in dating or romantic situations as 'acceptable behaviour.'"

"The AIC paper highlights the importance of challenging the myths surrounding date rape. In February this year the Federal Government joined forces with Australian Universities and TAFEs to reduce sexual violence by distributing credit card sized sexual violence 'z-cards' during orientation weeks. "

"The z-cards addressed common myths around date rape and stressed the need for young women to seek help and support even when they are unsure that what happened was sexual assault."