Most sexual assault victims knew offenders

Sexual assaults made up more than 75 per cent of the assault cases involving girls in Guangdong province over the past three years, and most of the victims knew the offenders.

The data was revealed on Monday in a report released jointly by the Guangdong provincial women's federation and the provincial procuratorate.

Public prosecution departments of the procuratorates across the province processed 2,267 assaults cases involving girls aged 18 and under, between 2008 and June 2011, the report showed.

Girls were sexually assaulted in 1,708 of those cases, with the offenses including rape, child molestation and forcing, organizing or enticing prostitution, Yang Shiqiang, head of the rights and interests department of the women's federation, said at a seminar on Tuesday.

About half of the sexual assault victims were girls below the age of 14. Many of the girls lived in rural areas and were children of migrant workers who had left their homes to work in cities, according to the report.

More than 65 per cent of the offenders were people the victims had known, including neighbors, friends, parents' co-workers, relatives and teachers. A large number of the offenders were men above the age of 50 and below 20, most of whom had an education level no higher than junior high school, the report showed.

The men often tricked or intimidated the girls, which made the offenses hard to detect and led to repeated assaults. In many cases, the girls did not resist during the assaults or inform their parents or police afterward, according to the report.

In one case, a 13-year-old girl was raped by her uncle several times over the course of a year before the crime was uncovered, the report said.

Some sexual assault cases involving girls were not reported to the police, either because the girls were ignorant of the crimes, shameful or threatened. Although the judicial organizations punished the offenders, the rights of the majority of the victims did not receive proper attention and protection, the report said.

The victims did not receive psychological assistance after the assaults occurred, according to the report, and their families did not receive enough legal aid and financial compensation from the offenders.

The report blamed the immaturity of the girls, alcohol, insufficient custody and sex-related education, and inadequate security at kindergartens, schools and residential communities, as causes of the sexual assaults.

In one case, a man molested two girls after he lured them to his home by telling them, "I have a cute puppy", the report showed.

"We must pay high attention to the criminal cases of sexual assaults on girls in our province ... and take concrete measures to prevent and combat those crimes," Yang said.

The report suggested that a system be established to protect female sexual assault victims while the crimes are being prosecuted. It recommended that female investigators, prosecutors and judges be included in dealing with such cases.

The victims' privacy should be protected, and investigators should try to collect all of the facts during the initial phase of the investigation to prevent repeated interrogations of the victim, the report suggested.

Related legal aid, psychological aid and the State compensation system should be optimized and victims' requests for psychological compensation upheld.

The report said that public and school education on the protection of girls and sex education should be improved. Girl custody and protection in the community should be strengthened and educational institutions and personnel better managed, it said.

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