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Channel 7, Don't Discourage Reporting of Sexual Assault

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In Australia less than 1 in 5 sexual assaults are reported to the police[1]. A common reason it isn't reported is because victims are afraid they won't be believed[2].

The UK drama Liar reinforces the belief that victims of sexual assault will not be believed and the incorrect belief that when sexual assault is reported, it's her word vs his word with 50/50 chance on who is telling the truth. This is incorrect.

What data there is indicates that almost always the victim is telling the truth, that they should be believed and that incidents of false reporting are effectively outliers (2.1% but likely lower)[3].

Regardless of how Liar concludes, the series premise and title throw doubt on the victim, where it doesn't belong and further entrenches the under-reporting of sexual assault.

As of December 2005, almost 1,500,000 Australian women had been sexually assaulted since the age of 15[1], with over 100,000 of these Australian women being sexually assaulted within the 12 months prior[1].

That's over one sexual assault every 6 minutes.

However, only 1% of sexual assaults results in a conviction[4] and even fewer result in jail time. As a community, the biggest impact we can have on these devastatingly low conviction rates is to increase reporting, which is why shows like Liar that discourage reporting should not be shown.


[1] Personal Safety Survey 2005

[2] NON-REPORTING AND HIDDEN RECORDING OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN AUSTRALIA, Denise Lievore PhD, Australian Institute of Criminology

[3] Heenan, Melanie; Murray, Suellen (2006). "Study of Reported Rapes in Victoria 2000-2003, Summary Research Report". Abstracts Database – National Criminal Justice Reference Service.


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