Shocking figures reveal scale of violence against women as Sarah Everard case sparks movement to 'reclaim the streets'

Friday, 12th March 2021, 9:47 am
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 10:39 am

More than 100 women are raped and 100 more sexually assaulted every day on average in England and Wales, analysis of official figures reveals.

It comes following a wave of condemnation of male violence against women in the wake of the suspected murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who disappeared in London last week while walking home. 

The JPIMedia Data Unit examined a Home Office database of crimes recorded by police forces across the two nations, to see how widespread violence against women and girls is. 

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It revealed that 37,660 sexual assaults of female victims aged 13 or over and 37,512 rapes of women aged 16 or above were recorded in the year to March 2020.

That’s an average of 103.2 assaults and 102.8 rapes every single day. The figures do not include Manchester Police, which has been unable to produce crime statistics since 2019 following an IT system upgrade, so the true figures are likely higher still. 

Charities also caution that not all victims will report their ordeals to the police.

Six times as many women were assaulted compared to men, with 5,973 sexual assaults involving male victims recorded. 

There were also 2,519 rapes involving a male victim – 6.3% of the total – meaning 15 times as many women were attacked.

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All rapes will have been committed by a male perpetrator – only penetration by a penis is recorded as rape in law – while sexual assaults could have been committed by men or women. 

Sexual assault may include non-consensual touching or penetration with an object or part of the body besides a penis.

Where is the most dangerous for women and girls?

London’s Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of female assaults and rapes – 5,806 and 5,546 respectively. 

But as a proportion of the population, Kent had the highest rate for assaults of women, at 84.1 per 100,000 people, while Suffolk had the highest rape tally, at 95.2 per 100,000 people.

The City of London Police has been excluded from the rate analysis, as its small permanent but large transient population skews the figures.

What happened to Sarah Everard?

Marketing executive Sarah Everard vanished in South London on Wednesday 3 March while she made her way from a friend’s house in Clapham Common to her home in Brixton. 

She has not been seen since. A serving officer in the Metropolitan Police has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Human remains have been discovered at a site in Kent, but the police have yet to confirm the identity of the body.

Gender equality charity the Fawcett Society is now urging people to join a campaign to make misogyny a hate crime. At present, misogynistic abuse and harassment of women is not logged and monitored by police forces.

The charity said “it’s time for deeds not words”, echoing the slogan of the early 20th century Suffragette movement. 

Members of the House of Lords will vote on Monday on an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill, which would require police forces to record misogyny crimes.

It follows an outpouring of grief on social media which has seen women swapping stories about their assaults, near misses, and precautions they take to try to make themselves feel safe on the streets.