Figures collected for the biennial Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) show just 17 per cent of those who experience serious sexual assault report it. The most common reason – given by 43 per cent of respondents – was that contacting the police would make things worse.
The SCJS, which is based on around 11,500 face-to-face interviews, seeks to capture information on adults’ experiences of violent crime and property crime.
According to figures published yesterday, 13 per cent of women aged 16 to 24 experienced at least one form of stalking or harassment in the past year, while 6 per cent of all adults had.
According to the statistics, nearly 5 per cent of women – one in 20 – have experienced at least one form of serious sexual assault since the age of 16. In more than half the cases, the perpetrator was the victim’s partner.
Nearly 14 per cent of women have experienced a less serious sexual assault, compared with 2.7 per cent of men.
Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “For too long, rape within relationships has been an invisible reality for many women.
“What this study shows is that rape in a relationship is far more common than people realise. There is a pressing need to raise public awareness that coercing a partner to have sex is rape and every bit as serious a crime as any other form of rape.”
Figures published in December showed a five-fold increase in the number of rape and attempted rape cases in the High Court linked to domestic abuse over the last four years.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Sexual abuse and harassment can have a terrible and long-term impact on victims and we are committed to tackling these appalling crimes and supporting victims to come forward.
“We have modernised criminal law and strengthened powers for police, prosecutors and the courts to deal with sexual offence cases.”
Overall, the SCJS said there was an estimated 688,000 crimes in Scotland in 2014-15, down 16 per cent since 2012-13.
Just under 40 per cent of crimes were reported to the police, around the same level as previous years.
According to the survey, 58 per cent of respondents said the police were doing a “good or excellent” job, down from 61 per cent in 2012-13.
• www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/|Helpline: every night 6pm-midnight 08088010302|@rapecrisisscot