Violent crimes against women and girls throughout England and Wales have reached a record high, according to new statistics.
An annual report, released by the Crown Prosecution Service, showed that domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences accounted for 18.6 per cent of the organisation’s workload; an increase of just under 9 per cent in six years.
In the past year, 4,643 people were convicted of rape; stalking prosecutions rose by 7.1 per cent; and child sex abuse prosecutions rose by 15.4 per cent.
Social media is being partly blamed for the rise in violence against women, through its ease of use and the seemingly lack of punishment.
Speaking to the Guardian, Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said, “The use of the internet, social media and other forms of technology to humiliate, control and threaten individuals is rising and it is something that we will possible see increase further.”
“It is undoubtedly easier to commit a lot of these crimes online, people do it without thinking, it is more immediate and it is about the reach and ability to communicate to so many more people.”
New laws were recently introduced in a bid to tackle ‘revenge’ porn; in which images of a sexual nature are shared to cause humiliation. In April 2015, it became an illegal offence to share private sexual images or videos without the subject’s consent.
Between 2015 and March 2016, 206 people were prosecuted for sharing private sexual images without consent. However, this figure is only a small proportion of those who have been a victim of revenge porn. In 2015, over 3,700 victims called a special helpline dealing with the crime.
The report has led to charities and campaigners to call for more to be done to support victims of these crimes and encourage the reporting of offences.
The Women’s Equality Party is calling for the government to provide more funding for support services such as refuges, and to continue to improve access to justice.
Leader of the party, Sophie Walker said, “This last year has seen a record number of prosecutions for rape, stalking, child sex abuse and violent and sexual abuse online.”
“We cannot continue to let this happen on our watch. Future generations will ask us what we did when we knew that hundreds of thousands of women and girls were being discriminated against and abused.”
“Each and every politician must answer that question. And if they do nothing to prevent this epidemic of violence, then they must fund the services that make up for their apathy.”