UK takes record action on violence against women as 'revenge porn' rises

September 6, 2016 9:17 AM EDT

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By Pietro Lombardi

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Prosecutions for domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences against women in England and Wales hit a record high in 2015/2016, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which also reported the first cases of "revenge porn".

Women's rights groups attributed the rise to victims' growing confidence in the justice system as the CPS revealed on Tuesday that more than 117,000 cases of domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences went to trial in 2015/2016, a 10 percent increase on the previous year.

The number of convictions for such crimes also reached a high with more than 87,000 defendants found guilty of them in 2015/2016, an 11 percent rise on the year before.

"Today a rape, domestic abuse, sexual offense or child abuse case is more likely to be prosecuted and convicted than ever before," said Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, in a statement.

The CPS said more than 100,000 domestic abuse cases were prosecuted in 2015/2016, resulting in more than 75,000 convictions.

Prosecutions and convictions for rape in 2015/2016 also hit highs of more than 4,600 and almost 2,700 respectively.

Saunders said training for prosecutors and greater resources for specialist units handling rape and serious sexual offences including child sexual exploitation had contributed to the rise in the rape conviction rate.

Chief Executive of Women's Aid, Polly Neate, said survivors of domestic abuse were starting to have more confidence in the criminal justice system, leading to more prosecutions and convictions.

"However, we know that much more work is still needed, particularly in understanding of the nature and impact of coercive control, right across the criminal justice system," Neate said in a statement.

The disclosure of private sexual images without consent, known as "revenge porn", was made a criminal offense in April 2015. Since then there have been more than 206 related prosecutions, the CPS said.

"The use of the internet, social media and other forms of technology to humiliate, control and threaten individuals is rising," Saunders said.

Activists like Rachel Krys, co-director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, welcomed the CPS figures but said more needed to be done.

"... it is still the case that the majority of women and girls subject to these crimes do not report them to the police, and the specialist services which support them are fighting for survival," she said in a statement.

(Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)



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