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New research explores the history of sexual abuse trends in New Zealand

January 29, 2021 at 11:56 AM

From the NZFVC 

A century of sexual abuse of women in New Zealand has been analysed in a University of Auckland study. 

A century of sexual abuse victimisation: A birth cohort analysis (2021), authored by University of Auckland researchers Janet Fanslow, Ladan Hashemi, Pauline Gulliver and Tracey McIntosh, has found that one in six New Zealand women experience sexual violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime. This rate has not changed since 1938. Their research also found that rates of child sexual abuse and non-partner sexual assault seem to have declined slightly but are still high at 1 in 5 for child sexual abuse and 1 in 14 for non-partner sexual assault. 

"The lack of change for the lifetime prevalence of sexual IPV (1 in 6) over the past century highlights the need for prevention efforts to be comprehensively implemented and enhanced. Our findings that the prevalence of two other forms of sexual abuse (i.e. lifetime non-partner, and 12-month intimate-partner sexual abuse) were also lowest for the most recent birth cohorts is encouraging, as it indicates that change is possible. However, despite signs of declining rates of CSA [child sexual abuse] for more recent birth cohorts, the overall rates of sexual abuse reported still warrant urgent attention." 

The research used data from a 2003 New Zealand Violence Against Women study* of 2,855 women in Auckland and the Waikato and a 2019 New Zealand Family Violence study** that included 1464 women in Auckland, Northland and the Waikato. The women were asked questions about their experiences of sexual abuse.  

The researchers also looked at how the social and political context over a century may have influenced the prevalence rates. They created a timeline of events, policies, social change and social movements, policy shifts and service delivery that may have influenced the reported prevalence of sexual abuse.  

In their conclusion the authors highlight national calls for efforts in prevention, saying these "have not yet been answered." 

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Category: Research