Sex assaults unreported in nine of 10 cases: poll

Only one out of 10 female victims of sexual assault actually reported the incident to police, according to a report by a Justice Ministry research group.

Among some 2,200 people who responded to the survey, conducted by the ministry’s Research and Training Institute, the percentage of those who became victims of 11 types of crimes, such as sexual assault and bicycle robbery, jumped to levels two to three times registered 11 years ago, when the institute began the research.

But the level was about two-thirds to half of that registered in similar surveys conducted in the United States and European countries, the report says.

Saturday’s survey report was the first in which the institution addressed unreported cases.

The research group is taking part in a multinational survey on crime currently being conducted by an arm of the United Nations and will compare the findings with those of counterpart members and use results to map out steps for helping crime victims, officials said.

The survey was conducted on 3,000 people age 16 and older picked at random nationwide in February. Some 73.7 percent of the people responded. Pollees were asked the same questions used in the U.N. probe.

In the past five years, 31 female respondents, or 2.7 percent, were sexually harassed or assaulted, but only three of them reported it to police, according to the survey.

Among the other 28 women, 37 percent said they did not report to police for they believed the situation was not so serious, while 22.2 percent said they could not trust the police.

A fewer number of women said they feared revenge from the perpetrator, it said.

The 11 crime types were chosen as the most likely the victims would be reluctant to report to police.

Among those crimes, sexual assault, robbery, theft, assault and intimidation were asked on an individual basis while other crimes were asked on a household basis.

Over the past five years, bicycle robbery and damaged cars were the top two crimes on the list. The other crimes frequented from 0.6 percent to 5.7 percent — about twice to three times as much the rates logged more than 10 years ago, the report said.

On an annual basis, the victim rate topped 31 percent in Britain, 25 percent in Canada and France, and 24 percent in the United States, while it was only 15 percent in Japan, it said.