The Muffled Voice

The plight of sexual violence victims in Hong Kong

Sexual Violence in Hong Kong

#MeToo movement is an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. The waves of this movement started with a hashtag on social media in 2017. Ever since, more and more women came forward on social media to share their unpleasant experience of being sexually harassed.

Sexual Violence

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence refers to the intended sexual offence, in forms of action, language or attitude, that makes a person feel uncomfortable.

By this definition, sexual includes not only rape and indecent assault, but also sexual abuse without body contact. Examples are sexual harassment, dirty jokes, and sex-oriented comments.

Sexual violence has nothing to do with the relationship or gender of involved parties. Both male and female can be victims of sexual violence.

Situations in Hong Kong

According to RainLily, Hong Kong’s first sexual violence crisis centre launched in 2000, the situation of female victims is worrying.

Increasing number of reported cases of sexual abuse

The number of cases of ‘Rape’, ‘Indecent assault’ and ‘Sexual harassment’ has gone up. Over the past 18 years, the number of ‘Rape’ cases increased from 128 to 446, which is three times the original. The number of cases of 'Indecent Assault' is eight times higher than before.

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Reported cases by district

According to the Social Welfare Department, ‘Yau Tsim Mong’ and ‘Central and Western’ are the two districts with the most cases of sexual violence reported last year.

Most of the perpetrators are acquaintances of the victims

RainLily also found that most perpetrators and victims are acquaintances. Around 80% of victims know the perpetrator prior to the incident, whereas strangers only take up 20% of the perpetrators.

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Teenage girls tend to have longer delay reporting time

RainLily discovered that female victims have serious and common delay reporting phenomenon. A relationship between the length of delay reporting time and the victim’s age exist. On average, females above 16 reported their cases 444 days after the incident, while females under 16 delayed 4814 days.

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Recognition of sexual violence

99 females aged 15-29 had took part in a quiz with 8 questions on identifying the acts of sexual violation.

Which of the following act would you consider as an act of sexual violation?

Click on the buttons and check your understanding!

How do Hong Kong females think about these acts?

Hover over the graphics and find out the results!

A stranger touched your privates on the MTR without your permission

A stranger winked at you and smiled

Your uncle patted your butt and you feel discomfort

Consensual sex

Your boss told you a sexual joke which makes you feel uncomfortable

Your friend touched your breasts and you feel discomfort

Your classmate asked about the size of your breasts which makes you feel uncomfortable

Your intimate partner forced you to have sex with them even though you said no

Misconceptions of sexual violation
  • Two-thirds of the respondents mistakenly believe that consensual sex is a form of sexual violation
  • Only 55 out of 99 respondents noticed that the uncomfortable feeling caused by the questions of breasts size is a form of sexual violation that involves no physical contact
  • Around 10% of the respondents did not notice that forced sex of their partners can be a form of sexual violence
  • Being winked at by a stranger does not constitute any sexual violation, but 11 of the respondents indicated that they will be sexually violated by this act

  • Awareness of sexual assaults

    Young female adults in Hong Kong are aware of different forms of sexual violations. In the quiz on the identification of sexual violation, 77 of the respondents have scored from 6 to 8 out of 8. Around one-third got 7 out of 8. Those whose scores are from 1-5 out of 8 only takes up a very small percentage of the respondents.

    The result is satisfactory. However, only 13 females got all the correct answers. There are still rooms of improvement in sex education.

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    Reaction towards sexual violence

    How do females respond to sexual violence?

    Higher tolerance for acquaintances

    The respondents may not report their cases to the police if they are sexually violated. 1% of the respondents indicated that they would not report to their cases to the police. Only 18% of the respondents will report to their cases.

    Among the those who consider other factors before they report, 43% of the repondents would report acquaintance and 38% chose not.

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    Sex education in Hong Kong

    The ideal VS Expectation

    Suitable Age of receiving sexual education

    Most of the respondents first received sex education when they were under 6, at the age of 6-12 or 13-15. Generally, the respondents wished to receive sex education earlier. Nearly 70% of them expected sex education to be provided when they were under 6.

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    The problem is that female victims may not seek out if they are sexually violated.

    How should this problem be solved?

    Expectation gap in the source of sex education

    While only half of the respondents received sex education from their family, over 88% of them believed that family is an ideal source of sex education.

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    Relationship between age and the source of sex education

    Family and schools are the most important sources of sex education. Many respondents received sex education from these two sources when they were under 6 or at the age of 6-12.

    Family is particularly crucial when it comes to early sex education. The respondents who first received sex education at the age of 13-15 relied solely on school because of the absence of sex education from family.

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    Given that family and school are the most important sources of sex education, these two parties should continue doing their best in educating young girls, as well as encourage sexual victims to reach out.

    Meanwhile, the government and NGOs can work more on the promotion of sex education. They have the potential in making positive influence on sex education, but not many respondents notice the existence of these two stakeholders.