Sexual assault is a life sentence for vicitim (commentary)

Sexual assault is a life sentence for vicitim (commentary)

attempted-rapeRape describes a form of sexual assault by one person against another which may include psychological coercion and physical force and may involve vaginal, anal and oral penetration.

Although homosexual and heterosexual males may be victims, most victims of sexual assault are females who have been forcibly penetrated by an individual or group of men. The more general term sexual assault may or may not involve forced sexual intercourse with the offender but verbal threats and other types of physical assault. A recent report released by the Royal St. Lucian Police Force has shown an increase in sexual offences targeting young females.

11 more cases during the months of September to October suggests that sexual assaults are being under-reported in St. Lucia. It is well-known fact that victims are often apprehensive to file reports against sexual offenders due to fear of 1) being stigmatized, 2) being held responsible for the assault, and 3) retaliation by the offender(who is typically known to the victim).

Violence against women encompasses, but is not limited to: physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, to female spouses and children in the household, Sexual assault against girls and women also occur outside the home in the streets, in the workplace, as well as the schools.

Human and Gender Rights advocate, Felicia Browne is calling for women to take a leading role to ensure that sexual assaults against women, and in particular gang-rape carries similar penalties to capital offences such as murder. Sexual assault against women has for far too long been seen as a minor offence in which the victim is typically blamed for having been violently and involuntarily sexually assaulted.

Although Browne advocates for stricter laws to be implemented, she does not believe that additional laws will automatically provide victims with the degree of protection that is needed.

Browne adds that “rape of a woman or a male, is often a life sentence for the victim. Each victim has to live with the psychological impact of the traumatic event for the rest of her/his life, many without the benefit of any psychological treatment or counseling. In some cases, the assault may be so violent that the victim dies as a result of injuries inflicted by the perpetrator, by suicide due to resulting shame or abandonment by their family or their community and in some countries by stoning or hanging under laws that that sentence any victim of rape to death.

It is critical that women and girls take the lead now to demand stricter penalties for sexual assault including psychiatric evaluations for perpetrators who may suffer from developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders as well as traumatic brain injuries causing sexually aggressive and predatory behaviors. Individuals, such as sexual predators, who cannot be effectively treated for their conditions such that their criminal behaviors are eliminated or successfully controlled should be mandated to serve a sentence of life imprisonment”.

Browne maintains that thus far legislation for psychiatric evaluation and treatment for sexual offenders has not resulted in significantly improved outcomes for females in terms of rates of sexual assault. While studies show that treatment of perpetrators does not eliminate sexual crimes, they do suggest that treatment can decrease the incidence of sex offenses and provide some protection for potential victims.

Among a minority of sex offenders who are mentally ill, adequate treatment of underlying mental illnesses may in some cases significantly reduce the risk of further sexual crimes. However, in other cases, the underlying causes of offenders behaviors may be significantly more complex, may require longer and more extensive treatment, and in some cases may be totally unresponsive to any treatment.

In recent years, there has been an increased application of cognitive–behavioural therapies and interventions in the treatment of sex offenders. This type of therapy and approach aims to assist offenders in taking responsibility for the thoughts and behaviours that led them to the offence, and to help them develop cognitive and behavioural tools and skills which enable them to understand, control and/or avoid high-risk situations and triggers that could lead to reoffending.

Other cognitive–behavioural techniques such as olfactory aversion and covert desensitization have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing deviant arousal. However, none of these interventions necessarily provide a cure. Many sex offenders have abnormal personality traits or personality disorders.

Some may have a diagnosis of paraphilia, while others may have intellectual or learning disabilities or biological factors that contribute to their offending. Similar to other people with chronic illnesses and addictions, offenders must typically continue treatment and continue to practice the skills they have learned for the rest of their lives.


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