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What is Sexual Violence?

The World Health Organisation uses a broad definition of sexual violence and describes it as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, sexual harassment, or act directed against a person's sexuality, using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting including but not limited to home or work. Sexual violence can include, rape, the threat of rape, attempted rape, sexual harassment, sexual coercion and sexual contact with force.

Sexual violence can be perpetrated by, or against, anyone regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or ability. However, not all people are at risk of being targeted for sexual violence. Overwhelmingly, sexual assault of adults is perpetrated by men against women. It is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality. Figures reported to New Zealand Police indicate 99% of adult sexual violence is perpetrated by men. Read more here about who is targeted for sexual violence, and who perpetrates sexual violence.

The 2006 Crime and Safety Survey found that approximately 29 percent of women and 9 percent of men experience unwanted and distressing sexual contact over their lifetime. Sexual offences were the fifth most common offence disclosed in the survey.

Sexual violence takes many forms and can take place in a variety of contexts and circumstances.

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