The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 736 million women globally—almost one in three women aged 15 and older—have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life. This figure of women who are sexually abused across the world does not include sexual harassment.
Sexual abuse is a menace and a serious crime that has severe legal consequences. However, not everyone accused of sexual abuse is a sex offender. If you were wrongly accused, it's vital that you contact your lawyers to help you defend yourself and prove your case in a court of law.
Let’s say you live in Sydney, Australia, where over 13% of sexual abuse charges reported are child abuse cases. Being accuse of such a crime can have devastating consequences. But getting the right sexual assault lawyers Sydney can make all the difference.
Sexual assault lawyers have extensive experience dealing with different cases, including cases relating to sexual touching, sexual act, and incest. They use their expertise to build a strong case in your defense or against a sexual abuse offender.
The right lawyer can help hold sexual abusers to account, and also clear the name of those wrongfully accused who can then avoid potentially lifelong consequences.
But what exactly is a sexual assault?
Well, a sexual act is deemed "sexual assault" if at least one person involved was coerced, forced, or tricked into it against their will. Sexual assault is a severe crime in most countries.
Some sexual abuse cases may also include domestic violence where there is battery, unwanted, coerced or forced sexual penetration or touch among romantic couples.
You may note that the definition of sexual assault is not limited to rape or attempted rape. Even acts of touching a person inappropriately by acquaintances, family members, or even someone you trust without consent can qualify as sexual assault.
Hence "consent" is one of the most critical parameters when determining whether “sexual assault” took place or not.
Adjudicating sexual assault
If a person has sexual intercourse with another person without their consent, it becomes sexual assault. A court or law will analyze the circumstances and the measures the person took to ensure the other person consents to the act.
For example, if the victim did not have the cognitive capacity to give legal consent or was underage, then even express consent does not count. The court will also inspect if the person had the opportunity to express consent (they were not asleep or unconscious).
If the sex offender causes bodily harm to the victim or threatens to inflict bodily harm, the offence becomes an aggravated sexual assault.
Aggravated sexual assaults are even more severe charges with stiffer penalties. In the US, a person accused of sexual assault can face up to 14 years in prison if convicted.
Other types of sexual assault
Other sexual assault crimes range from sexual groping (toughing) to marital rape and forcible sodomy and object penetration.
While sexual touching is often considered a less severe form of sexual assault, it still has severe legal consequences.
A person found guilty of sexual touching can face up to 5 years of imprisonment, depending on the jurisdiction the crime was prosecuted.
An act will be considered "sexual touching" if someone touches another person sexually without their consent or incites another person to touch the victim inappropriately.
The charges for aggravated sexual touching are even more severe. Similarly, if the victim is a minor or is physically or cognitively disabled, the accused may face stiffer punishment.
Child pornography and sexual abuse
Solicitation of minors through the internet and incest (sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion between family members) are other serious sexual abuse crimes.
Possession of child pornography is also a sexual crime punishable by law.
Assault and battery
Battery and assault to have sexual intercourse are other sexual abuse crimes. A person convicted of assault to have sexual intercourse can face up to 20 years in jail, depending on the jurisdiction the crime occurred.
Unfortunately, sexual abuse and rape are among the most under-reported violence criminal acts because many survivors do not realize that they've been sexually assaulted.
But, thankfully, sexual assault lawyers understand the provisions and definitions of different sexual abuse charges and come in useful if you have been accused or are a victim of a sexual crime. It is advisable to speak to a lawyer either way.