Sexual Assault In Criminal Justice

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Sexual assault is complex, guileful and ubiquitous. The criminal justice system is expected to deliver a sense that justice has been done, yet its current response is inadequate for the large majority of sexual assault victims. Victims of sexual assault have historically been met with denial and disbelief, with society failing to develop an adequate response to a crime. In recent decades, hard won improvements - called for by reformers and feminists, and implemented by well-intentioned governments - have seen sexual assault taken more seriously in legal and political arenas alike. Investigation, prosecution and court procedures have improved; specialization has been encouraged; and victims have been provided with fairer treatment and additional support services.
Despite this, however, sexual assault remains the most under-reported form of personal violence, due to its crucial evidentiary requirements and standards of proof demanded by the criminal process. Hard hitting policies of tougher penalties, longer sentences and stringent release practices, meanwhile, do little to address the majority of sexual offending, instead making offenders reluctant to take responsibility for their offending and choosing to contest the allegations. This in turn makes victims reluctant to pursue a prosecution, not wanting to be drawn into the protracted adversarial process.
In other words, most victims of sexual assault do not report to the police, do not pursue a prosecution, or if they do,

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