MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Wagga Women’s Health Centre women’s counsellor Emma Flakelar and community development officer Julie Mecham prepare to hand out flowers through the city to raise awareness for The Day of Action of Sexual Assault. Picture: Michael Frogley”WE do live in a relatively safe place, but unfortunately that still doesn’t protect everyone”.
With one simple statement, Wagga Women’s Health Centre community development worker Julie Mecham managed to powerfully summarise the importance of raising awareness about sexual assault within the community.
Despite the increasing prevalence of sexual assault in Australia, Julie admits it still largely remains a taboo subject within modern society.
Julie, along with women’s counsellor Emma Flakelar, today sought to break down myths and stigma attached to sexual assault by promoting TheDay of Action against Sexual Assault campaign.
TheDay of Action against Sexual Assault is recognised as an opportunity to commemorate survivors of sexual assault and all those who have worked with survivors.
“Sexual assault is on the rise,” Julie said.
“And, while it is excellent that women are coming forward to report incidents of sexual assault and domestic violence, the fact is this violence against women should not be occurring.”
Despite the continued hard work and efforts of organisations including the Wagga Women’s Health Centre, Julie believes there is still a damaging perception attached to sexual assault and victims.
“There has been a lot of media attention lately on measures women are taking to protect themselves, like learning self-defence skills, but this still fails to fully recognise and acknowledge that sexual assault is never the victims the fault,” she said.
“There should never be a question of ‘what did shedo’, ‘why didn’t she scratch his face or gauge his eyes and escape’, ‘why didn’t she check her drink to make sure it wasn’t spiked?’
“These are questions of the victim that should never be asked. Why doesn’t no mean no?”
New statistics released in June 2014 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics have shown a disturbing trend in the number of reported incidences of sexual assault.
Reports of sexual assault have hit a four year high, with the ABS revealing there were approximately 20,000 reports of sexual assault reported by police during 2013 – anincrease of eight percent on 2012.
“Rape and sexual assault are acts of war,” Julie said.
“They destroy the enemy in the same way as gunfire.”
Julie hopes the Day of Action against Sexual Assault will play a role in creating greater support and understanding for victims.
“Survivors of sexual assault need to know that they are never to blame for assault,” Julie said.
“The victim’s action’s, clothing or lifestyle is never an excuse for the assault, and this is something the community needs to better understand.
“The perpetrator is the only person ever responsible for a sexual assault.”
70 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Only one percent of sexual assaults are committed by a stranger.Women aged 15-24 experience the highest rates of sexual assault, however it can happen to anyone regardless of age.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.