The Living Evidence of Sexual Violence Against Women in Hong Kong: A Retrospective Study of RainLily’s Crisis Services (2000-2018) 《風雨蘭求助個案回溯研究報告2000-2018》
RainLily – the first one-stop crisis centre in Hong Kong – has provided a range of support services for sexual violence victims since its establishment in 2000. These services include, but are not limited to, counselling, medical treatment, and legal procedural support. Through its continuous efforts, RainLily has handled more than 14,000 requests for assistance and has provided follow-up support to a total of 3,611 victims of sexual violence since its establishment. Meticulous records have been kept for each case, including the demographic background of the victim (for example covering the victim’s age, education and residential status) and details of the victimisation experience (for example, the type of sexual victimisation involved, the location of the incident and the victim’s relationship with the perpetrator).
Noting a lack of comprehensive statistics and analysis regarding the problem of sexual violence in Hong Kong, this study aims to gain a better knowledge of the issues involved and to help improve related coping strategies. A quantitative approach is used to investigate and analyse the 3,611 case records from RainLily’s services database. Together with statistical descriptions of the demographic factors of these cases, a series of statistical tests examine the relationships between relevant factors, which helps in identifying the patterns of sexual abuse and nuances between different victims’ needs.
The findings of this study reaffirm that sexual violence against women is still a serious social problem in Hong Kong today, and that the related issues affect women from all walks of life. Although sexual violence can be committed at random, results show that the vast majority of the cases were committed by someone already known to the victim, and that many incidents took place in private space or other closed setting (e.g. residential premises). Whilst the trauma of the experience brings harmful and lasting consequences for the victims, most victims tended to delay seeking help after the incident, and only around half of all victims chose to report their case to police at all. Despite significant improvements being recorded in victims’ emotional and psychological well-being after receiving RainLily’s support services, only a few victims were eventually able to obtain legal justice via the existing judicial system.
In considering the key causes underlying the prevalence of sexual violence, this study highlights the need to acknowledge the crucial role of gender-related socio-cultural factors which underpin the phenomenon of sexual violence, rather than the personal characteristics of individual victims. The problem of sexual violence against women must be understood as conditioned by the asymmetric power relations between men and women in all aspects in society, especially in the realms of family, intimate relationships and work. Moreover, the sociological differences between women must be examined, as more vulnerable and socially-disadvantaged groups of women (for example those underage or diagnosed with an intellectual disability) may find themselves subjected to increased subordination and marginalisation in coping with sexual violence.
To tackle sexual violence in Hong Kong and to serve the specific needs of victims from diverse backgrounds, we present the following recommendations:
Enhance the services for victims post-crisis to ensure a full recovery. The implementation of a hospital-based one-stop crisis centre would allow victims to reach different social agents (e.g. medical, legal and counselling specialists) in one location, and is essential to achieve this end. At the very least, the government should set up a crisis centre in at least one public hospital in each of the New Territories, on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. Moreover, the provision of post-crisis long-term support services (e.g. counselling post-trial) is also vital to help victims recovering from trauma.
Improve procedures to encourage reporting to police by victims. Not only would the formation of a specialised team to handle sexual violence cases better serve the needs of victims, but also the provision of regular professional training (especially gender sensitivity training) and re-assessment of reporting procedures would help to ensure the quality of legal support services and encourage reporting by victims.
Eliminate the culture and myths concerning sexual assault and promote non-violent and non-coercive interpersonal relationships. Distinguishing fact from myths is crucial to formulating appropriate measures to eliminate sexual violence. Equally important is raising awareness of the importance of establishing healthy interpersonal relationships.
Promote education regarding gender equality and sexual assault awareness, and adapt the current curriculum, methods and targets. Education on gender equality and how to establish healthy, non-violent sexual relationships is key to fighting sexual violence. Whilst gender and sex education should be made compulsory at primary and secondary school level, the contents must encompass a wider scope of related topics, such as appropriate responses to inappropriate sexual advances, the development of healthy intimate relationships, and understanding sexual consent.
Reform legislation concerning sexual offences. Some of the laws relating to sexual crimes are out of date and revisions are urgently needed to adequately protect the rights of sexual violence victims. Moreover, it is also necessary to improve protective measures for victims during trial.
優化支援受害人服務，協助受害人重過新生 – 在公立醫院內設置一站式危機支援中心，為受害人提供整全的支援服務，包括即時的醫療支援、法醫檢查、情緒輔導以及進行報警等程序。鑑於性暴力受害人的需要，政府必須在港島、九龍、新界區的公營醫院內各設置一間危機支援中心，為受害人提供24小時一站式服務。此外，除了為受害人提供即時及短期的危機介入支援，增設長遠的危機後期支援服務，例如結案後的定期輔導，滿足受害人在不同時期的不同需要。
改善警方接案程序，以鼓勵舉報 – 在警隊內增設專責處理性暴力個案的團隊及人員，並且為相關的警務人員提供定期的個案處理訓練(尤其是提升性別敏感度的相關培訓)，以及檢視現行的報案程序與相關指引，以致更有效地協助受害人進入司法系統尋求公義。
消除社會上的性侵文化與迷思，建立非暴力的人際關係 – 糾正謬誤觀念以減少社會大眾對性暴力受害人的歧視及指責，並且教導巿民更有效的預防性侵害的方法。同時，向公眾提倡建立非暴力、性別平等的人際關係，以創造一個多元共融、零性暴力的社會。
推廣性別平等及預防性侵的相關教育，改革現時教育內容、手法及對象 – 性別平等及性侵害防範意識教育是打撃性暴力的重要鑰匙。在中、小學的課程當中，學校必須把性別教育加入成為必修課目。同時，課程內容亦應包納更廣泛的相關議題，包括如何看待及處理性慾、如何建立健康的伴侶關係、如何理解性關係上的知情同意。
改革性罪行法例 – 現行的性罪行相關法例中，有些條例因其設立年代久遠，經已不合時宜，難以切合當前社會的需要。故此，改革性罪行法律實在刻不容緩。同時，檢視及改善對性暴力受害人在審訊時的保護措施，以達至更全面保障受害人的權益。