Since the sexual revolution in the sixties, a lot of people have enjoyed freer ideas about sex. This has led to a shift in boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
Bizarre fact: until 1991, spouses were required to provide each other with sex. To what extent this has led to sexual abuse is unknown. Research on sexual abuse was not conducted in this era – except for the research on female sexual child abuse in 1988.
In 2006, the Rutgers Nisso Group started the first investigation to find out about the extent and characteristics of sexual abuse, among women and men.
There, sadly, is not much information about forced sex worldwide – whether or not within marriage. The estimation is that millions of people have dealt with sexual abuse.
Sexual harassment has increased, especially on the street and in the night scene. This appears from the research ‘Sex under 25’ (2017). In 2012, 14.8% of women had an unpleasant experience while going out. In 2017, this had risen to 28%. Touching a bottom or an attempted kiss by a stranger are the most frequent forms of sexual harassment. Women also find being grabbed or someone standing close to them intimidating.
To improve the sexual resilience of girls, the workshop series Girls’ Talk was developed. On the other hand, we make sure that potential sexual harassment among boys is prevented through the workshop LEFgozers (previously known as Beat the Macho. In this workshop, boys find the courage not to give in to group pressure. Boys that are on the verge of becoming offenders or those who already received punishment are helped through the mandatory educational programme ‘Ken je Grens’. Together with Halt, we have set up ‘Halt Sexting’ for young people that circulate digital sexual images without permission.
Negativity towards gender can lead to sexual abuse. Rutgers therefore aims to promote positive and respectful imaging regarding the position of women through the programme ‘Sexual violence’. Also, Rutgers has made a strong case for the expansion of paternity leave, a potentially positive outcome for the position of women.
Sexual abuse is globally addressed by the Prevention+ programme. By using storytelling as a communication tool, we try to involve the local community actively in banning abuse. Also, research is important. This is why our lobbyists work together with women’s rights organisations on the publication of policy documents and research reports.
No less than 850,000 women in the Netherlands have ever had sex against their will. 850,000 too many. To prevent women from sexual violence, prevention is established at different levels: preventing sexual harassment, signalling abuse and preventing repetition. This is why themes like respect and resilience are becoming more integrated into sexual education. Also, the standards relating to sexual abuse have to be challenged and refined. And more workshops and programmes should be developed to lower the risks of becoming a victim or offender of sexual harassment or abuse.