One in 3 girls aged 15 to 17 has faced sexual harassment or sexual violence in the Netherlands

A report shows that 38 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys between 15 and 17 years old have experienced some form of sexual violence or sexual harassment in the Netherlands. Many become victims again within five years.

Illustration | Eric Ward, 2017

The Victims’ monitor of sexual violence against children 2017-2021 published by the national rapporteur on trafficking in human beings and sexual violence against children on November 8 shows a “worrying picture of sexual violence and sexual harassment against young people between the ages of 15 and 17″ in the Netherlands.

Based on data from Statistics Netherlands, an estimated 95,000 girls (37.8 percent) and 34,500 boys (13.4 percent) aged between 15 and 17 years have experienced some form of sexual violence or sexual harassment.

Moreover, children identified as victims of sexual violence tend to be victims again. No less than 35 percent of 13 to 17-year-olds are again identified as victims by the police within five years. In more than half cases, they are again victims of sexual violence or experience serious violence.

Risks of being a victim again are lower, 14 percent, when victims are under 12 years old.

A report published last year on victims of human trafficking in the Netherlands showed that 50 percent of them were victims of a crime again within the following seven years, and 45 percent within the next five years. But only eight percent were again victims of human trafficking. The report also pointed out that the “cycle of insecurity and violence” was all the more difficult to break when victims are young.

The monitor of sexual violence against children also shows that the effectiveness of the majority of existing preventive interventions is unknown. “The use of ineffective interventions can be useless or even have the opposite effect,” worries Conny Rijken, the national rapporteur on trafficking in human beings and sexual violence against children.

Ms. Rijken suggests sexual and relational education should focus on older teenagers when they are “fully engaged in exploring relationships and their own sexuality” while “paying attention to sexuality and sexual diversity is currently only compulsory for primary education and the junior grades of secondary education.”

She also sees a lot of improvement to be made in schools with the government to offer more direction in providing information about sexuality, sexual diversity to contribute to the prevention of sexual violence against children.

Assistance for victims is not always available.

The good news of the report is that public awareness of sexual violence and sexually transgressive behavior has grown in recent years.

Read more news about the Netherlands

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