Sexual assaults in groups are more violent and the damage is more serious, according to experts

21/05/19
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Criminologists, lawyers, psychologists and forensic doctors held a debate at UIC Barcelona as a result of a new type of sexual assault in groups

Sexual assaults in groups are more violent and the damage is more serious, according to experts

Sexual assaults in groups are more violent and the damage is more serious and long-lasting, according to the experts brought together for an event entitled “Forensic and criminological challenges as a result of a new type of sexual assault in groups”. The event was organised as part of our University Master’s Degree in Legal, Forensic and Criminal Psychopathology.  Criminologists, lawyers, psychologists and forensic doctors analysed the increase in this type of sexual assault and agreed when underlining the fact that the victims resist less in the case of gang rape.  

In his talk, Àngel Cuquerella, a forensic doctor from the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science of Catalonia, explained that assaults by young people in groups involve higher levels of violence and also highlighted the fact that older victims suffer more brutal attacks. 

He described the profile of sexual attackers, young men between the ages of 20 and 25, who have partners —only 11 % don’t have a partner— and who do not know the victim.  According to Cuquerella, 54% had consumed alcohol before committing the attack and 48% had taken drugs.  Also, 21% used a weapon to intimidate the victim. 

In the case of the victim, they tend to offer “little resistance”, according to Cuquerella.  At the time of the attack, he explained that half of them would have consumed alcohol and 31% would have recently taken drugs. 

The expert also asserted that sexual attackers “normally don’t start as an adult, but instead while they are still young”. 

Marian Martínez, a researcher for the Group of Advanced Studies on Violence, asserted that in Spain 22.5% of people above the age of 14 who reply to victimisation questionnaires have suffered some type of abuse or sexual assault during their life.  

In terms of reporting this crime, Spain has one of the lowest averages.  Therefore, only 0.1 % of reported crime is for sexual reasons, as compared to 1.4 % in the United States or Iceland, and 1.3 % in Sweden. According to this expert, 5% of people in Spanish jails are there for sexually related crimes. 

20% reoffend

The researcher also referred to the rates of reoffending among sexual attackers, which is around 20%.  She underlined the fact that it is a rate that is “much lower than that shown in other criminal categories such as other types of violent crime, crimes involving property or drug trafficking, with rates that can vary between 20 and 60%”. 

She also underlined the success of treatment programmes implemented in prisons, since according to some studies “rates of reoffending can drop to 4%”. 

During the event, this year in its IV edition, there was participation from Marc Molins, a criminal lawyer and partner at Molins & Parés, and Ismael Loinaz, a forensic psychologist from the University of Barcelona. 

The aim of this event is to tackle the key issues at the heart of sexual assaults in groups and also recruitment for and the organisation of activities in Islamic terrorist groups from a multidisciplinary perspective. The purpose of this is twofold: to put forward early detection and primary prevention methods, as well as understand the context in which the psychopathological phenomena lying at the heart of these trends can be interpreted.