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The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates almost one in five Australian women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. But according to data from Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA), less than one per cent of those crimes will ultimately result in conviction. As NSW looks to reform sexual assault and child sex crime reporting laws, author and sexual assault survivor Bri Lee discusses the barriers victims face in what she considers to be a sexist and racist criminal justice system.

Consider the women in your life. Your sisters, daughters, mothers, friends, colleagues. Picture their happy faces. Now consider the odds that, statistically speaking, one in five of them will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Those are the terrifying odds that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has estimated women in Australia face, following results of a national survey of more than 21,000 people aged 18 years and over that was published in November 2017. The 2016 Personal Safety Survey showed one in two women had been sexually harassed in their lifetime, and a shocking 17 per cent of women had fallen victim to sexual assault.

But while the ABS data shows sexual assault is rampant, it also shows avenues for women seeking justice for their attackers are ineffectual. Less than 20 per cent of victims will report the crime to police, and only 17 per cent of that tiny proportion will achieve a conviction.

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