STA, 9 August 2019 - Victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment or rape in Slovenia usually knew the perpetrator from before, and a majority of abuses happened while they were still minors, show more than 150 anonymous testimonies a local NGO has collected since March 2018 under the #JazTudi campaign.
When the victims spoke up about the abuse, they were usually met with silence, the 8 March Institute said as it presented the testimonies to the press on Friday.
The majority of the testimonies came from women, but also six men and a transsexual, with the youngest victim aged 17 when they told their story and the oldest one 63.
"Many of the victims told their story for the first time. They did not do so to spread anger but to spread the word so that such things do not happen again," Nika Kovač, who heads the 8 March, said.
Half of the participating victims said they had experienced a sexual assault before the age of 18, and some 25% were sexually abused before they turned 15.
While a quarter of the victims were raped, the abuse the majority experienced was inappropriate touching. There were also several cases of flashing in public.
Sexual harassment is also rather common, and is most often related to precarious forms of work. "The higher post the perpetrator has, the worse sexual harassment," said Kovač.
Since more than half of the victims knew the abuser from before the assault, the testimonies debunk the myth that sexual violence happens mostly in dark streets, according to Kovač.
It happens between the walls of their homes, and "it is worrying that when the victims tell about it to their family members, they get no support."
They are usually met with silence, receiving support from their relatives only in 15% of the cases.
At the beginning of 2019, the 8 March Institute launched an online petition demanding legal changes to how rape is defined, having collected more than 5,500 signatures.
Under the Penal Code, rape occurs when a perpetrator coerces the victim into sexual intercourse with force or with serious threats.
"But rape is everything that involves sexual intercourse without consent," said Mojca Lukan from the 8 March.
She said initiatives for sexual crimes not to get stature-barred are important, but the main issue is the legal definition of rape.
The Justice Ministry has already set up a task force to draft changes, but no NGO has been invited to take part, Lukan stressed.