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Rape And Sexual Assault Overseas

Volume 407: debated on Tuesday 24 June 2003

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr Mullin)

While most visits abroad are trouble-free, the FCO is becoming increasingly aware of people being raped while they are overseas. In 2002, 129 cases of rape were reported to British consular staff overseas. It is likely that many cases go unreported.Rape and sexual assault can, and do, happen to people from all walks of life—women, men, young and old. It is a very traumatic experience in any circumstance. That trauma can often be made even more difficult to deal with when the rape happens abroad.The FCO is committed to helping victims. We want them to come forward and seek assistance from the nearest British Consulate. Equally, we want to give advice to travellers before they go to help ensure their personal safety. The new FCO information leaflet on 'Rape and Sexual Assault Overseas' was written in conjunction with NGOs and the Police and aims to provide advice on personal safety for travellers, information for victims of rape and sexual assault and their families and useful contact information.The launch of the information leaflet forms part of the 'Know Before You Go' campaign which, working with travel industry partners, encourages travellers to be better prepared before travelling overseas. The FCO website provides advice for travel overseas including guidance on taking out travel insurance, country-specific travel information and checklists for specific groups such as backpackers and independent travellers, women travellers; those visiting friends and relatives overseas.

I hope colleagues will join in disseminating this information.