homeless women: half were raped, says study [Sydney, Australia]

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 09:34:49 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Sydney Morning Herald  Thursday, April 9, 1998



       Half of all women and 10 per cent of all men who rely on inner-city
hostels and refuges for food or shelter have been raped, according to a
study released yesterday by five welfare groups.

       Down and Out in Sydney, commissioned by the Sydney City Mission, St
Vincent de Paul, the Wesley Mission, the Salvation Army and the Haymarket
Foundation, interviewed 210 homeless people chosen at random last year.

       The results found three quarters of those questioned had at least
one mental disorder, compared with just 18 per cent for the population as a

       It also found that 93 per cent had suffered at least one major
traumatic event in their life: having been either the victim of a serious
assault or a witness to another person being badly injured or killed.

       "This is perhaps the most telling section of Down and Out in
Sydney," said the report.

       "The trauma events referred to are the ones which most people only
experience through the newspapers or television."

       Such statistics, the report added, "might go some way towards
explaining the prevelance and severity of mental disorders. It certainly
indicates that life for homeless people has been or is a generally violent
and threatening reality."

       The study found that 68 per cent of the women questioned reported
being indecently assaulted.

       The study said it "provides irrefutable evidence that our community
is effectively condemning thousands of men and women to homelessness
because they have the misfortune to be afflicted with a mental disorder or
disability and lack material resources and support".


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