About one in five women in the US has been raped in her life time, with nearly half of the victims subjected to sexual assault before the age of 18, a White House report said today.
Though women of all races are targeted, but some are more vulnerable than others, the report said, noting that 33.5 per cent of multiracial women have been raped, as have 27 per cent of American-Indian and Alaska Native women, compared to 15 per cent of Hispanic, 22 per cent of Black, and 19 per cent of White women.
Most victims know their assailants and the vast majority (nearly 98 per cent) of perpetrators are male, the report said.
The report released by the White House came ahead of the convening by US President Barack Obama and the Vice President Joe Biden of a meeting of the White House Council on Women and Girls at the Cabinet level along with the council representatives from each agency to examine the progress made and to renew a call to root out abuse wherever it exists, further protecting Americans from rape and sexual assault.
The report "Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action" outlines the facts surrounding rape and sexual assault and identifies key areas to focus on and improve, including working to change social norms, improving criminal justice response, and protecting students from sexual assault.
To this end of building on strong steps already taken to make educational settings safer for students, Obama is scheduled to sign a new Presidential memorandum at the meeting to establish the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault.
"The President believes that the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in our Nation's schools is both deeply troubling and a call to action. When 1 in 5 young women is sexually assaulted while in college, we must do more," the White House said in a fact sheet.
According to the report young people are especially at risk with nearly half of female survivors were raped before they were 18, and over one-quarter of male survivors were raped before they were 10.
College students are particularly vulnerable, one in five women has been sexually assaulted while in college, the report said.
Repeat victimisation is common with over a third of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults, it said.
Men and boys, however, are also at risk, the report said, adding that one in 71 men or almost 1.6 million have been raped during their lives.
Other populations are also at higher risk of being raped or sexually assaulted, including people with disabilities, the LGBT community, prison inmates (of both genders), and the homeless, the report said.
Undocumented immigrants face unique challenges because their abusers often threaten to have them deported if they try to get help, the report said.
The White House said its Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault will provide schools with best practices for preventing sexual assault, improve transparency of the federal government's enforcement activities, and coordinate among federal agencies to hold schools accountable for confronting sexual assault.
"The Task Force builds on strong steps the Administration has already taken to combat rape and sexual assault on campus.
In 2011, Vice President Biden and Secretary Duncan announced first-of-its kind guidance to ensure that educational institutions fully understand their obligations under Title IX to respond to and prevent sexual assault," the report said.