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Rape and sexual offences

Find out where you can get help if you've been raped or have experienced another type of sexual offence. You don’t have to cope on your own. There are many support services that can help you.

What is rape

Rape is a criminal offence and can only be committed by men.

Rape is defined as the penetration by a penis of another person’s vagina, anus or mouth without that person’s consent. 

Rape doesn’t include penetration by the fingers or an object but anyone who commits one of these acts could be charged with the offence of sexual assault by penetration and this offence is as serious as rape.

Women cannot commit rape. However, women can be charged with aiding and abetting someone else to commit rape.

Victims of rape can be male or female.

A man can be charged with raping his wife whether or not they are living together.

In Scotland, a boy aged 8 or over can be charged with rape.

The maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment.

Other sexual offences

There are other sexual offences, for example, sexual assault, that can be carried out by both men and women. These offences are committed if they are carried out without the other person’s consent. 

You may find it helpful to understand the legal definitions of consent and the different sexual offences. The nature of the attack, will determine which charges can be made. See the Scottish Government information pack for more information at www.gov.scot.

Reporting rape or sexual assault to the police

It may be a difficult decision for you to report a rape or sexual assault to the police and you may want to get specialist advice, for example, from an organisation such as Rape Crisis Scotland before making a decision.

Police Scotland has rape investigation units in every division across Scotland. These units are staffed by specially trained officers and a Sexual Offences Liaison Officer will work with you to explain what the police investigation will involve.

You can contact the police by phoning 101 or, in an emergency, 999.

There is also information for victims of sexual crimes on the Police Scotland website at www.scotland.police.uk.

Help after rape or sexual assault

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted there are many support services that can help you.

Rape Crisis Scotland

Rape Crisis Scotland
First Floor, Tara House
46 Bath Street
Glasgow
G2 1HG

Tel: 0141 331 4180 (Monday-Friday 9.30am-4.30pm)
Free Helpline: 08088 01 03 02 (every day between 6pm and midnight)
Fax: 0141 332 4168 (office) or 0141 353 3091 (helpline)
Minicom: 0141 332 2168
For support by email: support@rapecrisisscotland.org.uk
General Email: info@rapecrisisscotland.org.uk
Website: www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk

Rape Crisis Scotland operates a helpline that offers free and confidential support and information for anyone who has experienced any form of sexual violence at any time in their lives. Rape Crisis Scotland is also the national office for a network of local rape crisis centres across Scotland. Rape Crisis Scotland also produces a range of useful information leaflets about rape and sexual assault, including information for family and friends and about childhood sexual abuse. These leaflets are available on the website.

Scottish Women's Rights Centre

The Scottish Women's Rights Centre can offer legal advice and information to women in Scotland who are affected by any aspect of gender based violence.

Scottish Women's Rights Centre
Helpline: 0808 801 0789 (Tuesdays 6-9pm, Wednesdays 1.30pm-4.30pm)
Website: www.scottishwomensrightscentre.org.uk

Scottish Government guidance and information pack

The Scottish Government has produced a useful pack of information to help anyone following a rape or sexual assault. The pack is available on its website at www.gov.scot.

The pack also contains a list of useful organisations and helplines that can be contacted by anyone affected by a rape or sexual offence.

Detailed guidance on the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, is also available on the Scottish Government website at www.gov.scot

Enable easy read guide

Enable produces an easy-read guide called Surviving sexual abuse, for children or adults who have learning disabilities. It is available on the Enable website at www.enable.org.uk PDF .

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