Fifth of young homeless women suffer sex abuse, says report

Almost one in five young homeless women have been sexually abused or exploited, according to a new report.

The study found that young homeless people routinely suffer physical and sexual abuse while living in temporary accommodation.

More than half (55%) of the 700 16 to 25-year-olds surveyed by homelessness charity Depaul UK reported suffering some form of harm.

A quarter said they had been pressured into drinking alcohol or taking drugs, while more than a third (36%) have had their property stolen or damaged.

Some 29% reported suffering mental or emotional abuse, while 28% said they had been subjected to physical attacks or abuse.

A total of 12% of those surveyed said they had been sexually abused or exploited.

The research, conducted among those using homelessness services across England, found young women are nearly four times as likely as young men to suffer sexual abuse, with 19% of females and 5% of males reporting such abuse.

LGBT young people are particularly vulnerable, the Danger Zones And Stepping Stones report suggests, with almost a quarter (23%) saying they had engaged in sexual activity in exchange for a place to stay.

Depaul UK's interim CEO Ian Brady is calling on the Government to reconsider proposed changes to supported accommodation.

He said: "Rough sleeping is on the increase for young people and our research found that almost 40% of young men and one fifth (20%) of the young women we surveyed had slept rough.

"Young people are taking enormous risks and often suffering serious harm to avoid sleeping rough.

"Supported accommodation prevents young people from sleeping on the streets or from staying with strangers or in other dangerous scenarios.

"This kind of accommodation is already in short supply and we are extremely concerned that the Government is proposing funding reforms that threaten its future."