All forms of violence should be considered as an assault. Sexual violence should not be treated differently. This would eliminate the stigma, allow women (mainly) to rationalise the trauma as violence not sex and make 'she asked for it' a less acceptable form of defence. I would also include all types of 'domestic abuse' in GBH or ABH, just because it's someone you know and it's 'private' doesn't make it less serious. The police would then have to treat all violence in a standard way, without any preconceptions and both the victim and criminal would understand that sexual assaults are unacceptable violence and not part of normal sexual behaviour.
Although I have referred mainly to male/female situations these changes would be gender non-specific.
Why does this idea matter?
The conviction rate for rape is low for many reasons but one is that the victim can feel partly to blame, this is never a factor if someone is punched in the street – they may possibly have asked for it but that doesn't make it less of a crime.
Women also feel more traumatised because they see rape as a sexual act. It is not. It is violence. The blacked out faces of rape victims on TV would be considered ridiculous if they had been attacked in any other way. They should not feel ashamed, it is not their fault.
Rape should not be seen as special or different. Many women would be more upset by a serious disabling physical assault than by a non violent rape. Women should not be expected to feel more seriously hurt by assault on certain parts of their body rather than others.
If the differentness of sexual crimes were removed people would be more willing to report them and more convictions may result.