UK police officers
Rape victims of both sexes were mostly aged between 15 and 19 years, ONS has found Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

A quarter of all female rape victims are under 14 years of age, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed. The findings are based on data gathered from 13 forces in England and Wales, between March 2014-15.

Three in 10 (30%) of female rape victims were below 16 years, while one in ten (9%) were below the age of 9, the ONS stated. The statistical department found that half of the female victims of sexual offences including assaults, grooming and sexual exploitation, were aged below 16. Moreover, rape victims of both sexes were most likely to be aged between 15 and 19 years.

"They [the figures] have to be a wakeup call to the Government, to every profession working with young people and to all of us - what are we going to do about this horrific level of assault against young women and girls?" Sky News quoted Sarah Green of the End Violence Against Women Coalition as saying.

"We believe the figures show that those who commit these crimes target victims who are young and more vulnerable. Offenders have more confidence in getting away with crimes against younger women and girls," Green said. "We have to get serious about tackling the perpetrators of this abuse and preventing assaults in the first place," she said.

Talking about physical violence in a relationship, Green said: "It is clear that many young people have extremely worrying attitudes towards acceptable behaviour in intimate relationships. We cannot ignore the easy availability of online pornography and other parts of popular culture with its messages about jealousy, ownership and traditional male and female roles, and we need a debate about this."

Further, ONS revealed that 88,106 sexual offences were recorded between March 2014-15, which is the highest, since crime recording standards were introduced in 2002. "As well as improvements in recording practices, this is thought to reflect a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report such crimes," ONS said.

"While the increase in reporting and better police recording of sexual crime is to be welcomed, there is still a long way to go in improving the support given to victims who make the brave decision to speak up and seek justice," Mark Castle, chief executive of charity Victim Support was quoted as saying.