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In parts of the world, nearly a fourth of men admit to having raped

Sept. 10, 2013
Courtesy of The Lancet
and World Science staff

Nearly a fourth of men in the Asia-Pa­cif­ic re­gion ad­mit to hav­ing raped some­one—at least, if they’re asked about it in a way that avoids the word “rape,” a study has found.

Re­search­ers sur­veyed more than 10,000 men aged 50 and un­der from six dif­fer­ent coun­tries in the re­gion, from both ur­ban and ru­ral ar­eas.

Male in­ter­view­ers car­ried out the sur­veys but par­ti­ci­pants an­swered the most sen­si­tive ques­tions alone, by “self-completing” au­di­o record­ings in re­sponse to ques­tions. Men weren’t asked di­rectly wheth­er they had com­mit­ted rape or vi­o­lence, but were rath­er asked ques­tions such as, “Have you ev­er forced a wom­an who was not your wife or girl­friend at the time to have sex?” or “Have you ev­er had sex with a wom­an who was too drugged or drunk to in­di­cate wheth­er she wanted it?”

Elev­en per­cent re­ported hav­ing raped a wom­an who was not their part­ner. When men who re­ported hav­ing raped a part­ner were in­clud­ed, this pro­por­tion rose to 24 per­cent. Of those men who re­ported hav­ing com­mit­ted rape, 45 per­cent said they had raped more than one wom­an.

When asked why they had com­mit­ted rape, 73 per­cent said that they did so for rea­sons of sex­u­al en­ti­tle­ment, 59 per­cent for some sort of en­ter­tain­ment, and 38 per­cent for what they per­ceived as pun­ish­ment. Men with a his­to­ry of be­ing vic­tim­ized them­selves, es­pe­cially sex­u­ally, were found to be more likely to have com­mit­ted rape.

A his­to­ry of phys­i­cal vi­o­lence to­wards a part­ner, hav­ing paid for sex, or hav­ing had a large num­ber of sex­u­al part­ners were al­so as­so­ci­at­ed with an in­creased like­li­hood of hav­ing com­mit­ted rape against a non-part­ner.

“In view of the high prev­a­lence of rape world­wide, our find­ings clearly show that pre­ven­tion strate­gies need to show in­creased fo­cus on the struc­tur­al and so­cial risk fac­tors for rape,” said Ra­chel Jewkes of South Africa’s Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil, who led the stu­dy. “We now need to move to­wards a cul­ture of pre­vent­ing the per­petra­t­ion of rape from ev­er oc­cur­ring, rath­er than re­ly­ing on pre­ven­tion through re­sponses.”

The sur­veys were con­ducted in Bang­la­desh, Cam­bo­dia, Chi­na, In­do­ne­sia, Pap­ua New Guin­ea, and Sri Lanka. The find­ings are pub­lished in the med­i­cal jour­nal The Lan­cet to co­in­cide with a U.N. re­port on vi­o­lence against wom­en in Asia and the Pa­cif­ic.


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Nearly a fourth of men in the Asia-Pacific region admit to having raped someone—at least, if they’re asked about it in a way that avoids the word “rape,” a study has found. Researchers surveyed more than 10,000 men aged 50 and under from six different countries in the Asia-Pacific region, from both urban and rural areas. Male interviewers carried out the surveys but participants answered the most sensitive questions alone, by “self-completing” audio recordings in response to questions. Men weren’t asked directly whether they had committed rape or violence, but were rather asked questions such as, “Have you ever forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex?” or “Have you ever had sex with a woman who was too drugged or drunk to indicate whether she wanted it?” Eleven percent reported having raped a woman who was not their partner. When men who reported having raped a partner were included, this proportion rose to 24%. Of those men who reported having committed rape, 45% said they had raped more than one woman. When asked why they had committed rape, 73% said that they did so for reasons of sexual entitlement, 59% for some sort of entertainment, and 38% for what they perceived as punishment. Men with a history of being victimized themselves, especially sexually, were found to be more likely to have committed rape. A history of physical violence towards a partner, having paid for sex, or having had a large number of sexual partners were also associated with an increased likelihood of having committed rape against a non-partner. “In view of the high prevalence of rape worldwide, our findings clearly show that prevention strategies need to show increased focus on the structural and social risk factors for rape,” said Rachel Jewkes of South Africa’s Medical Research Council, who led the study. “We now need to move towards a culture of preventing the perpetration of rape from ever occurring, rather than relying on prevention through responses.” The surveys were conducted in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka. The findings are published in the medical journal The Lancet to coincide with a U.N. report on violence against women in Asia and the Pacific.