One in four men surveyed in Asia-Pacific study admit to rape

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In the aftermath of a sexual assault, the focus of discussion is often centred on the victim of abuse. For years, academics and the media alike have been asking the same questions: where was the victim? Why was she there at the time? How was she dressed? Was she intoxicated?

The result is a tangled web of ‘what ifs’ that shrouds the hard truths. Rape prevention has effectively become an exercise in self-preservation, while barely any energy is devoted to understanding the minds and motivations of perpetrators.

But a new multi-country study has revealed some startling findings about rape and gender violence in the Asia Pacific region.

As part of a UN initiative that looks at what drives sexual violence, an international team of researchers surveyed more than 10, 000 men from six different countries to examine the prevalence of rape, violence against partners, and their reasons for committing these crimes.

Participants were chosen from both rural and urban areas of Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka and cover a range of age groups. 

The survey, published on Tuesday in The Lancet Global Health journal, found that more than one in ten men surveyed (11 percent) admitted to having raped a woman who was not their partner.

What’s more, the figure jumped to nearly one in four (or 25 percent) when non-consensual sex with a spouse or intimate partner was included. Just under half (45 percent) of the perpetrators said they had raped more than one woman.

"It's clear violence against women is far more widespread in the general population than we thought," study lead author Rachel Jewkes told The Independent.

The survey was carried out by trained male interviewers, and the word ‘rape’ was not used. Instead, respondents were asked questions like, “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?”


Disturbingly, of those who admitted to rape, nearly 73 percent used “sexual entitlement” as justification – citing they believed they had a right to have sex, regardless of the woman’s consent. These respondents identified with statements like “I wanted her”, “I wanted to have sex”, or “I wanted to show I could do it”.

 Over half (59 percent) said they did it for entertainment (that they “wanted to have fun” or were “bored”), while a third (38 percent) said they used rape as a form of ‘punishment’ (“I was angry at her”).

Only 55 percent of men reported they felt guilty after the fact.

While the study is the largest of its kind, researchers note that the findings do not represent the whole Asia and Pacific region.

The study also highlighted that men who have experienced childhood sexual abuse or have been sexually coerced themselves were more likely to have committed rape than those had never experienced sexual violence. 

According to the report, “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.”

Professor Jewkes explains that the findings are especially significant because they bring to light the social risk factors for rape.  In other words, purely looking at individual cases of sexual violence and trying to weigh in on "how they could've been prevented" just isn’t enough.  

“We now need to move towards a culture of preventing the perpetration of rape from ever occurring, rather than relying on prevention through responses,” says Jewkes. 

 

See the full report from The Lancet Global Health here.

32 comments

  • And how many young teenage boys ,like under 21 were asked if they had been raped or gang raped too.

    Commenter
    Jane
    Date and time
    September 11, 2013, 9:15AM
    • This article/study is not about the victims, it's about the perpetrators.

      Commenter
      Ben
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 9:52AM
    • Ben, so young men and boys who are raped are not victims? or to put it differently are you saying that rape and brutalization of men and boys is only a problem if they go on to commit similar crimes themselves? Not being raped or assaulted is a basic human right and human rights should extend to men and boys too.

      Commenter
      JohnA
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 10:50AM
    • The article mentions that men who have been victims of sexual abuse themselves are more likely to commit sexual offences against others. This suggests that they may have been asked about whether that had been raped as part of the study. It also suggests that these men are both victims AND perpetrators, and therefore questions about crimes committed against them are relevant.

      Commenter
      MK
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 10:51AM
  • And thats a serious comment about our society and our justice system too.When more young guys are raped in institutions, in military in prisons in boarding schools and in male dominated work places, every day than females in a month , and nothing is said except about the female victim , you know you have sexist prejudice and an agenda being covered up .People dont understand that rape is a weapon ,a tool for social controillers to implement the pecking order.They have used it for centuries on males.

    Commenter
    Jane
    Date and time
    September 11, 2013, 9:19AM
    • Again, Jane, this is off topic, but there are a couple of points.

      Firstly, yes rape is absolutely a weapon, used against both men and women for centuries. The Spartans would rape their boys to toughen them up. And it is still used today against men and women as a means of control and power.

      That statistic you have used sounds highly dubious to me and I would love to see the source. But regardless, about one in three women in the general population will be raped or otherwise sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Male prison is a whole different ball game, and the stats from there (eg random violence rates) are rarely included in any discussion with general population stats. So why try to include their stats here?

      Especially when this discussion is about perpetrators, not victims.

      Commenter
      Ben
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 10:23AM
    • I think Jane has a point. Why specify only rape against women and girls? Ben you're correct in saying that the focus of the article is on the perpetrators, but why are offences against males filtered out? It would have been little extra effort to collect this data at the same time.

      Commenter
      Laki
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 10:52AM
    • Laki if you click through the link and download the PDF it does actually show that stats on rape of males was collected at the same time. On average it seemed to occur at roughly one third to one half the rate for female rape. Presumably it's not included in this article because it doesn't fit in with the point of the article for the author.

      Commenter
      Hurrow
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 11:36AM
    • The study did include assaults by males against males, go to the Lancet link at the end of the story. This article simply didn't mention that part of the study.

      Commenter
      Freddie Frog
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 12:09PM
    • Can you please show some research backing that up?

      Nobody denies male rape occurs, however I've never read any legitimate research anywhere suggesting the numbers of male rapes are more than a fraction of the numbers of rapes experienced by women. It's incredibly disingenuous to claim this is the case.

      Commenter
      Erikah
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 12:50PM

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