This 1st blog in the series of 10 on preventing rape introduces the series and then discusses what is meant by rape and where the responsibility for rape lies. We then take a look at global rape statistics, before looking at some of the horrific sexual assault / rape statistics from the United Kingdom, U.S.A and South Africa. We look briefly at the issue of prosecution rates before summarising the areas that will be covered in this series on reducing completed rape.
The Harsh Realities Of Rape
Rape: an indictment on the human race If ever there was a court case in the local Milky Way Galaxy as to whether the human race has a right to exist, the first thing that the prosecution might reach for would be a handbook on Earth’s rape statistics!
Us Earthlings have a long and appalling history of raping each other, and it doesn’t seem to be going away. This series of blogs on rape is not so much designed to look at things anthropologically though, or even to go into too much detail on the legal position or indeed why mankind rapes. It also avoids going into the legal position on rape in too much detail.
The goal of this series is more practical than that. There is a large amount of blogs, forums and even news articles on rape, but unfortunately, many of them tend to blur fact with opinion, myths with carefully chosen ‘statistics’. As a result, much of the actual advice out there is inaccurate, unbiased or unsubstantiated. This blog is designed to build up from the unbiased, methodologically sound research out there, to look at what will work best to decrease rape.
This series is designed first and foremost to provide every potential rape victim with the information they need to be able to most effectively prevent being raped.
Men are responsible
That said, it needs to be read by every man, woman and child so that rape and its psychosocial underpinnings are understood by all, that rape myths are torn asunder by all. At the end of the day, the responsibility for rape falls entirely on the perpetrator. The overwhelming majority of rapists are men. Men need to take responsibility for changing themselves.
For realising that even when they are not rapists they often have bigoted beliefs that perpetuate rape!
I have chosen to examine the state of rape-prevention programs for both men and women. Hopefully, this will aid designers and administrators of these programs as well as the administrators of the schools and colleges where they tend to run.
What is meant by rape?
Due to the very narrow definition of rape employed by many countries (vaginal penetration of a woman), I would like to clarify that all unwarranted sexual aggression is abominable. The modern definition of rape is penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
I am using this definition.
I have been reading through global rape statistics and they are truly terrifying. It makes me ashamed to be a part of humankind.
I am going to select just a few though, from three contrasting countries. I have chosen democracies where rape has a fairly modern definition, and where women (at least legally) have a right to speak out, as statistics from other categories of countries are often horribly twisted. To illustrate how legal and investigative systems can impact on reports of and convictions for rape, here are a few examples:
- in one survey 74% of women in Mali said that a husband is justified to beat his wife if she refuses to have sex with him.3
- one study in Turkey found that 33% of police officers agreed with the assertion that “some women deserve rape” and 66% agreed that “the physical appearance and behaviour of women tempt men to rape.2
That is not to say that there isn’t a serious amount of prejudice discussed in the countries I am including, just less so than the examples above.
Wikipedia, as ever is a great starting point for statistics, and many of these stats are from their site.1 However, I have tried to reference the original articles for you too. The United Nations accumulated data on 65 countries and found that 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. Obviously, this is a tiny fraction of the actual rapes occurring in these countries.
The UK actually has relatively low rape statistics compared to many other countries. Nevertheless:
- Around 10% of women had been raped.15
- Only 1,070 rapists are convicted every year despite up to 95,000 people suffering the trauma of rape.
- Around 1% of rape reports led to a conviction.11,12
- In a study of 13-18 year olds, a third of girls and 16% of boys had experienced sexual violence and as many as 250,000 teenage girls are suffering from abuse at any one time.13,14
- 12% of school going boys and 3% of girls reported committing sexual violence against their partners
- Almost 50% of UK men from 18-25 do not consider it rape to force a woman who has changed her mind to continue sex. Almost 25% claim that it isn’t rape even if a woman had said “no” at the start.
- 1 in 6 U.S. women and 1 in 33 U.S. men has experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.16
- Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police.17,18
- In 47% of such rapes, both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking, in 17% only the perpetrator, and in 7% only the victim. In only 29% of all rapes, neither the victim nor the perpetrator had been drinking.19.
- A study of 25,000 college women across the USA reported that 4.7% experienced rape or attempted rape during a single academic year.
- South Africa has one of the highest REPORTED rape rates in the world, with 127.6 per 100,000 rapes ONE YEAR” 9 Actual rape rates are many times higher than that.
- SA has amongst the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world, with over 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children reported in 2000 alone. Welfare groups believing that unreported incidents could be up to 10 times higher.4
- 1 in 3 of the 4,000 women in a generalized sample said they had been raped in the past year.5
- Over 25% of South African men questioned in a survey admitted to raping someone; with 50% of these having raped more than one person.6,7
- In a survey of 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township (on the outskirts of Johannesburg), a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that gang rape was fun.4,5
- In 2013 a study of 1991 grade nine boys at 46 secondary schools in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth found that 17.2% had raped.8
How About Prosecution Rates?
A large research study examined rapes reported to the police, with a follow-up on the state of the case after exactly 2 years.10. Results for the rape cases after 2 years showed the following (figures for under 18’s are given in brackets):
- 68% (58%) of cases never went to court
- 15% (18%) were withdrawn by the plaintiff
- 9% (9%) were found not guilty
- 5% (9%) were found guilty
- 3% (6%) of the cases were still on-going
If we assume that the on-going cases followed similar percentages to the cases that did go to trial, it means that around 6% (12%) of the cases resulted in a conviction.
That court case in some remote part of the Milky Way would probably be going really poorly about now. In fact, I see a Vogon ship arriving even now!
Attitudes towards women and rape are largely bigoted or downright misogynistic. A high percentage of our society is made up of violent criminals, which we largely just ignore. Men embrace denial: ‘my friends are not like that’. Women embrace the same denial: ‘I trust my boyfriend / husband entirely’. The legal system is a mess when it comes to rape. Many investigating officers have their own biases, and victims are often re-traumatized during the legal process. Imagine two years of reliving your rape just to complete a court case! Conviction rates are tiny, many women feel disempowered and judged, and therefore most don’t even bother to report the rape in the first place.
Our beliefs are corrupted and violence against women insidious. Is this really the world we want our children to grow up in; the future that we want for our daughters?
Goals of this series on preventing rape
In this series of articles, I am going to attempt to cover areas such as:
- education about rape prevalence
- rape myths and attitudes
- characteristics of victims and offenders
- how to label sexually coercive behaviour
- risky situations,
- safe dating behaviours
- how to resist rape
- effects of rape on women
This series on how to prevent being raped will continue next week with part 2 of 10, high risk situations for rape.
- Wikipedia: Rape Statistics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics#cite_note-bbc1-126
- “Turkish university students’ attitudes toward rape. | HighBeam Business: Arrive Prepared” (http://business.highbeam.com/435388/article-1G1-111635867/turkish-universitystudents-
attitudes-toward-rape). Business.highbeam.com. 2003-12-01.
- “Bioline International Official Site (site up-dated regularly)” http://www.bioline.org.br/request?rh04047). Bioline.org.br.
- Flanagan, Jane (11 November 2001). “South African men rape babies as ‘cure’ for Aids” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/11/11/wrape11.xml). The Daily Telegraph. UK.
- “Than 1 In 3 SAfrican Men Admit To Rape: Study http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/26/ap/africa/main7091765.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CBSNewsTheEarlyShowLiving+%28CBS+News%3A+The+Early+Show%3A+Living%29More)”. CBS News (AP).
- Prevalence and Predictors of Rape Perpetration Among Male Secondary School Students in Peri-Urban Xhosa Communities in South Africa” (http://sti.bmj.com/content/89/Suppl_1/A270.2.full.pdf+html). Sti.bmj.com. 2013-07-01.
- Jewkes, Rachel; Yandisa Sikweyiya1, Robert Morrell, Kristin Dunkle (2009). Understanding Men’s Health and Use of Violence: Interface of Rape and HIV in South Africa (http://www.mrc.ac.za/gender/violence_hiv.pdf) (Report). South African Medical Research Council. http://www.mrc.ac.za/gender/violence_hiv.pdf.
- David Smith (17 June 2009). “Quarter of men in South Africa admit rape, survey finds” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/17/south-africa-rape-survey). Guardian.co.uk.
- “In South Sudan, Ending Child Marriage Will Require a Comprehensive Approach | Human Rights Watch” (http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/13/south-sudan-ending-childmarriage-will-require-comprehensive-approach). Hrw.org.
- Easton, Mark (2008-07-09). “Rape: A complex crime” http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/07/rape_a_complex_crime.html). BBC.
- “Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence –2006/07 Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2006/07” (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb0308.pdf) 13. “BBC News – Teen rape tackled in Home Office advertising campaign” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17251461). Bbc.co.uk.
- Christine Barter, Melanie McCarry, David Berridge and Kathy Evans (2009).Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships (http://www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/research/findings/partner_exploitation_and_violence_report_wdf70129.pdf) NSPCC, pp. 65 (or more)
- “‘We Believe You’ Campaign: Mumsnet Survey on Rape and Sexual Assault” (http://www.mumsnet.com/campaigns/we-believe-you-campaign-survey-on-rape-and-sexualassault).
- “Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings of the National Violence Against Women Survey” (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/172837.pdf). National Institute of Justice. November 1998.
- Daryl C. DuLong. “Sexual Assault Statistics” http://web.archive.org/web/20070718110210/http://sa.rochester.edu/masa/stats.php). Web.archive.org. Archived from the original (http://sa.rochester.edu/masa/stats.php)
- Andrea Parrot; Nina Cummings (2006). Forsaken females: the global brutalization of women (http://books.google.com/books?id=_d_A5kcaKAAC&pg=PA43). Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 43–. ISBN 978-0-7425-4579-3.
- Abbey, A., BeShears, R., Clinton-Sherrod, A. M., & McAuslan, P. (2004). Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 323–332.”Similarities and differences in women’s sexual assault experiences based on tactics used by the perpetrator” (http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Similarities_And_Differences_In_Women_s_Sexual_Assault_Experiences_Based_On_Tactics.pdf).
- Mohler-Kuo, M.; Dowdall, G., Koss, M., Weschler, H (2004). “Correlates of Rape while Intoxicated in a National Sample of College Women” (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/cas/Documents/rapeintox/037-Mohler-Kuo.sep1.pdf). Journal of Studies on Alcohol 65: 37–45.