Jocelyn Spottiswoode, Telegraph (London), September 10, 2013
A new survey by the United Nations reveals that almost a quarter of men in some Asian countries admit to having committed a rape.
The study was based on interviews with more than 10, 000 men in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka.
Results showed that rape within relationships was most common; while 11 percent of men admitting to raping a woman who was not their partner, the figure rose to 24 percent when their partners were included in the question.
45 percent of those admitting to rape said they had raped more than one woman, more than half of the men who had raped a non-partner woman did so for the first time as teenagers.
Although prevalence varied widely between locations, in general, Papua New Guinea consistently had the highest statistics and Bangladesh and Indonesia the lowest within the various criteria. Researchers were careful not to use the word ‘rape’ and instead asked “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?” They were also asked why.
Reasons varied between sexual entitlement (73 per cent), entertainment (59 per cent), anger or punishment (38 percent) and alcohol or substance use (27 per cent). Of these men only 55 percent felt guilty and just 23 percent had ever been to prison for rape.
The report was coincidentally released at the same time as New Delhi convicted four men of raping and murdering a 23-year-old student last December. The authors of the study stressed that the probe was not intended to be an authoritative statistical overview of rape in the countries specified, but rather to seek insight into sexual violence and its causes.
Men who had been sexually abused as a child or raped themselves were likelier to commit rape. Those who had a history of physical violence towards a partner, a large number of sexual partners, or who had previously paid for sex were also more likely to commit rape, as were gang members and men with alcohol problems
Rape was also more prevalent in places that had been theatres of conflict, such as Bougainville and Jayapura, in Indonesia’s restive Papua province.
“Rape doesn’t just involve someone with a gun to a woman’s head,” said Michele Decker, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who co-wrote an accompanying commentary. “People tend to think of rape as something someone else would do.”
Charlotte Watts, a specialist in rape research and a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not part of the study, said the study was bold but thorough and the data was reliable, “However, that 30 per cent or more of men in each country who reported having forced a woman to have sex had first done this by the age of 19 speaks to the need to challenge prevalent norms about masculinity and notions of sexual entitlement at an early age.” She also added that some programs in Africa based on challenging traditional ideas of masculinity are proving successful.