UN study finds ‘rape culture’ in Asia-Pac countriesBy Graham Land Sep 16, 2013 6:00AM UTC
A lot of public and media attention has focused of late on high profile rapes in India. While this attention is fuelled by the shockingly brutal nature of the crimes in question (gang rape, sexual murder), many have raised questions about society in South Asia being permissive of sexual violence against women. The findings of a recent United Nations survey seem to back up the idea that rape is not considered such a serious crime in much of the Asia-Pacific region.
While a geographic area as large as the Asia Pacific is by no means homogenous in terms of culture, politics or socio-economic conditions, the findings of the report are worrying. Nearly a fourth of 10,000 men surveyed in six countries admitted to having committed at least one rape.
In an interview for National Geographic, Rachel Jewkes, the lead technical advisor for the study, pointed out that while gang rape is strongly associated with poverty, it is gender inequality that both provides a feeling of entitlement to men and places blame on women.
Sexual entitlement is the most common motivation across all of these countries. I think that very, very strongly points to the root of rape in gender relations, and the fact that rape is really legitimized in so many of these countries.
Some results from the survey
Nine areas in six countries were surveyed. The percentage of men who admitted to committing rape at some time in their lives is as follows:
- Rural Bangladesh (14.1%), urban Bangladesh (9.5%), Cambodia (20.4%), China (22.2%), rural Indonesia (19.5%), urban Indonesia (26.2), Indonesia-Papua (40.6%) Papua New Guinea-Bougainville (62.4%) and Sri Lanka (14.5%).
- In all areas except Papua New Guinea-Bougainville, the men more often committed rapes against their partner.
- In all areas the most common (71% overall) given reason for committing rape was “sexual entitlement”.
- Most men (70% overall) reported that they had experienced emotional abuse before they were 18 years old.
- Most perpetrators of rape (72-97% in most sites) did not experience any legal consequences for their actions
It’s not just about men’s experience of physical and sexual abuse as children, but the emotional environment they grow up in, which has a big impact on violence later in life, as well as the other types of victimisation, like homophobic bullying and violence and being raped themselves. It’s not in any way excusing men’s behaviour – men still need to be held accountable for their action – but it does highlight that we need to understand the lives of men.
– Dr Emma Fulu, study co-coordinator Partners for Prevention (quote via the Guardian)
The entire report, entitled the UN Multi-Country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific (as well as a summary version of the report) can be downloaded here.