Survey finds 1 in 4 men in Asian Pacific have committed rape

Survey finds 1 in 4 men in Asian Pacific have committed rape

According to a United Nations survey released on September 10, nearly one in four men across Asia and the Pacific have admitted to raping at least one woman. UN Women, the organization dedicated to gender equality, says on its website that out of the 10,000 men surveyed across Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea, nearly half acknowledged using “physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner” (UN Women) and “nearly a quarter of men interviewed reported perpetrating rape against a women or girl” (UN Women).

The survey, entitled “Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It? Quantitative Findings from the UN Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific,” was conducted by Partners for Prevention, a regional joint program for gender-based violence prevention. Men who were interviewed were asked questions about their “use and experiences of violence, gendered attitudes and practices, childhood, sexuality, family life and health” (UN Women).

At the site of survey in China, 23% of men interviewed admitted to at least one rape. In Papua New Guinea, 61% admitted to the same.

“The study reaffirms that violence against women is preventable, not inevitable,” said James Lang, Program Coordinator for Partners for Prevention. “Prevention is crucial because of the high prevalence of men’s use of violence found across the study sites and it is achievable because the majority of the factors associated with men’s use of violence can be changed.”

The study also found that men began committing sexual violence earlier in their lives than the UN originally thought. 50% of the interviewees who admitted to rape reported that their first time was in their teenage years; 23% of these men at the site in Papua New Guinea and 16% at the site in Cambodia were 14 or younger.

In addition, between 72-97% of the men who acknowledged their perpetrations did not experience any legal penalties. 4% of respondents admitted to participating in gang rape against a woman or girl.

But perhaps the most frustrating facet of the survey was the investigation of motivation; the most common reason that men reported for rape was simply because they believed they were entitled to sex with a woman, regardless of her consent. 80% of men surveyed in Bangladesh and China provided this response.

In an interview by National Geographic, Rachel Jewkes, lead technical adviser for this study, expressed that the idea of sexual entitlement isn’t new.

“I think that [sexual entitlement] 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,” she said.

“If a woman is raped, she would be blamed for putting herself at risk for being raped,” she added.

UN Women claims that the data collected by the study reaffirms the idea of female insubordination and structural inequalities. Men who reported having committed sexual violence against a woman or girl were more likely to “have gender-inequitable attitudes,” “have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse as a child, or witnessed the abuse of their mother,” and “have practices that celebrate male toughness and sexual performance, such as being involved in fights and paying for sex” (UN Women).

A difficult problem surfaced by this study was that oftentimes, men who commit sexual violence do not realize the significance of their perpetration. According to Jewkes, a common reaction to the interviews sounds something like: “[y]ou mean, I’ve just told you I’ve done something I could get arrested or jailed for?”

And experts know that rape is more prevalent than what statistics show. According to an article by NPR published the same day the study was released, the UN also maintains statistics of sexual violence, but “it is difficult to gauge the reliability,” given that the numbers are self-reported by governments.

Global Post’s chart highlighting international rates reports that the United States acknowledged about 27.6 rapes per 100,000 people and that Sweden reports about 51.8 rapes per 100,00 people. India, on the other hand, reported approximately 1.8 rapes per 100,000 people.

The Wall Street Journal commented that the underreported numbers provided by a nation “makes headway in encouraging more victims to come forward will appear, in its official stats, to have a worsening rape problem.”

Fortunately, some suggestions have been made to help in alleviating the burgeoning issue of sexual violence.

The UN study recommends a checklist of goals, including to “ensure the full empowerment of women and girls and eliminate gender discrimination,” make use of “community mobilization programs” to “make violence against women unacceptable,” but perhaps most importantly, to “address child abuse and promote healthy families.”

The clearest solution to an international issue this monumental starts at the roots; nations need to address the protection of its children.

Research specialist for Partners for Prevention Emma Fulu says that she hopes the study will infuse programs with new knowledge that will hopefully inspire policies to end violence against women. “Given the early age of violence perpetration we found among some men, we need to start working with younger boys and girls than we have in the past,” she says, “We also need laws and policies that clearly express that violence against women is never acceptable, as well as policies and programs to protect children and end the cycles of violence that extend across many people’s lives.”

Technical adviser Rachel Jewkes would agree with Fulu.

“In order to end violence against women, we have to end violence against children,” says Jewkes. “If we end violence against children, we have a huge impact on violence of all kinds perpetuated across the globe.”