x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Study: One man in 10 in parts of Asia has raped

LONDON // About one man in 10 in some parts of Asia has admitted raping a woman who was not his partner, according to the first large studies of rape and sexual violence. When the man's wife or girlfriend was included, that figure rose to about a quarter.

International researchers said their startling findings should change perceptions about how common violence against women is and prompt major campaigns to prevent it.

Still, the results were based on a survey of only six Asian countries and the authors said it was uncertain what rates were like elsewhere in the region and beyond. They said that ingrained sexist attitudes contributed, but other factors, such as poverty or emotional and physically abuse as children were major risk factors for men's violent behaviour.

A previous report from the World Health Organisation found that a third of women worldwide said they had been victims of domestic or sexual violence.

"It's clear violence against women is far more widespread in the general population than we thought," said Rachel Jewkes, of South Africa's Medical Research Council, who led the two studies. The research was paid for by several United Nations agencies and Australia, Britain, Norway and Sweden. The papers were published online yesterday in the journal, Lancet Global Health.

In the new research, male interviewers surveyed more than 10,000 men in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea.

The word "rape" was not used in the questions, but the men were asked if they had ever forced a woman to have sex when she was not willing or if they had ever forced sex on someone who was too drunk or drugged to consent.

In most places, scientists concluded thyat between 6 and 8 per cent of men raped a woman who was not their partner. When they included wives and girlfriends, the figures were mostly between 30 and 57 per cent. The lowest rates were in Bangladesh and Indonesia and the highest was in Papa New Guinea. Previous studies of rape done in South Africa revealed that nearly 40 per cent of men are believed to have raped a woman.

Of those who acknowledged forcing a woman to have sex, more than 70 per cent of men said it was because of "sexual entitlement". Nearly 60 per cent said they were bored or wanted to have fun, while about 40 per cent said it was because they were angry or wanted to punish the woman. Only about half of the men said they felt guilty and 23 per cent had been imprisoned for a rape.

"The problem is shocking but any place we have looked, we see partner violence, victimisation and sexual violence," said Michele Decker, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who co-wrote an accompanying commentary.

"Rape doesn't just involve someone with a gun to a woman's head," she said. "People tend to think of rape as something someone else would do."

"It's not enough to focus on services for women," said Charlotte Watts, head of the Gender, Violence and Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not part of the study. She said some programmes in Africa based on challenging traditional ideas of masculinity are proving successful.

"It may be that the culture where they grew up condones violence, but it's not impossible to change that," she said.

* Associated Press