For First Time, U.N. Study Highlights Pacific-Asian Rape Culture


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A multi-country survey recently conducted by the U.N. of Asian countries near the South Pacific sheds a terrifying light onto rape culture as it exists in nations far less fascinating to the media than India.

The abstract is here, and the study is to be published in the medical journal The Lancet. A little over 10,000 men were asked about their lives through a questionnaire that conveniently omits the words "rape" and "violence" because the researcher hypothesized that most men do not believe their actions amount to rape. Instead, questions were more carefully phrased like asking if the reader "had sex with a woman who was too drunk or drugged to indicate whether she wanted it" or if the reader ever "forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex?"

The numbers, frankly, will terrify and astonish for all the wrong reasons: on average, 24 percent of the men questioned admitted to raping a partner, while 10 percent admitted to subjugating an unwilling non-partner at least once. The overwhelming reason for these horrific acts of violence: sexual entitlement (also known as "the right to have sex") at 73.3 percent, followed by boredom at 58.7 percent. 28.3 percent of respondents admitted to being multiple rapists, and 30.2 percent of respondents confessed to raping both men and women in a group (CNN notes that poor, uneducated men were statistically more likely to engage in violence in a group setting).

Now, at this point, you must be wondering how many of these people were caught or punished for their violence. 35.7 percent claimed that friends or family chastised them where 32.5 percent said they were arrested. Only about 23 percent of respondents ever did time in a prison cell, and a remarkable 55.2 percent of respondents said they "felt guilty." In countries like Sri Lanka, 96.5 percent of respondents got away with their crimes completely unpunished.

Why should the rest of the world care about these statistics? The answer could not be more obvious: the people of these nations represent half the world's population! At this rate, nearly one out of eight human men is predisposed to sexual violence.

The Guardian spoke with Dr. Emma Fulu, who works with the Partners for Prevention, the UN-connected group that helped manage the study. Dr. Fulu called the work "unprecedented and ground-breaking," saying that "this is really the first time we've had data on rape perpetration on this scale, not just in the region but in the world, and I think it probably suggests rape is more widespread than we had thought, and the perpetration of rape starts earlier than people perhaps thought, which really highlights the need to start working with younger boys and girls to stop the violence."

[Image via CNN's terrifying graphical breakdown]