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Why 1 in 4 Asian men rape: They think sex is their right

by G Pramod Kumar  Sep 10, 2013 12:30 IST

#didyouknow   #Rape   #Sexual violence   #UN   #UNDP   #UNFPA   #UNV  

A new UN study in selected Asia and Pacific countries shows that violence against women by men starts at much younger ages than previously thought, and the most common motivation of rapists is their belief that men have a right to have sex with women even without their consent.

The study, which covered 10,000 men, also found that 72-97 per cent of the men who raped women were never punished. Significantly, many of them who have admitted to rape were repeat offenders, most probably because of the impunity that they enjoyed.

Half of the self-admitted rapists said the first time they committed the crime was when they were teenagers - 23 percent of men who raped in Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, and 16 percent in Cambodia were 14 years or younger when they first raped a woman.

Overall, 4 percent of the men said they had participated in gang rapes.

The study titled “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” by Partners for Prevention, a regional joint programme of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) was conducted at nine places in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea.

Do the protests really do any good. AP

Do the protests really do any good. AP

It asked men about their use and experiences of violence, attitudes and practices towards women, childhood, sexuality, family life and health.

Nearly half the men interviewed for the study reported using physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner - ranging from 26 percent to 80 percent. And a quarter of the men admitted that they have raped a woman or a girl.

At one place, it was as high as 62 per cent.

“This study reaffirms that violence against women is preventable,” said James Lang, Programme Coordinator, 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.”

Besides path-breaking new data, the study also highlights the socio-cultural determinants of violence against women. For instance, data from Bangladesh and Cambodia show that men who have “highly controlling behaviour” are more than twice as likely to perpetrate partner violence than those who do not use controlling behaviour.

The rapists also reported to have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse as a child, or witnessed the abuse of their mothers. More than 65 percent of men in Bougainville, PNG, and the study location in China reported experiencing emotional abuse or neglect as children. The study found that these men were at least twice as likely to use violence against a female partner.
The men also grow up in a milieu that celebrated male toughness and sexual performance, such as being involved in fights and paying for sex. In Indonesia and Sri Lanka, men who reported having sex with a sex worker or transactional sex were two times more likely to use violence against a partner than those who had not.

To prevent violence against women, the study recommended policies and programmes that target boys and men, sustained socio-cultural interventions and legal reforms: promotion of non-violent and caring ways to be a man (for example through sustained school-based or sports-based education programmes); parenting programmes, comprehensive child protection systems and policies to end corporal punishment; legal reforms to ensure effective access to justice; and full empowerment of women and girls.

The study clearly shows why mere street-outrage, policing and punishment do not prevent rape in India and why a number of rapists are juvenile. The underlying factors are deep-rooted and complex and the knee-jerk quick-fixes by governments do not address them.

Read the full text of the survey report here.