Rape increases in Asia, Pacific

A United Nations report has revealed nearly a quarter of men surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region say they’ve raped a woman at least once in their life.
The study is based on anonymous interviews with more than 10,000 men aged between 18 and 49-years-old in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea.
One of the report’s authors, Dr Emma Fulu, has told Asia Pacific the figures are shocking, but not necessarily surprising.
“I think this study reaffirms perhaps what we have known by interviewing women in the past,” she said.
“What’s new about this study is that it tells us for the first time, by speaking to men, about what some of the underlying causes are of that violence.”
Around the region, 11 per cent of respondents reported having raped a woman who was not their partner and nearly a quarter - 24 per cent - when their partner was included.
Of those men who said they had committed rape, just under half (45 per cent) said they had raped more than one woman.
Roberta Clarke, regional director of UN Women, says the survey highlights the need for a change in culture.
“Violence against women is a harsh reality for many,” she said.
“We must change the culture that enables men to enact power and control over women.”
The highest prevalence of rape was found in Bougainville, in Papua New Guinea, which may be linked to the decade long civil war on the island.
Esther Igo, organiser of PNG’s Haus Krai anti-violence protests, has told Pacific Beat the figures in the survey feel real.
“It is not surprising,” she said.
“If you read in the papers, every day there is rape in one part of the country, and there may be violence in one part of the country because of the Bougainville issue, but then it’s also similar in other parts of the country.
“So I’m not sure whether it’s the violence, but I think it’s just the mindset.”
Ms Igo says the situation appears to be getting worse, with increasing rapes and violence against women.
“Men think that women are there for one thing,” she said.
“We’ve got so many groups that are out there voicing concerns, leaders coming out in the paper, putting out programs [but] it doesn’t seem to deter these views that men have of women...and these acts that they do towards women, and it’s getting ridiculous.
Until now, research has depended mainly on crime reports, which may be sketchy or skewed, or on accounts by women rather than by men.
Taking a new approach, trained male researchers held lengthy one-to-one interviews with men in cities and the countryside, with the respondents gaining a guarantee of anonymity.
The respondents were not asked directly whether they had committed rape, but instead were asked questions such as “Have you ever forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex?” or “Have you ever had sex with a woman who was too drugged or drunk?”

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