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Sexual assault
Classification and external resources
ICD-9 E960.1
MedlinePlus 001955
eMedicine article/806120
MeSH D011902

The legal definition of rape varies in various states and nations. According to Webster's Dictionary rape is defined as unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent. [1] The terms rape, sexual assault, and sexual violence, are often used interchangeably.

According to the American Medical Association (1995), sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime.[2][3] The rate of reporting, prosecution and convictions for rape varies considerably in different jurisdictions. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of U.S. rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male.[4] In one survey of women, only two percent of respondents who stated they were sexually assaulted said that the assault was perpetrated by a stranger.[5] Several studies argue that male-male and female-female prison rape are quite common and may be the least reported form of rape.[6][7][8]

When part of a widespread and systematic practice, rape and sexual slavery are recognized as crimes against humanity and war crimes. Rape is also recognized as an element of the crime of genocide when committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a targeted ethnic group.


Though definitions vary, rape is defined in most jurisdictions as sexual intercourse, or other forms of sexual penetration, of one person (not necessarily, though almost always "the victim") by another person (typically "the accused" or "the perpetrator") without the consent of the victim.

The term sexual assault is closely related to rape. Some jurisdictions define "rape" to cover only acts involving penile penetration of the vagina, treating all other types of non-consensual sexual activity as sexual assault. The terminology varies, with some places using other terms. For example, Michigan, United States uses the term "criminal sexual conduct".[9] In some jurisdictions, rape is defined in terms of sexual penetration of the victim with or without penetration of objects.[10] Some jurisdictions also consider rape to include the use of sexual organs of one or both of the parties, such as oral copulation and masturbation. The victim does not have to be penetrated to be raped; the perpetrator can use objects to stimulate the genitals. The perpetrator can use their hand to stimulate the genitals. The perpetrator can use drugs (including alcohol) to incapacitate the victim.

Australian psychologist Sarah Crome argues that male rape victims often get little services and support in Australia and that male victims report feeling threatened by male staff in court rooms and the legal system which is based around patriarchal ideology.[11] In Brazil, for example, the legal code does not legislate against women raping men. Rape is defined as non-consensual vaginal sex.[12] Therefore, unlike most of Europe and the Americas, male rape, anal rape, and oral rape are not considered to be rape. Instead, such an act is called a "violent attack against someone's modesty" ("Atentado violento ao pudor").


In any allegation of rape, the absence of consent to sexual intercourse on the part of the victim is critical. Consent need not be expressed, and may be implied from the context and from the relationship of the parties, but the absence of objection does not of itself constitute consent.

Duress, in which the victim may be subject to or threatened by overwhelming force or violence, and which may result in absence of objection to intercourse, leads to the presumption of lack of consent. Duress may be actual or threatened force or violence against the victim or somebody else close to the victim. Even blackmail may constitute duress. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in its landmark 1998 judgment used a definition of rape which did not use the word 'consent': "a physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive."[13]

Valid consent is also lacking if the victim lacks an actual capacity to give consent, as in the case of a victim who is a child, or who has a mental impairment or developmental disability. Consent can always be withdrawn at any time, so that any further sexual activity after the withdrawal of consent constitutes rape.

The law would invalidate consent in the case of sexual intercourse with a person below the age at which they can legally consent to such relations. (See age of consent.) Such cases are sometimes called statutory rape or "unlawful sexual intercourse", regardless of whether it was consensual or not.

In times gone by and in many countries still today marriage is said to constitute at least an implied consent to sexual intercourse. However, marriage in many countries today is no longer a defense to rape or assault. In some jurisdictions, a person cannot be found guilty of the rape of a spouse, either on the basis of "implied consent" or (in the case of former British colonies) because of a statutory requirement that the intercourse must have been "unlawful" (which is legal nomenclature for outside of wedlock).[14] However, in many of those jurisdictions, it is still possible to bring prosecutions for what is effectively rape by characterizing it as an assault.[15]


There are several types of rape, generally categorized by reference to the situation in which it occurs, the sex or characteristics of the victim, and/or the sex or characteristics of the perpetrator. Different types of rape include but are not limited to: date rape, gang rape, marital rape or spousal rape, incestual rape, child sexual abuse, prison rape, acquaintance rape, war rape and statutory rape.[16]



There is no single theory that conclusively explains the motivation for rape; the motives of rapists can be multi-factorial and are subject to debate. Several factors have been proposed: anger, a desire for power, sadism, sexual gratification,[17] and evolutionary pressures.[17]


Although no credible schools or institutions teach this nonsense, sometimes the media decides to cover crackpots who wish to make excuses for this horrible crime. These misguided people believe that the rapists isn't only after sex, but instead is trying to spread their genes, it something encoded in human evolution.

This of course runs into problems with the fact that not all rapists target a woman's vagina, that the mentality of the rapists who rape someone's mouth or ass is the same as those that rape the vagina, and that battered women are raped constantly by the man they are living with who doesn't seek to impregnate them every chance he gets.


Victims of rape can be severely traumatized by the assault and may have difficulty functioning as well as they had been used to prior to the assault, with disruption of concentration, sleeping patterns and eating habits, for example. They may feel jumpy or be on edge. After being raped, it is common for the victim to experience acute stress disorder, including symptoms similar to those of posttraumatic stress disorder, such as intense, sometimes unpredictable, emotions, and they may find it hard to deal with their memories of the event.[18][19] In the months immediately following the assault, these problems may be severe and very upsetting and may prevent the victim from revealing their ordeal to friends or family, or seeking police or medical assistance. Additional symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder include:[19]

  • depersonalization or dissociation (feeling numb and detached, like being in a daze or a dream, or feeling that the world is strange and unreal)
  • difficulty remembering important parts of the assault
  • reliving the assault through repeated thoughts, memories, or nightmares
  • avoidance of things, places, thoughts, and/or feelings that remind the victim of the assault
  • anxiety or increased alertness (difficulty sleeping, concentrating, etc.)
  • avoidance of social life or place of rape

For one-third to one-half of the victims, these symptoms continue beyond the first few months and meet the conditions for the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder.[18][20][21] In general, rape and sexual assault are among the most common causes of PTSD in women.[20]

Victim blaming

"Victim blaming" is holding the victim of a crime to be in whole or in part responsible for the crime. In the context of rape, this concept refers to the Just World Theory and popular attitudes that certain victim behaviours (such as flirting, or wearing sexually-provocative clothing) may encourage rape.[22] In extreme cases, victims are said to have "asked for it", simply by not behaving demurely. In most Western countries, the defense of provocation is not accepted as a mitigation for rape.[23] A global survey of attitudes toward sexual violence by the Global Forum for Health Research shows that victim-blaming concepts are at least partially accepted in many countries. In some countries, victim-blaming is more common, and women who have been raped are sometimes deemed to have behaved improperly. Often, these are countries where there is a significant social divide between the freedoms and status afforded to men and women.[24] Amy M. Buddie and Arthur G. Miller, in a review of studies of rape myths, state:

Rape victims are blamed more when they resist the attack later in the rape encounter rather than earlier (Kopper, 1996), which seems to suggest the stereotype that these women are engaging in token resistance (Malamuth & Brown, 1994; Muehlenhard & Rogers, 1998) or leading the man on because they have gone along with the sexual experience thus far. Finally, rape victims are blamed more when they are raped by an acquaintance or a date rather than by a stranger (e.g., Bell, Kuriloff, & Lottes, 1994; Bridges, 1991; Bridges & McGr ail, 1989; Check & Malamuth, 1983; Kanekar, Shaherwalla, Franco, Kunju, & Pinto, 1991; L'Armand & Pepitone, 1982; Tetreault & Barnett, 1987), which seems to evoke the stereotype that victims really want to have sex because they know their attacker and perhaps even went out on a date with him. The underlying message of this research seems to be that when certain stereotypical elements of rape are in place, rape victims are prone to being blamed.

However they also note that "individuals may endorse rape myths and at the same time recognize the negative effects of rape."[25]



Sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under- reported violent crime (American Medical Association, 1995).[3] Thus, the number of reported rapes is lower than both incidence and prevalence rates (Walby and Allen, 2004).[26]

Rape is a crime in most places and usually reported to the police.[citation needed] However, the trauma of rape often leads victims to first contact a hotline, such as the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, which then counsels them and will, if requested, direct them to a local rape crisis center.[citation needed] Many police departments and hospital emergency rooms will also arrange a counselor from a rape crisis center.[citation needed]

The legal requirements for reporting rape vary by jurisdiction - each U.S. state may have different requirements[27] while other countries may have less stringent limits.[28]


Since the vast majority of rapes are committed by persons known to the victim, the initiation and process of a rape investigation depends much on the victim's willingness and ability to report and describe a rape.

Biological evidence such as semen, blood, vaginal secretions, saliva, vaginal epithelial cells (typically collected by a rape kit) may be identified and genetically typed by a crime lab. The information derived from the analysis can often help determine whether sexual contact occurred, provide information regarding the circumstances of the incident, and be compared to reference samples collected from patients and suspects.[29]


In the United Kingdom, figures on reported rape cases show an ongoing decline in the conviction rate, putting it at an all time low of 5.6% in 2002. The government has expressed its concern at the year-on-year increase in attrition of reported rape cases, and pledged to address this "justice gap" (Home Office, 2002a).[3]

Prevention and treatment

As sexual violence affects all parts of society, the response to sexual violence is comprehensive. The responses can be categorized as: individual approaches, health care responses, community-based efforts and actions to prevent other forms of sexual violence.

"Recovery from sexual assault is a complicated and controversial concept."[30]

Support groups, usually accessed by "umbrella" organizations (see List of anti-sexual assault organizations in the United States) are prevalent, including some on-line.


A United Nations report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries.[31]

In 2007, 40% of the 90,427 forcible rapes reported were cleared by arrest or "exceptional means." Exceptional means refers to situations where the victim refuses to provide information or assistance necessary to obtain an arrest, the defendant dies before being arrested, or the defendant cannot be extradited from another state.[32]

United States

U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male.[4] Some types of rape are excluded from official reports altogether, (the FBI's definition for example excludes all rapes except forcible rapes of females), because a significant number of rapes go unreported even when they are included as reportable rapes, and also because a significant number of rapes reported to the police do not advance to prosecution.[33] According to United States Department of Justice document Criminal Victimization in the United States, there were overall 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005.[34] Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992 and United Nations Populations Fund, 2000a).[35][36] Factoring in unreported rapes, about 5% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.[37] 1 of 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape.[38] More than a quarter of college age women report having experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14.[39]

The U.S. Department of Justice compiles statistics on crime by race, but only between and among people categorized as black or white. It should be noted that the "white" category in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) includes non-black Hispanics.[40] There were 194,270 white and 17,920 black victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2006.

Drug use, especially alcohol, is frequently involved in rape. A study (only of rape victims that were female and reachable by phone) reported detailed findings related to tactics. In 47% of such rapes, both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking. In 17%, only the perpetrator had been. 7% of the time, only the victim had been drinking. Rapes where neither the victim nor the perpetrator had been drinking were 29% of all rapes.[5] Contrary to widespread belief, rape outdoors is rare. Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone's home. 31% occur in the perpetrators' homes, 27% in the victims' homes and 10% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7% occur at parties, 7% in vehicles, 4% outdoors and 2% in bars.[5] From 2000-2005, 59% of rapes were not reported to law enforcement.[41][42] One factor relating to this is misconception that most rapes are committed by strangers.[43] In reality, studies indicate the following, widely varying, numbers:

Source: Current or Former Intimate Partner Another Relative Friend or Acquaintance Stranger
US Bureau of Justice Statistics 26% 7% 38% 26%
Australian Government Statistics[44] 56% 10% 27% 8%
UK Home Office (for comparison)[45] 45.4% 13.9% 29.6% 11%


The most frequently cited research was conducted by Statistics Canada in 1992, which involved a national random sample of 12,300 women (Johnson and Sacco, 1995). The research found that over one in three women had experienced a sexual assault and that only 6% of sexual assaults were reported to the police.[46]


The Australian Women's Safety Survey conducted by the Bureau of Statistics in 1996 involved a random sample 6,300 women aged 18 and over. It produced incidence finding of 1.9 per cent for sexual assault in the previous 12 months. Known men accounted for over two-thirds of assailants (68%). Only 15% of the assaulted women in the sample reported to the police.[47]

United Kingdom

According to a news report on BBC One presented in 12 November 2007, there were 85,000 women raped in the UK in the previous year, equating to about 230 cases every day. According to that report one of every 200 women in the UK was raped in 2006. The report also showed that only 800 persons were convicted in rape crimes that same year.[48][49]


In Cambodia, rape is estimated by local and international NGOs to be common [50], but only a very small minority of these assaults are ever reported to authorities, due to the social stigma associated to being the victim of a sexual crime, and, in particular, to losing virginity before marriage (regardless of how this happened).[51] From November 2008 to November 2009, police had recorded 468 cases of rape, attempted rape and sexual harassment, a 2.4 percent increase over the previous year.[52] Breaking the Silence – Sexual Violence in Cambodia is a report produced by Amnesty International, and released in 2010, which examined the situation of sexual violence in Cambodia. The report found that, in the small minority of rapes which are reported, a very common response is for law-enforcement officials, including police and court staff, to arrange extralegal out-of-court 'agreements' between the victim and the perpetrator (or their families), in which the rapist pays a sum of money which is shared between the authorithies and the victm (and her family), after which the victim has to withdraw any criminal complaint against the perpetrator, and public prosecutors close the case. When a rape is investigated, a complainant is generally expected to pay an extralegal sum of money to the authorities, to ensure that the court investigates the case, othrerwise progress is slow, and it may take over two years for anything to happen. During the pre-trial period, there is allways a risk that the perpetrator’s family will pay a bribe to secure his acquittal or reduced charge.[53]

Democratic Republic of the Congo

In eastern Congo, the prevalence and intensity of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world.[54] It is estimated that there are as many as 200,000 surviving rape victims living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today.[55][56] War rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo has frequently been described as a "weapon of war" by commentators. Louise Nzigire, a local social worker, states that “this violence was designed to exterminate the population.” Nzigire observes that rape has been a "cheap, simple weapon for all parties in the war, more easily obtainable than bullets or bombs."

South Africa

It is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read.[57] One in three of the 4,000 women questioned by the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency said they had been raped in the past year.[58] A survey conducted among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that 'jackrolling', a term for gang rape, was fun.[58] More than 25% of South African men questioned in a survey admitted to raping someone; of those, nearly half said they had raped more than one person, according to a new study conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC).[59][60] It is estimated that 500,000 rapes are committed annually in South Africa.[61] A 2010 study led by the government-funded Medical Research Foundation says that in Gauteng province, home to South Africa's most populous city of Johannesburg, more than 37 percent of men said they had raped a woman. Nearly 7 percent of the 487 men surveyed said they had participated in a gang rape.[62]

South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world with more than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children reported in 2000.[63] Welfare groups believe that the number of unreported incidents could be up to 10 times that number. The largest increase in attacks was against children under seven. A number of high-profile baby rapes since 2001 (including the fact that they required extensive reconstructive surgery to rebuild urinary, genital, abdominal, or tracheal systems) increased the need to address the problem socially and legally. In 2001, a 9-month-old baby was raped by six men, aged between 24 and 66, after the infant had been left unattended by her teenage mother. A 4-year-old girl died after being raped by her father. A 14-month-old girl was raped by her two uncles. In February 2002, an 8-month-old infant was reportedly gang raped by four men. One has been charged. The infant has required extensive reconstructive surgery. The 8-month-old infant's injuries were so extensive, increased attention on prosecution has occurred.[64] A common myth holds that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or AIDS. Child abusers are often relatives of their victims - even their fathers and providers.[65] According to researcher Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala, the myth that is not confined to South Africa. “Fellow AIDS researchers in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria have told me that the myth also exists in these countries and that it is being blamed for the high rate of sexual abuse against young children.”[66]


Most rape research and reporting to date has been limited to male-female forms of rape. Research on male-male and female-male rape is beginning to be done. According to psychologist Dr. Sarah Crome, fewer than one in ten male-male rapes are reported. As a group, male rape victims by either gender often get little services and support, and legal systems are often ill equipped to deal with this type of crime.[11] Denov (2004) states that societal responses to the issue of female perpetrators of sexual assault "point to a widespread denial of women as potential sexual aggressors that could work to obscure the true dimensions of the problem."[67] Due to these reasons, it is likely being substantially under-reported, with the probable cause being the double standard.[68] Some legal codes on rape do not legislate against women raping men, as rape is generally defined to include the act of penetration on behalf of the rapist and some legal codes do not legislate against women raping men.[10] In 2007, the South Africa police investigated instances of women raping young men.[69] Little research has been done on female-female rape.

False accusation

The largest and most rigorous study was commissioned by the British Home Office and based on 2,643 sexual assault cases (Kelly, Lovett, and Regan, 2005). Of these, 8% were classified by the police department as false reports. Yet the researchers noted that some of these classifications were based simply on the personal judgments of the police investigators and were made in violation of official criteria for establishing a false allegation. Closer analysis of this category applying the Home Office counting rules for establishing a false allegation and excluding cases where the application of the cases where confirmation of the designation was uncertain reduced the percentage of false reports to 3%. The researchers concluded that “one cannot take all police designations at face value” and that “[t]here is an over-estimation of the scale of false allegations by both police officers and prosecutors.” Moreover, they added that

” The interviews with police officers and complainants’ responses show that despite the focus on victim care, a culture of suspicion remains within the police, even amongst some of those who are specialists in rape investigations. There is also a tendency to conflate false allegations with retractions and withdrawals, as if in all such cases no sexual assault occurred. This reproduces an investigative culture in which elements that might permit a designation of a false complaint are emphasised (later sections reveal how this also feeds into withdrawals and designation of ‘insufficient evidence’), at the expense of a careful investigation, in which the evidence collected is evaluated.”[70][71]

Another large-scale study was conducted in Australia, with the 850 rapes reported to the Victoria police between 2000 and 2003 (Heenan & Murray, 2006). Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the researchers examined 812 cases with sufficient information to make an appropriate determination, and found that 2.1% of these were classified by police as false reports. All of these complainants were then charged or threatened with charges for filing a false police report.[72]

FBI reports consistently put the number of "unfounded" rape accusations around 8%. The unfounded rate is higher for forcible rape than for any other Index crime. The average rate of unfounded reports for Index crimes is 2%.[73] However, “unfounded” is not synonymous with false allegation[74] and as Bruce Gross of the Forensic Examiner explains,

"This statistic is almost meaningless, as many of the jurisdictions from which the FBI collects data on crime use different definitions of, or criteria for, "unfounded." That is, a report of rape might be classified as unfounded (rather than as forcible rape) if the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect, if the alleged perpetrator did not use physical force or a weapon of some sort, if the alleged victim did not sustain any physical injuries, or if the alleged victim and the accused had a prior sexual relationship. Similarly, a report might be deemed unfounded if there is no physical evidence or too many inconsistencies between the accuser's statement and what evidence does exist. As such, although some unfounded cases of rape may be false or fabricated, not all unfounded cases are false."[32]

It is most commonly reported that around 2% of reported rape cases are false accusations. In an academic review in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Edward Greer could not find primary sources for this often repeated figure.[75] A 2006 review by Philip Rumney in the Cambridge Law Journal found several that supported that the figure is around 2%, but only one small (545-case) study that could be a source of the 2% figure, [76] and expressed doubt about each's methodology.[77]

Purdue sociologist Eugene Kanin (1994) summarized rape reports in a small Midwestern town between 1978 and 1987 and found that the police department determined 41% of the 109 sexual assault reports to be false. The police department made a “serious offer to polygraph” all rape complainants. David Lisak (2007) argues that Kanin’s is not a research study, because it only puts forth the opinions of the police officers without any further investigation on his part and that it is "a provocative opinion piece, but it is not a scientific study of the issue of false reporting of rape" and that it "certainly should never be used to assert a scientific foundation for the frequency of false allegations."[78][79] Similarly, John Bancroft states that a search of the literature on false rape reports reveals that Kanin's figure of 41% false rape reports is regarded as unusually high.[80]


File:Tizian 094.jpg

The rape of noblewoman Lucretia was a starting point of events that led to overthrow of Roman Monarchy and establishment of Roman Republic. As a direct result of rape, Lucretia committed suicide. Many artists and writers were inspired by the story, including Shakespeare, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Dürer, Artemisia Gentileschi, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Heywood and others. Picture:The Rape of Lucretia by Titian

In ancient history, rape was viewed less as a type of assault on the female, than a serious property crime against the man to whom she belonged, typically the father or husband. The loss of virginity was an especially serious matter. The damage due to loss of virginity was reflected in her reduced prospects in finding a husband and in her bride price. This was especially true in the case of betrothed virgins, as the loss of chastity was perceived as severely depreciating her value to a prospective husband. In such cases, the law would void the betrothal and demand financial compensation from the rapist, payable to the woman's household, whose "goods" were "damaged".[81] Under biblical law, the rapist might be compelled to marry the unmarried woman instead of receiving the civil penalty if her father agreed. This was especially prevalent in laws where the crime of rape did not include, as a necessary element, the violation of the woman's body, thus dividing the crime in the current meaning of rape and a means for a man and woman to force their families to permit marriage. (See Deuteronomy 22:28-29.)

The word rape itself originates from the Latin verb rapere: to seize or take by force. The word originally had no sexual connotation and is still used generically in English. The history of rape, and the alterations of its meaning, is quite complex. In Roman law, rape was classified as a form of crimen vis, "crime of assault."[82] Unlike theft or robbery, rape was termed a "public wrong" iniuria publica as opposed to a "private wrong" iniuria privita.[83] Augustus Caesar enacted reforms for the crime of rape under the assault statute Lex Iulia de vi publica, which bears his family name, Iulia. It was under this statute rather than the adultery statute of Lex Iulia de adulteriis that Rome prosecuted this crime.[84] Emperor Justinian confirmed the continued use of the statute to prosecute rape during the 6th century in the Eastern Roman Empire.[85] By late antiquity, the general term raptus had referred to abduction, elopement, robbery, or rape in its modern meaning. Confusion over the term led ecclesial commentators on the law to differentiate it into raptus seductionis (elopement without parental consent) and raptus violentiae (ravishment). Both of these forms of raptus had a civil penalty and possible excommunication for the family and village receiving the abducted woman, although raptus violentiae also incurred punishments of mutilation or death.[86]

From the classical antiquity of Greece and Rome into the Colonial period, rape along with arson, treason and murder was a capital offense. "Those committing rape were subject to a wide range of capital punishments that were seemingly brutal, frequently bloody, and at times spectacular." In the 12th century, kinsmen of the victim were given the option of executing the punishment themselves. "In England in the early fourteenth century, a victim of rape might be expected to gouge out the eyes and/or sever the offender's testicles herself."[87]

The medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas argued that rape, though sinful, was much less unacceptable than masturbation or coitus interruptus, because it fulfilled the procreative function of sex, while the other acts violated the purpose of sex.[88][89][90]

During the Colonization of the Americas, the rape of native women was not held to be a crime under Spanish Law as the persons in question were Pagan and not Christian.[91][92]

The modern criminal justice system is widely regarded as unfair to sexual assault victims.[93] Both sexist stereotypes and common law combined to make rape a "criminal proceeding on which the victim and her behavior were tried rather than the defendant".[94] Additionally, gender neutral laws have combated the older perception that rape never occurs to men,[95] while other laws have eliminated the term altogether.[96]

Since the 1970s, many changes have occurred in the perception of sexual assault due in large part to the feminist movement and its public characterization of rape as a crime of power and control rather than purely of sex. In some countries the women's liberation movement of the 1970s created the first rape crisis centers. One of the first two rape crisis centers, the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, opened in 1972. It was created to promote sensitivity and understanding of rape and its effects on the victim. In 1960 law enforcement cited false reporting rates at 20%. By 1973 the statistics had dropped to 15%.

War rape

In 1998, Judge Navanethem Pillay of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said:

From time immemorial, rape has been regarded as spoils of war. Now it will be considered a war crime. We want to send out a strong message that rape is no longer a trophy of war.[97]
File:La vuelta del malón - Ángel Della Valle 02.jpg

La vuelta del malón (The return of the raiders) by Ángel Della Valle (1892).

Rape, in the course of war, dates back to antiquity, ancient enough to have been mentioned in the Bible.[98] The Israelite, Persian, Greek and Roman armies reportedly engaged in war rape.[99] The Mongols, who established the Mongol Empire across much of Eurasia, caused much destruction during their invasions.[100] Documents written during or after Genghis Khan's reign say that after a conquest, the Mongol soldiers looted, pillaged and raped.[101] Rogerius, a monk who survived the Mongol invasion of Hungary, pointed out not only the genocidal element of the occupation, but also that the Mongols especially "found pleasure" in humiliating women.[102]

The systematic rape of as many as 80,000 women by the Japanese soldiers during the six weeks of the Nanking Massacre is an example of such atrocities.[103] During World War II an estimated 200,000 Korean and Chinese women were forced into prostitution in Japanese military brothels, as so-called "comfort women".[104] French Moroccan troops known as Goumiers committed rapes and other war crimes after the Battle of Monte Cassino. (See Marocchinate.)[105] The Red Army carried out a massive campaign of gang rape as they went through Germany and Hungary.[106][107]

It has been alleged that an estimated 200,000 women were raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War by the Pakistani army[108] (though this has been disputed by many including the Indian academic Sarmila Bose [10]), and that at least 20,000 Bosnian Muslim women were raped by Serb forces during the Bosnian War.[109] Wartime propaganda often alleges, and exaggerates, mistreatment of the civilian population by enemy forces and allegations of rape figure prominently in this. As a result, it is often very difficult, both practically and politically, to assemble an accurate view of what really happened.

Commenting on rape of women and children in recent African conflict zones UNICEF said that rape was no longer just perpetrated by combatants but also by civilians. According to UNICEF rape is common in countries affected by wars and natural disasters, drawing a link between the occurrence of sexual violence with the significant uprooting of a society and the crumbling of social norms. UNICEF states that in Kenya reported cases of sexual violence doubled within days of post-election conflicts. According to UNICEF rape was prevalent in conflict zones in Sudan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[110] It is estimated that more than 200,000 females living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today have been raped in recent conflicts.[55][56][111] Some estimate that around 60% of combatants in Congo are HIV-infected.[112]

In 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found that systematic rape was used in the Rwandan genocide. The Tribunal held that "sexual assault [in Rwanda] formed an integral part of the process of destroying the Tutsi ethnic group and that the rape was systematic and had been perpetrated against Tutsi women only, manifesting the specific intent required for those acts to constitute genocide."[113] An estimated 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.[114]

The Rome Statute, which defines the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, recognizes rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, "or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity" as crime against humanity if the action is part of a widespread or systematic practice.[115][116]

Rape was first recognized as crime against humanity when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia issued arrest warrants based on the Geneva Conventions and Violations of the Laws or Customs of War. Specifically, it was recognised that Muslim women in Foča (southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina) were subjected to systematic and widespread gang rape, torture and enslavement by Bosnian Serb soldiers, policemen and members of paramilitary groups after the takeover of the city in April 1992.[117]

The indictment was of major legal significance and was the first time that sexual assaults were investigated for the purpose of prosecution under the rubric of torture and enslavement as a crime against humanity.[117] The indictment was confirmed by a 2001 verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that rape and sexual enslavement are crimes against humanity. Amnesty International stated that the ruling challenged the widespread acceptance of the torture of women as an intrinsic part of war.[118]

See also


  2. American Medical Association (1995) Sexual Assault in America. AMA.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2
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  6. Human Rights WatchNo Escape: Male Rape In U.S. Prisons. Part VII. Anomaly or Epidemic: The Incidence of Prisoner-on-Prisoner Rape.; estimates that 100,000-140,000 violent male-male rapes occur in U.S. prisons annually; compare with FBI statistics that estimate 90,000 violent male-female rapes occur annually.[
  7. Robert W. Dumond, "Ignominious Victims: Effective Treatment of Male Sexual Assault in Prison," August 15, 1995, p. 2; states that "evidence suggests that [male-male sexual assault in prison] may a staggering problem"). Quoted in Mariner, Joanne; (Organization), Human Rights Watch (2001-04-17). No escape: male rape in U.S. prisons. Human Rights Watch. p. 370. ISBN 9781564322586. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  8. Struckman-Johnson, Cindy; David Struckman-Johnson (2006). "A Comparison of Sexual Coercion Experiences Reported by Men and Women in Prison". Journal of Interpersonal Violence 21 (12): 1591–1615. doi:10.1177/0886260506294240. ISSN 0886-2605. PMID 17065656.; reports that "Greater percentages of men (70%) than women (29%) reported that their incident resulted in oral, vaginal, or anal sex. More men (54%) than women (28%) reported an incident that was classified as rape."
  9. Criminal code
  10. 10.0 10.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named
  11. 11.0 11.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named
  12. Brazilian Penal Code.
  13. Fourth Annual Report of ICTR to the General Assembly (1999) March 23, 2007
  14. See for example in the British Virgin Islands under the Criminal Code, 1997
  15. Under the English common law, marriage has not been a defense to rape since 1991, see R v. R [1992] 1 A.C. 599.[1]
  16. UCSB's SexInfo
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  22. Pauwels, B. (2002). "Blaming the victim of rape: The culpable control model perspective." Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 63(5-B).
  23. Abrahms, D., Viky, G., Masser, B., & Gerd, B. (2003). Perceptions of stranger and acquaintance rape: The role of benevolent and hostile sexism in victim blame and rape proclivity. Journal-of-Personality-and-Social-Psychology, 84(1), 111-125.,
  25. Amy M. Buddie & Arthur G. Miller (2001) Beyond Rape Myths: A more complex view of perceptions of rape victims Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, August 2001. Accessed 10 December 2007.
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  31. The Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (2001 - 2002) - Table 02.08 Total recorded rapes
  32. 32.0 32.1 [ False Rape Allegations: An Assault On Justice]
  33. Haws, D (1997). "The Elusive Numbers on False Rape". Columbia Journalism Review 36 (4): 16–7.
  34. United States Department of Justice document, (table 26)
  35. Sexual Assault Statistics
  38. Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault: Statistics
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  41. "Statistics". Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  42. Tjaden P, Thoennes N. Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner violence: findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington (DC): Department of Justice (US); 2000. Publication No.: NCJ 181867. Available from: URL: 181867.htm.
  46. Johnson, H. and Sacco, V. (1995) "Researching violence against women: Statistics Canada’s national study." Canadian Journal of Criminology: Special Issue: Focus on the Violence Against Women Survey, 37(3): 281-304.
  48. article by the home editor of the BBC (Mark Easton)
  49. Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2006/07
  54. Prevalence of Rape in E.Congo Described as Worst in World
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  59. "South African rape survey shock." BBC News. June 18, 2009.
  60. "Quarter of men in South Africa admit rape, survey finds". The Guardian. June 17, 2009.
  61. "SOUTH AFRICA: One in four men rape". IRIN Africa. June 18, 2009.
  62. "More Than 1 In 3 SAfrican Men Admit To Rape: Study" (November 26, 2010), CBS News (AP).
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  64. [2]
  65. South African men rape babies as 'cure' for Aids
  66. Child rape: A taboo within the AIDS taboo
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  69. "Women now ‘raping’ men". Sowetan. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
  70. A gap or a chasm? Attrition in reported rape cases Home Office Research - February 2005
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  73. Crime Index Offenses Reported 1996
  75. The Truth Behind Legal Dominance Feminism's "Two Percent False Rape Claim" Figure
  77. How Often Do Women Falsely Cry Rape?
  81. Hammurabi's Code #156 & [3]
  82. See Justinian, Institutiones[4], see also Adolf Berger, Encyclopedic Dictionary on Roman Law, pp. 667 (raptus) and 768 (vis)[5]
  83. Ibid, see also, George Mousourakis, The Historical and Institutional Context of Roman Law p. 30 [6]
  84. see James Fitzjames Stephen, A History of the Criminal Law of England, p. 17 [7]
  85. See Justinian, Institutiones[8]
  86. Basil of Caesarea, Letters circa 374 AD [9]
  87. "The Medieval Blood Sanction and the Divine Beneficene of Pain: 1100 - 1450", Trisha Olson, Journal of Law and Religion, 22 JLREL 63 (2006)
  88. Alan Soble, Sexual Investigations, NYU Press, 1998, p.10-11.
  89. Vern L. Bullough, Bonnie Bullough, Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia
  90. Daphne Hampson, After Christianity
  91. Discover Haiti: Haiti History - The Conquistadors -Spanish Conquest
  92. Hartmann, Thom (October 8, 2007). "Columbus Day - As Rape Rules Africa and American Churches Embrace Violent 'Christian' Video Games". Common Dreams NewsCenter.
  93. (Macdonalds, 2001)
  94. (Howard & Francis, 2000)
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  96. see for example, Michigan Statutes for the first degree felony, section 520b, "(1) A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree if he or she engages in sexual penetration of another person.", or in the UK, Section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 "1. A person (A) commits an offence if - (a) he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person..." - although in this case women are still not capable of committing rape.
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  100. "Rise of Mongol Power"
  101. "Genghis Khan a Prolific Lover, DNA Data Implies". National Geographic News. February 14, 2003.
  102. "Life after death: approaches to a cultural and social history of Europe during the 1940s and 1950s". Richard Bessel, Dirk Schumann (2003). Cambridge University Press. p.143. ISBN 978-0-521-00922-5
  103. Chinese city remembers Japanese 'Rape of Nanjing'
  104. Comfort Women Were 'Raped': U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  105. Italian women win cash for wartime rapes
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  107. Cecil D. Eby (2007). "Hungary at War: Civilians and Soldiers in World War II". Penn State Press. p.236. ISBN 0271032448
  108. How did rape become a weapon of war?
  109. Bosnian kids born of war rape asking questions
  110. "Africa war zones’ ‘rape epidemic’". BBC News. February 13, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2010.
  112. "Rape as a weapon of war". San Francisco Chronicle. June 26, 2005.
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  117. 117.0 117.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named autogenerated1
  118. "".

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Further reading

  • Bergen, Raquel Kennedy (1996). Wife rape: understanding the response of survivors and service providers. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-978-0-8039-7240-7.
  • Denov, Myriam S. (2004). Perspectives on female sex offending: a culture of denial. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-3565-9.
  • Groth, Nicholas A. (1979). Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender. New York, NY: Plenum Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-7382-0624-0.
  • Pierce, Karen F.; Deacy, Susan; Arafat, K. W. (2002). Rape in antiquity. London: The Classical Press of Wales in association with Duckworth. ISBN 0-7156-3147-0.
  • King, Michael B.; Mezey, Gillian C. (2000). Male victims of sexual assault. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-262932-6.
  • Lee, Ellis (1989). Theories of Rape: Inquiries Into the Causes of Rape. Taylor & Francis. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-89116-172-1.
  • Marnie E., PhD. Rice; Lalumiere, Martin L.; Vernon L., PhD. Quinsey (2005). The Causes of Rape: Understanding Individual Differences in Male Propensity for Sexual Aggression (The Law and Public Policy.). American Psychological Association (APA). ISBN 978-1-59147-186-8.
  • McKibbin, W.F., Shackelford, T.K., Goetz, A.T., & Starratt, V.G. (2008). Why do men rape? An evolutionary psychological perspective. Review of General Psychology, 12, 86–97. Full text
  • Palmer, Craig; Thornhill, Randy (2000). A natural history of rape biological bases of sexual coercion. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-585-08200-4.
  • Shapcott, David (1988). The Face of the Rapist. Auckland, NZ: Penguin Books. p. 234. ISBN 978-0-14-009335-3.
  • Smith, Merril D. (2004). Encyclopedia of Rape. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-32687-5.

External links

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