A new study published in Lancet that tried to accurately gauge the prevalence of rape in many Asian cultures found some staggering and appalling results. The study, funded by several United Nations agencies, interviewed more than 10,000 men and asked them if they had ever forced a partner or non-partner to have sex. The percentages are depressing.
Almost half of those interviewed in a UN survey of 10,000 men in Asia and the Pacific reported using physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner…
Men were interviewed from rural and urban areas in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea. The proportion of men who reported having perpetrated physical and/or sexual violence against a partner in their lifetime varied from 26 percent in rural Indonesia to 80 percent in Bougainville in Papua New Guinea — although in most places the figure was between 30 and 57 percent.
The study also found that men started to perpetrate violence at much younger ages than previously thought. Half of those who admitted to rape reported their first time 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 old or younger when they first committed rape. The vast majority of those men who admitted to rape (between 72 and 97 percent of men depending on the location) didn’t experience any legal consequences. In fact, many men felt that they had the right to have sex with women regardless of consent — more than 80 percent of men who admitted to rape in rural Bangladesh and China felt this way. Perhaps most startlingly, four percent of respondents said they had perpetrated gang rape against a woman or girl (although this varied between just one percent to 14 percent depending on the location).
Many of these same places have a huge problem with sex trafficking as well, especially Cambodia. Desperately poor families far too often send a daughter off to “work in a hotel” in a large city, where they are forced into prostitution. There are many non-profit NGOs working to address that problem, but so far with limited effectiveness. This is why programs that empower and educate women and give them the opportunity to support themselves and, just as importantly, control their own reproduction are so crucial in so many places around the world.