Why do men rape? A recent survey of 10,000 Asian men (from Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka) published in The Lancet gives some disturbing answers. One 18- to 49-year-old man in each household in several communities was surveyed. The men were asked if they had ever forced sex on anyone.
More than 10% answered “yes”.
When asked why they did it, as the New York Times reports, “73 percent said the reason was ‘entitlement’. Fifty-nine percent said their motivation was ‘entertainment seeking’, agreeing with the statements ‘I wanted to have fun’ or ‘I was bored’.”
So this is what they’re saying:
“I was bored”, so I hurt someone else, causing them trauma and PTSD.
“I needed entertainment”, so I inflicted pain and terror.
“I felt entitled” to create fear, panic, and torture.
In Kenya, rape has become such an epidemic that it results in a sort of “femicide”, as the Guardian reports.
India, whose capital, Delhi, has long been known as a dangerous place for a woman, is now confronting the reality that rape, especially gang-rapes, is rife in other towns.
Clearly, a minority of men commit sexual assault, but they often harm many women and children. And because these males do not bear a visible mark, no one can identify them before they attack and thus shun them or call for them to be isolated.
In the past, rapists relied on their victims’ feelings of shame, and on the fact that in many societies, the victim would be more blamed than her assailant, even killed. That taboo is falling. After a recent gang-rape in Mumbai, the victim and her friend went straight to the hospital and informed the police. Mumbai police – perhaps appalled at the thought that their city would be compared to Delhi – went on the hunt.
According to the New York Times, they “initiated a broad, high-level response, as if an act of terrorism had taken place. The police lighted up their networks of slum informants and all five [rapists] were arrested and gave confessions in quick succession. Several made pitiful attempts to escape. [One] went to the visitor’s room of a nearby hospital and covered himself with a blanket, trying to blend in with a crowd of relatives. ‘It is incredible how quickly the whole thing unraveled’.”
If only other police forces worked as diligently on their backlog of rape kits.
While alcohol often plays a strong role in rape – some men drink in order to commit rape – it cannot account for the callous, heartless, cruel reasons quoted above.
Entitlement. Seeking entertainment. Boredom.
Those are frivolous excuses for monstrous acts, acts that carry lifelong implications for other people. In a few seconds rape alters a life, making a survivor of someone whose peace of mind is stolen, and causes changes in the brain that can last forever.
This is not a petty crime, nor is it “he said, she said”, when only 6-8% of rape reports are false – the same proportion as with false reports of other crimes, like robbery.
I foresee a day when rape will carry the death penalty. It will likely start in China, where fewer girls are born every day. The death penalty would be an easy way for the Chinese to rid themselves of turbulent men and at the same time make life safer for women and children.
The more we examine rape, the worse it looks. At long last.