A September 2013 study on behalf of the United Nations Multi-country Cross-sectional Study on Men and Violence has discovered, on average, one in every four Asian Pacific men admit to rape. Related research revealed that nearly half of all surveyed men in the region admitted to violence against women. The regional numbers varied widely, with just two locations pulling the average far beyond the median. However, the same factors which are associated with high levels of rape in South Africa and North America were also associated with high levels of rape in these studies.
Differences between types of rape
The survey distinguished between several different types of non-consensual sex. The word “rape” was never used in the questions.
Overall, roughly one in 10 men admitted raping a woman who was not their partner. When the men were also asked if they had ever had non-consensual sex with their partner, an average of one in four men admitted rape.
The survey also asked about frequency of rape and gang rape. More than half of the men admitting rape had only raped one woman. Most of the numbers for gang rape were close to two percent, except in Cambodia (5.2 percent), Jayapura, Indonesia (6.8 percent), and Papua New Guinea (14.1 percent).
When asked for the reason for non-consensual sex, respondents were allowed to give more than a single answer. More than 70 percent of men admitting rape felt entitled to the non-consensual sex. Roughly 60 percent claimed that they were bored, or just wanted to have fun. Roughly 40 percent used non-consensual sex to punish the woman.
Among all men who admitted rape, less than half felt guilty about it. Less than a quarter had done any jail time for it.
Factors associated with high rates of rape
The poorest regions consistently had the highest rates of gang rape, as well as the highest rates of rape against men. This has also been found in surveys done in North America and South Africa.
Physical abuse as a child is not by itself a risk factor for rape. However, when it is combined with emotional abuse and neglect, it is a risk factor for both gang rape and rape of the men’s partners.
Where the survey was done
The surveyed region covered five countries in South and Southeast Asia: Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. It also included Papua New Guinea, located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean.
This region of the world is incredibly diverse. The research team tried to represent some of that diversity in the way they conducted their survey, while still completing their survey within two years. However, some of the findings show clearly that a more detailed picture is needed.
Only the Cambodian survey was representative of the entire country. In Indonesia, the survey covered an unnamed rural Indonesian province, the capital city Jakarta, and Jayapura, a city near the Papua New Guinea border. In Bangladesh, the survey covered the capital city Dhaka and an unnamed rural province. In Sri Lanka, the survey data was pooled between the capital city Columbo and three other districts.
In China, the survey covered just one unnamed county, which included both an urban and a rural area. This location had just 980 respondents, out of a survey total of 10,178 respondents. Thus, the results from China can’t be considered to be representative of the country at all.
The survey in Papua New Guinea was done entirely in a single island region, Bougainville, with no sampling of mainland Papua New Guinea at all. In contrast to the Chinese results, the population sample in Bougainville was the highest in the study relative to its total population of 175,160, with 0.5 percent of the population surveyed.
There were strong regional differences in the incidence of reported rape between countries. In fact, just two survey locations, with a combined total of 17 percent of the respondents, pushed the average to the headline-making level. Without that country and that region, the average incidence of rape of women who were not the men’s partners would have been 7.6 percent, or one in every 13 Asian Pacific men.
Bangladesh had the lowest incidence of rape, at 4.1 percent in urban Bangladesh and 4.4 percent in rural Bangladesh. Rural Indonesia and Sri Lanka were almost as low, at 5.8 percent and 6.2 percent respectively.
In China, 8.1 percent of men admitted having committed rape. Cambodia and Jakarta, Indonesia, came in at 8.7 percent and 8.5 percent respectively, or roughly one in every 12 men in this region. Together, the respondents in these areas make up 45 percent of the total.
The numbers suddenly jump in Jayapura, Indonesia, and even more in Papua New Guinea. In Jayapura, 23.4 percent of men admitted having committed rape. In Papua New Guinea (Bougainville), that number skyrockets to 40.7 percent, or more than four out of every 10 men.
When the numbers also include rape of the current partner, they are even more shocking. Nearly half of all Jayapura men admitted having non-consensual sex. In Bougainville, it was 62.4 percent of all adult men.
While many of these numbers are shocking in any case, breaking down the numbers by region shows a considerably different picture from the attention-grabbing headlines.