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Rape, also referred to as sexual assault, is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or sexual penetration of another person without that person's consent. Rape is generally considered a serious sex crime, as well as a civil assault.

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.[1] In one survey of women, two percent of respondents who stated they were sexually assaulted said that the assault was perpetrated by a stranger.[2]

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 group.



Though definitions vary, rape is defined in most jurisdictions as sexual intercourse, or other forms of sexual penetration, by one person ("the accused" or "the perpetrator") with or against another person ("the victim") 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. Other jurisdictions define all non-consensual sexual activity to be rape. But the terminology varies, with some places using other terms. For example, Michigan, United States uses the term "criminal sexual conduct".[3] In some jurisdictions, rape is defined in terms of sexual penetration of the victim, which may include penetration with objects, rather than body parts.[4] 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.

In recent years, women have been convicted of raping or sexually assaulting men; for example, by the use of an object or when the man is below the statutory age of consent. Also, in recent years women have also been convicted of rape or sexual assault by procuring a man to rape another woman, and by being an accomplice to a rape.

In Scotland, rape is a gender-specific crime; it can only be committed by males upon females. Oral, anal and male rape do not legally constitute rape, nor is digital penetration sufficient.[5]

In Brazil, the definition of rape is even more restrictive. It is defined as non-consensual vaginal sex.[6] 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 attempt against someone's modesty" ("Atentado violento ao pudor"). The penalty, however, is the same.


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".[7] 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."[8] Unlike theft or robbery, rape was termed a "public wrong" iniuria publica as opposed to a "private wrong" iniuria privita.[9] 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.[10] Emperor Justinian confirmed the continued use of the statute to prosecute rape during the 6th century in the Eastern Roman Empire.[11] 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.[12]

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."[13]

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.[14][15]

The English common law defined rape as "the carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will."[16] The common law defined carnal knowledge as the penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ (it covered all other acts under the crime of sodomy). The crime of rape was unique in the respect that it focused on the victim's state of mind and actions in addition to that of the defendant. The victim was required to prove a continued state of physical resistance, and consent was conclusively presumed when a man had intercourse with his wife. "One of the most oft-quoted passages in our jurisprudence" on the subject of rape is by Lord Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale from the 17th century, "rape...is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, tho never so innocent."[16] Lord Hale is also the origin of the remark, "In a rape case it is the victim, not the defendant, who is on trial." However, as noted by Sir William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, by 1769 the common law had recognized that even a prostitute could suffer rape if she had not consented to the act.[17]

The modern criminal justice system is widely regarded as unfair to sexual assault victims.[18] 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".[19] Additionally, gender neutral laws have combated the older perception that rape never occurs to men,[16] while other laws have eliminated the term altogether.[20]

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%. After 1973 the New York City Police Department used female officers to investigate sexual assault cases and the rate dropped to 2% according to the FBI. (DiCanio, 1993).

Male-male rape has historically been shrouded in secrecy due to the stigma men associate with being raped by other men. According to psychologist Dr Sarah Crome fewer than one in ten male-male rapes are reported. As a group, male rape victims reported a lack of services and support, and legal systems are often ill equipped to deal with this type of crime.[21]. Because of an epidemic of prison rape, male-male rape is increasingly common.

Most 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.[citation needed] In 2007 the South Africa police investigated instances of women raping young men.[22]

Prevention and education efforts


In any allegation of rape, the absence of consent to sexual intercourse on the part of the victim is critical. Consent need not be express, 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. It defined rape as: "a physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive."[23]

Valid consent is also lacking if the victim lacks an actual capacity to give consent, as in the case of a victim with 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 defence 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).[24] However, in many of those jurisdictions it is still possible to bring prosecutions for what is effectively rape by characterizing it as an assault.[25]

Rape in war

Konstantin Makovsky. The Bulgarian martyresses. 1877 Atrocities of bashibazouks in Bulgaria.

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.[26]

Rape, in the course of war, dates back to antiquity, ancient enough to have been mentioned in the Bible.[27] It was common for the troops of ancient civilizations to rape the women and boys of conquered towns.

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.[28] 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".[29] A British scholar claims, that at the end of World War II, Red Army soldiers are estimated to have raped around 2,000,000 German women and girls.[30][31] French Moroccan troops known as Goumiers committed rapes and other war crimes after the Battle of Monte Cassino. (See Marocchinate.)[32]

It has been alleged that an estimated 200,000 women were raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War by the Pakistani army[33] (though this has been disputed by many including the Indian academic Sarmila Bose [14]), and that at least 20,000 Bosnian Muslim women were raped by Serb forces during the Bosnian War.[34] 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.[35] It is estimated that more than 200,000 females living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today have been raped in recent conflicts.[36][37][38]

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."[39] An estimated 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.[40]

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.[41][42]

Rape was first recognised 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 Foca (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.[43]

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.[43] The indictment was confirmed by a 2001 verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that rape and sexual enslavement are crimes again humanity. Amnesty International stated that the ruling challenged the widespread acceptance of the torture of women as an intrinsic part of war.[44]


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. Conventional wisdom holds that three primary emotions motivate rapists: anger, power and sadism. However, sexual gratification and evolutionary pressures are also theorized as factors.


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, prison rape, acquaintance rape, war rape and statutory rape.[45]


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.[46]

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.[47] Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992).[48] 1 of 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape.[49]

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.[50][51]

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.[52]

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.[1] 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."[53]

In the United States, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the adjusted per-capita victimization rate of rape has declined from about 2.4 per 1000 people (age 12 and above) in 1980 to about 0.4 per 1000 people, a decline of about 85%.[54] But other government surveys, such as the Sexual Victimization of College Women study, critique the NCVS on the basis it includes only those acts perceived as crimes by the victim, and report a higher victimization rate.[55]

Cundiff (2004) argued that the inavailability of another outlet for male sexual desires, such as prostitution, may contribute to the prevalence of rape.[56]

The research on convicted rapists has found several important motivational factors in the sexual aggression of males.[57] Those motivational factors repeatedly implicated are having anger at women and having the need to control or dominate them.[57] In a study, Marshall et al. (2001) found that male rapists had less empathy toward women that had been sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant and more hostility toward women than other males.[58] Freund et al. (1983) stated that most rapists do not have a preference for rape over consensual sex.[59] Marshall et al. (1991) stated that there are no significant differences between the arousal patterns of male rapists and other males.[60]

From 2000-2005, 59% of rapes were not reported to law enforcement.[61][62] One factor relating to this is misconception that most rapes are committed by strangers.[63] In reality, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 38% of victims were raped by a friend or acquaintance, 28% by "an intimate" and 7% by another relative, and 26% were committed by a stranger to the victim. About four out of ten sexual assaults take place at the victim's own home.[64]

More than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children were reported in 2000 in South Africa. Child welfare groups believe that the number of unreported incidents could be up to 10 times that number. A belief common to South Africa holds that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or AIDS. South Africa has the highest number of HIV-positive citizens in the world. According to official figures, one in eight South Africans are infected with the virus. Edith Kriel, a social worker who helps child victims in the Eastern Cape, said: “Child abusers are often relatives of their victims - even their fathers and providers.”[65]

According to University of Durban-Westville anthropology lecturer and researcher Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala, the myth that sex with a virgin is a cure for AIDS 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]

False accusation

The extents of false reporting and false accusations are disputed. A.W. Burgess and R.R. Hazelwood state that "little is published which addresses the issue and concept of false allegation", asserting that classification of "false reporting" generally makes no distinction between complainants who wilfully misreport and complainants who mistakenly identify innocent people.[67] The journalist Dick Haws discusses cases in which figures on false reporting used by journalists have ranged from 2% to 50% depending on their sources:

"... one explanation for such a wide range in the statistics might simply be that they come from different studies of different populations... But there's also a strong political tilt to the debate. A low number would undercut a belief about rape as being as old as the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife: that some women, out of shame or vengeance ... claim that their consensual encounters or rebuffed advances were rapes. If the number is high, on the other hand, advocates for women who have been raped worry it may also taint the credibility of the genuine victims of sexual assault."[68]

Michelle J. Anderson of the Villanova University School of Law states: "As a scientific matter, the frequency of false rape complaints to police or other legal authorities remains unknown."[69] The FBI's 1996 Uniform Crime Report states that 8% of reports of forcible rape were determined to be unfounded upon investigation,[70] but that percentage does not include cases where an accuser fails or refuses to cooperate in an investigation or drops the charges. A British study using a similar methodology that does not include the accusers who drop out of the justice process found a false reporting rate of 8% as well.[71] DiCanio (1993) states that while researchers and prosecutors do not agree on the exact percentage of false allegations, they generally agree on a range of two to eight percent.[72]

In 1994, Dr. Eugene J. Kanin of Purdue University investigated the incidences of false rape allegations made to the police in one small urban community between 1978 and 1987. He states that unlike those in many larger jurisdictions, this police department had the resources to "seriously record and pursue to closure all rape complaints, regardless of their merits." He further states each investigation "always involves a serious offer to polygraph the complainants and the suspects." and "the complainant must admit that no rape had occurred. She is the sole agent who can say that the rape charge is false." The falseness of the allegations was not decided by the police, Dr. Kanin, nor upon physical or testimonial evidence. The number of false rape allegations in the studied period was 45; this was 41% of the 109 total complaints filed in this period.[73]

A 2006 paper by N.S. Rumney in the Cambridge Law Journal provided an exhaustive account of studies of false reporting in the USA, New Zealand and the UK.[74] A tabulated list of studies on false reporting published between 1968 and 2005 placed the percentage of false reports between a minimum on 1.5% (Theilade and Thomsen, 1986) and a maximum of 90% (Stewart, 1981). Rumney notes that early researchers tended to accept uncritically Freudian theories which purported to explain the prevalence of false allegations, while in more recent literature there has been "a lack of critical analysis of those who claim a low false reporting rate and the uncritical adoption of unreliable research findings" (p.157). Rumney concludes that "as a consequence of such deficiencies within legal scholarship, factual claims have been repeatedly made that have only limited empirical support. This suggests widespread analytical failure on the part of legal scholarship and requires an acknowledgment of the weakness of assumptions that have been constructed on unreliable research evidence."

According to a 2005 U.S. Defense Department Inspector General report, approximately 73% of women and 72% of men at the military service academies believe that false accusations of sexual assault are a problem.[75]

Taylor (1987) wrote that "suspicion and disbelief of women who charge men with rape have for centuries had a stranglehold on [...] laws nominally designed to protect women against rape. As a result, many women did not report or prosecute rapes because the process was so often humiliating."[76]

Widely reported examples of false accusations of rape include those of Mabel Hallam, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, Tawana Brawley and Crystal Gail Mangum.

US rape statistics

Though people tend to assume otherwise, rape by a stranger is by far the least common form of rape.[2]

Rape of women by men, by perpetrator[2]

Perpetrator Frequency
Steady dating partner 21.6%
Casual friend 16.5%
Ex-boyfriend 12.2%
Acquaintance 10.8%
Close friend 10.1%
Casual date 10.1%
Husband 7.2%
Stranger 2%

Rape of men by women, by perpetrator[77]

Perpetrator Frequency
Steady dating partner 18.6%
Casual friend 4.1%
Ex-girlfriend 22.6%
Acquaintance 3.1%
Close friend 9.4%
Casual date 2.2%
Wife 13.2%
Stranger 1.1%

Drug, especially alcohol, use is frequently involved in rape. In 47% of 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.[2]

Contrary to widespread belief, rape outdoors is rare. Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone's home. 30.9% occur in the perpetrators' homes, 26.6% in the victims' homes and 10.1% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7.2% occur at parties, 7.2% in vehicles, 3.6% outdoors and 2.2% in bars.[2]

Most rape research and reporting to date has been limited to male-female forms of rape. Research on male-male and female-male is beginning to be done. However, almost no research has been done on female-female rape, though women can be charged with rape.[78]

South Africa rape statistics

A survey carried out in the South African city of Johannesburg has uncovered an alarming picture of sexual violence. One in three of the 4,000 women questioned by CIET Africa, non-governmental organisation, said they had been raped in the past year.

In a related survey conducted among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that 'jackrolling' - a South African term for recreational gang rape - was fun. [79]

Effects on victims

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.[80][81] 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:[81]

  • 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 arousal (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.[80][82][83] (See also Significant Emotional Event.) In general, rape and sexual assault are among the most common causes of PTSD in women.[82]

Victim blame

"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.[84] 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.[85] 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.[86] Amy M. Buddie & Arthur G. Miller in a review of studies of "rape myths" note that,

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."[87]

Sociobiological perspectives

Some[who?] argue that rape, as a reproductive strategy, is encountered in many instances in the animal kingdom (i.e: ducks, geese, and certain dolphin species).[88][89] It is difficult to determine what constitutes rape among animals, as the lack of informed consent defines rape among humans. See also Non-human animal sexuality.

Some[who?] sociobiologists argue that our ability to understand rape, and thereby prevent it, is severely compromised because its basis in human evolution has been ignored.[90] Some studies[attribution needed] indicate that it is an evolutionary strategy for certain males who lack the ability to persuade the female by non-violent means to pass on their genes.[91]

American social critic Camille Paglia, and some[who?] sociobiologists[citation needed], have argued that the victim-blaming intuition may have a non-psychological component in some cases. Some sociobiological models[attribution needed] suggest that it may be genetically-ingrained for certain men and women to allow themselves to be more vulnerable to rape, and that this may be a biological feature of members of the species.[92]

Criminal punishment in the United States

In the United States, the principle of dual sovereignty applies to rape, as to other crimes. If the rape is committed within the borders of a state, that state has jurisdiction. If the victim is a federal official, an ambassador, consul or other foreign official under the protection of the United States, or if the crime took place on federal property or involved crossing state borders, or in a manner that substantially affects interstate commerce or national security, then the Federal Government also has jurisdiction. If a crime is not committed within any state, then Federal jurisdiction is exclusive: examples include the District of Columbia, naval or U.S.-flagged merchant vessels in international waters, or a U.S. military base. In cases where the rape involves both state and federal jurisdiction, the offender can be tried and punished separately for each crime without raising issues of double jeopardy.

Because there are 51 jurisdictions, each with its own criminal code, this section treats only the crime of rape in the federal courts and does not deal with state-by-state specifics. The term rape is not used in federal law. Rape is grouped with all forms of non consensual sexual acts under chapter 109a of the United States Code.

Under federal law the punishment for rape can range from a fine to the death penalty. The severity of the punishment is based on the use of violence, the age of the victim and whether drugs or intoxicants were used in the to override consent. If the perpetrator is a repeat offender the maximum sentence is automatically doubled.

Different categorizations and maximum punishments for rape under federal law[93][94]

Description Fine Imprisonment(years) Life imprisonment
Rape using violence or the threat of violence to override consent unlimited 0 - unlimited yes
Rape by causing fear in the victim for themselves or for another person to override consent unlimited 0 - unlimited yes
Rape by giving a drug or intoxicant to a person that renders them unable to give consent unlimited 0 - 15 no
Statutory rape involving an adult perpetrator unlimited 0 - 15 no
Statutory rape involving an adult perpetrator with a previous conviction unlimited 0 - unlimited yes
Statutory rape involving a perpetrator who is a minor unlimited 0 - 15 no
When a person causes the rape by a third person unlimited 0 - 10 no
When a person causes the rape of a child under 12 by a third person unlimited 0 - unlimited 0 - 20

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b "UCSC Rape Prevention Education: Rape Statistics". www2.ucsc.edu. http://www2.ucsc.edu/rape-prevention/statistics.html. Retrieved on 2008-01-01.  The study was conducted in Detroit, USA.
  2. ^ a b c d e Abbey, A., BeShears, R., Clinton-Sherrod, A. M., & McAuslan, P. (2004). Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 323-332."Similarities and differences in women's sexual assault experiences based on tactics used by the perpetrator". Accessed 10 December 2007.
  3. ^ http://www.msu.edu/~sdclub/resources/criminal%20code.doc
  4. ^ Definitions
  5. ^ [www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/research/pdf_res_notes/rn01-46.pdf The Legal Definition of Rape] January 23, 2008
  6. ^ Brazilian Penal Code.
  7. ^ Hammurabi's Code #156 & [1]
  8. ^ See Justinian, Institutiones[2], see also Adolf Berger, Encyclopedic Dictionary on Roman Law, pp. 667 (raptus) and 768 (vis)[3]
  9. ^ Ibid, see also, George Mousourakis, The Historical and Institutional Context of Roman Law p. 30 [4]
  10. ^ see James Fitzjames Stephen, A History of the Criminal Law of England, p. 17 [5]
  11. ^ See Justinian, Institutiones[6]
  12. ^ Basil of Caesarea, Letters circa 374 AD[7]
  13. ^ "The Medieval Blood Sanction and the Divine Beneficene of Pain: 1100 - 1450", Trisha Olson, Journal of Law and Religion, 22 JLREL 63 (2006)
  14. ^ Discover Haiti: Haiti History - The Conquistadors -Spanish Conquest
  15. ^ Columbus Day - As Rape Rules Africa and American Churches Embrace Violent ‘Christian’ Video Games - CommonDreams.org
  16. ^ a b c Rape - Overview; Act and Mental State, Wayne R. LaFave Professor of Law, University of Illinois, "Substantive Criminal Law" 752-756 (3d ed. 2000)
  17. ^ 'Maryland v. Baby', 946 A.2d 463 (Md. 2007).
  18. ^ (Macdonalds, 2001)
  19. ^ (Howard & Francis, 2000)
  20. ^ 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 it should be noted that in this case women are still not capable of committing rape.
  21. ^ "Male rape victims left to suffer in silence". abc.net.au. February 9, 2001. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/stories/s244535.htm. Retrieved on 2007-05-30. 
  22. ^ "Women now ‘raping’ men". Sowetan. http://www.sowetan.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=413523. Retrieved on 2007-05-30. 
  23. ^ Fourth Annual Report of ICTR to the General Assembly (1999) March 23, 2007
  24. ^ See for example in the British Virgin Islands under the Criminal Code, 1997
  25. ^ Under the English common law, marriage has not been a defense to rape since 1991, see R v. R [1992] 1 A.C. 599.[8]
  26. ^ Navanethem Pillay is quoted by Professor Paul Walters in his presentation of her honorary doctorate of law, Rhodes University, April 2005 [9]
  27. ^ Nowell, Irene. Women in the Old Testament. Liturgical Press. p. 69. ISBN 0814624111. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xQlzkEefX5MC. 
  28. ^ Chinese city remembers Japanese 'Rape of Nanjing'
  29. ^ Comfort Women Were 'Raped': U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  30. ^ "'They raped every German female from eight to 80'". guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,707835,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-01-01. 
  31. ^ "Red Army troops raped even Russian women as they freed them from camps - Telegraph". www.telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/01/24/wbeev24.xml. Retrieved on 2008-01-01. 
  32. ^ Italian women win cash for wartime rapes
  33. ^ How did rape become a weapon of war?
  34. ^ Bosnian kids born of war rape asking questions
  35. ^ "Africa war zones’ ‘rape epidemic’". BBC News. February 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7242421.stm. 
  36. ^ Kira Cochrane talks to filmmaker Lisa F Jackson on her documentary about rape in the Congo
  37. ^ A Conversation with Eve Ensler: Femicide in the Congo
  38. ^ http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/thegreatestsilence/
  39. ^ Fourth Annual Report of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to the General Assembly (September, 1999), accessed at [10].
  40. ^ "Violence Against Women: Worldwide Statistics". http://www.amnesty.org.nz/web/pages/home.nsf/0/e57ea3f05f6aa848cc256e460012f365?OpenDocument. 
  41. ^ As quoted by Guy Horton in Dying Alive - A Legal Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Burma April 2005, co-Funded by The Netherlands Ministry for Development Co-Operation. See section "12.52 Crimes against humanity", Page 201. He references RSICC/C, Vol. 1 p. 360
  42. ^ "untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm". http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm. 
  43. ^ a b "www.haverford.edu/relg/sells/rape.html". http://www.haverford.edu/relg/sells/rape.html. 
  44. ^ "asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR630042001?open&of=ENG-BIH". http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR630042001?open&of=ENG-BIH. 
  45. ^ http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/?article=violence&refid=011menu#cyber UCSB's SexInfo
  46. ^ The Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (2001 - 2002) - Table 02.08 Total recorded rapes
  47. ^ United States Department of Justice document, (table 26)
  48. ^ Sexual Assault Statistics
  49. ^ Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault: Statistics
  50. ^ article by the home editor of the BBC (Mark Easton)
  51. ^ Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2006/07
  52. ^ Dick Haws, "The Elusive Numbers on False Rape," Columbian Journalism Review (November/December 1997).[11]
  53. ^ Myriam S. Denov, Perspectives on Female Sex Offending: A Culture of Denial (Ashgate Publishing 2004) - ISBN.
  54. ^ Anthony D'Amato. Porn Up, Rape Down. Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No.
  55. ^ Bonnie S. Fisher, Francis T. Cullen, Michael G. Turner. Sexual Victimization of College Women
  56. ^ Cundiff, Kirby R. (2004). Prostitution and Sex Crimes
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  58. ^ Marshall, W.L.; Moulden, H. (2001). "Hostility toward women and victim empathy in rapists" (PDF). Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 13 (4): 249-255. http://www.springerlink.com/index/X4J54G0H6T426X42.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-05-27.  article abstract
  59. ^ Freund, K., Scher, H., & Hucker, S. J. (1983). "The courtship disorders," Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 12:769‑779. Cited in "Heterosocial competence of rapists and child molesters: a meta-analysis," in The Journal of Sex Research: "... the minority of rapists who have an erotic preference for rape over consensual intercourse (Freund, Scher, & Hucker, 1983)."
  60. ^ Marshall, W. L., & Eccles, A. (1991). "Issues in clinical practice with sex offenders," Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 6, 79-79.
  61. ^ "Statistics". www.rainn.org. http://www.rainn.org/statistics/. Retrieved on 2008-01-01. 
  62. ^ 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: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/ 181867.htm.
  63. ^ http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/210346.pdf
  64. ^ Bureau of Justice Statistics Home page
  65. ^ South African men rape babies as 'cure' for Aids
  66. ^ Child rape: A taboo within the AIDS taboo
  67. ^ Hazelwood, R. R., & Burgess, A. W. (2001). Practical aspects of rape investigation: a multidisciplinary approach. CRC series in practical aspects of criminal and forensic investigations. CRC Press. ISBN 0849300762 - p.178
  68. ^ The Elusive Numbers on False Rape November/December 1997
  69. ^ The Legacy of the Prompt Complaint Requirement, Corroboration Requirement, and Cautionary Instructions on Campus Sexual Assault Forthcoming
  70. ^ Crime Index Offenses Reported 1996
  71. ^ A gap or a chasm? Attrition in reported rape cases Home Office Research - February 2005
  72. ^ DiCanio, M. (1993). The encyclopedia of violence : origins, attitudes, consequences. New York : Facts on File
  73. ^ Kanin's Study
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  75. ^ "How to Recognize False Allegations of Rape". The Center for Military Readiness. September 4, 2006. http://www.cmrlink.org/social.asp?DocID=276. Retrieved on 2008-02-15. 
  76. ^ Taylor, J. Rape and women's credibility: Problems of recantations and false accusations echoed in the case of Cathleen Crowell Webb and Gary Dotson. Harvard Women's Law Journal (now Harvard Journal of Law & Gender), 1987, volume 10, page 59. [12]
  77. ^ UCSC Rape Prevention Education: Rape Statistics
  78. ^ english.pravda.ru
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  93. ^ United States Code
  94. ^ Harvard university US Rape Law

Further reading

  • Smith, Merril D. (2004). Encyclopedia of rape. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-32687-8. 
  • King, Michael B.; Mezey, Gillian C. (2000). Male victims of sexual assault. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-262932-8. 
  • 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 1-59147-186-9. 
  • Palmer, Craig; Thornhill, Randy (2000). A natural history of rape biological bases of sexual coercion. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. ISBN 0-585-08200-6. 
  • Denov, Myriam S. (2004). Perspectives on female sex offending: a culture of denial. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-3565-1. 
  • Bergen, Raquel Kennedy (1996). Wife rape: understanding the response of survivors and service providers. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. ISBN 0-8039-7240-7. 
  • Groth, Nicholas A. (1979). Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender. New York, NY: Plenum Press. p. 227. ISBN 0-738-20624-5. 
  • Shapcott, David (1988). 'The Face of the Rapist. Auckland, NZ: Penguin Books. p. 234. ISBN 0-14009-335-4. 
  • Lee, Ellis (1989). Theories of Rape: Inquiries Into the Causes of Rape. Taylor & Francis. p. 185. ISBN 0-89116-172-4. 
  • 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
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