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30.10.2013 Feature Article


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According to Wikipedia encyclopedia rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent.

Internationally, the incidence of rapes recorded by the police during 2008 varied between 1 in Egypt per 100,000 people and 92 per 100,000 people in Lesotho with 5 per 100,000 people in Lithuania as the median. According to the American Medical Association (1995), sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most underreported violent crime.

Rape in India has been described by Radha Kumar as one of India's most common crimes against women and by the UN's human-rights chief as a “national problem

Over 22 million women in the United States have been raped in their lifetime. 18.3% of women in the United States have survived a completed or attempted rape and out of this percentage, 12.3% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped, and 29.9% were between the ages of 11 and 17. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010).

According a report by Alex Rossi, a correspondent for CNN, a woman is raped every 20 Minutes in India. Again In January 2013, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office released its first ever joint Official Statistics bulletin on sexual violence, entitled “An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales”. It reported that:

• Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year

• Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year

• 1 in 5 women (aged 16 - 59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.

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. Rape by strangers is usually less common than rape by persons the victim knows, and several studies argue that male-male and female-female prison rape are quite common and may be the least reported forms of rape

Currently, radio and television stations are continuously reporting on rape cases. One of such that received international telecast and bashing was the gang rape of a 23-year old student on a public bus in India, on 16 December 2012, which sparked large protests across the capital Delhi. She was with a male friend who was severely beaten with an iron rod during the incident. This same rod was used to penetrate her so severely that the victim's intestines had to be surgically removed, before her death thirteen days after the attack.

Rape is one of the most violent crimes on earth but it is least talk about, now and then it makes headlines on the news and police journals but it is the tip of iceberg. It is not surprising that It is estimated that between 64% and 96% percent of all rapes are never reported to criminal and justice authorities (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000; National Victims Center). Clearly, the vast majority of rapists are never brought to justice. As a consequence, these undetected rapists have borne far less scrutiny from social science researchers. Yet, studies of unreported rape, mainly on college samples, indicate that from 6% to 14.9% of men report acts that meet legal definitions for rape or attempted rape (Collings, 1994)

The question that arises from the above statements is, what are the causes of these rapes? Some attribute it to culture and religion but I am yet to find out even in the most cruel or uncivilized religion or culture that approves or preaches rape as a norm and recognized it.

Identifying the cause of a problem, as most of us know, is half the solution. To prevent rape, we need to know what causes someone to rape. However for most feminist reading this article, there is one simple answer -- only men rape, only men are the problem, therefore the solution is to control men. However, like all bigoted viewpoints, this oversimplifies both the problem and the solution. The causes include:

Lust as a Cause of Rape
Feminists dismiss the idea sexual passion can be a motive for rape. They believe it is impossible for any woman to provoke an overpowering libidinal response in some men.

Women who wear clothes that exentuate their female attributes are bypassing men's civilized veneer to communicate directly to the male libido. Usually, no harm is done because most men have discipline. But somethings, like alcohol or women's provocative behaviors, can erode men's resistance. And sometimes that can lead to rape.

Women have a wider range of response, with some loving sex, and others feeling uninterested. Generally, women have more difficulty with arousal for both anatomical and psychological reasons.

According to Louann Brizendine, author of the books, The Female Brain and The Male Brain, the area governing sexuality takes up twice as much space in the male. And the part that controls desire to pursue is 2½ times greater, and more quickly activated.

In addition, men have much more testosterone, crucial to sex drive. Even when women and men are both treated with testosterone for low libido, the hormone is less effective in women, according to Dr. Glenn Braunstein of Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

A penis is also larger than a clitoris, making its workings more obvious, so boys are more likely to masturbate, and girls are less likely to get to know their bodies and what arouses them. An erect penis also gives men a lot of feedback, while women's genitals provide very little. (Men looking at a naked body are much more likely to feel aroused than women doing the same thing.

Between biology and repressive forces, women experience more sexual problems. University of Texas, Austin researchers reported in Why Women Have Sex that one-third of women, aged 18-23, felt little sexual interest in the prior year. But only 14% of men did. Meanwhile, 30-40% of women reported difficulty climaxing. Among those in a relationship, 75% of men said they always had an orgasm, but only 26% of women did. This difference likely affects how much each gender desires sex, since one is more consistently rewarded.

Sex also provides one of the few vehicles for men to experience emotional closeness. Men need that intimacy, yet the male role leaves them repressing their emotions. Esther Perel,author of Mating in Captivity, feels that “For men, sex is the connection. Sex is the language men use to express their tender loving vulnerable side.”

To insist men are wrong about what constitutes provocative female dress and behavior is to deny the validity of both the reasonable victim standard" and the masculine experience. That is tantamount to saying only the female perspective matters, and only men are responsible.

Economic Causes of Rape
Women have their price, and whether in marriage or prostitution, men usually have to pay. The going price of women in the modern "meat market" is determined by how much the average guy must earn before women will allow to be approached by him, and for dates and sexual affection This is the best average cedis value women place on their love and sex.

When prices (female expectations) rise to the point where a significant number of men cannot afford the ticket to women's hearts, the incidence of rape increases, too:

There had been two famous mass outbreaks of rape in Gusiiland, once in 1937 and once in 1950. Robert LeVine, an anthropologist from Northwestern University, investigated and discovered that in both years the price of a bride had soared beyond the reach of Gusii young men.

Is it not surprising then, that most reported rape cases happen in places where guys who are perceived not to have attraction to women are or predominantly performing their activities.

Wide-spread economic fluctuations are not the only causes of rape in this context. Within any given community, poor men are far more likely to rape than middle-class and successful men:

Surveys of the socioeconomic status of rapists in the United States indicate that the vast majority of offenders come from lower socioeconomic classes and are unemployed or unskilled laborers with only an elementary-school education or less. Cross-cultural studies from Denmark and Australia also confirm that unskilled, unemployed, and poorly educated males -- those who lose out in sexual competition -- are more often rapists than other men.

The data suggest that rich men rapes but not as compared to the low income men (young people and poor adults), and that rapist and victim most often live in the same neighborhood (82 percent). According to one study, a female living in the inner city stands a one-in-seventy-seven chance of being raped in her life-time. In more affluent areas the risk becomes one in two thousand, and in a rich neighborhood she stands a one-in-ten-thousand chance of being raped. -- Sexual Strategies: How Females Choose Their Mates , by Mary Batten, pp 125 - 126

Disempowerment is not the sole cause of rape. Realistically, however, it is a contributing factor. If the typical perpetrators are disempowered young men, then the obvious answer to at least a part of the problem is to empower young men. Validate their masculinity, provide them with ethical and constructive outlets for expressing that masculinity, and they will rape less and contribute more.

This is to say, to the extent women objectify men as success objects, they may contribute to the problem of rape.

Rape and the Masculine Protest
During the 1950s, it was common for professional women to exaggerate their female attributes. At that time, it was politically correct to question the femininity of professional women. Why weren't they housewives? Why weren't they raising children and standing by their men? In defense, they wore frilly blouses and flouncy hats with one clear message: "let nobody question our femininity." (The Feminine Mystique , Betty Friedan, p 150)

Brownmiller agrees, emphasizing that "social injustice is one of the root causes of the subculture of violence." (Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape , Susan Brownmiller, p 196) What are men doing within that subculture? "They are desperately trying to learn the way to be successful men." (Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape , Susan Brownmiller, p 211)

Is it not surprising that after sitting in the same exams for WASSCE or SSCE, you apply for university admission and they tell you this grade point is for men and that for women? Men are attacked by the press, crucified by the politically correct gospel of intolerance, alienated by male-bashing, and disenfranchised by growing social injustice, men are targets for feminist true believers. The true believers leave men few humane outlets for expressing their masculinity.

Consequently, cinematic violence and lurid pornographic sequences in mainstream movies featuring hyper masculine men abound. Vicarious violence and silver screen sex cannot replace healthy masculinity. Nor can bulging muscles, flashy cars, and other expressions of the modern masculine protest. Ultimately, they fail because they are not real. But they do serve a purpose, providing hope to men who buy into the idea that, if they just do these things, they will be loved and lovable as men.

An increasing number of men, however, have lost, or are losing hope. Some flee to religion, others to drink, drugs, and self-destruction. But how many turn to violence and rape in a desperate attempt to prove their masculinity?

Rape Culture
Rape culture is a concept which links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape. Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape.

According to Michael Parenti, rape culture manifests through the acceptance of rapes as an everyday occurrence, and even a male prerogative. It can be exacerbated by police apathy in handling rape cases, as well as victim blaming, reluctance by the authorities to go against patriarchial cultural norms, as well as fears of stigmatization from rape victims and their families. An example of this could take place when a victim of a crime, (in this case rape or sexual assault), is asked questions by the police, in an emergency room, or in a court room, that suggests that the victim was doing something, acting a certain way, or wearing clothes that may have provoked the perpetrator, therefore making the transgressions against the victim their own fault..This could also be surprisingly occur among a victim's peers

Research shows that 25% of women will be raped during their college career. As a result, potential victims of rape, mainly women, they are taught strategies to avoid getting raped: stay away from dangerous situations, avoid alcohol at parties, and stay with friends at all times. But lost in this dialogue, this according to most feminist groups is an effort to teach offenders about consensual sex and taking responsibility for their actions. This is problematic due to the stigma created and transgressed against the already victimized individuals rather than stigmatizing the aggressive actions of rape and the rapists.

Rape is it a social vice or normal social activity? And should we treat women as independent agents, responsible for themselves? Some will say yes whiles others no. However being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Most women don't get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren't careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.

Richard Etwienana Kwasi Bannor
Email: [email protected]

Richard Kwasi Bannor
Richard Kwasi Bannor, © 2013

The author has 4 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: RichardKwasiBannor

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