Sexual assault
Classification and external resources

The rape of noblewoman Lucretia was a starting point of events that led to the overthrow of the Roman Monarchy and establishment of the 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.
ICD-9 E960.1
MedlinePlus 001955
eMedicine article/806120
MeSH D011902

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 with a person who is incapable of valid consent.[1][2][3][4] The term is most often defined in criminal law.[2][4] A person who commits an act of rape is known as a rapist.

Internationally, the incidence of rapes recorded by the police during 2008 varied between 0.1 in Egypt per 100,000 people and 91.6 per 100,000 people in Lesotho with 4.9 per 100,000 people in Lithuania as the median.[5] According to the American Medical Association (1995), sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime.[6][7] 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 and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male.[8] Rape by strangers is usually less common than rape by persons the victim knows,[9][10][11][12][13] and several studies argue that male-male and female-female prison rape are quite common and may be the least reported forms of rape.[14][15][16]

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 ethnic group.



The definition of rape varies both in different parts of the world and at different times in history.[17] It is defined in many jurisdictions as sexual intercourse, or other forms of sexual penetration, of one person by another person without the consent of the victim.[17] The United Nations defines it as "sexual intercourse without valid consent,"[5][18] and the World Health Organization defined it in 2002 as "physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration – even if slight – of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object."[19] Some countries such as Germany are now, however, using more inclusive definitions which do not require penetration and the 1998 International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda defines it as "a physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive".[17] In some jurisdictions, the term "rape" has been phased out of legal use in favor of terms such as "sexual assault" or "criminal sexual conduct".[20]

Some jurisdictions continue to define rape to cover only acts involving penile penetration of the vagina, treating all other types of non-consensual sexual activity as sexual assault. In Brazil, for example, the legal code defines rape as non-consensual vaginal sex.[21] Thus male rape, anal rape, and oral rape are not included. The FBI uses the following definition of rape in compiling their annual Uniform Crime Reports: "The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will." This has been interpreted to mean only forced penile-vaginal penetration.[22]


In any allegation of rape, the absence of consent to sexual intercourse on the part of the victim is critical.[4] Consent need not be expressed, 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. Lack of consent may result from either forcible compulsion by the perpetrator or an incapacity to consent on the part of the victim (such as persons who are asleep, intoxicated or otherwise mentally helpless).[4][23] The law can also invalidate consent in the case of sexual intercourse with a person below the age at which they can legally consent to such relations with older persons. (See age of consent.) Such cases are sometimes called statutory rape or "unlawful sexual intercourse", regardless of whether it was consensual or not, as people who are under a certain age in relation to the perpetrator are deemed legally incapable of consenting to sex.[4] Consent can always be withdrawn at any time, so that any further sexual activity after the withdrawal of consent constitutes rape.

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.[23] Duress may be actual or threatened force or violence against the victim or somebody else close to the victim. Even blackmail may constitute duress. Abuse of power may constitute duress. For instance, in Philippines, a man commits rape if he engages in sexual intercourse with a woman "By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority".[24] The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in its landmark 1998 judgment used a definition of rape which did not use the word 'consent': "a physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive."[25]

Marital rape, also known as spousal rape, is non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim's spouse. As such, it is a form of partner rape, of domestic violence, and of sexual abuse. Historically, and still in some countries, consent was assumed within the marriage contract, thus making spousal rape an impossibility; however, spousal rape is now repudiated by international conventions and increasingly criminalized. In 2006, it was estimated that marital rape could be prosecuted in at least 104 countries (in four of these countries, marital rape could be prosecuted only when the spouses were judicially separated),[26] and since 2006 several other countries have outlawed spousal rape. In the US, spousal rape is illegal in all 50 states; the first state to outlaw it was South Dakota in 1975,[27] and the last North Carolina in 1993.[28] Other developing countries outlawed it in the 2000s. In many countries, it is not clear if marital rape may or may not be prosecuted under ordinary rape laws. However, in the absence of a spousal rape law it may be possible to bring prosecutions for what is effectively rape by characterizing it as an assault.


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 marital rape, incestual rape, child sexual abuse, prison rape, acquaintance rape, war rape and statutory rape.[29]

Causes and motivation

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. Several factors have been proposed: anger, a desire for power, sadism, sexual gratification,[30] and evolutionary pressures.[30]


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.[31][32] In the months immediately following the assault, these problems may be severe and 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:[32]

  • 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 alertness (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.[31][33][34] In general, rape and sexual assault are among the most common causes of PTSD in women.[33]

Victim blaming

"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.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37] Amy M. Buddie and Arthur G. Miller, in a review of studies of rape myths, state:

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 state that "individuals may endorse rape myths and at the same time recognize the negative effects of rape."[38]

A number of gender role stereotypes can play a role in rationalization of rape. In the case of male-on-female rape, these include the idea that power is reserved to men whereas women are meant for sex and objectified, that women want forced sex and to be pushed around,[39] and that male sexual impulses and behaviors are uncontrollable and must be satisfied.[40] In the case of female-on-male rape, the victim may either be perceived as weak or, in cultures where men acquire status by sexual conquest, as fortunate.



Sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime (American Medical Association, 1995).[7] Thus, the number of reported rapes is lower than both incidence and prevalence rates (Walby and Allen, 2004).[41]

The legal requirements for reporting rape vary by jurisdiction — each U.S. state may have different requirements[42] while other countries may have less stringent limits.[43]


Since the vast majority of rapes are committed by persons known to the victim, the initiation and process of a rape investigation depends much on the victim's willingness and ability to report and describe a rape.

Biological evidence such as semen, blood, vaginal secretions, saliva, and vaginal epithelial cells (typically collected by a rape kit) may be identified and genetically typed by a crime lab. The information derived from the analysis can often help determine whether sexual contact occurred, provide information regarding the circumstances of the incident, and be compared to reference samples collected from patients and suspects.[44]


In the United Kingdom, figures on reported rape cases show an ongoing decline in the conviction rate, putting it at an all time low of 5.6% in 2002. The government has expressed its concern at the year-on-year increase in attrition of reported rape cases, and pledged to address this "justice gap" (Home Office, 2002a).[7]

Prevention and treatment

As sexual violence affects all parts of society, the response to sexual violence is comprehensive. The responses can be categorized as: individual approaches, health care responses, community-based efforts and actions to prevent other forms of sexual violence.

"Recovery from sexual assault is a complicated and controversial concept."[45]

Support groups, usually accessed by "umbrella" organizations (see List of anti-sexual assault organizations in the United States) are prevalent, including some on-line.


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]

In 2007, 40% of the 90,427 forcible rapes reported were cleared by arrest or "exceptional means." Exceptional means refers to situations where the victim refuses to provide information or assistance necessary to obtain an arrest, the defendant dies before being arrested, or the defendant cannot be extradited from another state.[47]


The Australian Women's Safety Survey conducted by the Bureau of Statistics in 1996 involved a random sample 6,300 women aged 18 and over. It produced incidence finding of 1.9 per cent for sexual assault in the previous 12 months. Known men accounted for over two-thirds of assailants (68%). Only 15% of the assaulted women in the sample reported to the police.[48]


In Cambodia, rape is estimated by local and international NGOs to be common,[49] but only a very small minority of these assaults are ever reported to authorities, due to the social stigma associated to being the victim of a sexual crime, and, in particular, to losing virginity before marriage (regardless of how this happened).[50] From November 2008 to November 2009, police had recorded 468 cases of rape, attempted rape and sexual harassment, a 2.4 percent increase over the previous year.[51] Breaking the Silence – Sexual Violence in Cambodia is a report produced by Amnesty International, and released in 2010, which examined the situation of sexual violence in Cambodia. The report found that, in the small minority of rapes which are reported, a very common response is for law-enforcement officials, including police and court staff, to arrange extralegal out-of-court 'agreements' between the victim and the perpetrator (or their families), in which the rapist pays a sum of money which is shared between the authorities and the victim (and her family), after which the victim has to withdraw any criminal complaint against the perpetrator, and public prosecutors close the case. When a rape is investigated, a complainant is generally expected to pay an extralegal sum of money to the authorities, to ensure that the court investigates the case, otherwise progress is slow, and it may take over two years for anything to happen. During the pre-trial period, there is always a risk that the perpetrator’s family will pay a bribe to secure his acquittal or reduced charge.[52]


The most frequently cited research was conducted by Statistics Canada in 1992, which involved a national random sample of 12,300 women (Johnson and Sacco, 1995). The research found that over one in three women had experienced a sexual assault[dubious ] and that only 6% of sexual assaults were reported to the police.[53]

Democratic Republic of the Congo

In eastern Congo, the prevalence and intensity of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world.[54] It is estimated that there are as many as 200,000 surviving rape victims living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today.[55][56] A new study says more than 400,000 women are raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo annually.[57] War rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo has frequently been described as a "weapon of war" by commentators. Louise Nzigire, a local social worker, states that “this violence was designed to exterminate the population.” Nzigire observes that rape has been a "cheap, simple weapon for all parties in the war, more easily obtainable than bullets or bombs."

South Africa

South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world with more than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children reported in 2000, with welfare groups believing that unreported incidents could be up to 10 times higher.[58] In 2001, a 9-month-old was raped and likely lost consciousness as the pain was too much to bear.[59] Another 9-month-old baby was raped by six men, aged between 24 and 66, after the infant had been left unattended by her teenage mother. A 4-year-old girl died after being raped by her father. A 14-month-old girl was raped by her two uncles. In February 2002, an 8-month-old infant was reportedly gang raped by four men. One has been charged. The infant has required extensive reconstructive surgery. The 8-month-old infant's injuries were so extensive, increased attention on prosecution has occurred.[60] A significant contributing factor for the escalation in child abuse is the widespread myth in HIV ravaged South Africa that having sex with a virgin will cure a man of AIDS.[61][62]

One in three of the 4,000 women questioned by the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency said they had been raped in the past year.[63] More than 25% of South African men questioned in a survey admitted to raping someone; of those, nearly half said they had raped more than one person, according to a new study conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC).[64][65] A 2010 study led by the government-funded Medical Research Foundation says that in Gauteng province, more than 37 percent of men said they had raped a woman. Nearly 7 percent of the 487 men surveyed said they had participated in a gang rape.[66] Among children, a survey found 11% of boys and 4% of girls admitted to forcing someone else to have sex with them while in another survey among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that 'jackrolling', a term for gang rape, was fun.[58][63]

United Kingdom

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 were raped in 2006. The report also showed that only 800 persons were convicted in rape crimes that same year.[67][68]

United States

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.[8] 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.[69] 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.[70] Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992 and United Nations Populations Fund, 2000a).[71][72] Factoring in unreported rapes, about 5% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.[73] One of six U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape.[74] More than a quarter of college age women report having experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14.[75]

The U.S. Department of Justice compiles statistics on crime by race, but only between and among people categorized as black or white. The Uniform Crime Reports classifies most Hispanics into the "white" category.[76] There were 194,270 white and 17,920 black victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2006. According to Anthony Walsh, "Gary LaFree's rape data for the 45-year period revealed that blacks were arrested for rape an average of 6.52 times more often than whites."[76]

Drug use, especially alcohol, is frequently involved in rape. A study (only of rape victims that were female and reachable by phone) reported detailed findings related to tactics. In 47% of such 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.[9] Contrary to widespread belief, rape outdoors is rare. Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone's home. 31% occur in the perpetrators' homes, 27% in the victims' homes and 10% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7% occur at parties, 7% in vehicles, 4% outdoors and 2% in bars.[9] From 2000–2005, 59% of rapes were not reported to law enforcement.[10][77] One factor relating to this is the misconception that most rapes are committed by strangers.[11][10] In reality, studies indicate the following varying numbers:

Source: Current or Former Intimate Partner Another Relative Friend or Acquaintance Stranger
US Bureau of Justice Statistics 26% 7% 38% 26%
Australian Government Statistics[12] 56% 10% 27% 8%
UK Home Office (for comparison)[13] 45.4% 13.9% 29.6% 11%


Most rape research and reporting to date has been limited to male-female forms of rape. Research on male-male and female-male rape is beginning to be done. According to psychologist Dr. Sarah Crome, fewer than one in ten male-male rapes are reported. As a group, male rape victims by either gender often get little services and support, and legal systems are often ill equipped to deal with this type of crime.[78] 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."[79] Due to these reasons, it is likely being substantially under-reported, with the probable cause being the double standard.[80] Some 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 and some legal codes do not legislate against women raping men.[81] In 2007, the South Africa police investigated instances of women raping young men.[82] Little research has been done on female-female rape.

False accusation

The largest and most rigorous study was commissioned by the British Home Office and based on 2,643 sexual assault cases (Kelly, Lovett, and Regan, 2005). Of these, 8% were classified by the police department as false reports. However, the researchers noted that some of these classifications were based simply on the personal judgments of the police investigators and were made in violation of official criteria for establishing a false allegation. Closer analysis of this category applying the Home Office counting rules for establishing a false allegation and excluding cases where the application of the cases where confirmation of the designation was uncertain reduced the percentage of false reports to 3%. The researchers concluded that "one cannot take all police designations at face value" and that "[t]here is an over-estimation of the scale of false allegations by both police officers and prosecutors." Moreover, they added:

The interviews with police officers and complainants’ responses show that despite the focus on victim care, a culture of suspicion remains within the police, even amongst some of those who are specialists in rape investigations. There is also a tendency to conflate false allegations with retractions and withdrawals, as if in all such cases no sexual assault occurred. This reproduces an investigative culture in which elements that might permit a designation of a false complaint are emphasized (later sections reveal how this also feeds into withdrawals and designation of 'insufficient evidence'), at the expense of a careful investigation, in which the evidence collected is evaluated.[83][84]

Another large-scale study was conducted in Australia, with the 850 rapes reported to the Victoria police between 2000 and 2003 (Heenan & Murray, 2006). Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the researchers examined 812 cases with sufficient information to make an appropriate determination, and found that 2.1% of these were classified by police as false reports. All of these complainants were then charged or threatened with charges for filing a false police report.[85]

FBI reports consistently put the number of "unfounded" rape accusations around 8%. The unfounded rate is higher for forcible rape than for any other Index crime. The average rate of unfounded reports for Index crimes is 2%.[86] However, “unfounded” is not synonymous with false allegation[87] and as Bruce Gross of the Forensic Examiner explains,

This statistic is almost meaningless, as many of the jurisdictions from which the FBI collects data on crime use different definitions of, or criteria for, "unfounded." That is, a report of rape might be classified as unfounded (rather than as forcible rape) if the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect, if the alleged perpetrator did not use physical force or a weapon of some sort, if the alleged victim did not sustain any physical injuries, or if the alleged victim and the accused had a prior sexual relationship. Similarly, a report might be deemed unfounded if there is no physical evidence or too many inconsistencies between the accuser's statement and what evidence does exist. As such, although some unfounded cases of rape may be false or fabricated, not all unfounded cases are false.[47]

It is most commonly reported that around 2% of reported rape cases are false accusations. In an academic review in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Edward Greer could not find primary sources for this often repeated figure.[88] A 2006 review by Philip Rumney in the Cambridge Law Journal found several that supported that the figure is around 2%, but only one small (545-case) study that could be a source of the 2% figure, [89] and expressed doubt about each's methodology.[90]

Purdue sociologist Eugene Kanin (1994) summarized rape reports in a small Midwestern town between 1978 and 1987 and found that the police department determined 41% of the 109 sexual assault reports to be false. The police department made a "serious offer to polygraph" all rape complainants. David Lisak (2007) argues that Kanin’s is not a research study, because it only puts forth the opinions of the police officers without any further investigation on his part and that it is "a provocative opinion piece, but it is not a scientific study of the issue of false reporting of rape" and that it "certainly should never be used to assert a scientific foundation for the frequency of false allegations."[91][92] Similarly, John Bancroft states that a search of the literature on false rape reports reveals that Kanin's figure of 41% false rape reports is regarded as unusually high.[93] Kanin claimed that "the complainant must admit that no rape had occurred. She is the sole agent who can say that the rape charge is false." Lisak accused Kanin of presenting the claims of the police department as fact, without investigating further:

"Kanin describes no effort to systemize his own 'evaluation' of the police reports—for example, by listing details or facts that he used to evaluate the criteria used by the police to draw their conclusions. Nor does Kanin describe any effort to compare his evaluation of those reports to that of a second, independent research— providing a ‘reliability’ analysis. This violates a cardinal rule of science, a rule designed to ensure that observations are not simply the reflection of the bias of the observer [...] [Dr. Kanin] simply reiterates the opinions of the police officers who concluded that the cases in question were 'false allegations.'"

Lisak later performed his own study, published in 2010 in Violence Against Women, which found a false allegation rate of 5.9%.


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".[94] 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."[95][96] Unlike theft or robbery, rape was termed a "public wrong" iniuria publica as opposed to a "private wrong" iniuria privita.[97] 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.[98] Emperor Justinian confirmed the continued use of the statute to prosecute rape during the 6th century in the Eastern Roman Empire.[99] 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.[100]

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."[101]

The ius primae noctis ("law of the first night") is a term now popularly used to describe an alleged legal right allowing the lord of an estate to take the virginity of his serfs' maiden daughters. Little or no historical evidence has been unearthed from the Middle Ages to support the idea that such a right ever actually existed.[102][103]

The medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas argued that rape, though sinful, was much less unacceptable than masturbation or coitus interruptus, because it fulfilled the procreative function of sex, while the other acts violated the purpose of sex.[104][105][106]

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.[107][108]

Until fairly recently, the criminal justice system of many countries was widely regarded as unfair to sexual assault victims. 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".[109] Additionally, gender neutral laws have combated the older perception that rape never occurs to men,[110] while other laws have eliminated the term altogether.[111]

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%.

War rape

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.[112]
La vuelta del malón (The return of the raiders) by Ángel Della Valle (1892).

Rape, in the course of war, dates back to antiquity, ancient enough to have been mentioned in the Bible.[113] The Israelite, Persian, Greek and Roman armies reportedly engaged in war rape.[114] The Mongols, who established the Mongol Empire across much of Eurasia, caused much destruction during their invasions.[115] Documents written during or after Genghis Khan's reign say that after a conquest, the Mongol soldiers looted, pillaged and raped.[116] Rogerius, a monk who survived the Mongol invasion of Hungary, pointed out not only the genocidal element of the occupation, but also that the Mongols especially "found pleasure" in humiliating women.[117]

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.[118] 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".[119] French Moroccan troops known as Goumiers committed rapes and other war crimes after the Battle of Monte Cassino. (See Marocchinate.)[120] Rape by soldiers was common in many areas occupied by the Red Army.[121]

It has been alleged that an estimated 200,000 women were raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War by the Pakistani army[122] (though this has been disputed by many including the Indian academic Sarmila Bose [123]), and that at least 20,000 Bosnian Muslim women were raped by Serb forces during the Bosnian War.[124] 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.[125] It is estimated that more than 200,000 females living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today have been raped in recent conflicts.[55][56][126] Some estimate that around 60% of combatants in Congo are HIV-infected.[127]

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."[128] An estimated 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.[129]

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.[130][131]

Rape was first recognized 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 Foča (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.[132]

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.[132] The indictment was confirmed by a 2001 verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that rape and sexual enslavement are crimes against humanity. Amnesty International stated that the ruling challenged the widespread acceptance of the torture of women as an intrinsic part of war.[133]

See also


  1. ^ "Rape". Merriam-Webster. April 15, 2011. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rape%5B3%5D. 
  2. ^ a b "Sexual violence chapter 6". World Health Organization. April 15, 2011. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2002/9241545615_chap6_eng.pdf. 
  3. ^ "Rape". dictionary.reference.com. April 15, 2011. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rape. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Rape". legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com. April 15, 2011. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/rape. 
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  8. ^ a b "UCSC Rape Prevention Education: Rape Statistics". www2.ucsc.edu. http://www2.ucsc.edu/rape-prevention/statistics.html. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  The study was conducted in Detroit, USA.
  9. ^ a b c 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". Retrieved 10 December 2007.
  10. ^ a b c "Statistics | Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network". www.rainn.org. http://www.rainn.org/statistics/. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
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  13. ^ a b "Rape and sexual assault of women: findings from the British Crime Survey" (PDF). http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/r159.pdf. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  14. ^ Human Rights WatchNo Escape: Male Rape In U.S. Prisons. Part VII. Anomaly or Epidemic: The Incidence of Prisoner-on-Prisoner Rape.; estimates that 100,000–140,000 violent male-male rapes occur in U.S. prisons annually; compare with FBI statistics that estimate 90,000 violent male-female rapes occur annually.
  15. ^ Robert W. Dumond, "Ignominious Victims: Effective Treatment of Male Sexual Assault in Prison," August 15, 1995, p. 2; states that "evidence suggests that [male-male sexual assault in prison] may a staggering problem"). Quoted in Mariner, Joanne; (Organization), Human Rights Watch (2001-04-17). No escape: male rape in U.S. prisons. Human Rights Watch. p. 370. ISBN 9781564322586. http://books.google.com/?id=QkFfYfEO5IgC&pg=PA370. Retrieved 7 June 2010. 
  16. ^ Struckman-Johnson, Cindy; David Struckman-Johnson (2006). "A Comparison of Sexual Coercion Experiences Reported by Men and Women in Prison". Journal of Interpersonal Violence 21 (12): 1591–1615. doi:10.1177/0886260506294240. ISSN 0886-2605. PMID 17065656. ; reports that "Greater percentages of men (70%) than women (29%) reported that their incident resulted in oral, vaginal, or anal sex. More men (54%) than women (28%) reported an incident that was classified as rape."
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Further reading

  • Bergen, Raquel Kennedy (1996). Wife rape: understanding the response of survivors and service providers. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-0-8039-7240-7. 
  • Denov, Myriam S. (2004). Perspectives on female sex offending: a culture of denial. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-3565-9. 
  • Groth, Nicholas A. (1979). Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender. New York, NY: Plenum Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-7382-0624-0. 
  • Pierce, Karen F.; Deacy, Susan; Arafat, K. W. (2002). Rape in antiquity. London: The Classical Press of Wales in association with Duckworth. ISBN 0-7156-3147-0. 
  • King, Michael B.; Mezey, Gillian C. (2000). Male victims of sexual assault. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-262932-6. 
  • Lee, Ellis (1989). Theories of Rape: Inquiries Into the Causes of Rape. Taylor & Francis. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-89116-172-1. 
  • 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 978-1-59147-186-8. 
  • 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
  • Palmer, Craig; Thornhill, Randy (2000). A natural history of rape biological bases of sexual coercion. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-585-08200-4. 
  • Shapcott, David (1988). The Face of the Rapist. Auckland, NZ: Penguin Books. p. 234. ISBN 978-0-14-009335-3. 
  • Smith, Merril D. (2004). Encyclopedia of Rape. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-32687-5. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • râpe — râpe …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • rape — I noun abuse, assault, constupration, defilement, defloration, depredation, despoliation, forcible violation, pillage, plunder, plunderage, rapere, rapine, ravage, ravishment, seduction, sexual assault, spoliation, stupration, violation… …   Law dictionary

  • râpe — [ rap ] n. f. • XVIe; raspe 1202; du germ. °raspôn, par le lat. raspa « grappe de raisin » I ♦ Agric. Ce qui reste des grappes une fois qu on les a pressées, ou que les grains sont tombés ou ont été enlevés. ⇒ 2. rafle. ♢ Ce qui reste d un épi… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • râpé — 1. (râ pé, pée) part. passé de râper1. Usé par la râpe. •   Le freux a le bec moins gros, moins fort et comme râpé, BUFF. Ois. t. V, p. 76. •   J ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière ; J en ai du fin et du râpé, LATTAIGNANT Chanson..    Fig. et… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Rape me — Single par Nirvana extrait de l’album In Utero Sortie 1994 Enregistrement 1993 Durée 2:49 Genre(s) Grunge Auteur(s) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Rape Me — Single par Nirvana extrait de l’album In Utero Sortie 1994 Enregistrement 1993 Durée 2:49 Genre Grunge …   Wikipédia en Français

  • râpe — 1. (râ p ) s. f. 1°   Ustensile de ménage, fait d une plaque de métal hérissée d aspérités, qui sert à mettre en poudre du sucre, de la croûte de pain, etc.    Fig. Donner de la râpe douce, flatter un peu. 2°   Râpe à tabac, râpe plate dont on se …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Rape Me — «Rape Me» Сингл Nirvana из альбома In Utero …   Википедия

  • Rape — Rape, n. [L. rapa, rapum, akin to Gr. ra pys, ra fys, G. r[ u]be.] (Bot.) A name given to a variety or to varieties of a plant of the turnip kind, grown for seeds and herbage. The seeds are used for the production of rape oil, and to a limited… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Rape — Rape, v. t. 1. To commit rape upon; to ravish. [1913 Webster] 2. (Fig., Colloq.) To perform an action causing results harmful or very unpleasant to a person or thing; as, women raped first by their assailants, and then by the Justice system.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Rapé — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El rapé es un preparado de tabaco molido y habitualmente aromatizado dispuesto para ser consumido por via nasal. La palabra viene del francés rappé, rallado. Como la mayor parte de las formas de consumo de tabaco, la …   Wikipedia Español

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