Maryalice Wu at the University of Illinois, sent me the link to this BBC report with the subject line: “I am at a loss for words.”
A new study, led by long time sexual violence researcher Rachel Jewkes, shows that 25% of Asian men have raped someone, with 10% having raped someone other than their partner. It is a huge sample: ten thousand men in six countries were interviewed.
This study, the first multicountry research to try to document how widespread the violence against women is, echoes previous work by Jewkes in South Africa, which also found that 25% of men had raped (though many there also confessed to attacking more than one victim). Motivation? Everything from punishing a woman who wasn’t behaving to relieving boredom. Boredom!
The BBC report tries to defuse the findings somewhat by pointing to the variation among countries and the role of conflict in having increased the incidence of violence in some places. But the overwhelming message is simply this: violence against women is accepted in Asia, as it is accepted in much of the developing world.
And, to be honest, as it is accepted pretty much everywhere.
I was at a dinner party in Oxford last winter when someone commented that humans have to distance themselves from someone before they kill them–make them “other”; dehumanize them. I said, “Yeah, unless it’s their wife.” And everyone at the table laughed.
Violence against women is a global epidemic. It is not confined to Asia or Africa. And until we all change our attitudes about it, this horror will continue.
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”–Margaret Atwood