Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Close this search box.

Rape Laws Offer Little Protection

No comment
Sunday, November 11th, 2018
No comment



The world over, laws to protect rape victims are paper tigers, often enacted but rarely enforced, a researcher said here.

A bevy of international laws prohibit rape, and governments have been mandated under these laws to enact, implement, and monitor legislation that addresses all forms of violence against women, according to Olufunke Adesuwa Akiyode, MHSA, from Shout — Global Health in Largo, Md. Although many countries and states have adopted such laws, far fewer have put them into effect, Akiyode said at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

Sexual violence is a human-rights abuse with severe acute and long-term health consequences, including exposure to HIV/AIDS and a range of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unwanted pregnancy or infertility, and mental illnesses, she noted. “One-third of rape victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the risks of depression and anxiety increase three- to four-fold after exposure to gender-based violence.”

Since 2000, the United Nations Security Council has issued nine sexual-violence-related resolutions to seemingly little effect. One in three women worldwide have still been raped or sexually assaulted, and 65 countries report more than 250,000 rapes and attempted rapes to the United Nations each year.

These figures don’t even account for the vast majority of rapes, which go unreported, Akiyode continued. A 2007 government document in England found that between 75% and 95% of rapes will never come to light, and the American Medical Association calls rape the single most under-reported violent crime.

In many nations, rape is rarely reported due to social stigma and cultural norms and traditions, such as ‘honor killings’ of victims, she pointed out. According to the United Nations, 2008 rape figures recorded by police worldwide varied between 0.1 per 100,000 in Egypt to 26.6 per 100,000 in the United States to 91.6 per 100,000 in Lesotho.

In the U.S., one in three American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, Akiyode told MedPage Today, adding that women are 10 times more likely than men to be victims of rape and nine times more likely than non-victims to attempt suicide.

Nor is the situation improving, she said. In Nigeria, only 18% or so of rape victims contact police. Egypt’s interior ministry claim of 20,000 rapes each year (or 0.1 rapes per 100,000 individuals) is belied by conservative estimates of 200,000 annual rapes.

Akiyode presented several other statistics to illustrate the extent of the problem:

  • In India, a survey found that 20% of men admitted to raping their wives or partners
  • In America, a woman is 10 times more likely to be raped than to die in a car accident
  • In Egypt, 53% of men believe that how women dress invites harassment

According to Akiyode, rape is a violation of a woman’s bodily integrity, and, therefore, a violation of a fundamental human right. And many countries have failed to protect the basic human and reproductive rights of women in any number of ways — from discrimination against rape victims, to failure to prosecute rapists during times of war and peace, from the inability of governments to prohibit archaic traditions, to the shielding of security officials who commit sex crimes with impunity.

Rape is a global epidemic that crosses socioeconomic lines and imposes steep personal, national, and international costs, she said, adding that it will continue to do so until world leaders put an end to the underlying causes that promote and support it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *