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One in four Asia-Pacific men admits to rape

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TUESDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- One in four men in the Asia Pacific region admits he's committed at least one rape, new research finds.

The survey of about 10,000 men in six countries found that 11 percent said they'd raped a woman who was not their partner. The number who admitted to rape rose to 24 percent when partners were included.

Of the men who admitted to rape, 45 percent said they had raped more than one woman.

"In view of the high prevalence of rape worldwide, our findings clearly show that prevention strategies need to show increased focus on the structural and social risk factors for rape," said Professor Rachel Jewkes, of South Africa's Medical Research Council.

"We now need to move toward a culture of preventing the perpetration of rape from ever occurring, rather than relying on prevention through responses," Jewkes said.

Nearly 75 percent of the men who admitted to rape said they did so for reasons of sexual entitlement, 59 percent said they did it for entertainment and 38 percent said they did it to punish a woman.

Fifty-eight percent of men who said they raped somebody who was not their partner committed their first rape as a teenager. The survey also revealed that 46 percent of the men said they'd committed some form of physical or sexual violence or abuse against their partner.

The findings were in two papers published Sept. 10 in the journal The Lancet Global Health.

The men in the survey were from both urban and rural areas and from different age groups. The survey did not, however, include men over 50. The countries included in the survey were Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka.

Men with a history of victimization -- especially childhood sexual abuse and having been raped, or otherwise sexually coerced -- were more likely to have committed rape than those without such a past. A history of physical violence toward a partner, having paid for sex or having had a large number of sexual partners also were associated with an increased likelihood of having committed rape against a non-partner.

Even though the findings are from just six countries in the Asia Pacific region, they're important on a larger scale, Jewkes said in a journal news release.

"Our findings are of substantial global interest, partly because most of the world's population lives in this region, and partly because the countries we studied are very culturally diverse," Jewkes said.

"Effective prevention of rape and gender violence clearly requires long-term strategies, including challenging of practices that are deeply rooted in cultural ideals of masculinity and gender hierarchy," she said. "There is still very little evidence-based research in this area, and further work is urgently needed to establish the most effective interventions, and to determine how we can develop effective national prevention programs."

In an accompanying commentary, Dr. Michele Decker, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote: "Without effective reduction of male gender-based violence perpetration, women's health, well-being and safety will continue to suffer worldwide. The findings from this multi-country study provide policymakers with the evidence base and mandate to create meaningful and sustainable reforms."

The challenge now, Decker added, is to transform evidence into action to provide a safer future for the next generation of women and girls.

More information

The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more about sexual assault.

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