But globally…like South Africa or India…

This was a comment I made on FeministCritics in January this year.


I sometimes have experience that sometimes when the number of male victims in the US can’t be dismissed the scope/goalpost is shifted to a global level: “But women are the vast majority of rape victims gobally” or alternatively in third world countries. Afghanistan, South Africa and recently India are examples used. Other examples are conflict-rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (which by Eve Ensler is described as a gendercide) and Sierra Leone.

It apparently doesn’t occur to them that the same mechanism that erases male victims in the US is at play elsewhere in the world and in how information and news from elsewhere is filtered and presented.



So one perhaps point out the practice of bacha bazi (boys held in sexual slavery) in Afghanistan. Then the goalposts often are shifted a bit further: “But the overwhelming majority of rapists are men”.

Studies like the one’s referenced in this post at FeministCritics and it’s comments about rape prevalency in DRC and Sierra Leone show that a significant number of perpetrators of conflict rape are women and that a significant number of victims are male.

South Africa has a bad reputation for being a rape culture as it’s own section on Wikipedia’s article on Rape Culture attests to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture#South_Africa

Prior to 2007 South Africa classified forced sex with male children as “indecent assault”. It is now classified as rape. A study called 13,915 reasons for equity in sexual offences legislation: A national school-based survey in South Africa was made to look at how prevalent male sexual violence (as victims) is among school-going youths using data gathered in 2002. The study was published in 2008.

It had 269,705 respondents aged 10-19. Of these, 126,696 were male.

44% of male respondents reported forced sex in their lifetime (9% in the last year).

41% of male victims reported a female perpetrator.
32% reported a male perpetrator
27% reported both female and male perpetrators.

The issue of rape in India has been heavily featured in the media a while now. One would think based on what the media presents that victims of sexual abuse in India are overwhelmingly female.
In 2007 the Indian Ministry of Women and Child Development did a comprehensive study on child abuse called Study on Child Abuse: INDIA 2007.

Again we have an example of the executive summary (Major Findings) being misleading or at best incomplete. The gender ratio for physical abuse is listed (56.48% were boys) while the gender distribution of victims of sexual abuse is not listed. Strange how that omission made me correctly guess what I would find on page 75:

Gender-wise percentage of children reporting sexual abuse:
Boys: 52.94%
Girls: 47.06%

In fact, in the Delhi a boy below the age of 18 is almost twice as likely to have been sexually abused than a girl (65.54% vs. 34.36%). A stark contrast to the narrative coming out of Delhi in the main stream media these days.

Well, sexual abuse is not necessarily rape as some surely will say, let’s look further in the report on page 80 where “sexual assault” is defines:

For the purpose of this study, sexual assault means penetration of the anus, vagina or oral sex.

It’s hard to tell if that includes envelopment so I looked at the questions listed in Annexure-8 and Annexure-9 from page 158 and onwards. It does not include envelopment and to say that the questions are biased towards male perpetrators are a massive understatement.

So what is the gender distribution here:

Of all the children reporting sexual assault, 54.4% were boys and 45.6% were girls.

So what does the report say about the gender of the perpetrators? Well, not that much since they have used the most bizarre categorization I’ve ever seen:

Cousin: 10%
Uncle or neighbour: 31%
Any other: 21%
Friend or class fellow: 29%
Employer: 9%

It is regardless skewed towards male perpetrators since envelopment is not considered sexual assault/rape in this survey.

The survey also included young adults aged 18-24 (see page 98). Here “sexual assault” is defined differently:

The questionnaire relating to young adults looked at sexual assault in two forms: one penetration of anus and vagina by objects, and second penetration by penis and oral sex.

Which as far as I can parse excludes envelopment although I am not 100% sure of that, nevertheless:

The gender break up of all young adult respondents having faced sexual assault during childhood revealed that more males (58.33%) faced one or both forms of sexual assault as compared to females (41.67%).

I’ll repeat that: Gender-wise percentage of young adults 18-24 y.o. reporting sexual assault (rape) while they were children:
Men: 58.33%
women: 41.67%

This report was mentioned in the media at the time, here is The Times Of India’s take on it.

Notice anything missing?


One thought on “But globally…like South Africa or India…

  1. Pingback: South Africa: Rape and partner violence among youths | Tamen's writings

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