Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse
or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person
without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical
force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is
incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious,
incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal
age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used
interchangeably with the term sexual assault.
The rate of reporting, prosecuting and convicting for rape varies
between jurisdictions. Internationally, the incidence of rapes
recorded by the police during 2008 ranged, per 100,000 people, from
Azerbaijan to 92.9 in
Botswana with 6.3 in
Lithuania as the
median. Worldwide, rape is primarily committed by males.
strangers is usually less common than rape by persons the victim
knows, and male-on-male and female-on-female prison rapes are common
and may be the least reported forms of rape.
Widespread and systematic rape (e.g., war rape) and sexual slavery can
occur during international conflict. These practices are 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.
People who have been raped can be traumatized and develop
posttraumatic stress disorder. Serious injuries can result along
with the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. A
person may face violence or threats from the rapist, and, in some
cultures, from the victim's family and relatives.
4.1 Emotional and psychological
4.3 Sexually transmitted infections
4.4 Victim blaming, secondary victimization and other mistreatment
Honor killings and forced marriages
5.1 Non-genital injuries
5.1.1 Physical assessment
5.1.2 Diagnostic testing
5.1.3 Forensic sampling
5.2 After the examination
5.3 Genital injuries
5.5 Emotional and psychiatric
7 Statistics and epidemiology
7.2 United States
9 False accusation
10.1 Definitions and evolution of laws
10.2 Social issues
10.3 In war
11 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
The term rape originates from the Latin rapere (supine stem raptum),
"to snatch, to grab, to carry off". Since the 14th century,
the term has come to mean "to seize and take away by force". In
Roman law, the carrying off of a woman by force, with or without
intercourse, constituted "raptus". In
Medieval English law the
same term could refer to either kidnapping or rape in the modern sense
of "sexual violation". The original meaning of "carry off by
force" is still found in some phrases, such as "rape and pillage", or
in titles, such as the stories of the
Rape of the Sabine Women and The
Rape of Europa or the poem The
Rape of the Lock, which is about the
theft of a lock of hair.
Types of rape
Types of rape and Laws regarding rape
Rape by gender
Rape is defined in most jurisdictions as sexual intercourse, or other
forms of sexual penetration, committed by a perpetrator against a
victim without their consent. The definition of rape is
inconsistent between governmental health organizations, law
enforcement, health providers, and legal professions. It has
varied historically and culturally. Originally, rape had no
sexual connotation and is still used in other contexts in English. In
Roman law, it or raptus was classified as a form of crimen vis, "crime
of assault". Raptus described the abduction of a woman against
the will of the man under whose authority she lived, and sexual
intercourse was not a necessary element. Other definitions of rape
have changed over time. In the US, a husband could not be charged with
raping his wife until 1979. In the 1950s, in some states in the
US, a white woman having consensual sex with a black man was
Until 2012, the
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) considered rape
a crime solely committed by men against women. In 2012, they changed
their definition from "The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and
against her will" to "The penetration, no matter how slight, of the
vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a
sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim." The
previous definition, which had remained unchanged since 1927, was
considered outdated and narrow. The updated definition includes
recognizing any gender of victim and perpetrator and that rape with an
object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape. The bureau further
describes instances when the victim is unable to give consent because
of mental or physical incapacity. It recognizes that a victim can be
incapacitated by drugs and alcohol and unable to give valid consent.
The definition does not change federal or state criminal codes or
impact charging and prosecution on the federal, state or local level;
it rather means that rape will be more accurately reported
Health organizations and agencies have also expanded rape beyond
traditional definitions. The
World Health Organization
World Health Organization (WHO) defines
rape as a form of sexual assault, while the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) includes rape in their definition of
sexual assault; they term rape a form of sexual violence. The CDC
lists other acts of coercive, non-consensual sexual activity that may
or may not include rape, including drug-facilitated sexual assault,
acts in which a victim is made to penetrate a perpetrator or someone
else, intoxication where the victim is unable to consent (due to
incapacitation or being unconscious), non-physically forced
penetration which occurs after a person is pressured verbally (by
intimidation or misuse of authority to force to consent), or completed
or attempted forced penetration of a victim via unwanted physical
force (including using a weapon or threatening to use a
Some countries or jurisdictions differentiate between rape and sexual
assault by defining rape as involving penile penetration of the
vagina, or solely penetration involving the penis, while other types
of non-consensual sexual activity are called sexual assault.
Scotland, for example, emphasizes penile penetration, requiring that
the sexual assault must have been committed by use of a penis to
qualify as rape. The 1998 International Criminal Tribunal for
Rwanda defines rape as "a physical invasion of a sexual nature
committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive". In
other cases, the term rape has been phased out of legal use in favor
of terms such as sexual assault or criminal sexual conduct.
Victims of rape or sexual assault come from a wide range of genders,
ages, sexual orientations, ethnicitities, geographical locations,
cultures and degrees of impairment or disability. Incidences of rape
are classified into a number of categories, and they may describe the
relationship of the perpetrator to the victim and the context of the
sexual assault. These include date rape, gang rape, marital rape,
incestual rape, child sexual abuse, prison rape, acquaintance rape,
war rape and statutory rape. Forced sexual activity can be committed
over a long period of time with little to no physical
Lack of consent is key to the definition of rape.
affirmative "informed approval, indicating a freely given agreement"
to sexual activity. It is not necessarily expressed verbally, and
may instead be overtly implied from actions, but the absence of
objection does not constitute consent. Lack of consent may result
from either forcible compulsion by the perpetrator or an inability to
consent on the part of the victim (such as persons who are asleep,
intoxicated or otherwise mentally compromised). Sexual intercourse
with a person below the age of consent, i.e., the age at which legal
competence is established, is referred to as statutory rape.
Duress is the situation when the person is threatened by force or
violence, and may result in the absence of an objection to sexual
activity. This can lead to the presumption of consent.
be actual or threatened force or violence against the victim or
someone close to the victim. Even blackmail may constitute duress.
Abuse of power may constitute duress. For instance, in the
Philippines, a man commits rape if he engages in sexual intercourse
with a woman "By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
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."
Marital rape, or spousal rape, is non-consensual sex in which the
perpetrator is the victim's spouse. It is a form of partner rape,
domestic violence, and sexual abuse. Once widely accepted or ignored
by law, spousal rape is now denounced by international conventions and
is increasingly criminalized. Still, in many countries, spousal rape
either remains legal, or is illegal but widely tolerated and accepted
as a husband's prerogative. In 2006, the UN Secretary-General's
In-depth study on all forms of violence against women stated that (pg
Marital rape may be prosecuted in at least 104 states. Of
these, 32 have made marital rape a specific criminal offence, while
the remaining 74 do not exempt marital rape from general rape
Marital rape is not a prosecutable offense in at least 53
States. Four States criminalize marital rape only when the spouses are
judicially separated. Four States are considering legislation that
would allow marital rape to be prosecuted." Since 2006, several
other states have outlawed marital rape (for example
2007). In the US, the criminalization of marital rape started in
the mid-1970s and in 1993 North Carolina became the last state to make
marital rape illegal. In many countries, it is not clear if
marital rape may or may not be prosecuted under ordinary rape laws. In
the absence of a spousal rape law, it may be possible to bring
prosecution for acts of forced sexual intercourse inside marriage by
prosecuting, through the use of other criminal offenses (such as
assault based offenses), the acts of violence or criminal threat that
were used to obtain submission.
Consent may be complicated by law, language, context, culture and
sexual orientation. Studies have shown that men consistently
perceive women's actions as more sexual than they intend. In
addition, verbalized 'no' to sex may be interpreted as 'keep trying',
or even 'yes' by offenders. Some may believe that when injuries are
not visible, the woman must have consented. If a man solicits sex from
another man, the pursuer may be regarded as virile.
Further information: Causes of sexual violence
The WHO states that the principal factors that lead to the
perpetration of sexual violence against women, including rape,
beliefs in family honor and sexual purity;
attitudes of male sexual entitlement;
weak legal sanctions for sexual violence.
No single facet explains the motivation for rape; the underlying
motives of rapists can be multi-faceted. Several factors have been
proposed: anger, power, sadism, sexual gratification, or
evolutionary proclivities. However, some factors have
significant causal evidence supporting them. American clinical
psychologist David Lisak, co-author of a 2002 study of undetected
rapists, says that compared with non-rapists, both undetected and
convicted rapists are measurably more angry at women and more
motivated by a desire to dominate and control them, are more
impulsive, disinhibited, anti-social, hypermasculine, and less
Sexual aggression is often considered a masculine identity
characteristic of manhood in some male groups and is significantly
correlated to the desire to be held higher in esteem among male
peers. Sexually aggressive behavior among young men has been
correlated with gang or group membership as well as having other
Gang rape is often perceived by male
perpetrators as a justified method of discouraging or punishing what
they consider as immoral behavior among women for example wearing
short skirts or visiting bars. In some areas in Papua New Guinea,
women can actually be punished by public gang rape usually through
permission by elders.
One metric used by the WHO to determine the severity of global rates
of coercive, forced sexual activity was the question "Have you ever
been forced to have sexual intercourse against your will?" Asking this
question produced higher positive response rates than being asked,
whether they had ever been abused or raped.
The WHO report describes the consequences of sexual abuse:
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Acquiring sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS
Mortality from injuries
Increased risk of suicide
Unwanted pregnancy (see
Pregnancy from rape)
Emotional and psychological
Frequently, victims may not recognize what happened to them was rape.
Some may remain in denial for years afterwards. Confusion over
whether or not their experience constitutes rape is typical,
especially for victims of psychologically coerced rape. Women may not
identify their victimization as rape for many reasons such as feelings
of shame, embarrassment, non-uniform legal definitions, reluctance to
define the friend/partner as a rapist, or because they have
internalized victim-blaming attitudes. The public perceives these
behaviors as 'counterintuitive' and therefore, as evidence of a
During the assault, a person will respond with fight, flight, freeze,
friend (sometimes called fawn), or flop. Victims may react in ways
they did not anticipate. After the rape, they may be
uncomfortable/frustrated with and not understand their
reactions. Most victims respond by 'freezing up' or becoming
compliant and cooperative during the rape. These are common survival
responses of all mammals. This can cause confusion for others and
the person assaulted. An assumption is that someone being raped would
call for help or struggle. A struggle would result in torn clothes or
Dissociation can occur during the assault. Memories may be
fragmented especially immediately afterwards. They may consolidate
with time and sleep. A man or boy who is raped may be stimulated
and even ejaculate during the experience of the rape. A woman or girl
may orgasm during a sexual assault. This may become a source of shame
and confusion for those assaulted along with those who were around
Trauma symptoms may not show until years after the sexual assault
occurred. Immediately following a rape, the survivor may react
outwardly in a wide range of ways, from expressive to closed down;
common emotions include distress, anxiety, shame, revulsion,
helplessness, and guilt.
Denial is not uncommon.
In the weeks following the rape, the survivor may develop symptoms of
post traumatic stress syndrome and may develop wide array of
PTSD symptoms include
re-experiencing of the rape, avoiding things associated with the rape,
numbness, and increased anxiety and startle response. The
likelihood of sustained severe symptoms is higher if the rapist
confined or restrained the person, if the person being raped believed
the rapist would kill him or her, the person who was raped was very
young or very old, and if the rapist was someone he or she knew.
The likelihood of sustained severe symptoms is also higher if people
around the survivor ignore (or are ignorant of) the rape or blame the
Most people recover from rape in three to four months, but many have
PTSD that may manifest in anxiety, depression, substance
abuse, irritability, anger, flashbacks, or nightmares. In
addition, rape survivors may have long term generalised anxiety
disorder, may develop one or more specific phobias, major depressive
disorder, and may experience difficulties with resuming their social
life, and with sexual functioning. People who have been raped are
at higher risk of suicide.
Men experience similar psychological effects of being raped, but they
are less likely to seek counseling.
Another effect of rape and sexual assault is the stress created in
those who study rape or counsel the survivors. This is called
The presence or absence of physical injury may be used to determine
whether a rape has occurred. Those who have experienced sexual
assault yet have no physical trauma may be less inclined to report to
the authorities or to seek health care.
While penetrative rape generally does not involve the use of a condom,
in some cases a condom is used. This significantly reduces the
likelihood of pregnancy and disease transmission, both to the victim
and to the rapist. Rationales for condom use include: avoiding
contracting infections or diseases (particularly HIV), especially in
cases of rape of sex workers or in gang rape (to avoid contracting
infections or diseases from fellow rapists); eliminating evidence,
making prosecution more difficult (and giving a sense of
invulnerability); giving the appearance of consent (in cases of
acquaintance rape); and thrill from planning and the use of the condom
as an added prop. Concern for the victim is generally not considered a
Sexually transmitted infections
Virgin cleansing myth
Virgin cleansing myth and
Prison rape in the United States
§ Sexually transmitted diseases
A street sign in South Africa, appealing to men not to rape children
in the belief that it will cure them of HIV/AIDS.
Those who have been raped have relatively more reproductive tract
infections than those not been raped. The
HIV virus can be
transmitted through rape. Acquiring
AIDS through rape puts people risk
of suffering psychological problems. Acquiring
HIV through rape may
lead to the in behaviors that create risk of injecting drugs.
Acquiring sexually transmitted infections increases the risk of
aquring HIV. The belief that having sex with a virgin can cure
AIDS exists in parts of Africa. This leads to the rape of girls
and women. The claim that the myth drives either HIV
infection or child sexual abuse in South Africa is disputed by
Rachel Jewkes and Helen Epstein.
Victim blaming, secondary victimization and other mistreatment
Victim blaming and Post-assault treatment of sexual
Society's treatment of victims has the potential to exacerbate their
trauma. People who have been raped or sexually assaulted are
sometimes blamed and considered responsible for the crime. This
refers to the just world fallacy and rape myth acceptance that certain
victim behaviors (such as being intoxicated, flirting or wearing
sexually provocative clothing) may encourage rape. In many
cases, victims are said to have "asked for it" because of not
resisting their assault or violating female gender
expectations. 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. Women who have been raped are sometimes deemed to have
behaved improperly. Usually, these are cultures where there is a
significant social divide between the freedoms and status afforded to
men and women.
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
Commentators state: "individuals may endorse rape myths and at the
same time recognize the negative effects of rape." A number of
gender role stereotypes can play a role in rationalization of 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, and that male sexual impulses and behaviors are
uncontrollable and must be satisfied.
For females, victim-blaming correlates with fear. Many rape victims
blame themselves. Female jurors might look at the woman on the witness
stand and believe she had done something to entice the defendant.
Honor killings and forced marriages
In many cultures, those who are raped have a high risk of suffering
additional violence or threats of violence after the rape. This can be
perpetrated by the rapist, friends, or relatives of the rapist. The
intent can be to prevent the victim from reporting the
rape. Other reasons for threats against the those assaulted is to
punish them for reporting it, or of forcing them to withdraw the
complaint. The relatives of the person who has been raped may
wish to prevent "bringing shame" to the family and may also threaten
them. This is especially the case in cultures where female virginity
is highly valued and considered mandatory before marriage; in extreme
cases, rape victims are killed in honor killings.
Non-genital injuries to women who are sexually assaulted
In the US, victims' rights include the right to have a victims
advocate preside over every step of the medical/legal exam to ensure
sensitivity towards victims, provide emotional support, and minimize
the risk of re-traumatization. Victims are to be informed of this
immediately by law enforcement or medical service providers.
Emergency rooms of many hospitals employ sexual assault nurse/forensic
examiners (SAN/FEs) with specific training to care for those who have
experienced a rape or sexual assault. They are able to conduct a
focused medical-legal exam. If such a trained clinician is not
available, the emergency department has a sexual assault protocol that
has been established for treatment and the collection of
evidence. Staff are also trained to explain the examinations
in detail, the documentation and the rights associated with the
requirement for informed consent. Emphasis is placed on performing the
examinations at a pace that is appropriate for the person, their
family, their age, and their level of understanding. Privacy is
recommended to prevent self-harm.
Many rapes do not result in serious injury. The first medical
response to sexual assault is a complete assessment. This general
assessment will prioritize the treatment of injuries by the emergency
room staff. Medical personnel involved are trained to assess and treat
those assaulted or follow protocols established to ensure privacy and
best treatment practices.
Informed consent is always required prior to
treatment unless the person who was assaulted is unconscious,
intoxicated or does not have the mental capacity to give
consent. Priorities governing the physical exam are the
treatment of serious life-threatening emergencies and then a general
and complete assessment. Some physical injuries are readily
apparent such as, bites, broken teeth, swelling, bruising,
lacerations and scratches. In more violent cases, the victim may need
to have gunshot wounds or stab wounds treated. The loss of
consciousness is relevant to the medical history. If abrasions are
found, immunization against tetanus is offered if 5 years have elapsed
since the last immunization.
After the general assessment and treatment of serious injuries,
further evaluation may include the use of additional diagnostic
testing such as x-rays, CT or
MRI image studies and blood work. The
presence of infection is determined by sampling of body fluids from
the mouth, throat, vagina, perineum, and anus.
Victims have the right to refuse any evidence collection. Victims
advocates ensure the victims' wishes are respected by hospital staff.
After the physical injuries are addressed and treatment has begun,
then forensic examination proceeds along with the gathering of
evidence that can be used to identify and document the injuries.
Such evidence-gathering is only done with the complete consent of the
patient or the caregivers of the patient. Photographs of the injuries
may be requested by staff. At this point in the treatment, if a
victims' advocate had not been requested earlier, experienced social
support staff are made available to the patient and family.
If the patient or the caregivers, (typically parents) agree, the
medical team utilizes standardized sampling and testing usually
referred to a forensic evidence kit or "rape kit". The patient is
informed that submitting to the use of the rape kit does not obligate
them to file criminal charges against the perpetrator. The patient is
discouraged from bathing or showering for the purpose of obtaining
samples from his or her hair.
Evidence gathered within the past 72
hours is more likely to be valid. The sooner that samples are
obtained after the assault, the more likely that evidence is present
in the sample and provide valid results. Once the injuries of the
patient have been treated and she or he is stabilized, the sample
gathering will begin. Staff will encourage the presence of a
rape/sexual assault counselor to provide an advocate and
During the medical exam, evidence of bodily secretions is assessed.
Dried semen that is on clothing and skin can be detected with a
fluorescent lamp. Notes will be attached to those items on
which semen has been found.These specimens are marked, placed in a
paper bag, and be marked for later analysis for the presence of
seminal vesicle-specific antigen.
Though technically, medical staff are not part of the legal system,
only trained medical personnel can obtain evidence that is admissible
during a trial. The procedures have been standardized.
collected, signed, and locked in a secure place to guarantee that
legal evidence procedures are maintained. This is known as the chain
of evidence and is a legal term that describes a carefully monitored
procedure of evidence collection and preservation. Maintaining the
Chain of evidence from the medical examination, testing and tissue
sampling from its origin of collection to court allows the results of
the sampling to be admitted as evidence. The use of photography is
often used for documentation.
After the examination
Some physical effects of the rape are not immediately apparent. Follow
up examinations also assess the patient for tension headaches,
fatigue, sleep pattern disturbances, gastrointestinal irritability,
chronic pelvic pain, menstrual pain or irregularity, pelvic
inflammatory disease, multiple yeast infections, sexual dysfunction,
premenstrual distress, fibromyalgia, vaginal discharge, vaginal
itching, burning during urination, and generalized vaginal pain.
Women are typically offered contraceptive medications because about 5%
of male-on-female rapes result in pregnancy.
An internal pelvic exam is not recommended for sexually immature or
prepubescent girls due to the probability that internal injuries do
not exist in this age group. An internal exam may be recommended if
significant bloody discharge is observed, though. A complete
pelvic exam for rape (anal or vaginal) is conducted. An oral exam is
done if there have been injuries to the mouth, teeth, gums or pharynx.
Though the patient may have no complaints about genital pain signs of
trauma can still be assessed. Prior to the complete bodily and genital
exam, the patient is asked to undress, standing on a white sheet that
collects any debris that may be in the clothing. The clothing and
sheet are properly bagged and labeled along with other samples that
can be removed from the body or clothing of the patient. Samples of
fibers, mud, hair, leaves are gathered if present. Samples of fluids
are collected to determine the presence of the perpetrator's saliva
and semen that may be present in the patients mouth, vagina or rectum.
Sometimes the victim has scratched the perpetrator in defense and
fingernail scrapings can be collected.
Injuries to the genital areas can be swelling, lacerations, and
bruising. Common genital injuries are anal injury, labial
abrasions, hymenal bruising, tears of the posterior fourchette and
fossa. Bruises, tears, abrasions, inflammation and lacerations may
be visible. If a foreign object was used during the assault, x-ray
visualization will identify retained fragments. Genital injuries
are more prevalent in post-menopausal women and prepubescent girls.
Internal injuries to the cervix and vagina can be visualized using
colposcopy. Using colposcopy has increased the detection of internal
trauma from six percent to fifty-three percent. Genital injuries to
children who have been raped or sexually assaulted differ in that the
abuse may be on-going or it happened in the past after the injuries
heal. Scarring is one sign of the sexual abuse of children.
The presence of a sexually contracted infection can not be confirmed
after rape because it cannot be detected until 72 hours
The person who was raped may already have a sexually transmitted
bacterial, viral and other infections and if diagnosed, it is
treated. Prophylactic antibiotic treatment for vaginitis,
gonorrhea, trichomoniasis and chlamydia may be done. Chlamydial and
gonococcal infections in women are of particular concern due to the
possibility of ascending infection.
Immunization against hepatitis B
is often considered. After prophylactic treatment is
initiated, further testing is done to determine what other treatments
may be necessary for other infections transmitted during the
assault. These are:
Serum hepatitis B surface antigen assay
Microscopic evaluation of vaginal discharge (saline wash and staining)
Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis from each
Serum Venereal Disease Research Laboratory test
Complete blood count
Complete blood count (CBC)
Liver function tests
Serum creatinine level
Treatment may include the administration of zidovudine/lamivudine,
tenofovir/emtricitabine, ritonavir/lopinavir. Information regarding
other treatment options are available from the CDC.
The transmission of
HIV is frequently a major concern of the
patient. Prophylactic treatment for
HIV is not necessarily
administered. Routine treatment for
HIV after rape or sexual assault
is controversial due to the low risk of infection after one sexual
assault. Transmission of
HIV after one exposure to penetrative anal
sex is estimated to be 0.5 to 3.2 percent. Transmission of
one exposure to penetrative vaginal intercourse is 0.05 to 0.15
HIV can also be contracted through the oral route but is
considered rare. Other recommendations are that the patient
be treated prophylactically for
HIV if the perpetrator is found to be
Testing at the time of the initial exam does not typically have
forensic value if patients are sexually active and have an STI since
it could have been acquired prior to the assault.
Rape shield laws
protect the person who was raped and who has positive test results.
These laws prevent having such evidence used against someone who was
raped. Someone who was raped may be concerned that a prior infection
may suggest sexual promiscuity. There may, however, be situations in
which testing has the legal purpose, as in cases where the threat of
transmission or actual transmission of an STI was part of the crime.
In nonsexually active patients, an initial, baseline negative test
that is followed by a subsequent STI could be used as evidence, if the
perpetrator also had an STI.
Treatment failure is possible due to the emergence of
antibiotic-resistant strains of pathogens.
Emotional and psychiatric
Psychiatric and emotional consequences can be apparent immediately
after rape and it may be necessary to treat these very early in the
evaluation and treatment. Other treatable emotional and
psychiatric disorders may not become evident after the rape. These can
be eating disorders, anxiety, fear, intrusive thoughts, fear of
crowds, avoidance, anger, depression, humiliation, post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) hyperarousal, sexual disorders,(including fear
of engaging in sexual activity), mood disorders, suicidal ideation,
borderline personality disorder, nightmares, fear of situations that
remind the patient of the rape and fear of being alone, agitation,
numbness and emotional distance. Victims are able to receive help
by using a telephone hotline, counseling, or shelters. Recovery
from sexual assault is a complicated and controversial concept,
but support groups, usually accessed by organizations are available to
help in recovery. Professional counseling and on-going treatment by
trained health care providers is often sought by the victim.
There are clinicians who are specially trained in the treatment of
those who have experienced rape and sexual assault/abuse. Treatment
can be lengthy and be challenging for both the counselor and the
patient. Several treatment options exist and vary by accessibility,
cost, or whether or not insurance coverage exists for the treatment.
Treatment also varies dependent upon the expertise of the
counselor—some have more experience and or have specialized in the
treatment of sexual trauma and rape. To be the most effective, a
treatment plan should developed based upon the struggles of the
patient and not necessarily based upon the traumatic experience. An
effective treatment plan will take the following into consideration:
current stressors, coping skills, physical health, interpersonal
conflicts, self-esteem, family issues, involvement of the guardian,
and the presence of mental health symptoms. 
The degree of success for emotional and psychiatric treatments is
often dependent upon the terminology used in the treatment, i.e.
redefining the event and experience. Labels used like "rape victim"
and "rape survivor" to describe the new identities of women who have
been raped suggest that the event is the dominant and controlling
influence on her life. These may have an effect on supportive
personnel. The consequences of using these labels needs to be
assessed. Positive outcomes of emotional and psychiatric treatment
for rape exist; these can be an improved self-concept, the recognition
of growth, and implementing new coping styles.
A perpetrator found guilty by the court is often required to receive
treatment. There are many options for treatment, some more successful
than others. The psychological factors that motivated the
convicted perpetrator are complex but treatment can still be
effective. A counselor will typically evaluate disorders that are
currently present in the offender. Investigating the developmental
background of the offender can help explain the origins of the abusive
behavior occurred in the first place. Emotional and psychological
treatment has the purpose of identifying predictors of recidivism, or
the potential that the offender will commit rape again. In some
instances neurological abnormalities have been identified in the
perpetrators, and in some cases they have themselves experienced past
trauma. Adolescents and other children can be the perpetrators of
rape, although this is uncommon. In this instance, appropriate
counseling and evaluation are usually conducted.
Short-term treatment with a benzodiazepine may help with anxiety and
antidepressants may be helpful for symptoms of post traumatic stress
disorder, depression and panic attacks.
Main article: Initiatives to prevent sexual violence
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.[citation
Sexual assault may be prevented by secondary school,
college, and workplace education programs. At least one
program for fraternity men produced "sustained behavioral
Statistics and epidemiology
See also: Estimates of sexual violence
International Crime on Statistics and Justice by the United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) find that worldwide, most victims of
rape are women and most perpetrators male. Rapes against women
are rarely reported to the police and the number of female rape
victims is significantly underestimated. Southern Africa, Oceania
and North America report the highest numbers of rape.
UNODC : Reported rape per 100,000 population (2011)
The humanitarian news organization
IRIN claims that an estimated
"500,000 rapes are committed annually in South Africa once called
'the world's rape capital.' The country has some of the highest
incidences of child sexual abuse 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. Current data suggest that the incidence of rape
has risen significantly in India.
Most rape research and reports of rape are limited to male-female
forms of rape. Research on male-on-male and female-on-male rape is
rare. Fewer than one in ten male-male rapes are reported. As a group,
males who have been raped by either gender often get little services
and support, and legal systems are often ill-equipped to deal with
this type of crime. Instances in which the perpetrator is female, are
not clear and lead to the denial of women being sexual aggressors.
This could obscure the dimensions of the problem. Research also
suggests that men with sexually aggressive peers have a higher chance
of reporting coercive or forced sexual intercourse outside gang
circles than men without such sexually aggressive peers.
Rape in the United States
FBI sex offense victims in 2012:
FBI convicted sex offenders in 2012:
Statistics maintained by the CDC include:
one in four of women and one in nine men have experienced sexual
violence, stalking or rape
one in three women and one in six men experienced violent sexual
contact in their life
nearly 23 million women and 1.7 million men have been victims of rape
or attempted rape at some point in their lives
8.5 million women experienced rape before age 18
1.5 million men were made to penetrate before age 18
one in four women have experienced severe physical violence by an
one in seven men have experienced severe physical violence by an
Risk factors vary among different ethnicities. About one third of
African American adolescent females report encountering some form of
sexual assault including rape. One in three Native American women
will experience sexual assault, more than twice the national average
for American women.
More than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by
police annually in 65 countries in 2001 through 2002. In 2007,
40% of the 90,427 forcible rapes reported were cleared by arrest or
"exceptional means." Exceptional refers to situations where the person
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.
Forty-three percent of high school and young college men reported
being coerced into sexual behavior and, of those, 95% reported that a
female was the aggressor.
People in Bangalore,
India demanding justice for young student who was
gang-raped in Delhi in December 2012.
In 2005, sexual violence, and rape in particular, was considered the
most under-reported violent crime in Great Britain. The number of
reported rapes in Great Britain is lower than both incidence and
The legal requirements for reporting rape vary by jurisdiction—each
US state may have different requirements. New Zealand
has less stringent limits.
In Italy, a 2006 National Statistic Institute survey on sexual
violence against women found that 91.6% of women who suffered this did
not report it to the police.
In the United Kingdom, In 1970 there was a 33% rate of conviction,
while by 1985 there was a 24 per cent conviction rate for rape trials
in the UK, by 2004 the conviction rate reached 5%. At that time
the government report has expressed documented the year-on-year
increase in attrition of reported rape cases, and pledged to address
this "justice gap". According to
Amnesty International Ireland
had the lowest rate of conviction for rape, (1%) among 21 European
states, in 2003. In America as of 2012, there exists a noticeable
discrepancy in conviction rates among women of various ethnic
identities; an arrest was made in just 13% of the sexual assaults
reported by American Indian women, compared with 35% for black women
and 32% for whites.
Main article: False accusation of rape
A false accusation of rape is the reporting of a rape where no rape
has occurred. It is difficult to assess the true prevalence of false
rape allegations, but it's generally agreed by scholars that rape
accusations are false about 2% to 10% of the time.
Eight percent of 2,643 sexual assault cases were classified as false
reports by the police in one study. The researchers noted that much of
these classifications were based on the personal judgments and biases
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, which requires "strong evidential grounds" of a
false allegation or a "clear and credible" retraction by the
complainant, 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".
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 and found 15.1% of complaints were
withdrawn, 46.4% were marked "no further police action", and 2.1% of
the total were "clearly" classified by police as false reports. The
researchers noted that where the police found a case to be a false
allegation but didn't want to pursue charges against the accuser, they
marked it as "no further police action" instead. All of these
complainants were then charged or threatened with charges for filing a
false police report.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) analyzed every rape complaint made
over a 17-month period and found that "the indication is that it is
therefore extremely rare that a suspect deliberately makes a false
allegation of rape or domestic violence purely out of
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%. "Unfounded" is not synonymous with false
allegation. Bruce Gross of the Forensic Examiner described it as
meaningless, saying a report could be marked as unfounded if there is
no physical evidence or the alleged victim did not sustain any
Other studies have suggested that the rate of false allegations in
America may be higher. A nine-year study by Eugene J. Kanin of Purdue
University in a small metropolitan area in the Midwestern United
States claimed that 41% of rape accusations were false. However
David Lisak, an associate professor of psychology and director of the
Men's Sexual Trauma Research Project at the University of
Massachusetts Boston states that "Kanin's 1994 article on false
allegations is a provocative opinion piece, but it is not a scientific
study of the issue of false reporting of rape". He further states that
Kanin's study has significantly poor systematic methodology and had no
independent definition of a false report. Instead, Kanin classified
reports that the police department classified as false also as
false. The criterion for falsehood was simply a denial of a
polygraph test of the accuser. A 1998 report by the National
Institute of Justice found that DNA evidence excluded the primary
suspect in 26% of rape cases and concluded that this "strongly
suggests that postarrest and postconviction DNA exonerations are tied
to some strong, underlying systemic problems that generate erroneous
accusations and convictions". However, this study also noted that
analyzed samples involved a specific subset of rape cases (e.g. those
where "there is no consent defense").
A 2010 study by David Lisak, Lori Gardinier and other researchers
published in the journal of Violence against Women found that out of
136 cases reported in a ten-year period, 5.9% were found likely to be
Main article: History of rape
Definitions and evolution of laws
The Bulgarian martyresses, a painting depicting the rape of Bulgarian
women by Ottoman troops during the
April Uprising of 1876.
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.
In ancient Greece and Rome, both male-on-female and male-on-male
concepts of rape existed. Roman laws allowed three distinct charges
for the crime: stuprum, unsanctioned sexual intercourse (which, in the
early times, also included adultery); vis, a physical assault for
purpose of lust; and iniuria, a general charge denoting any type of
assault upon person. Aforementioned Lex Iulia specifically
criminalized per vim stuprum, unsanctioned sexual intercourse by
force. The former two were public criminal charges which could be
brought whenever the victim was a woman or a child of either gender,
but only if the victim was a freeborn Roman citizen (ingenuus), and
carried potential sentence of death or exile. Iniuria was a civil
charge that demanded monetary compensation, and had a wider
application (for example, it could have been brought in case of sexual
assault on a slave by a person other than his/her owner.) In contrast
to the modern understanding of the subject, Romans drew clear
distinctions between "active" (penetrative) and "passive" (receptive)
partners, and all these charges implied penetration by the assailant
(which necessarily ruled out the possibility of female-on-male or
female-on-female rape.) It is not clear which (if any) of these
charges applied to assaults upon an adult male, though such an assault
upon a citizen was definitely seen as a grave insult (within Roman
culture, an adult male citizen could not possibly consent to the
receptive role in a sexual intercourse without a severe loss of
status.) The law known as
Lex Scantinia covered at least some forms of
male-on-male stuprum, and
Quintillian mentions a fine of 10,000
sesterces – about 10 years worth of a Roman legionnaire's pay – as
a normal penalty for stuprum upon an ingenuus. However, its text is
lost and its exact provisions are no longer known.
Like theft or robbery, rape was originally considered a "private
wrong" iniuria privita, a crime between the abductor and the legal
guardian of the woman in question. It was made into a "public wrong"
(iniuria publica) by the Roman Emperor Constantine.
Justinian continued the use of the statute to prosecute rape
during the sixth century in the Eastern Roman Empire. By late
antiquity, the general term raptus had referred to abduction,
elopement, robbery, or rape in its modern meaning. Confusion over the
term led ecclesiastical 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.
Virtually all societies have had a concept of the crime of rape.
Although what constituted this crime has varied by historical period
and culture, until quite recently, the definitions tended to focus
around an act of forced vaginal intercourse perpetrated through
physical violence or imminent threat of death or severe bodily injury,
by a man, on a woman or a girl, not his wife. These definitions differ
significantly from the modern definitions of rape in Western countries
today. For example, the actus reus of the crime, was, in most
societies, the insertion of the penis into the vagina, and, until the
19th century, many jurisdictions required ejaculation for the act to
constitute the offense of rape. Acts other than vaginal
intercourse did not constitute rape in common law countries and in
many other societies. In many cultures, such acts were illegal, even
if they were consensual and performed between married couples (see
sodomy laws). In England, for example, the
Buggery Act 1533, which
remained in force until 1828, provided for the death penalty for
"buggery". Many countries criminalized "non-traditional" forms of
sexual activity well into the modern era: notably, in the US state of
Idaho, sodomy between consensual partners was punishable by a term of
five years to life in prison as late as 2003, and this law was only
ruled to be inapplicable to married couples in 1995. Today, in
many countries, the definition of the actus reus has been extended to
all forms of penetration of the vagina and anus (e.g. penetration with
objects, fingers or other body parts) as well as insertion of the
penis in the mouth.
Beyond the ancient era, due to the influence of Christianity on sexual
mores, the notion of "rape" became narrowed to include only acts
performed by a male to a female. The way sexuality was conceptualized
in many societies rejected the very notion that a woman could force a
man into sex — women were often seen as passive while men were
deemed to be assertive and aggressive.
Sexual penetration of a male by
another male fell under the legal domain of "sodomy".
One of the most distinctive features of rape historically was the fact
that not all incidents of forced intercourse constituted this crime.
An incident could be excluded from the definition of rape due to the
relation between the parties, such as marriage (until a few decades
ago wives were nearly universally excluded, and in many countries they
continue to be so) or due to the background of the victim (in many
cultures forced sex on prostitute, slave, war enemy, member of a
racial minority, etc., was not rape). For instance, in 17th century
Scandinavia, Christian V's law of 1687 stipulated that rape could only
be committed on three categories of women: somebody else's wife, a
widow, or an honest virgin. Women who did not fit in any of these
categories were not considered legal victims of the crime of
In ancient history, rape was viewed less as a type of assault on the
female but rather 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 loss of virginity and subsequent
damage resulted in her reduced prospects in finding a husband and a
reduction 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". 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.[original research?] (See Deuteronomy
22:28–29.)[non-primary source needed]
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." Despite the harshness of these laws, actual punishments
were usually far less severe: in late Medieval Europe, cases
concerning rapes of marriageable women, wives, widows, or members of
the lower class were rarely brought forward, and usually ended with
only a small monetary fine or a marriage between the victim and the
rapist. In the 15 and 16th centuries, rape in the Basque charters
(Enkarterri, Durangaldea) was punished with death for the offender and
the person who was helping him.
Adult women were often extremely reluctant to bring up charges of
rape: public admission of having been raped was severely damaging to
one's social standing, courts tended to be skeptical of the charges,
conviction rates were low, and, in the event that the accusation could
not be proved, the victim could then be accused of committing adultery
with the rapist (traditionally a serious offense that could have been
punished by mutilation or even death). Certain classes of women,
such as prostitutes, were banned from raising accusations of rape
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.
The medieval theologian
Thomas Aquinas argued that rape, though
sinful, was much less sinful than masturbation or coitus interruptus,
because it fulfilled the procreative function of sex, while the other
acts violated the purpose of sex.[notes 1]
In Medieval Europe, a woman's parents could forcibly marry her to a
stranger without her consent, and, once she was married, she could no
longer refuse to consent to sex: the medieval concept of rape did not
allow for the possibility of being raped by one's husband. In 1563,
Council of Trent
Council of Trent expressly declared that legal Catholic marriages
had to be done with consent of both parties, but did not require
parental consent, essentially declaring forced marriages invalid.
This was not universally accepted: for example, in France, women were
not granted the right to marry without parental consent until
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".
Additionally, gender neutral laws have combated the older perception
that rape never occurs to men,
Main article: War rape
La vuelta del malón (The return of the raiders) by Ángel Della Valle
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." Rape, in the course of war, dates back to antiquity,
ancient enough to have been mentioned in the Bible. The
Israelite, Persian, Greek and Roman armies reportedly engaged in war
rape. The Mongols, who established the
Mongol Empire across much
of Eurasia, caused much destruction during their invasions.
Contemporary documents say that after a conquest, the Mongol soldiers
looted, pillaged and raped. According to Rogerius of Apulia, a
monk who survived the Mongol invasion of Hungary, the Mongol warriors
"found pleasure" in humiliating local women.
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. During
World War II
World War II an estimated 200,000 Korean
and Chinese women were forced into prostitution in Japanese military
brothels, as so-called "comfort women". French Moroccan troops
known as Goumiers committed rapes and other war crimes after the
Battle of Monte Cassino. (See Marocchinate.) French women in
Normandy complained about rapes during the liberation of
Normandy. Soldiers raping women and girls was common in many
areas occupied by the Red Army. A female Soviet war correspondent
described what she had witnessed: "The Russian soldiers were raping
every German female from eight to eighty. It was an army of
According to researcher and author Krisztián Ungváry, some 38,000
civilians were killed during the Siege of Budapest: about 13,000 from
military action and 25,000 from starvation, disease and other causes.
Included in the latter figure are about 15,000 Jews, largely victims
of executions by Hungarian
Arrow Cross Party
Arrow Cross Party militia. When the Soviets
finally claimed victory, they initiated an orgy of violence, including
the wholesale theft of anything they could lay their hands on, random
executions and mass rape. An estimated 50,000 women and girls were
raped,:348–350[notes 2] although estimates vary from 5,000
to 200,000.:129 Hungarian girls were kidnapped and taken to Red
Army quarters, where they were imprisoned, repeatedly raped and
Abusive power and control
Criminal transmission of HIV
Emergency contraception (the morning after pill)
Factors associated with being a victim of sexual violence
Post-assault treatment of sexual assault victims
Rape in fiction
Sexual violence by intimate partners
Special Victims Unit (also known as the Sex Crimes Unit)
Against Our Will
A Natural History of Rape
Women Against Rape
^ Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, question 154. "...it follows that
in this matter [the sin of unnatural vice] is gravest of all. After it
comes incest... With regard to the other species of lust they imply a
transgression merely of that which is determined by right reason, on
the presupposition, however, of natural principles." Here, unnatural
vice includes, in decreasing order of sinfulness, bestiality,
homosexual intercourse, any unconventional form of heterosexual
intercourse, and 'uncleanness' (masturbation). 'Other species of lust'
include intercourse with a consecrated virgin or a nun, rape,
adultery, seduction of a virgin, and 'simple fornication' (consensual
intercourse between unmarried people.)
^ "The worst suffering of the Hungarian population is due to the rape
of women. Rapes—affecting all age groups from ten to seventy are so
common that very few women in Hungary have been spared." Swiss embassy
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prisons annually; compare with FBI statistics that estimate 90,000
violent male-female rapes occur annually.
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