In research, one of the biggest challenges remains reporting incidences of rape and domestic violence. These two issues remain widely under reported hence the statistics available only point to thousands of other undocumented cases. The women often fail to report the cases due to fear instilled by the assailant, lack of access to legal counsel and shame as result of domestic violence and rape. According to estimates, 30% of women are at the risk of being abused globally. The effects of violence and rape last a long time. The emotional and psychological trauma has been known to lead to suicide, prostitution and drug abuse if not dealt with.
Violence against women takes various forms: it could in the form of rape, beatings or other forms of physical violence. It is estimated that globally at least 30% of women are at the risk of being abused at some point. Violence can be meted out to a woman at home, in the office or in the community. The perpetrator of violence can be someone the woman knows or a stranger. The statistics on violence against women remain debatable. This is because cases of violence towards women often go unreported. This could be due to fear instilled by the perpetrator, the complacency exhibited by the law enforcers or at times lack of access to proper legal redress. The statistics that are currently available are collected by the United Nations, the Statistical Commission and Economic Commission for Europe. They paint a grim picture of the violence that is meted towards women but still go on to state that many incidences remain unreported.
A report by the United Nations compiled from government reports shows that more than a quarter million cases of male to female rape were reported to the law enforcement agencies in 65 countries that were surveyed. A report compiled in England indicates that 75-95% of rape cases of rape were never reported. Domestic violence continues to escalate particularly because cultures have found ways to make it acceptable. In countries where studies on the prevalence of domestic violence have been conducted, it is estimated that 10-50% of women have been assaulted by their partners at some point in their life. Other studies estimate that as many as 4 million women die each year as a result of domestic violence. In China, one third of the women are abused while in Kenya and Uganda about 42% of women are physically abused. This is just a sample of the harsh treatment meted out to women by people who they hope will protect them and care for them. This paper shall concern itself with the rape and domestic violence: prevalence, the factors that make it difficult to collect accurate information on the prevalence and the effect of having statistics in mitigating violence meted out towards women.
Worldwide prevalence of rape and violence
There is no area in research that has as much problems in reporting prevalence like violence and rape. The American Medical association terms rape as one of the most unreported crimes. A report compiled in England and Wales indicates 75-95% of cases of rape go unreported. Several institutions have in the past conducted surveys in order to come up with statistics on the prevalence of rape and violence. The United Nations reports that Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Bahrain top the list of countries with the highest number of incidences of rape per capita. Sweden is listed as the country with the highest incidences of rape in Europe with a survey indicating that there are as many as 49 incidents of rape for every 100,000 residents. A report by BBC shows that in 2007, 230 women were raped every day in the United Kingdom.
The picture is grimmer in Africa where war has ravaged several countries for years. It is estimated that in South Africa, a woman has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read and write. The situation is made worse by the fact that South Africa has the highest incidences of child rape in the world. Rough estimates indicate that about 500,000 women are raped annually in South Africa although this figure is regarded as unofficial. Rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo is used as a weapon of war; to dehumanize and demonize the perceived enemy. It is used to spread fear, hate and anger. UN agencies have quoted that the situation in regard to rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the worst. The situation is the same in Darfur, Sudan where the government sponsored militia Janjaweed is reported to participate in several incidences of raping women. It is not known just how many women have been raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur given that most of the women are refugees hence they are often forced to seek alternative homes.
Domestic violence cuts across social barriers affecting women in both developed and developing nations. Statistics from Arabian nations show that at least one out of three women is beaten by their husbands. However, there is no reliable method for collecting data on the violence meted out to women in Arabian countries. Some surveys conducted in the United States indicate that approximately 14 million women are abused by their husbands or their partners. The World Health Report on violence and health reports that 40 to 70% of women in Australia, Canada, Israel, UK and USA were killed by their husbands or their partners in the course of an ongoing abusive relationship. Worldwide, it is estimated that about 1.6 million women die yearly as a result of domestic violence.
Factors that complicate the collection of data on rape and violence
In most cultures, rape is further aggravated by the cultural and societal perceptions. In most nations, the society often blames the woman for rape. A woman who has been raped is often regarded as loose; she is regarded as a woman who throws herself openly to men. This makes it difficult for the women who are raped to step forward and report that they have been raped. In South Africa where incidences of child rape are quite common, HIV+ men believe that having sex with a virgin cleanses them of the virus. This enhances the incidences of rape and shrouds it further in secrecy given that the men believe it is a “cleansing ritual.
Instances of domestic violence often go unreported because some cultures permit beating of wives. In Muslim countries, the Koran is used as a justification for meting out violence towards women. The women are expected to be subservient towards the men hence are often taken advantage of and abused. These women suffer in silence hence would rarely come out and admit that they are being abused. In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, women are often flogged over dowry disputes. It is considered a shame to be at the center of unsettled dispute over dowry thus most of the women suffer at the hands of abusive men.
According to the American Medical Association, rape is one of the most unreported forms of sexual violence. The victims often cite several reasons for failing to report rape. Majority of them regard it as a personal and private affair; a shameful act that they often prefer to put behind them rather than talk about it. They often fear a revenge attack by the perpetrator. The trauma of being raped often scars the victims for a long time. For some of the victims, silence acts as coping mechanism; a form of escape and opportunity to try and deflect the psychological and emotional pain. In the recent past, several measures have been undertaken to encourage individuals who have been raped to report the incidents.
Most police stations around the world assign a female police officer to handle cases of female rape. The victim’s details are rarely divulged during the legal trial. In the United States of America, the media does not divulge details of the victim when reporting occurrences of rape. In instances of domestic violence, the women often fear being beaten over and over as a result of reporting domestic violence. Most countries lack proper legislation to prosecute cases of domestic violence thus there is little effect of reporting cases of domestic violence. The law enforcement officers have in some instances been known to take the reports of domestic violence lightly thus the women are further discouraged from reporting cases of domestic violence.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, around 8% of incidences of rape that are reported are completely unfounded. This means that in some instances, there was no physical indication of rape while in others the report was false. A survey conducted in Australia involving 850 cases of rape between 2000 and 2003 shows that 2.1% of the cases were false reports. However, it needs to be noted that some of the reports are termed as false on account of misidentification while others involve cases of misreporting. False reporting is often deemed as a taint for genuine victims of rape. The same applies for domestic violence where some of the victims recant their statements because of fear of further attacks from their assailant.
Potential of the statistics to effect change
With the publication of the statistics on the prevalence of rape and domestic violence, it is possible to lobby parliaments to legislate a proper legal framework to curb these issues. Statistics are a reflection of the magnitude of the problem thus in nations where the government may seem reluctant to recognize these two problems, they provide an impetus to action. In addition to that, the statistics on domestic violence and rape if accurately provided can be used to map out areas that have the highest prevalence. As a result of this, centers for recovery, shelters and counseling centers can be set up. The victims can therefore have access to counseling and medical services and in some cases the deaths that occur as a result of domestic violence can be reduced through such intervention measures. In conclusion, victims of domestic violence and rape ought to be provided with medical and counseling services which will make it easier for them to recover and report the incidences. The government ought to come with training programs for law enforcement agencies that will allow for them to handle victims of domestic violence and rape in a better way.
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