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Rape: A horrific global phenomenon

This is the first in a monthly series of articles about Violence Against Women. Many Filipinos abroad become victims or rape and other sexual abuses. Disseminating information about gender-based violence is a way of empowering women. Rape, one of the worst human rights violations, happens everywhere. The stories are horrific: In November last year, three unidentified youths kidnapped and raped a Filipina maid in Kuwait, the news site Arab Times reported. In Australia, just this month, a mother of four raped her own 11-year-old daughter to teach her about sex. The newspaper Sunshine Coast Daily said the mother, 37, in a “bizarre sex education,” used her mobile phone to create three films showing her raping her youngest daughter. Also this month in India, a 19-year-old student was gang-raped inside a moving bus before she was killed, the news site Emirates 24/7 reported. Citing United States Department of Justice statistics (Violence against Women, 1994), the blogsite Rape Survivor Journey said in the US:
  • About 25% rapes happens in a public area or in a parking garage;
  • About 31% of the female victims said the rapist was a stranger, and
  • In 29% of rapes, the offender used a weapon.
Violence against women The US government site defined rape as sex that the victim does not agree to, including forcing a body part or an object into one's vagina, rectum, or mouth. While men can also become victims of rape, majority of the victims are still women. On the blogsite, Dr. Alan W. McEvoy, Ph.D, author of “If He is Raped: A guidebook for Parents, Partners, Spouses and Friends,” said many male victims do not report being raped for “fear of being perceived as homosexual.” McEvoy also said: “One of the greatest myths is that most male rapes occur in prison. Existing research shatters this myth.” The United Nations (UN) defines violence against women as any act that causes “physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” “Violence against women takes a dismaying variety of forms, from domestic abuse and rape to child marriages and female circumcision. All are violations of the most fundamental human rights,” it said. The UN noted that rape can occur anywhere “even in the family, where it can take the form of marital rape or incest. It occurs in the community, where a woman can fall prey to any abuser. It also occurs in situations of armed conflict and in refugee camps.” The World Health Organization (WHO) said acts of violence against women “are major public health problems and violations of women's human rights.” A WHO multi-country study asserted that “15–71% of women reported experiencing physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.” “These forms of violence result in physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health and other health problems, and may increase vulnerability to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus),” WHO said. Rape, or sexual intercourse without a valid  consent, is usually perpetrated by males against females. However, females may also  rape males or even their fellow females. In like manner, a male may also be raped by a fellow male. The website of the advocacy group Canadian Children's Rights Council (CCRC) said many abuses of children by women are unreported. "Ruth Matthews, a St. Paul psychologist who has worked with 50 adolescent and 70 adult female sex offenders, says another major reason why adult female perpetrators are rarely seen in treatment is that many are mothers. In such cases, she says, dependent children are generally reluctant to turn in their mothers," the CCRC said. Types of Rape The US advocacy group Crisis Intervention Center identifies several types of rape: Acquaintance rape - forced, unwanted sexual intercourse with someone a victim knows; Stranger rape - unwanted sexual intercourse by someone the victim does not know; Marital rape - unwanted intercourse or penetration (vaginal, anal, or oral) obtained by force or threat; Gang rape - when a group of people rape a single victim; Drug facilitated rape - when drugs or alcohol are used to minimize the victim's resistance; Statutory rape - consensual sexual relations between an adult and a person below the age required to legally consent to the behavior.  Advice for rape victims The website of the US advocacy group said rape victims should not be ashamed of what they have experienced. “Any shame that you feel is shame that belongs to the attacker and not to you,” the site explained. The site also offers advice about the steps that rape victims can take: (1) As soon as possible, go to an area where you will be safe. (2)  Call for help. (3) Go to a hospital to check for injuries even if you do not intend to prosecute your abuser. “Sometimes injuries aren't always immediately apparent,” the site said. (4)  “Do not change your clothes(especially if you think you might file charges). Don't comb your hair, shower, use the bathroom (if possible) or change anything about yourself, until after you've had an examination by a doctor. Valuable evidence can be destroyed even by something as simple as drinking water or going to the bathroom,” it added. (5)  Be ready to answer difficult questions if you report the crime to the police. “The questions are designed to aid in the prosecution but can seem intrusive at the time,” it said. Rape statistics The United Nations report on "The World's Women 2010" said: "The percentage of women experiencing sexual violence at least once in their lifetime ranges from around 4% in Azerbaijan, 5% in France and 6% in the Philippines, to a quarter or more women in Switzerland (25%), Denmark (28%), Australia (34%), the Czech Republic (35%), Costa Rica (41%) and Mexico (44%)." In the Philippines, "girl victims of abuse outnumber boys, two to one," according to an article on violence against women and children on the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) website. "Among girls, the majority of the victims belong to the age groups 10 to below 14 and 14 to below 18; among boys, the most number of victims belong to age groups 1 to below 5 and 5 to below 10," said the article written by Dr. Romulo Virola, secretary general of the NSCB.  - RJMD, GMA News