Protesters hold signs in outrage over the gang-rape and death of a 23-year-old student in Delhi in 2012.

Story highlights

A survey of men looks at rape in six Asia-Pacific countries

24% committed rape on partners or non-partners, study finds

Most men who raped cited sexual entitlement as a reason

Most committed their first rape while a teenager

Hong Kong CNN  — 

Why do rape perpetrators commit such acts?

In the first of its kind, a multi-country survey looked at how widespread rape and sexual violence is in six Asia-Pacific countries. And it also asked why.

A quarter of the men interviewed, said they had raped a woman or girl.

The report published in the medical journal The Lancet also brought insight into the socio-economic circumstances of the men who rape.

The study by the Partners for Prevention, comprised of several U.N. agencies, asked 10,178 men about their lives. They gathered information from the following countries: Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka.

How widespread is rape?

The questionnaire did not contain the word “rape,” because of the researcher’s belief that most men do not think they have raped when they force women to have sex.

Instead, participants were asked questions like whether they ever “forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex,” if they ever “had sex with a woman who was too drunk or drugged to indicate whether she wanted it” or forced a partner, when she did not want to.

Here is the percentage of respondents who said they had raped a partner or non-partner.


In most countries, between one in five reported perpetrating a rape, although Papua New Guinea leads this proportion with more than half.

Rape of women in marriage was much more prevalent than non-partner rape, the survey found.

When does it start?

Early. More than half of respondents who raped a non-partner first did so as a teenager, with most of their first crimes occurring between the age of 15 and 19.

The study’s authors say this “reinforces the need for early rape prevention if one is to intervene before the first rape is committed.”

What’s the likelihood of repeat offenses?

High. Nearly half of the respondents who said they had committed rape, perpetrated the crime on different women.

They were asked how many different women they had raped:

  • 55.4% said they have raped 1 woman
  • 28.3% said they have raped 2-3 women
  • 12% said they have raped 4-10 women
  • 4.2% said they have raped 10 or more women

Are women always the victim of sexual violence?


  • 6.2% of respondents say they have raped a man and a woman as a single perpetrator
  • 30.2% of respondents say they have raped a man and a woman among multiple perpetrators (with others/in a group setting)

Why did they commit rape?

Sexual entitlement means a man feels he has a right to have sex, despite what the woman wants. Some respondents expressed they were bored, so rape was a pursuit of entertainment. Punishment was also cited as a reason, saying that some wanted to punish a female or was angry with the person.

Are there consequences for the rape?

Prison sentences were rare, with less than a quarter of the perpetrators receiving jail time. The study found:

  • 55.2% said they felt guilt
  • 35.7% said they were punished by friends or family
  • 32.5% said they were arrested
  • 22.9% said they were sent to prison

What’s the background of a repeat rape offender?

Men with a history of victimization, such as experiencing childhood physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect in childhood, were more likely to commit sexual violence than those without such a past, according to the study.

It also found that men who were poor or had no high school education were more likely to have raped in a group setting.

  • 50% of multiple perpetrators had no high school education
  • 74.8% of multiple perpetrators had ever married or co-habitated
  • 60.5% of multiple perpetrators experienced childhood physical abuse
  • 43.1% of multiple perpetrators rarely or never had their father at home