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The estimates in table 2 are based on legal definitions of rape in the United States, which recognize as rape the penetration of any orifice by physical force or threat of force, or because a woman is incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol. (For comparison, the U.K. data include forced anal and oral penetration, although the legal definition of rape in the United Kingdom includes only vaginal penetration by a penis.)
Box 2 Gender violence throughout the life cycle.
Type of violence present.
Sex-Selective abortion (China, India, Republic of Korea); battering during pregnancy (emotional and physical effects on the. woman; effects on birth outcome); coerced pregnancy (for example, mass rape in war).
Female infanticide; emotional and physical abuse; differential access to food and medical care for girl infants.
Child marriage; genital mutilation; sexual abuse by family members and strangers; differential access to food and medical care; child prostitution.
Dating and courtship violence (for example, acid throwing in Bangladesh, date rape in the United States); economically coerced sex (African secondary school girls having to take up with “sugar daddies” to afford school fees); sexual abuse in the workplace; rape; sexual harassment; forced prostitution; trafficking in women.
Abuse of women by intimate male partners; marital rape; dowry abuse and age murders; partner homicide; psychological abuse; sexual abuse in the workplace; sexual harassment; rape; abuse of women with disabilities.
Abuse of widows; elder abuse (in the United States, the only country where data are now available, elder abuse affects mostly of women).
Table 1.1 Prevalence of wife abuse, selected countries.
Table 1.2 Prevalence of wife abuse, selected countries.
Table 1.3 Prevalence of wife abuse, selected countries.
Table 1.4 Prevalence of wife abuse, selected countries.
Table 2 Prevalence of rape among college-age woman selected countries.
Women have also been subjected, throughout history, to repeated and especially brutal rape as part of war. In recent years mass rape in war has been documented in Bosnia, Cambodia, Liberia, Peru, Somalia, and Uganda (Swiss and Giller 1993). A European Community fact finding team estimates that more than 20,000 Muslim women have been raped in Bosnia since the fighting began in April 1992. Many have been held in “rape camps”. where they have been raped repeatedly and forced to bear Serbian children against their will (Post 1993). These examples notwithstanding, rape in war is neither a new phenomenon nor one limited to developing countries.
Prevalence of child and adolescent sexual abuse.
Because the sexual abuse of children is such a sensitive issue, there are few population-based studies from which its prevalence can be estimated. The few studies that do exist and ample indirect evidence suggest that sexual abuse of children and adolescents is widespread In the United States, for example, studies show that 27 to 62 percent of women recall at least one incident of sexual abuse that occured before they were 18 (Peters, Wyatt, and Finkelhor 1986).’ An anonymous, island-wide probability survey in Barbados revealed that one woman in three and one to two men in 100 report haying been subject to behavior constituting childhood or adolescent sexual abuse (Handwerker 1993a). In Canada a government estimated that one in four female children and one in 10 male children are sexually assaulted before age 17 by 1984).
The indirect evidence available elsewhere also suggests cause for concern. Two studies from Nigeria documenting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in very young children suggest that sexual abuse is at least present in Nigerian society. A 1988 study in Zaria, Nigeria, found that 16 percent of female patients seeking treatment for STDs were children under age five and another 6 percent children between ages six and 15 (Kisekka and Otesanya 1988). An older study in Ibadan found that 22 percent of female patients attending one STD clinic were children under age 10 (Sogbetun, Alausa, and Osoba l977). In Peru a study conducted in the Maternity Hospital of Lima revealed that 90 percent of the young mothers age 12 to 16 had been raped-the vast majority by their father, their stepfather, or another close relative (Roses 1992). An organization for adolescent mothers in Costa Rica reports similar findings: 95 percent of its pregnant clients under 15 are victims of incest (Treguear and Carro 1991).
This indirect evidence is consistent with cross-cultural data from rape crisis centers which reveal that 40 to 58 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated against girls age 15 and under, including girls younger than 10 or 11. Most of these rapes are committed by family members or other persons whom the victim knows. In fact, justice statistics and data from rape crisis centers show that in more than 60 percent of all rape cases the victim knows the perpetrator (table 3). The common perception of rape as a “stranger” crime is sorely misguided.
A final indication of the prevalence of sexual abuse comes from the observations of children themselves. In 1991, when Centro de Informaci Servicios de Asesorin la Salud (CISAS), a Nicaraguan health NGO, held a national conference for the children involved in their CHILD to Child program (a project that trains youngsters age 8 to 15 to be better child care providers for their siblings), participants identified physical and sexual abuse as the most important health problem that young people in their country faced. Since then, CISAS has helped initiate a national campaign to educate the public about sexual abuse of children (“Rompiendo el Silencio,” 1992).