July 6, 2020

Why do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How can We Prevent it? New Findings from UN report

Chart from Partners for Prevention, a UNDP, UNFPA, UN Women and UNV Regional Joint Programme for Gender-Based Violence Prevention in Asia and the Pacific

By Alexis Herr


PRI’s the World reported from the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the alarming absence of a stigma regarding gang rape. Bauk—which translates as “plus”—occurs so frequently that according to a 2003 article in The Guardian, bauk is “now one of the most popular after-dark pastimes among the affluent, unmarried 20-30 something males of the country’s larger towns.” The United Nations released a report last week, which reaffirms that violence against women continues to be a problem in Cambodia.  Despite the report’s alarming findings, its authors maintain that the problem is not hopeless.

The study, “Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It? : Quantitative Findings from the United Nations Multi-Country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific” analyzes a survey of 10,000 men conducted from 2010-2013 in nine sites across six countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka. The data showed that one in four had committed rape and more than half confessed to having abused their partners. A man’s sense of sexual entitlement—his belief that he has the right to sex, regardless of consent—was the primary motivation for 70-80 percent of those who admitted to having committed rape. When masculinity is equated to force, power, and entitlement, it is perhaps unsurprising that some rapists admitted to having forced themselves on another man. The study also found that the majority of men who perpetrated rape (72-97 percent in most sites) did not face any legal consequences.

A multilateral approach is the only solution for upending violence against women. Thus, the report ends on a high note with seven recommendations for correcting gendered violence and ending the rape epidemic. The three most persuasive, according to this author, are: (1) Change social norms related to the acceptability of violence and the subordination of women; (2) Promote non-violent masculinities oriented towards equality and respect; (3) End impunity for men who rape.  These three solutions suggest a correction of gender norms, promote consequences for crimes, and elevate women’s roles in society. Raising awareness is another solution that authors did not suggest but nonetheless fulfilled. When the worlds’ problems continue to fly under the radar they will continue unabated. Since the publication of this report last week, news agencies across the globe have shared its results and in so doing will hopefully encourage greater acknowledgement of the rape epidemic and support for its solution.

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