More than a quarter of people living in Europe believe that rape is justified in certain circumstances, according to the latest study commissioned by the European Union.
Researchers asked 30,000 citizens of different EU countries whether they thought forcing someone to have sex against their will was acceptable under a number of circumstances, such as if a person is wearing “revealing” clothes or if they are incapacitated with alcohol consumption.
The study found that 27 per cent of respondents across the EU thought forced sexual intercourse was acceptable in at least one set of circumstances. Twelve per cent said it was acceptable if the victim had taken drink or drugs, 11 per cent said it was acceptable if the victim voluntarily went home with someone, 10 per cent said it was acceptable if they didn’t clearly say no or physically fight back.
The figures vary by country, with 60 per cent of people living in Romania telling researchers that they felt it was acceptable in at least one set of circumstances.
Among British respondents, 22 per cent of people think the criminal offence is acceptable in some circumstances, with 12 per cent citing a victim’s drink or drug intake as a reason.
It is estimated that around 1 in 5 women are raped at some point in their lives, while around one in 71 men will be raped.
Following are some of the key findings of the report:
- Overall, 27% say sexual intercourse without consent may be justified in at least one of the situations proposed. Respondents are most likely to say this about being drunk or on drugs (12%), voluntarily going home with someone (11%), wearing revealing, provocative or sexy clothing or not clearly saying no or physically fighting back (both 10%). Fewer than one in ten mention each of the other possible scenarios, with respondents least likely to say intercourse without consent is justified it the assailant regrets his action (2%).
- Across the EU, 11% respondents think forcing a partner to have sex should not be illegal. Lithuania (31%) is the only country where more than one quarter thinks forcing a partner to have sex should not be against the law, followed by 24% in the Czech Republic, 21% in Italy, Latvia and Slovakia, and 20% in Romania, 2% in the UK and Sweden and 3% in France and Ireland.
- Almost one in five respondents across the EU thinks touching a colleague in an inappropriate or unwanted way should not be illegal (18%). Respondents in Hungary (48%), Estonia (42%) and Lithuania (38%) are the most likely to say touching a colleague in an inappropriate or unwanted way should not be illegal, while those in the UK (7%) and Ireland (8%) are likely to say this. Lithuania (6%) and Hungary (5%) are the only countries where at least one in twenty say this behaviour is not wrong and should not be against the law.
- Across the EU, 16% of respondents think sending unwanted sexually explicit emails or messages should not be against the law.
- More than four in ten respondents across the EU say making sexually suggestive comments or “jokes” to a woman in the street should not be against the law (41%).
- About one in five respondents believe that women make up or exaggerate claims and that violence against women is often provoked by the victim. More than one in five (22%) agree that women often make up or exaggerate claims of abuse or rape, with proportions varying from 47% in Malta to 8% in Sweden.
- Almost one in five (17%) agree violence against women is often provoked by the victim, with respondents in Eastern areas of the EU the most likely to agree. More than a quarter of respondents think sexual intercourse without consent can be justifiable
- Respondents were asked whether having sexual intercourse without consent was justified in nine different circumstances. At least one in ten respondents think intercourse without consent is justified if the person is drunk or using drugs (12%), voluntarily goes home with someone (11%), wears revealing, provocative or sexy clothing or doesn’t clearly say no or physically fight back (both 10%).
- Respondents in Romania and Hungary are consistently amongst the most likely to say each situation may be a justification for sex without consent, while those in Sweden and Spain are consistently amongst the least likely to say so.
- Seven out of ten think sexual harassment of women is common in their country, and that violence against women is most likely to occur at home.
- More than eight in ten say violence against women is most likely to occur at home (86%) while 19% say in public places or online, and 17% mention the workplace.
- Almost one third (31%) agree women are more likely to be raped by a stranger than someone they know, with respondents in Eastern areas of the EU the most likely to agree.
Read the full report here: