The Prevalence and Effects of Rape
The prevalence of rape is a major social problem that plagues America and other countries around the world daily. Victims of rape are psychologically, and sometimes physically damaged from being sexually assaulted. Although it would seem that it is a sexually motivated crime, rape “is actually an act of violence in which sex is used as a weapon against a powerless victim” (Kendall 197). Neither rapists, nor rape victims are concentrated to one specific class or race. However, “American women aged 16–24 are considered to be at the greatest risk of sexual assault” (Aronowitz, Lambert, and Davidoff 173). The majority of rapists are age twenty-five and younger. Almost all rape cases have female victims with male offenders. Men account for only 10% of all rape victims, and in some cases their rapist is also male. In regards to statistics, rape appears rare because of victims’ fears that they will not be believed, or have stigmas about rape now attached to them(Egan and Wilson 345).
According to Wolitzk-Taylor et al., “approximately 1 in 7 US women have been raped in their lifetimes. Estimates from the 1990s and 2000s indicate that only 16% to 20% of forcible rape victims report the rape to law enforcement” (Wolitzky-Taylor et al. 582). The reason for the disproportion of rape victims to rape reports is likely the vast acceptance of rape myths in society. Rape myths are “stereotyped, or false beliefs about rape, rape victims, and rapists”(Egan and Wilson 346). Many rape myths downplay rape and suggest that the victim is partially at fault for the crime. Recognizable rape myths include “women who wear provocative and sexy clothes are asking to be raped; all women have a secret desire to be raped; or only women with visible cuts and bruises were actually raped”(Egan and Wilson 346). The majority of women who are raped and do not report these crimes because they believe these myths. For example, women who have been raped by a stranger and/or received physical injuries during the incident are more likely to report their rape because they feel it more accurately fits the societal stereotype of rape. In contrast, women who have used alcohol or drugs prior to being raped are less likely to report the crime because they feel “these factors may deviate from stereotypes about the conditions under which an individual is considered a rape victim” (Wolitzky-Taylor et al. 582). Rape myths are affecting society in a dangerous way. Women who do not report rape risk letting their rapist remain free to rape again.
Rape prevention programs educate the youth and young adults, the primary age group affected by rape, by dispelling rape myths. Public awareness of this social problem will empower rape victim to report their rape. Increase of reported rape cases will help put rapists in prison and aid in the recovery their victims. Other effective sexual assault education and intervention programs focus attention on male and female...