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Sri Lankan Men and Rape What the Sri Lankan Media Missed

Sri Lankan Men and Rape What the Sri Lankan Media Missed

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Published by Thavam

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Published by: Thavam on Sep 26, 2013
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- on 09/26/2013
I read with great interestthis articlein the Guardian about nearly quarter of men in Asia-Pacific admitting to committing rape according to a new UNstudy. As Sri Lanka was one of the countries that were a part of the study Ilooked around a little more and came across a few articles in the localmedia that had run with the title “14% of Sri Lankan men admit to rape”. Itseemed that most mainstream print media, includingDailyMirrorandCeylon Todayhad taken the article straight from theBBCand to my surprise not followed up with this horrific statistic.If they had bothered to follow up with this study they would have unearthedfar richer information and I cannot imagine why there has been no follow upgiven how troubling the rest of the findings in this study are. Whenmainstream media puts us through interviews aboutthe healthy diet of wellknown perpetrators of different forms of violence, it would be nice if it was
balanced with other equally important information. There exists anexclusive Sri Lankan reporton this study that looks at thefindings in Sri Lanka in depth. When reading the Sri Lanka report, a glaringerror in theUN regional studyis evident. The UN survey was conducted innine countries and in some countries it was only conducted in specificareas. The UN report states “Most of the findings presented in the reportrefer to the nine research sites, except where the sample was national” and“The samples are representative of the selected sites, although in mostsites are not nationally representative and not designed to represent thewhole Asia-Pacific region”. What this means is that in some countries it wasonly conducted in certain areas and therefore the findings can only beapplied to that area and not the whole country. The Sri Lanka findings in the UN report are presented as ‘National’ – whichmeans the findings are applicable to the whole of Sri Lanka. So when theysay 14.5% of Sri Lankan men admit to rape that is correct. However, this iswhere the problem lies – the Sri Lanka study was conducted only in fourdistricts (Colombo, Hambantota, Batticaloa and Nuwara Eliya) and the SriLanka report specifically states “Under this sampling design, the findings of the survey can be generalised to it’s sample population: men and womenbetween the ages of 18 and 49 years living in the four study districts. Eventhough the survey provides valuable insight into the knowledge, attitudesand practices of men and women on issues of gender, masculinity andgender based violence,
these specific findings cannot be generalised to the total Sri Lankan population
”. Emphasis mine.It may look like I am finding fault with a minor error but it is not – it is agrave error to present data that cannot be applied to the whole of Sri Lankaas national data. If the study was conducted in all 25 districts the figure14.5% could easily be far higher or far lower – and this is the danger.What was unfortunately lost with the uproar of the 14.5% rape figure werethe significant findings that accompanied the data. The Sri Lanka reportmakes a disturbing and yet at the same time a useful reading because itreveals attitudes and mind sets of both men and women that have longbeen ignored in GBV and gender related programmes. The findings highlighted below are mainly in relation to perpetrator history,intimate partner violence and women’s attitudes – and are just a few of many vital findings that should be discussed and incorporated into anyplanning around GBV and Gender related policy/programming/activity.A few of the significant findings from Sri Lanka include –
17% of males who participated in the study reported ever perpetratingsexual violence (including rape) against women or girls including partnersand non-partners. 60.5% of these men were between the ages of 20-29years when they first committed sexual violence. 28% were in the 15-19age category.
One in five (20%) ever partnered men between ages of 18-49 yearsreported perpetration of sexual violence against intimate partners.
One in three in ever partnered men (36%) reported that they hadcommitted physical and/ or sexual violence against an intimate partner intheir lifetime.
 The most common form of sexual violence was physically forcing a partnerto have sexual relations against her will.
Men’s motivation for sexual violence? 66.5% said it was their sexualentitlement, 19.6% said it was for fun or because they were bored and13.4% said it was out of anger or a form of punishment.
Men who experienced emotional, sexual or physical abuse during childhoodwere 1.7 to 2 times more likely to use violence against a female intimatepartner than men who did not experience abuse.
Under reporting of intimate partner violence – just 13% of women whoexperienced IPV and 8% of women who experienced non- partner sexualviolence reported this violence to the police.
 Two thirds of the female sample (67%), as opposed to 55% of men alsoaffirmed that ‘in any rape case, one would have to question whether thevictim is promiscuous or has a bad reputation.’
Women’s attitudes reflect a deeper acceptance than men of social andcultural attitudes that discriminate against women. For example, 58% of women, compared to 41% of men, believed that a woman should tolerateviolence in order keep the family together.While these figures do not represent all men and women of Sri Lanka, thedata is still extremely useful to get an idea of where we are with regard toGender Based Violence and the attitudes that allow it to continue and growthe way it does. Like data driven journalism, data driven programming isalso extremely necessary and often ignored by organisations working onGBV issues. This data is an excellent starting point in addressing somecrucial interventions needed – from working on both men and women’sattitudes towards GBV, gender and identity, working with youth especiallyto combat GBV and attitudes towards women, the importance of recognising abuse of any form, whether emotional, physical or sexual andenabling educationists from the school level to a) recognise b) interveneand direct students towards support. The percentage of men who admit to rape is
the most importanthighlight of this study and in fact it is information if collected through
anopinion poll
should not be presented as hard data. What is important and

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