Reference to victims, offenders, motivations and other factors

In the 1976 Act, a man commits rape if (i) he has sexual intercourse with a woman who at the time does not consent, and (ii) he knows that she does not consent to the intercourse or he is reckless as to whether she consents or not. Victims’ and Perpetrators Characteristics and reactions of the victim Most victims’ are teenagers or young adult women who tend to come from low socio economic groups. The overwhelming majority of rapes involve females as the victims and the rape of men by women remains a matter of legal controversy although some have been reported (Sarrel & Masters, 1982).Multiple or group rapes are common,more likely to involve adolescent girls rather than children or adult women and carried out by boys in their teens or early twenties.

One of the most controversial issues concerning rape is victim precipitation. In cases of rape by a complete stranger or where there is clear evidence of premeditation or physical injury, the victim is unlikely to be considered in any way responsible but in those cases where rape occurs between friends or casual acquaintances, the victim is likely to find herself under suspicion or held to be responsible to a greater or lesser extent (Katz & Mazur, 1979).Rape is an exceedingly traumatic experience for most women; victims have been found to suffer persistent effects for many years afterwards (Burgess & Holstrom, 1974; Morgan & Zedner, 1992). Post-traumatic stress disorder is more likely to develop following rape than from any other trauma (National Victim Centre, 1992). Date rape or acquaintance rape is traditionally thought to be less traumatic than “real” rape but it has been shown that these victims’ show the same psychological stress as other rape victims (Coss ; Cook, 1993). Characteristics of the rapistRapists form a heterogeneous group of individuals and home, social, cultural and psychological factors combine in a variety of ways.

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Some rapists are under-controlled characters who give way to impulses (erotic or aggressive) but a minority can be over-controlled, ordinarily shy and inhibited, whose offences appear completely unexpected and out of character. A few rapists are manifestly psychotic with delusions / grandiose notions of ridding the world of immoral women or psychotic ideas of vengeance against the whole female race.The convicted rapist is predominantly a young man (40% between 17-20 and 19% between 21-24 years) from low socio economic groups (75%) (Wright, 1980). The majority of rapists are not married. Among young men actually charged with rape, a substantial proportion have convictions for non-sexual crime with one or more previous convictions for personal violence (Gibbens et al, 1977).

They are likely to be poorly educated, ill informed about sexual relationships and identify with crudely macho ideas.Many convince themselves that the girl was “asking for it” or that she “led me on” and they sometimes seek assurance from the victim that she enjoyed the experience. The proportion of rape that involves physical violence is always high – around 80%, and in 20% the violence tends to be extreme. It is more likely that group rather than single rapes, with rapists who are strangers, who have been drinking alcohol or have found themselves impotent during the assault.It has been suggested by certain feminist writers that it is probably unwise to look for a stereotype of the typical rapist but rather to see most men as potential rapists or the rapist as relatively normal men who as a result of socially learned attitudes to women are likely to rape in certain circumstances. Motivations for Rape “Rape is not a sexual expression of sexuality; it is the sexual expression of aggression” (Grodh, New York Times, 5 January 1980).Grodh has downplayed the importance of sex altogether calling rape a pseudo-sexual act in which power or anger not sex are the driving forces (Grodh ; Birnbaum, 1979) although others argue that rape is a fundamentally sexual act in which aggression is used to achieve a sexual aim. Feminist theories of male violence against women stress the social construction of masculinity, violence and sexuality in patriarchal society whose object is to reproduce and maintain their relative status and authority over women (Hanmar et al, 1989; Scully, 1990; Dobach et al, 1992; Newburn ; Stanko, 1994; Jefferson, 1997).

Homosexual rape may be common in many male prisons and involved young relatively weak prisoners (Davis, 1970). He saw this behaviour more as a means of asserting masculinity and power than of gaining sexual pleasure. The rape victim would not only be humiliated, he would also be looked upon as feminine. Homosexual assaults between women sometimes occur in women’s prison (Brown Miller, 1975). The motivations for rape have been put into three main categories (Grodh & Hobson, 1979, 1983):1.

Anger rape – resulting from anger, rage or a sense of unfair treatment usually following an argument; 2. Power rape – has sexual conquest as its main goal for the experience of power; and 3. Sadistic rape – which is the least common and the rapist gets sexual gratification out of the victim’s pain and suffering. Cohen (1971) added one further category, namely, impulsive rape which is an opportunistic crime.Prins (1995) added another category triggered by a definable mental disorder. Gang rape is felt to be chiefly for recreational adventure and the experience of male camaraderie (Culley ; Marolla, 1985).

Holmstrom and Burgess (1980) concluded that there are four principle meanings of sexual assault similar to the categories described above. Other factors Cross-cultural aspects of rape Sanday (1981) analysed 156 societies and concluded that 47% were rape-free and 18% rape-prone.Rape-prone cultures were characteristically promoting male/female antagonism using rape as a mechanism of social control and to enhance male dominance and rape-free societies showed sexual equality where women were highly valued and there were generally low levels of inter-personal violence. For whatever reason fantasies of rape are very prevalent among normal men who have never been found guilty of any offence (Malamudh, 1981) and it was suggested that the socially derived meanings of sexuality probably play an important part (Bancroft, 1991).