27% of Europeans say rape sometimes acceptable

More than a quarter of EU residents
have said that sex without consent
may be justified under certain
circumstances, according to a new
survey commissioned by the European
Commission .

Overall, 27 percent of 27.818 EU
citizens who participated in the
survey thought forced sexual
intercourse was acceptable in at least
one set of circumstances.

Some 12 percent of respondents, who
were selected from different social and
demographic backgrounds, said forced
sexual intercourse was acceptable if the
victim was “drunk or on drugs”.

Eleven percent said it was acceptable if
the victim “voluntarily went home with
someone” and 10 percent said it was
acceptable if they didn’t “clearly say no
or physically fight back”.

Respondents in Romania and Hungary
were consistently amongst the most
likely to say each situation may be a
justification for sex without consent,
while those in Sweden and Spain were
consistently amongst the least likely to
say so.

Seventy percent of respondents said
that sexual harassment of women was
common in their country.

Almost one third of respondents, 31
percent, said they believed women
were more likely to be raped by a
stranger than by someone they knew,
with respondents in Eastern areas of
the EU the most likely to agree with
that.

The survey also demonstrated that
about one in five Europeans hold
victim-blaming views, agreeing that
women make up or exaggerate their
claims about sexual assault. One in five
said that violence against women was
“often provoked by the victim”.

Overall, 22 percent of respondents said
that they believed “women often make
up or exaggerate claims of abuse or
rape” with proportions varying from 47
percent in Malta to 8 percent in
Sweden.

Also, almost one in five respondents
(17 percent) agreed that “violence
against women is often provoked by
the victim”, with respondents in
Eastern areas of the EU the most likely
to agree.

Across the EU, almost one quarter (24
percent) of respondents said they knew
of a friend or family member who had
been a victim of domestic violence,
while 18 percent knew of someone in
their immediate area or
neighbourhood.

Almost three quarters of respondents,
74 percent, said they thought domestic
violence against women was common
in their country, while 29 percent said
they believed domestic violence
against men was common.

More than eight in ten said violence
against women was most likely to
happen at home (86 percent), while 19
percent said it was most likely to
happen in public places or online.
Seventeen percent mentioned the
workplace.

Almost all respondents (96 percent)
said domestic violence against women
was “unacceptable”, although 12
percent said they did not think it
should always be punished by law.

Around one in six respondents across
the EU also said that they considered
domestic violence to be a “private
matter” that should be handled within
the family. Respondents in eastern
parts of the EU were the most likely to
agree with that view.

The report’s authors called for more
attention to be paid to protecting
women from becoming victims of
sexual assault but said: “there are
reasons for cautious optimism in the
findings.”

“Across the EU there is widespread
agreement that domestic violence,
sexual harassment and other acts of
gender-based violence are
unacceptable or wrong,” they said.

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