Old ideas on rape die hard

Association Mémoire traumatique et victimologie published a survey on the perception the French have of rape, and results show that distorted views on the crime are still very much prevalent in our society… amongst both genders.

A surprising state of affairs that proves, once more, that prevention is more necessary than ever.

The survey, conducted via internet between 25 November and 2 December, 2015 on a sample of 1,001 persons aged 18 and more representative of the French population, consists of a series of questions on rape, sexuality and responsibility of the parties.


Rape is still a mystery for many

The study tells us that a lot of French still have outdated ideas on male and female sexuality. 61% of Frenchmen and 65% of Frenchwomen consider that «it’s harder for men to control their sexual urges than it is for women», and 72% of Frenchmen and 78% of Frenchwomen still think that «in general, women need to be in love to consider having sex with someone».

In view of the above, it’s not hard to understand why a lot of people still put the onus on the victim to not get raped.

  • 27% think a rapist is not fully responsible if women already had sexual intercourse with the person who raped them, or if they walk in the street with a sexy attire.
  • 36% think a rapist is not fully responsible if teenagers (!!!) play the seductress with adult men, or if a woman agrees to follow, alone, a man she doesn’t know.
  • 38% think a rapist is not fully responsible if women flirt with their rapist but refuse to have sexual intercourse with him.
  • 40% think a rapist is not fully responsible if women have an alluring attitude (!!!) in public (restaurants, nightclubs…)


On an even more frightening, many have a very elastic definition of rape. Close to 30% of French (28%) think that a forced fellatio is sexual assault and not rape. Which is, of course, contrary to what the Penal Code says. 26% think that threatening a person to agree without resistance to sexual intercourse is sexual assault and not rape. 13% still consider that forcing one’s partner to have sexual intercourse is sexual assault and not rape. This is, of course, very much wrong.

The quasi totality of the country (96%), however, does agrees that forcing someone who fights back to have sexual intercourse is rape.


Outdated myths on rape are still persistant et prevalent

A good chunk of French not only ignore the definition of rape, but also where they happen most, who are the most frequent perpetrators, how many victims there are and how many victims file a complaint.

The study shows that a majority (55%) think the public space is the most dangerous—in reality, 58% of rapes take place in the family circle. 44% think that a women is more at risk with people they do not know than the contrary. In reality, in 90% of cases, the victim knows their rapist.

And if the number of rapes is grossly underrated: 41% estimate that between 10,000 and 50,000 rapes a year take place, when in reality, around 98,000 people, excluding minors, are raped —when included, the number jumps to 200,000—, the number of complaints filed is highly overrated. The French think that 25% of victims file when merely 10% do.

Compassion is also not our forte: 32% of French think that certain victims accuse men of rape as retaliation after a bad breakup and 23% think that they do it as a call for attention.



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