Rape: Causes and Effects


According to criminal law, rape is any act of sexual intercourse between two parties without the consent of both parties. However, in other areas outside the law boundaries, the term is used to refer to sexual assault. Cases of rape are reported across the world with numerous others going unreported. Mostly it is due to fear of the victim being stigmatised or being victimised by the offender. Rate of reporting, arresting and putting on trial rapists varies from one country to another. With the act mostly attributed to men, there are cases where women have been reported to have raped men. In most cases, the perpetrators of rape are not strangers to their preys. Generally, the crime is committed by relatives of the victim or neighbours (Allison & Wrightsman, 1993, p. 45). Studies argue that the most unreported rape cases are the ones committed in prisons. Male to male prisoner rape cases are the most common rape cases. They are believed to be committed more than the male to female rapes. If rape is extensive and organized it is considered as a crime against humanity.

Extent of the crime

According to a document dubbed Criminal Victimization in the United States obtained from United States Department of Justice, the number of rape cases reported in 2005 were 191, 670. The report claimed that most of the rape cases in the country go unreported with only 16% of the cases reaching the law enforcing agency. For every six women in U.S. one of them has experienced an attempted or has been a victim of the crime. Over a quarter of the college women claim having fallen victims of rape or attempted rape as early as when they are at the age of fourteen. Rape crimes reported in United States are categorised based on the race of the victims. In 2007, 185,430 and 36,620 victims from the white and black race respectively reported to have been raped. Out of the white victims, 75.5% reported to have been raped by white offenders while 7.6% reported to have been raped by blacks (Allison & Wrightsman, 1993, pp. 77-83). On the other hand, all the cases reported by the blacks victims claimed to have been raped by black offenders.

Based on reports from National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the attuned number of rape victimization per person has gone down from 2.4 for every one thousand people reported in 1980 to about 0.4 per one thousand people in 2007. This is by approximately 85%. However, these findings have been criticized by other bodies responsible for collecting data on rape cases such as the Sexual Victimization of College Women. The body claims that NCVS collects its data based on all those acts considered as crime by the victims thus recording a high rate of persecution. On instances where questions were based on behaviour, researchers have recorded high number of rape cases than the one recorded by NCVS (Russell & Howell, 2007, pp. 688-690). At one instance, it was found that the number of women who reported to have been victims of rape based on behaviourally questions was eleven times more than what had been recorded by a survey conducted by NCVS. Between 2000 and 2005, approximately 59% of rape cases went unreported to the law enforcement agencies. One of the identified factors that contributed to this is the perception by the public that most of the rape crimes are committed by unfamiliar persons. However, according to statistics from Bureau of Justice, 38% of the rape victims were raped by associates, or friends, 28% by their dears, 7% by members of their families while 26% were raped by persons unfamiliar to the victims. The research found that for every ten rape incidences, four occurs at the victim’s home. Alcohols and other narcotic drugs have been blamed for an increasing majority of the rape cases. About half of the rape cases take place when both the participants and the victims are drunk. (Russell & Howell, 2007, pp. 691-698). 17% of the cases have the perpetrator drunk while 7% have the victim. Unlike the common belief, most of the rape cases do not occur outdoors. A slightly higher than two thirds of rape cases are committed in the residences of the perpetrator and to a smaller extent the victim’s. It is believed that more than 30.9% of the crimes are committed at the offender’s home while 26.6% takes place at the prey’s home. For married couples or people sharing homes, the extent of rape cases is 10.1%. Cases of rape at parties are also reported with approximately 7.2% of rape cases in the country happen during parties. 2.2% of all rape case in the country occurs in bars, 7.2% in vehicles while 3.6% of rape cases are committed outdoors.

Causes of rape

There are different reasons that have been attributed to occurrence of rape cases. Understanding these causes can be one of the best ways of preventing and controlling rape incidences in the country. Some of them are motivation for rape, economic factors and war.

Psychoanalytic Theories

Psychoanalytic theories view the unresolved needs of rapists as one of the causes of rape. An individual’s lack of acceptance, affection and intimacy in a community results to stress and depression. Research done reveals that most rapists are involved in incidents where there are incidents of negative life events and feelings of helplessness. Individuals who have gone through such incidents will tend to rape so as to fulfil their needs. According to the theories, individuals who have experienced sexual trauma or have been victimized sexually are likely to become rapists. Again, information available reveals that about a third of the rapists have had such experiences when they were young. Individuals who experience failures in life doubt their manhood. Such individuals have poor social relationships, poor social skills, and are anxious in dealing with other people. As a result, the individuals cannot develop successful interpersonal skills to help them relate well with other people in the community.

The Feminist Theory

According to the feminist theory, men use rape as a tool to instil fear in women. This is especially common in men dominated societies where women have no say. In these societies, the male attitudes, values, and beliefs dominate the culture. By rape, men inflict emotional and physical trauma on women. According to the theory, the cases of rape cannot be solved and will continue increasing as long as men dominated and justice systems investigate, prosecute, and publish them. Generally, the theories argue that men use rape as a weapon to show their power, dominance, strength, superiority, and others. Men believe that women should be submissive, passive and that they are generally weak.

Social Learning Theories

Social learning theories explain how men can learn to rape from myths and beliefs in the society. The theories argue that some distortions that are promoted in social attitudes are supportive of rape. The media also portrays aspects that may promote rape. The media reinforces rape myths, shows images and movies that may make individual more tolerant of fear and humiliation associated with rape.

Motivation for Rape

Motive for a rapist can be complex are still under consideration. However, there are scholars who have made an attempt to explain the motivation for rape based on power, anger, sadism, sexual fulfilment and attitude towards women. For rape cases occurring as a result of anger, the main objective of the perpetrator is to humiliate and hurt the victim. Perpetrators convey their hate for their victims through physical aggression and sacrilegious language (Denov, 2004, p. 231). Most of the rape resulting from anger are associated with brutality, more material force than it could be applied had the perpetrator had the intention of overcoming the victim and getting penetration. In this form of rape the victims find their clothes torn, they are knocked and beaten before they are raped. For power rape, the rapists perceive rape as a way of paying off for their basic feelings of insufficiency. The motive of the rapist is to show his competency and confirm his masculinity. The rapist uses verbal threats to intimidate his victims. There is a general believe by power rapist that despite the victim resisting, once they gain penetration the victim also enjoys the rape (Reidel & Wayne, 2007, p. 127). The rapist has the tendency to ask the victim whether he/she enjoyed the act. Some even go ahead to inquire about the next date.

Economic causes of rape

With time women have continuously increased their demands for men before accepting to get into a relationship. They have set a level on the average income a man ought to earn so as to earn a relationship. With this expectations rising day-in-day-out, it at times become impossible for men to attain it. With most of the men left with no alternative of winning women’s hearts, they turn to rape as a way of consoling themselves. According to a survey conducted on the economic level of most of the rape perpetrators, it was realised that most of the perpetrators come from poor economic backgrounds. Most of them are unskilled labourers and has low level of education. The survey also indicated that most of those who fall victims of rape also comes from poor economic backgrounds (Mechelen, 1992, para. 3-6). For woman leaving in town the ratio of her falling victim of rape is one out of seventy seven chances.


Rape has been a long time crime during wars. Numerous rape cases have always been reported during wars since the time of the Israelites, Romans and Greek wars. During the Mongols invasion of Eurasia, numerous rape cases were reported. The Second World War saw more than 200, 000 Chinese and Japanese women raped and forced to work as prostitutes by the Japanese soldiers. Rape cases are widely reported during wars. Issuance of an arrest warrant by International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia leaders led to it being declared a crime against humanity (Marnie, Lalumiere & Vernon, 2005, p. 134).

Prevention strategies

It is possible to prevent rape crimes in the society. The fact that rape affects everyone in the society it calls for a comprehensive approach to preventing the crime. There are different approaches that can be taken prevent cases of rape occurring in our society. These include personal response, community-based effort and health care initiative.

Rape Law Reform and Sex Offender Notification and Registration Laws

The rape law reform tries to define rape in better terms so that all issues related to rape are included. Traditionally, the definition of rape only involved the proof of vaginal penetration. The rape law reform seeked to address the different forms of sexual assault. This helped prevent cases of rape because individuals who could harass others were worried of being convicted. Research shows that those states that implemented the rape law reforms had reduced cases of rape.

The sex offender notification and registration laws aims at knowing those individuals who have been victims of rape and remain informed of their whereabouts. The offenders are required to register with their local law enforcement so that their address can be published. This way, members of the community can protect themselves and their children by avoiding such individuals and always remaining cautious.

Personal approach

Currently, there are limited programmes targeting rape perpetrators. Generally, most of those found guilty of committing rape tend to deny the case and are reluctant to bear the responsibility. To facilitate in eliminating rape crimes, it is imperative to establish programmes that work with male perpetrators in a way that they accept their responsibilities and accept to be responsible of their acts. This can be through using the perpetrators in established support services for the rape victims as well as using them in campaigns against rape. Research has emphasized on the need for bringing up children in a more gender balanced manner. This is in bid to avoid cases of sexual violence being meted on the children. This can be achieved through a developmental approach that comprises of involvements before delivery, during infancy, in adolescence and when one is grown up (Gary, 2007, para. 5). Through the approach, parents can use non-sexist learning materials in teaching their children. The parents can also make the children aware of the distinction between the morally accepted touching and the ways of controlling abuse of their bodies. During adolescence and early adulthood, people can be educated on beliefs about rape and how to establish limits with respect to sexual activities. This approach can significantly help in preventing rape cases.

Community based approaches

Raising awareness and arousing debates with respects to effects of rape in the community can go a long way in preventing reoccurrence of the crime. This can be achieved through establishment of public campaigns aimed at changing people’s perception of rape. Establishment of men’s group campaigning against rapes directed to women can help in deterring men who aimed at committing the crime. Organising for group discussions and rallies is imperative in instilling knowledge on the prevention of rapes. Educational campaigns in workplaces, schools and in prisons is another occupation based approach that has gained prominence in recent times. These can not only help the rape perpetrators reform but can also discourage potential rapists from committing the crime. There has bee establishment of such community based campaigns in U.S. where men perceive maleness as aggressive and chauvinist and seeks to come up with alternative ways of expressing their maleness in a non-violent and gender sensitive manner (DeLisi & Conis, 2008, pp. 241-250). This facilitates in men respecting women thus preventing rape cases at homes.

Another method of preventing rape cases is through use of legal laws. The government need to establish stern punishment for those found guilty o rape. Establishing severe punishment for rape perpetrators can scare them from committing the crime. By people being aware of the punishment they will b subject to if convicted with rape offences, they would use all means possible to desist from indulging into the crime.

Control strategies

In fighting rape crimes within the society, different stakeholders assume different roles. Every stakeholder needs to effectively and actively assume its role so as to control the crime. Some of the parties involved in controlling the crime include the police, court, correction systems and the community.

Victim Counselling and Assistance and Sex Offender Treatment Programs

Victim counselling and assistance in conjunction with sex offender treatment programs are aimed at controlling rape. The victim counselling and assistance programs provide counselling to offenders to reduce cases of crime. The programs also aim at giving support to victims of rape and empower women so that they can control their lives. The organizations that run these programs are non-profit and rely on grants. On the other hand, sex offender treatment programs are aimed at giving offenders some psychological treatment. Research on individuals who had received the treatment compared to the group that did not receive the treatment revealed that those who had received treatment had reduced rates of repeating it.

Police response

Police are the law enforcing agents. All crimes committed within the society are reported to them for actions to be taken. As a result, this agency has a role in responding to rape crimes. Once a rape victim reports the matter to the police, it is their response to take the initiative of investigating the matter to get more evidence. They are expected to work closely with the victim in ensuring that justice has been done. On getting the evidence, it is the role of the police to arrest the perpetrator and take him or her to court. Failure by the police to pursue rape cases would encourage more perpetrators to commit the crime (Gary, 2007, para. 3). However, carrying out investigations and arraigning perpetrators to court would discourage more people from committing the crime.

Court response

The court also plays a role in controlling rape crimes. Once the police have done their investigations and arrested the perpetrator, he or she is taken to court for sentencing. Here the victim as well as the perpetrator is expected to give their side of story. Upon finding that the perpetrator really committed the crime, the court ought to pass severe punishment to the perpetrator. This is in bid to ensure that he or she pays the price of his crime and never commits the crime again. As a way of controlling rape crimes in the society, it is the role of the court to pass severe punishment to the offenders. There are incidences where people are sentenced to li9fe imprisonment or to death sentences for those found to have meted the crime on children. This discourages other people from committing the crime hence controlling it (Roehl, 2005, p. 252).

Role of correction systems

Correction system is responsible of setting boundaries with respect to people’s behaviour. After the police and the court have convicted a person on rape crime, the correction system takes the responsibility of punishing the person. Correction is the term used to refer to action applied on people after there are convicted. This is aimed at making people reform. Correction systems also deals with persons accused of rape crimes but not yet convicted. The system monitors these people to ensure that their behaviours go as per the society norms. In United States, these correction systems include prisons and jails. The systems are responsible of coming up with programs aimed at reforming people incarcerated of rape crimes. Federal and local government in United States takes the initiative of disciplining those found guilty of rape crimes. This helps in ensuring that these people suffer for their behaviours thus making them reform. With this system in place, many people are afraid of committing the crime due to fear of being punished (Todd, Cole & Reising, 2009, pp. 248-263). Consequently, the system facilitates in controlling the rate of rape crimes in the country.

Community response to the problem

The community also bears the responsibility of controlling rape crimes in the country. In controlling rape crimes the community use two approaches which are environmental strategies and enforcement. Environmental approaches are aimed at making their neighbourhood safe and signifying the presence of caring. This is through establishment of vigilant groups that ensures that all the abandoned houses are well taken care of or demolished as well as ensuring that all street are well lit. Through this approach rape perpetrators are scared of carrying out their heinous activities. The community relies on local decrees to avert cases of rape crimes. This helps the plaintiff take the necessary legal actions against the perpetrator. Every one in the community takes it as a responsibility to ensure that these crimes are not committed (Roehl, 2005, pp. 254-259). For persons found have allowed the crime to be committed, they face severe punishments. The community also use community policing in controlling rape crimes in the country. It works in collaboration with law enforcers to arrest and convict rape perpetrators. As a result, it contributes to controlling rape crimes in Unites States.

Blue State case study

This is an explanation of a rape ordeal that took place in New Haven. On the night of March 26 2009, a young woman of 25 years was leaving for home from her place of work at Temple Grill where she worked as a bar attendant when a busyboy requested if she could get a lift home. The girl gladly obliged with the request, completely oblivious of the physical and mental torture that she would later on undergo at the hands of this boy. On the way, the boy used a pocket knife to attack the lady and took control of the vehicle. He then proceeded to drive into a nearby park where he proceeded to rape the young woman before stabbing her severally, leaving her for dead. The lady feigned to have died but later crawled to a nearby house where she sought for help. The motive of the offender was not clearly identified. However, based on the nature of the attack, it is believed that the perpetrator had the intention of expressing his anger. Despite the man managing to rape the victim, he went on to stab and stomp on her chest and leaving her for death. The motive was found not to be desire for sexual gratification neither was it power rape (Streitz, 2009, para. 1-3).

According to preliminary investigations carried out on the origin of the offender, it was found that the attacker was in the country illegally though some sources tried to argue that he was a co-worker to the victim. This crime could have been prevented through implementation of state laws. Ensuring that everyone getting into the country through the border is registered as well as those being employed would have helped in effectively identifying rape perpetrators. His would have made the perpetrator refrain from committing the crime. The offender took the advantage of not being known in the country to commit the crime. The available control strategies were not effective. This is because it was heard to identify the perpetrator as there was no information regarding his identity. This made it hard for the community, the court and other stakeholders involved in controlling the crime to take the necessary measures (Streitz, 2009, para. 5-7). The law enforcers later arrested a person who was suspected to be the perpetrator. This was a twenty six year old boy from Mexico who was believed to be in the country illegally.

The incidence led to the offender being incarcerated and convicted for rape and attempted murder of the victim. The victim was found to suffer more from the incidence. Apart from trauma she went through, the victim suffered injuries after being stabbed and bruised neck as the perpetrator tried to break her neck. From the incidence, the criminal justice learnt the need for ensuring that the government follows the required procedures in admitting aliens in the country. This would make them refrain from committing crimes as they would be easily identified and arrested. The criminal justice also sought for establishment of stern actions against those found to have admitted aliens in the country illegally (Streitz, 2009, para. 9-11). The incidence scared the community. Bearing in mind that there was a rapid increase in the number of aliens I the country, the community feared that failure by the government to take stern actions would have resulted to some members of the community losing their lives in the hands of the aliens.


The rate at which rape crimes are increasing in the world is alarming. This calls for collaboration by all stakeholders responsible for fighting the crime. The government of the United States has found it imperative to come up with proper procedures of arresting and detaining offenders. This is to ensure that in future proceedings of rape cases will not be conducted in a manner that they are insulting to the victims adding to their trauma. The government seek to establish a mechanism where justice will be done to both the offender and the victim (McKibbin, Shackelford, Goetz & Starratt, 2008, pp. 86-97). This is by informing the offender of all the charges he or she is likely to face and giving him or her opportunity to defend himself or herself. With the offence being currently declared as crime against humanity there is need for expansion of criminal responsibility. This is to ensure that the law is in such a way that no perpetrator goes unpunished. The current state of economy, coupled by increasing demand from women for men to be financially stable to be accorded a chance for relationship implies that rape crime will not end in near future. For men who are unable to meet these demands, most of them will be subjected to rape as a way of fulfilling their desires. This calls for quick measures to be established to facilitate in curbing the crime. Despite the crime being attributed to men offenders, the rate of women raping men is currently in rise, the trend is expected to rise in future. To control this crime, It calls for establishment of international humanitarian laws as well as increased effort by every person to create awareness of the crime and that protective measures are established.

Reference List

Allison, J. A. & Wrightsman, L. S. (1993). Rape, the misunderstood crime. California: Sage Publications Inc.

DeLisi, M. & Conis, P. (2008). Violent Offenders: Theory, Research, Public Policy, and Practice. Boston: Jones and Bartlett.

Denov, M. S. (2004). Perspectives on female sex offending: a culture of denial. England: Ashgate.

Gary, P. (2007). The police response to sexual assault: Does sexism play a role? Web.

Marnie, E. R., Lalumiere, M. L. & Vernon, L. Q. (2005). The Causes of Rape: Understanding Individual Differences in Male Propensity for Sexual Aggression. McGraw Hill: Irwin.

McKibbin, W. F., Shackelford, T. K., Goetz, A. T., & Starratt, V. G. (2008). Why do men rape? An evolutionary psychological perspective. Review of General Psychology, 12, pp. 86–97

Mechelen, R. (1992). Causes of rape. Web.

Reidel, M. & Wayne, W. (2007). Criminal Violence: Patterns, Causes, and Prevention. Los Angeles: Roxbury.

Roehl, J. (2005). Civil Remedies for Controlling Crime: The Role of Community Organizations. Crime Prevention Studies, 12(3), pp. 241-259.

Russell, D. E. & Howell, N. (2007). The prevalence of rape in the United States revisited. Signs, 8(4), pp. 688-695.

Streitz, P. (2009). Blue State Case Study: CT Papers Spin New Haven Rape Story. Web.

Todd, C. R., Cole, G. F. & Reising, m. D. (2009). American Corrections. New York: Thomson Wadsworth.

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