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Almost a quarter of men surveyed in a UN report looking at violence against women in parts of Asia have admitted to committing at least one rape.

Rape was particularly common within relationships. However, one in 10 men admitted raping a woman who was not their partner.

Ten thousand men from six countries took part in the survey.

It is the first multi-country study to examine how widespread violence against women is and the reasons behind it.

Of those who admitted rape, just under half said they had done so more than once.

The prevalence of rape varied between countries.

In Papua New Guinea, more than six out of 10 men surveyed admitted forcing a woman to have sex.

It was least common in urban areas of Bangladesh, where it was just under one in 10 and Sri Lanka where it was just over one in 10.

In Cambodia, China and Indonesia it ranged from one in five to almost half of
all men surveyed.

Part of the research has been published in The Lancet Global Health.

The authors said that the findings do not represent the whole Asia and Pacific region – but the survey respondents do provide a good demographic match for the countries studied.

Men were asked questions like:

  • Have you ever had sex with your partner when you knew she didn’t want to but you thought she should agree because she’s your wife/ partner?
  • Have you ever had sex with a woman or girl when she was too drunk or drugged to say whether she wanted it or not?

They recorded their answers on hand-held computers while the interviewer left the room.

‘Sexual entitlement’

Nearly three quarters of those who committed rape said they did so for reasons of “sexual entitlement”.

Report author Dr Emma Fulu said: “They believed they had the right to have sex with the woman regardless of consent.

“The second most common motivation reported was to rape as a form of entertainment, so for fun or because they were bored.”

That was followed by using rape as a form of punishment or because the man was angry.

“Perhaps surprisingly, the least common motivation was alcohol.” said Dr Fulu.

Men who had themselves suffered violence as children, especially childhood sexual abuse were more likely to have committed rape.

“These data justifiably create global outrage, accentuated by horrific recent high-profile cases, including the brutal gang rape of a student in New Delhi,” said Dr Michele Decker from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore

“More than half of non-partner rape perpetrators first did so as adolescents, which affirms that young people are a crucial target population for prevention of rape.

“The challenge now is to turn evidence into action, to create a safer future for the next generation of women and girls.”

Professor Rachel Jewkes, who led the research in Papua New Guinea, said the area they surveyed – Bougainville – had a particularly turbulent history, with an extraordinarily destructive civil conflict extending from the late 1980s to beyond 2005.

“It’s an area where the conflict hasn’t been absolutely resolved,” she said.

“When we looked at mental health we saw particularly high prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder including uncontrollable aggression, the disruption of normal social relations and relations in the family.”

Percentage of men admitting rape

  • Papua New Guinea Bougainville Island – 62%
  • Indonesia Papua Province – 48.6%
  • Indonesia urban – 26.2%
  • China urban/rural – 22.2%
  • Cambodia – 20.4%
  • Indonesia rural – 19.5%
  • Sri Lanka – 14.5%
  • Bangladesh rural – 14.1%
  • Bangladesh urban – 9.5%
  • Source: United Nations

There is a gender gap when it comes to behavior and self-control in American children—one that doesn’t appear to exist in children in Asia.

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“We know from previous research that many Asian children outperform American children in academic achievement,” Megan McClelland says. “Increasingly, we are seeing that there also is a gap when it comes to their ability to control their behavior and persist with tasks.” (Credit: Dennis/Flickr)

In the United States, according to a new study, girls have higher levels of self-regulation than boys. In China, South Korea, and Taiwan, the study found no gender gap when researchers directly assessed the self-regulation of children ranging in ages from 3 to 6 years old.

Self-regulation is defined as children’s ability to control their behavior and impulses, follow directions, and persist in completing a task. The results of the study appear in the most recent issue of the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

“These findings suggest that although we often expect girls to be more self-regulated than boys, this may not be the case for Asian children,” says Shannon Wanless, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in Education in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education.

Settings matter

Although there were no gender differences in self-regulation when the children were directly assessed using a variety of school-readiness tasks in a quiet space, teachers in Asia perceived girls as performing better on self-regulation even when they and boys actually performed equally when assessed overall.

“Teachers are rating children’s behavior in the classroom environment, which has a lot of distractions and is very stimulating,” Wanless says. “It is possible that boys in the Asian countries were able to self-regulate as well as girls when they were in a quiet space (the direct assessment), but were not able to regulate themselves as well in a bustling classroom environment (teacher ratings).”

Wanless and Megan McClelland, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University, along with coauthors at US and Asian universities, conducted assessments of 814 children in the United States, China, South Korea, and Taiwan.

School readiness

Their study showed that US girls had significantly higher self-regulation than boys, but there were no significant gender differences in any Asian societies. In addition, for both genders, directly assessed and teacher-rated self-regulation were related to many aspects of school readiness in all societies for girls and boys.

“We know from previous research that many Asian children outperform American children in academic achievement,” McClelland says. “Increasingly, we are seeing that there also is a gap when it comes to their ability to control their behavior and persist with tasks.”

Wanless says this study paves the way for future research to explore why there is such a large gender gap in the United States and what can be learned from Asian schools.

“What can we learn from Asian cultural and teaching practices about how we can support girls and boys to be successful in school?” she says. “When we see differences in developmental patterns across countries it suggests that we might want to look at teaching and parenting practices in those countries and think about how they might apply in the United States.”

‘Simon Says’

The research builds on Wanless’s previous work, which has shown that teachers who are more emotionally supportive help students develop better self-regulation, and that self-regulation is related to readiness for school regardless of children’s socioeconomic status, gender, culture, or other potential risk factors in their lives.

The researchers emphasized the importance of working with children, regardless of gender or culture, on their self-regulation skills. Practicing games such as “Simon Says” and “Red Light, Green Light” is one way that parents can work with their children to help them learn how to follow instructions, persist in completing tasks, and listen carefully.

Wanless is currently working to help Pittsburgh preschool teachers support children’s social and self-regulatory skills and working with Pitt School of Education colleagues to facilitate preservice teachers’ awareness of these skills.

“In our study, self-regulation was good for academic achievement for boys and girls,” Wanless says. “That means this skill is important for both genders, and we should be supporting self-regulatory development for all children, especially boys.

Low self-regulation in preschool has been linked to difficulties in adulthood, so increased focus on supporting young boys’ development can have long-term positive benefits.”

The US Department of State Fulbright Student Scholarship, the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund, the Oregon Sports Lottery, the Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society, the National Institute of Child and Human Development, and the National Science Foundation supported the study.

Source: University of Pittsburgh