Types of rape

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Rape can be categorized in different ways: for example, by reference to the situation in which it occurs, by the identity or characteristics of the victim, and by the identity or characteristics of the perpetrator. These categories are referred to as types of rape. The types of rape described below are not mutually exclusive: a given rape can fit into multiple categories, by for example by being both a prison rape and a gang rape, or both a custodial rape and the rape of a child.

In 1993, American researcher Patricia Rozee created the following classification of rapes: marital rape (rape by a spouse); exchange rape (rape occurring as the result of bargaining or solidarity-displaying among men); punitive rape (rape used to punish or discipline); theft rape (rape that happens when a woman is abducted, in most cases to be used as a slave or a prostitute); ceremonial rape (rape involving defloration rituals); and status rape (rape resulting from differences in hierarchy or social class).[1][2]

Date rape[edit]

Main article: Date rape

The term "date rape" is used to refer to several types of rape, broadly acquaintance rape, which is a non-domestic rape committed by someone who knows the victim,[3] and drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), where the rapist intentionally drugs the victim with a date rape drug so that they are incapacitated. Acquaintance rape constitutes the vast majority of reported rapes, while DFSA is infrequent. A frequently overlapping category is incapacitated rape, where the victim is incapacitated and unable to give consent – this is often the result of intoxication, but can also simply be because the victim is asleep or has a medical condition. DFSA is when the rapist intentionally incapacitates the victim via drugs, while acquaintance rape can occur when the victim is not incapacitated.

Acquaintance rape can occur between two people who know one another usually in social situations, between people who are dating as a couple and have had consensual sex in the past, between two people who are starting to date, between people who are just friends, and between acquaintances. They include rapes of co-workers, schoolmates, family, friends, teachers and other acquaintances, providing they are dating;[4] it is sometimes referred to as "hidden rape" and has been identified as a growing problem in western society.[5] A college survey conducted by the United States' National Victim Center reported that one in four college women have been raped or experienced attempted rape.[6] This report indicates that young women are at considerable risk of becoming a victim of date rape while in college. In addition, there have been reported incidents of colleges questioning accounts of alleged victims, further complicating documentation and policing of student assaults, despite such preventative legislation as the Clery Act.[7][8]

Gang rape[edit]

Main article: Gang rape

Gang rape occurs when a group of people participate in the rape of a single victim. Rape involving at least two or more violators (usually at least three[9]) is widely reported to occur in many parts of the world. Systematic information on the extent of the problem, however, is scant.

One study showed that offenders and victims in gang rape incidents were younger with a higher possibility of being unemployed. Gang rapes involved more alcohol and other drug use, night attacks and severe sexual assault outcomes and less victim resistance and fewer weapons than individual rapes.[10] Another study found that group sexual assaults were more violent and had greater resistance from the victim than individual sexual assaults and that victims of group sexual assaults were more likely to seek crisis and police services, contemplate suicide, and seek therapy than those involved in individual assaults. The two groups were about the same in the amount of drinking and other drug use during the assault.[11]

Spousal rape[edit]

Main article: Marital rape

Also known as marital rape, wife rape, husband rape, partner rape or intimate partner sexual assault (IPSA), is rape between a married or de facto couple. Research reveals that victims of marital/partner rape suffer longer lasting trauma than victims of stranger rape.[12]

Rape of children[edit]

Main article: Child sexual abuse

Rape of a child is a form of child sexual abuse. When committed by another child (usually older or stronger) or adolescent, it is called child-on-child sexual abuse. When committed by a parent or other close relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, it is also incest and can result in serious and long-term psychological trauma.[13] When a child is raped by an adult who is not a family member but is a caregiver or in a position of authority over the child, such as school teachers, religious authorities, or therapists, to name a few, on whom the child is dependent, the effects can be similar to incestual rape.

Statutory rape[edit]

Further information: Statutory rape

National and regional governments, citing an interest in protecting "young people" (variously defined but sometimes synonymous with minors) from sexual exploitation, treat any sexual contact with such a person as an offense (not always categorized as "rape"), even if he or she agrees to or initiates the sexual activity.

The offense is often based on a presumption that people under a certain age do not have the capacity to give consent. The age at which individuals are considered competent to give consent, called the age of consent, varies in different countries and regions; in the US, the age ranges from 16 to 18. Sexual activity that violates age-of-consent law, but is neither violent nor physically coerced, is sometimes described as "statutory rape," a legally-recognized category in the United States. Most states, however, allow persons younger than the age of consent to engage in sexual activity if the age difference between the partners is small; these are called close in age exemptions or a Romeo and Juliet exemption and even in countries where there is no official legal exemption prosecutions are infrequent.

Prison rape[edit]

Main article: Prison rape

Rates of prison rape have been reported as affecting between 3% and 12% of prison inmates in the US.[14] Although prison rapes are more commonly same-sex crimes (since prisons are usually separated by sex), the attacker usually does not identify as homosexual.[15] This phenomenon is much less common elsewhere in the western world. This is partly because of the differences in the structure of the prison system in the US as compared to the prison systems in Canada, Australia and Europe.[citation needed]

The attacker is most commonly another inmate.[16]

Payback rape[edit]

"Payback rape", also called "punishment rape" or "revenge rape", is a form of rape specific to certain cultures, particularly the Pacific Islands. It consists of the rape of a female, usually by a group of several males, as revenge for acts committed by members of her family, such as her father or brothers. The rape is meant to humiliate the father or brothers, as punishment for their prior behavior towards the perpetrators.[17] Payback rape is sometimes connected to tribal fighting.[18]

War rape[edit]

Main article: War rape
Brennus and His Share of the Spoils, by Paul Jamin, 1893

War rapes are rapes committed by soldiers, other combatants or civilians during armed conflict or war, or during military occupation. It also covers the situation where girls and women are forced into prostitution or sexual slavery by an occupying power.[citation needed]

During war, rape is often used as a means of psychological warfare in order to humiliate the enemy and undermine their morale. Rapes in war are often systematic and thorough, and military leaders may actually encourage their soldiers to rape civilians. Likewise, systematic rapes are often employed as a form of ethnic cleansing.[citation needed]

War rape has been considered a war crime only since 1949. Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits wartime rape and enforced prostitution. These prohibitions were reinforced by the 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.[19] Therefore, during the post-war Nuremberg Trials and Tokyo Trials, mass war rape was not prosecuted as a war crime.

In 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda established by the United Nations made landmark decisions that rape is a crime of genocide under international law. In one judgement, Navanethem Pillay said: "From time immemorial, rape has been regarded as spoils of war. Now it will be considered a war crime. We want to send out a strong message that rape is no longer a trophy of war."[20]

The word rape only began to be used to refer to sexual assault in the early 15th century, and its dominant usage remained to refer to abduction and robbery without any connotation of sexual assault until the modern period. Many classical references to rape during war do not refer explicitly to instances of sexual assault, but rather to the practice of abducting the women or property of the enemy during warfare.[21]

Rape by deception[edit]

Main article: Rape by deception

Rape by deception occurs when the perpetrator gains the victim's consent through fraud.

Corrective rape[edit]

Main article: Corrective rape

Corrective rape is targeted rape against non-heterosexuals as a punishment for violating gender roles.[22][23] It is a form of hate crime against LGBT individuals, mainly lesbians, in which the rapist justifies the act as an acceptable response to the victim's perceived sexual or gender orientation and a form of punishment for being gay.[22][23] Often, the stated argument of the corrective rapist is that the rape will turn the person straight, "correcting" their sex or gender, i.e. make them conform to societal norms.[22][23][24] The term was first coined in South Africa after well-known cases of corrective rape, such as that of sports star Eudy Simelane, became public.[25]

Custodial rape[edit]

Custodial rape is rape perpetrated by a person employed by the state in a supervisory or custodial position, such as a police officer, public servant or jail or hospital employee.[26][27][28] It includes the rape of children in institutional care such as orphanages.[29]

Custodial rape has been reported in India, Pakistan,[30] Bangladesh,[31] Malaysia,[32] Sri Lanka,[33] Iran,[34] Cambodia,[34] Nigeria,[34] Kenya,[34] Zambia[35] and the United States.[35]

In India custodial rape has been a major focus of women's rights organizations, and has been an official category of rape defined under law since 1983. Indian law says this type of rape takes advantage of the rapist's position of authority and is therefore subject to extra penalty.[36][37]

The term custodial rape is sometimes used broadly to include rape by anyone in a position of authority such as an employer, money-lender, contractor or landlord, but under Indian law it refers only to government employees.[38] Victims of custodial rape are frequently minorities, people who are poor, or low-status for example because of their caste.[34] Researchers say custodial rape is part of a broader pattern of custodial abuse, which can also include torture and murder.[39]

Groth typology[edit]

Nicholas Groth has described three types of rape, based on the goal of the rapist.[40]

Anger rapist[edit]

The aim of this rapist is to humiliate, debase, and hurt their victim; they express their contempt for their victim through physical violence and profane language. For these rapists, sex is a weapon to defile and degrade the victim, rape constitutes the ultimate expression of their anger. This rapist considers rape the ultimate offense they can commit against the victim.

Anger rape is characterized by physical brutality, much more physical force is used during the assault than would be necessary if the intent were simply to overpower the victim and achieve penetration. This type of offender attacks their victim by grabbing, striking and knocking the victim to the ground, beating them, tearing their clothes, and raping them.

The experience for the offender is one that is of conscious anger and rage.[40]

Power rapist[edit]

Amna Sur Museum in Sulaymaniyah. A replica of a Kurdish girl in prison. The girl was imprisoned at a young age. She was repeatedly beaten and raped by the guards in the prison, and died from her ordeal.

For these rapists, rape becomes a way to compensate for their underlying feelings of inadequacy and feeds their issues of mastery, control, strength, authority and capability. The intent of the power rapist is to assert their competency. The power rapist relies upon verbal threats, intimidation with a weapon, and only uses the amount of force necessary to subdue the victim.

The power rapist tends to have fantasies about rape and sexual conquests. They may believe that even though the victim initially resists them, that once they overpower their victim, the victim will eventually enjoy the rape. The rapist needs to believe that the victim enjoyed what was done to them, and they may even ask the victim to meet them for a date later.

Because this is only a fantasy, the rapist does not feel reassured for long by either their own performance or the victim's response. The rapist feels that they must find another victim, convinced that this victim will be "the right one".

Hence, their offenses may become repetitive and compulsive. They may commit a series of rapes over a short period of time.

Sadistic rapist[edit]

For these rapists, there is a sexual association with various concepts, so that aggression and the infliction of pain is eroticized. For this rapist, sexual excitement is associated with the causing of suffering upon his/her victim. The offender finds the intentional maltreatment of their victim intensely gratifying and takes pleasure in the victim's torment, anguish, distress, helplessness, and suffering;[41] the offender finds the victim's struggling an erotic experience.

Sadistic rape usually involves extensive, prolonged torture and restraint. Sometimes, it can take on ritualistic or other bizarre qualities. The rapist may use some type of instrument or foreign object to penetrate his/her victim. Sexual areas of the victim's body become a specific focus of injury or abuse.

The sadistic rapist's assaults are calculated. They will often wear a disguise or will blindfold their victims.[41] Prostitutes or other people whom they perceive to be "promiscuous" are often the sadistic rapist's targets. The victims of a sadistic rapist may not survive the attack. For some offenders, the ultimate satisfaction is gained from murdering the victim.[40]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Nardos, Rahel (2003). Overcoming Violence against Women and Girls: The International Campaign to Eradicate a Worldwide Problem. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 54–55. ISBN 0742525007. 
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  7. ^ "Feds launch investigation into Swarthmore's handling of sex assaults". Philadelphia Inquirer. 2013-07-16. 
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