Rape is not an issue confined behind borders. The World Health Organization estimates it is a global problem with 35 percent of women worldwide having experienced sexual and gender-based violence.
The social and political tide of Western countries turned in 2017 after an initial exposure of sexual abuse in Hollywood led to revelations that sexual harassment and assault was rife in industries across the world.
But as the world navigates the legal minefields and blurred lines of consent, what constitutes sexual assault, and culpability, we want to look at the state of rape and sexual violence globally in 2018.
What are recent cases that need to be illuminated? What areas of the world have distinct issues with sexual violence against women and girls?
Do you have insight into the global problem of rape or gender-based violence across borders? Have you been part of an initiative to combat or research sexual violence in different parts of the world?
Tell us your ideas
Tell us your ideasTalk
Themes we think could be explored
1. How rape is politicized
The rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Kathua in India has been politicized, advocates and protesters have said since the case in January. India has had a persistent issue with sexual violence (CNN) previously symbolized a gang rape in New Delhi in 2012 but an ongoing political protest movement about the prominent Kathua case is ongoing. The attack against the girl, from a minority Muslim community, underlines ongoing divide between Hindus and Muslims in India. Social media users have been spreading conspiracy theories and newspapers have published “fake” articles about the rape of the girl, Asifa Bano, reports Buzzfeed News. Despite this, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on April 18 that rape should not be politicized. India introduced the death penalty for convicted rapists of girls under the age of 12 last week. Indian spiritual guru Asaram Bapu was given a life sentence for raping a 16-year-old girl on April 25.
Possible angle: Why is rape, and other crimes, so politicized in India and beyond and how does that affect women across the globe? What other sexual assaults in India have been less covered in the press than the Kathua case? Is it just rape that is politicized or is there a culture of it in India?
2. The global push for clarity on consent
The acquittal of two northern Irish rugby players after a nine-week rape trial has deepened the debate on sexual consent, The New York Times reported. The age of consent has become controversial in French public discourse, after prosecutors in a rape case said an 11-year-old victim was “not a child” (The Guardian). The reignited debate (Atlantic) about the age of consent and criminal responsibility there led to France raising the age of consent to 15 so abusers of girls under 15 could be prosecuted as rapists. Before the change, the law was categorized as sexual abuse of a minor. Iceland passed a law in March that will require alleged rapists in court to prove they had explicit consent before a sexual encounter or face up to 16 years in prison.
Possible angle: If there is a cry for clarity on consent, how are issues of consent handled in global criminal courts and are criminal justice systems adequate to deal with them?
3. Campus sexual assault
Efforts to quieten claims of sexual assault including a rape-suicide case has led to co-ordinated student protests on Chinese university campuses throughout the country (Financial Times). Sexual assault including rape is also an issue at universities in the United Kingdom and the United States, where the Trump administration retracted Obama-era rules to combat sexual assault on campus.
Possible angle: What are the characteristics of campus sexual assault and how do educational institutions across the globe react to sexual violence?
4. How sexual assault is defined
Defendants in a sexual assault case in Spain are appealing a verdict that five men are guilty of “sexually abusing” a woman but acquitted of rape. Critics say the instance was “rape, not abuse” prompting a national discussion on what constitutes what kind of assault.
Possible angle: what are the differing definitions of sexual assault globally and do we need more clarity in the legal sphere as to what they are?
Add your ideas to this WikiProject
Add your ideas to this WikiProjectEdit
Do you have any ideas on how we can cover the global problem of rape? How can we make our coverage different to what’s out there? Who, of people examining this issue, should we interview?