More than a quarter of Europeans think rape can be justifiable in some circumstances, in a new study that has found wide-ranging attitudes to consent across the E.U.
The survey of attitudes towards consent and victim-blaming were released by the European Commission on Nov. 24 to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In the study, 27% of participants said rape was justifiable in some circumstances and more than one in five respondents (22%) believe that women often make up or exaggerate claims of abuse or rape. Almost 30,000 Europeans took part in the survey, which explored attitudes to domestic violence, sexual harassment and sexual intercourse without consent.
Respondents were presented with a series of scenarios, such as being drunk or wearing revealing clothing, and were asked whether sexual intercourse without consent would be justified in any of them. Views on this question were varied by country, with respondents from eastern European countries including Hungary and Romania were most likely to say that rape was acceptable in each of these scenarios — 55% of Romanian respondents and 47% of those in Hungary.
The report's authors noted the need for wider education and awareness raising across the E.U., particularly on issues surrounding consent, concluding that "there are still Member States where there is considerable work to do in addressing perceptions about gender-based violence."