TIME women

Campus Sexual Assault: What Ever Happened to Common Sense?

Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014.
Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014. Alex Garland—Demotix/Corbis

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

Parents, don't let your daughters grow up to think they have no agency

According to much of the media, there is an “epidemic” of sexual assault, including rape, on our college campuses. The problem is apparently so bad that California recently passed a “yes means yes” law that requires “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” on campus, and President Obama announced a new national initiative to put a stop to it. Not to mention the countless rallies, awareness sessions, YouTube videos, and so-called SlutWalks aimed at telling men to keep their parts in their pants and their paws to themselves unless otherwise directed.

There’s been an ocean of ink spilled on this subject, most of it falling into two camps: the first reasons that no matter what language or set of rules colleges and universities adopt in an effort to curb sexual assault, most cases of alleged abuse comes down to “he said, she said.” This camp also tends to assume that, in any given case, the male party will be found guilty by default, fairly or not. The second set of voices points to a culture of male dominance — one that all too often leaves young victims of sexual assault without recourse to justice (especially on campuses where certain members of the student body, especially prized athletes, aren’t held accountable for their crimes), such that action from the top needs to be taken immediately to stop the assaults.

Both sides of the debate have validity. However, what neither seems to recognize is that much of the time, young women have agency. There are of course exceptions — the football player who pushes a girl into a closet and rapes her, the drunken frat boy who doesn’t stop at “no,” the ex-boyfriend who, allowed into the confines of his ex-girlfriend’s dorm room, forces himself on her. Even so — at least in my view — women are not, and certainly don’t need to be, helpless victims of a misogynistic endgame.

This is the point at which I think the debate has gone powerfully stupid. Where, in all this spillage of verbiage and amping-up of anger and outrage, is female agency, the ability of young women to make their own fates and claim their own power? What’s feminist about teaching our daughters that, as victims of a sexist culture, there’s no use in taking control of their own bodies, not only in terms of using birth control, but also when it comes to drinking, dressing, and representing themselves? What’s pro-female about ignoring the reality of non-verbal communication, of nuance and gesture and expression?

I have a personal interest in all this because of my own undergraduate twins and their older brother. My oldest son’s freshman year roommate had a different girl in the room with him every night — a major source of misery for my son — and was eventually booted off campus after being charged with sexual assault. My younger son, currently at a college in Massachusetts where frat life is minimal, claims that campus assault is a real problem, and anyone who thinks otherwise is being willfully ignorant. And yet my daughter, in South Carolina — where Greek life dominates — says that she has never known anyone, or of anyone, who has been assaulted. “But if you get completely wasted at some frat party,” she said, “and you wake up naked with some guy next to you, you might not even remember what happened.”

Yup: that’s college all right. If memory serves, college is a time when that heady brew of youthful idiocy, curiosity, and horniness is likely to result in at least one misadventure between the sheets. Just add copious amounts of alcohol or drugs and, voila, a potentially potent brew of disinhibition, peer pressure, confusion, desire, and even memory loss (with alcoholic blackout). Thus my own memories, garnered both from my own and my friends’ experiences, of trying it on, acting it out, experimenting, bowing to peer expectations, having a one-night-stand, disregarding the inner voice that’s telling you to get out of there, indulging in a quickie and waking up with a morning-after hangover of regret and perhaps shame? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. But assault? Not so much.

Not that sexual assault is something to take lightly. In my view, sexual assault is a crime and needs to be treated as such, period, end of story, no matter how scantily clad, or wasted, the victim. But if there is in fact an explosion of sexual assault on campus, why now, after decades of feminist consciousness raising and “take back the night” marches?

My daughter-in-law thinks that in fact there isn’t an uptick of sexual assault on campus, just a greater willingness to report it. Perhaps. But that equation leaves out the cultural swings toward even greater confusion (and instant gratification) that her generation was raised on, as compared to my own desperately confused generation. Because at least in my own desperately confused generation — during which the “three date rule” stipulated that you owed it to the guy to sleep with him after three dates — we had grown up with parents who, more often than not, themselves grew up with notions of what was then called virtue: i.e., good girls and good boys waited (or at least didn’t spread it around).

Compare that to today’s college students, whose parents grew up with easy access to birth control and may themselves never have figured out that the anything-goes culture of our own youths was less than ideal.

What keeps coming up for me is the old song “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” except in my version, it’s “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Stupid,” with additional lyrics, including a refrain, that exhort fathers to accord their daughters both love and respect and teach their sons that real masculinity lies in restraint.

Take back the night? I’m all for it. But while all the conferences are being held and the marchers are marching, it wouldn’t hurt to stop ignoring the complexity of human interaction, the birds and the bees, and the remarkable power of alcohol to make otherwise intelligent people stupid. Young people who find themselves in sexually confusing situations might want to emulate their grandparents and resort to common sense. And if, God forbid, they are victimized, they need to report it immediately, and get help.

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Sexual Assault

Good2Go: You Can’t Solve Sexual Assault With an App

While the newest rape-prevention device encourages partners to start a conversation about consent, it still misses the mark

The latest product in a growing catalog of rape-prevention devices is Good2Go, a sexual consent app that aims to prevent sexual assault among college-aged kids.

The app, which can be downloaded for free from iTunes, requires that a user, upon instigating a hook-up, asks his or her partner to fill out a digital “sobriety questionnaire.” The partner is first asked “Are We Good2Go?” If the answer is, “I’m Good2Go,” the app then asks the partner to asses her or his own level of intoxication (ranging from “sober” to “pretty wasted”). Good2Go does not grant consent for the hook-up to proceed if the partner indicates that she or he is too drunk to consent. The app, however, doesn’t seem to acknowledge that “pretty wasted” people might not be able to operate the app in the first place. But, according to Good2Go’s official description, the app is designed to prevent or reduce assault by “facilitating communication and creating a pause before sexual activity so that both parties can ask and gain affirmative consent.”

Good2Go is the brainchild of Lee Ann Allman, who told Slate‘s Amanda Hess that she came up with the idea for the app after discussing sexual assault on campus with her college-aged children. Creating an app to address the issue of consent made sense because “kids are so used to having technology that helps them with issues in their lives,” she said.

While anything that encourages people to think about consent sounds like a great idea on paper, in practice it’s hard to imagine college kids actually using Good2Go–not only because it seems unromantic and overly formal, but also because, according to Hess at Slate, who tried out the app with a partner, “the process is deliberately time-consuming.” Slowing down on the action could be the point, but it also makes it unlikely that it will be pulled out in the heat of the moment.

Beyond the issue of whether college kids will actually use the app is the issue of whether they should be using any device that claims to prevent rape in the first place.

From the date rape drug detecting nail polish to anti-rape underwear to barbed female condoms designed to “bite” into a rapist’s penis, rape-prevention products are nothing new. While these devices seem to be designed with the best intentions, they raise questions about how rape-prevention should be tackled. And, unfortunately, all of these devices miss the mark by not addressing the real issue.

One major problem with many of these anti-rape products is that they put the onus on women to prevent their own assaults. For years women have been adapting their behavior in order to address the threat of rape: by altering the way they dress or refusing to walk alone after dark or keeping a vigilant watch on their drinks. But guess what? Rapes still occur at alarming rates. The idea that a special product will provide a safety net is faulty and dangerous.

These products have come under fire from feminists and activists before. The drug-detecting nail polish introduced this summer prompted to write in TIME, “Every time we focus on making girls and women individually responsible for avoiding rape, we lose the opportunity to address the systemic root problem that our mainstream culture grows rapists like weeds.”

In its defense, Good2Go does stand apart from many other rape-prevention devices in that it doesn’t shift the responsibility of preventing sexual assault onto individual women. The app is actually designed to be used by the person initiating a sexual encounter and looking to confirm consent. But what kind of rapist actually asks for consent?

While there are instances where the issue of consent may seem murky, statistics show the majority of college rapes aren’t the result of crossed wires or mixed signals. Instead, the vast majority of rapes are perpetuated by men who know that what they’re doing is wrong. A 2002 study of college-aged men found that, while only a small minority of men were rapists, the majority of those rapists were repeat offenders, raping an average of six women each. Let’s face it: that small minority of men–who are repeatedly and knowingly raping women–won’t be downloading Good2Go.

Where the app does have the right idea, however, is in its focus on unambiguous consent. Though it’s hard to imagine anyone actually using the app consistently, the idea of discussing consent is important, particularly on college campuses. In fact, the more light that’s shed on the issue of sexual consent, the better–not just to prevent the murky, crossed-signals sexual encounters or the instances in which there’s coercion, but also to enlighten bystanders, university administrators and those who engage in victim-blaming and struggle to grasp the nuances of consent.

But the fact that many U.S. colleges are right now grappling with defining consent–and how, exactly, to determine when it’s been given–while universities in the U.K. are introducing mandatory workshops about consent for students, demonstrates just how complicated rape-prevention actually is. Unfortunately, there’s no app for that.

TIME

Watch Tulane Football Players Take a Stand Against Violence Toward Women

And call on others to “take the pledge” and make their own videos

Football players from Tulane University in New Orleans posted a video online this week pledging to “help end violence against women on college campuses” and calling on others to do the same.

“These are our friends and our classmates,” says a player in the video.

“And for too long we have ignored it’s a problem rather than deal with it. But not anymore,” says another.

Promoting the hashtag #TUtakethepledge, Tulane players urge others to take the pledge themselves, to share the video or make their own.

“We did this video because we want to express the importance for awareness,” says the YouTube video description, “not just because of recent events, but from the past present, and into the future until this issue is brought to the forefront and resolved.”

TIME Australia

Gay Asylum Seekers Could Be Resettled in Papua New Guinea, Which Outlaws Homosexuality

(FILE) Manus Island Detention Centre
This handout photo provided by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, shows facilities at the Manus Island Regional Processing Facility, used for the detention of asylum seekers that arrive by boat, primarily to Christmas Island off the Australian mainland, on October 16, 2012, in Papua New Guinea. Handout—Getty Images

The men had originally sought refuge in Australia

Several gay people, who fled persecution in their home countries and sought asylum in Australia, are reportedly to be resettled in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where homosexuality is a crime.

The asylum seekers are currently held by the Australian immigration officials on Manus Island in PNG, where they could eventually live permanently, the Guardian claims.

Homosexuality in PNG is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The Guardian says it has seen what purport to be letters written in Farsi by four gay Iranian men in the Australian-run detention center on Manus Island. The authors appear to detail persecution in their home country and the fear of being resettled in PNG.

“I thought Australia and its people would be my protector, but they taught me otherwise,” one letter reads.

“I am hoping that I will not be sent to PNG prison because I don’t want to be killed by indigenous people living in PNG like my fellow countryman did in February,” reads another.

The authenticity of the letters has not been confirmed.

A December report by Amnesty International says the detainees at the facility have been told that anyone found engaging in homosexual acts will immediately be reported to the PNG police. The report also details numerous other human-rights violations at the detention center.

Amnesty had “consistently raised the issue of gay men on Manus with the [Australian] immigration department” but “never had a clear response,” Graeme McGregor, Amnesty Australia’s refugee-camp coordinator, told the Guardian.

Ben Pynt, director of Humanitarian Research Partners, estimates there are around 36 gay men detained at Manus and several others who are too afraid to reveal their sexual orientation, the Guardian says.

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, who did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment on the purported letters, said in December he was unaware of any claims of homosexuality among Manus inmates. He also denied that it was the Australian government’s policy to report homosexual activity among asylum seekers to the PNG government.

[Guardian]

TIME Philippines

Philippine Mall Operator Pulls T-Shirt That Calls Rape a ‘Snuggle With a Struggle’

SM Supermalls called the shirt "malicious" and said it was investigating

The Philippines’ largest mall operator said on Tuesday that a T-shirt promoting rape as a “snuggle with a struggle” had been removed from its racks, after a photo of the offensive garment went viral.

“We have immediately pulled out all the T-shirts of the consignor that distributes them, and we are investigating why it was included in our delivery of assorted t-shirts,” said SM Supermalls, which owns 49 malls in the Philippines, in a statement posted to Twitter and Facebook.

The retail juggernaut did not say who the distributor was.

On Monday, Facebook user Karen Kunawicz posted to her page a photo of the brown shirt, seen in an SM Supermall.

The garment read: “It’s not rape. It’s a snuggle with a struggle” and showed two hands forming a heart. The shirt was in the teen boys’ section of a department store, Kunawicz said.

“Really SM Department Store?” she wrote. “Boys listen to Tita [Aunty] Karen — if a girl says NO and pushes you away, just err on the side of caution, she likely means NO.”

On Tuesday night, the photo had been shared more than 4,000 times on Facebook. The South China Morning Post also tweeted an image of the shirt.

SM said in its statement that the shirt has “a message that we too find unacceptable.”

“SM does not support such irresponsible and malicious acts that mock important and sensitive social issues,” it said.

On Facebook, commenters on the original photo sharply criticized the department store for seeking to “hide behind [its] consignment agreements,” as one commenter put it, and called on the store to make donations to women’s crisis centers.

In 2013, the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center recorded 5,493 reported rapes of women and children — a record high for the nation, according to GMA News Online. Another police division, the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, tallied 7,409 reported rape incidents, GMA says.

TIME politics

Lawmakers Push Increased Access to Emergency Contraception

Bipartisan U.S. Budget Deal Said to Ease Automatic Spending Cuts
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who introduced a bill to increase access to emergency contraception. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bill comes ahead of a midterm elections in which women are expected to be a key voting bloc

Updated: September 23, 4:40 p.m. ET

Five Democratic senators introduced legislation Tuesday that would require any federally-funded hospital to provide emergency contraception to rape survivors.

The Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act of 2014 was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) signing on as co-sponsors. The bill would ensure that any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds provides accurate information and timely access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault, regardless of whether or not they can pay for it. It would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to disseminate information on emergency contraception to pharmacists and health care providers.

“As we saw in the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby decision, and as we’ve seen in state legislatures across the country, Republicans are intent on standing in the way of women and their ability to make their own decisions about their own bodies and their own health care,” Senator Murray told TIME. “This means, now more than ever, it is our job to protect these kinds of decisions for women, their families, and particularly for survivors of sexual assault. Emergency contraception is a critical part of these family planning choices and it’s time Republicans join us in supporting this safe and responsible means of preventing unintended pregnancies.”

“It is unacceptable that a survivor of rape or incest can be denied access to emergency contraception in the emergency room, and therefore forced to carry a pregnancy caused by her attacker,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. “Decisions about emergency contraception, like all forms of birth control, should be between a woman and her doctor, not her pharmacist, her boss, or her Congressman.”

The bill may face opposition from congressional Republicans, and comes just two months before the midterm elections, in which many expect women to be a decisive voting bloc.

TIME Sexual Assault

The CDC’s Rape Numbers Are Misleading

Obama Ebola
The entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Oct. 8, 2013. David Goldman—AP

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine.

Men reported being “made to penetrate” at virtually the same rates as women reported rape

CDC: Nearly 1 in 5 Women Raped.” “One in Five U.S. Women Has Been Raped: CDC Survey.” These alarming headlines were typical of the coverage of last week’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on sexual and intimate violence in the United States. The CDC study—the second in two years—seems to support a radical feminist narrative that has been gaining mainstream attention recently: that modern America is a “rape culture” saturated with misogynistic violence. But a closer look at the data, obtained from telephone surveys done in 2011, yields a far more complex picture and raises some surprising question about gender, victimization, and bias.

Both critics and supporters of the CDC’s methodology note the striking disparity between CDC figures and the Justice Department’s crime statistics based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (which includes crimes unreported to the police). While the CDC estimates that nearly 2 million adult American women were raped in 2011 and nearly 6.7 million suffered some other form of sexual violence, the NCVS estimate for that year was 238,000 rapes and sexual assaults.

New Republic reporter Claire Groden points out that while the NCVS focuses on criminal acts, the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey asks about instances of forced sex which respondents may or may not regard as crimes. Yet it is worth noting that in the early 1990s, the NCVS was redesigned to elicit more reports of sexual and domestic violence that may not fit the conventional mold of criminal attacks. In addition to being asked directly about rape, attempted rape or sexual assault, respondents now get a follow-up question about “forced or unwanted sexual acts” committed by a stranger, a casual acquaintance, or someone they know well.

The CDC study goes much further in asking about specific unwanted acts. But there are other important differences. For one, CDC survey respondents are not asked whether anyone has used physical force or threats to make them engage in a sexual activity, but “how many” people have done this (in their lifetime and in the past year). This wording removes the extra hurdle of admitting that such a violation has happened, and thus encourages more reporting. But could it also create “false positives” by nudging people toward the assumption that the default answer is affirmative—especially when preceded by a battery of other questions and statements about sexually coercive behavior?

A much bigger problem is the wording of the question measuring “incapacitated rape” (which accounted for nearly two-thirds of the CDC’s estimate of rapes that occurred in the past year). Respondents were asked about sexual acts that happened when they were “drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.” This seems to imply that “unable to consent” is only one of the variables and to include situations in which a person is intoxicated—perhaps enough to have impaired judgment—but not incapacitated as the legal definition of rape requires.

A CDC spokesperson told The New Republic that “being unable to consent is key to the CDC’s definition of rape.” Presumably, this is conveyed by the introduction to the question about alcohol- and drug-enabled rape: “Sometimes sex happens when a person is unable to consent to it or stop it from happening because they were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out from alcohol, drugs, or medications.” However, in a telephone survey, some people may focus only on the question itself and let the introduction slide by.

Moreover, the introductory message ends with an advisory that may create more confusion: “Please remember that even if someone uses alcohol or drugs, what happens to them is not their fault.” Obviously, the intended point is that even if you got drunk, you’re not to blame for being raped. But this vaguely phrased reminder could also be taken to mean that it’s not your fault if you do something stupid while drunk or on drugs. At no point are respondents given any instructions that could result in fewer reports of alleged victimization: for instance, that they should not include instances in which they had voluntary sex while drunk but not incapacitated.

For many feminists, questioning claims of rampant sexual violence in our society amounts to misogynist “rape denial.” However, if the CDC figures are to be taken at face value, then we must also conclude that, far from being a product of patriarchal violence against women, “rape culture” is a two-way street, with plenty of female perpetrators and male victims.

How could that be? After all, very few men in the CDC study were classified as victims of rape: 1.7 percent in their lifetime, and too few for a reliable estimate in the past year. But these numbers refer only to men who have been forced into anal sex or made to perform oral sex on another male. Nearly 7 percent of men, however, reported that at some point in their lives, they were “made to penetrate” another person—usually in reference to vaginal intercourse, receiving oral sex, or performing oral sex on a woman. This was not classified as rape, but as “other sexual violence.”

And now the real surprise: when asked about experiences in the last 12 months, men reported being “made to penetrate”—either by physical force or due to intoxication—at virtually the same rates as women reported rape (both 1.1 percent in 2010, and 1.7 and 1.6 respectively in 2011).

In other words, if being made to penetrate someone was counted as rape—and why shouldn’t it be?—then the headlines could have focused on a truly sensational CDC finding: that women rape men as often as men rape women.

The CDC also reports that men account for over a third of those experiencing another form of sexual violence—“sexual coercion.” That was defined as being pressured into sexual activity by psychological means: lies or false promises, threats to end a relationship or spread negative gossip, or “making repeated requests” for sex and expressing unhappiness at being turned down.

Should we, then, regard sexual violence as a reciprocal problem? Getting away from the simplistic and adversarial “war against women” model is undoubtedly a positive step, as is admitting that women are human beings with the capacity for aggression and wrongdoing—including sexual assault. On the other hand, most of us would agree that to equate a victim of violent rape and a man who engages in a drunken sexual act he wouldn’t have chosen when sober is to trivialize a terrible crime. It is safe to assume that the vast majority of the CDC’s male respondents who were “made to penetrate” someone would not call themselves rape victims—and with good reason.

But if that’s the case, it is just as misleading to equate a woman’s experience of alcohol-addled sex with the experience of a rape victim who is either physically overpowered or attacked when genuinely incapacitated. For purely biological reasons, there is little doubt that adult victims of such crimes are mostly female—though male children and adolescents are at fairly high risk: as criminologists Richard Felson and Patrick Cundiff report in a fascinating recent analysis, a 15-year-old male is considerably more likely to be sexually assaulted than a woman over 40. The CDC reports that 12.3 percent of female victims were 10 or younger at the time of their first completed rape victimization; for male victims, that number is 27.8 percent.

We must either start treating sexual assault as a gender-neutral issue or stop using the CDC’s inflated statistics. Few would deny that sex crimes in America are a real, serious, and tragic problem. But studies of sexual violence should use accurate and clear definitions of rape and sexual assault, rather than lump these criminal acts together with a wide range of unsavory but non-criminal scenarios of men—and women—behaving badly.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Education

Princeton Approves Revisions to Sexual Misconduct and Assault Policy

The changes will bring the institution into full compliance with Title IX

Princeton University faculty members approved recommended revisions to the university’s policies for addressing sexual misconduct and assault on Monday, the university announced.

The changes will bring the institution into full compliance with Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools that receive federal funding. Princeton is one of 76 institutions being investigated for possible violations of Title IX, which also has requirements about how educational institutions handle sexual assault claims.

One of the changes Princeton faculty approved shifts the burden of proof from the “clear and persuasive” standard, which mandates that three-quarters of evidence must indicate guilt, to the “preponderance of evidence” standard, which is less rigid. The Department of Education recommended the “preponderance” standard in a 2011 guide to how colleges could comply with Title IX.

Other changes include allowing rights to appeal a case afforded equally to both the alleged offender and the victim; allowing both sides to appoint advisers outside of the university; and the removal of students from adjudication panels, the Daily Princetonian reports.

Princeton’s Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy first recommended the revisions, which were drafted over the summer, earlier this month. The changes will be brought to the Council of the Princeton University Community for incorporation into Princeton’s rules on Sept 29.

TIME Crime

1 in 5 U.S. Women Are Raped at Some Point, Report Says

woman silo
Getty Images

The majority experience sexual violence before age 25

About 1 in 5 women in the U.S. is raped during their life, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And another 40% experience another form of sexual violence.

“Although progress has been made in efforts to prevent sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence, these forms of violence continue to exact a substantial toll upon U.S. adults,” the CDC study said.

The problem of sexual violence is particularly acute at younger ages. More than half of female victims said they were violated before they reached age 25. This finding is consistent with a UNICEF report released Thursday that suggests that 1 in 10 girls worldwide is raped before age 20.

The CDC recommended a number of steps to combat sexual violence, including trying to change societal expectations and promoting safe relationships.

“The early promotion of healthy relationships while behaviors are still relatively modifiable makes it more likely that young persons can avoid violence in their relationships,” the report said.

TIME United Nations

1 in 10 Girls Gets Raped or Sexually Abused Before Age 20, U.N. Report Says

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Getty Images

Report details widespread sexual and physical violence against children and teens

A UNICEF report released Thursday reveals that 1 in every 10 girls around the world — or about 120 million in total — gets forced into intercourse or other sexual acts before the age of 20.

The report, data for which was collected from 190 countries, provides a comprehensive view of the sexual and physical violence perpetrated against children and youths.

Other findings show that 6 out of every 10 children worldwide between the ages of 2 and 14 are subjected to physical punishment by their parents or guardians, and that around 70 million girls ages 15 to 19 — almost a quarter of the global total — report being victims of some form of physical violence.

UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said violence against children “cuts across boundaries of age, geography, religion, ethnicity and income brackets,” according to the BBC.

The report said boys also experience similar kinds of violence on a regular basis but not to the same extent. Data on violence against boys is not as widely available.

The report’s conclusions about social attitudes appear just as problematic, with 3 in 10 adults expressing the belief that physical punishment is necessary to raise children properly. Moreover, almost half of all girls ages 15 to 19 think a husband is sometimes justified in beating his wife.

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