Gang rape

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An artwork showing 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 (typically at least three[1]) 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 drug use, night attacks and severe sexual assault outcomes and less victim resistance and fewer weapons than individual rapes.[2] 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, to contemplate suicide and seek therapy than those involved in individual assaults. The two groups were about the same in the amount of drug use and drinking during the assault.[3]

Gang rape is sometimes referred to as group rape or party rape or multiple perpetrator rape in scholarly literature.[4]

Causes and characteristics[edit]

Gang rapes often involve three or more men as perpetrators. These rapes have characteristics beyond those found in rape by individuals; for example, gang rapists tend to be younger and serial in their crimes, the gang is more often under the influence of drugs or alcohol, of the same race or religion or place of residence thereby forming a close-knit peer pressure group, encouraged by the behavior of their fellow criminals. Gang rapes are more violent; the sexual and non-sexual injuries to the victim are often far more severe. The gang members typically dehumanize their target victim(s) before and during the rape.[5][6][7]

Porter and Alison have analyzed 739 gang rape cases from US and UK, and found over 20% of the gang rape victim died from injuries from the gang rape.[8] A 2013 study based on 25 year crime data from US and Europe, between 10% to 20% of all rapes were gang rapes. Less than 1 in 3 gang rapes are reported, while less than 1 in 20 attempted but failed gang rapes are reported.[4]

Gang rapes during civil wars and ethnic riots take added dimension of becoming a means of revenge, sending a message to the victims' community, inducing fear in the opponent, creating a sense of solidarity among the soldiers or militants or the violent group.[9][10]

Gang rape is sometimes stereotyped[by whom?] as a crime of poor, minorities or culture; however, gang rape incidence rates are high in wealthy college campuses, among non-minorities and every culture.[11] Everywhere there is a tendency to blame the victim; however, gang rapes are almost always pre-meditated in their intent, target victim(s), social proof and psychological causes.[12][13] Certain events such as civil wars, hate propaganda, and ethnic conflicts increase the incidence rate of gang rapes.[14][15]

According to one study,[16] over 70% of the victims were gang raped by rapists of same race and religion. Most covered and debated gang rapes tend to be those involving victim and rapists of different race or religion or social class.

Specific countries[edit]

This is an incomplete list of countries, where government and/or media have acknowledged the problem of gang rape.


In the state of Rio de Janeiro, over 6000 rapes are reported every year (or about 78 per 100,000 women). The arrest rates for rape of 4% are amongst the lowest in the world.[17] Over 20% of these rapes are gang rapes.

A gang rape of American student on a transit van in Copacabana tourist district was described as one of routine rapes on public buses. This case gathered significant local and international media attention, leading to review of several Brazilian procedures for rape crimes.[18]


The data on rapes in China is disputed. The U.S. Department of State claimed in 2007 that China officially reports 31,833 rapes a year. Tsun-yin claims that this number is a small fraction of actual rapes.[19] In 2009, China's Ministry of Public Security claimed to have 'solved' 26,404 rape cases, compared to 24,495 solved cases in 2008, without disclosing the number of unsolved rape cases.[20] A 2013 Tianjin University survey claims 25% of men said they had raped a woman, and 1.25% admitted to have gang raped.[21]

In July 2013, the son of a Chinese general was charged with 4 other men to being part of a gang rape. This case raised significant public anger over seemingly privileged treatment of elite gang rape criminals.[22]


Over two dozen gang rapes were reported during civil protests in Egypt from January to March 2013; however, activists claim that many more gang rapes often go unreported because most women are too ashamed to go to the police or even tell their relatives.[23][24]

During July 2013 at Tahrir Square, mobs assaulted and gang raped at least 46 women in 4 days.[25] Dutch journalist was also gang-raped in Tahrir Square.[26][27] A similar gang rape and gang beating was reported by an American journalist in 2011. In a separate survey, over 90% of Egyptian women claimed to have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.[28]


Between 5000 to 7000 gang rapes are reported in France every year.[29]

The expression la tournante is a French noun meaning "the turning" and is used as a slang term to mean a gang rape.

In October 2012, two girls near Paris reported experiencing daily gang rapes, sometimes by scores of boys, after one was found brutally beaten by a female police officer. 10 of the 14 defendants who were minor at the time of gang rape were acquitted, while the remaining 4 adults found guilty were given 0 to 12 months in prison. This case shocked France.[30][31]


India reports about 22,000 rapes a year, about 1.8 rapes per 100,000 population.[32] As with other countries, India does not collect separate data on gang rapes.

The gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a public bus, on 16 December 2012 has focused international attention on India’s legal system, especially laws pertaining to the protection of women. It sparked large protests across the capital of India, Delhi.[33] In the 24-hour period after the gang rape of the victim, at least two girls under the age of 18 were gang raped and one of them was murdered.[34] Reports of gang rape of 2 foreign tourists in India have been a serious issue inside the country.[35][36]


Many incidents of gang rapes have been reported in Iran. In several cases, the police officials have blamed the victim for not wearing hijab, and in one case arresting the victim and two activists, who were trying to bring attention to the gang rape.[37][38]

While official statistics on reported and pending gang rapes in Iran are not published by the Iranian government, public hangings for gang rapes are routinely reported in Iranian newspapers.[39][40][41]


Nigeria reports thousands of gang rapes every year.[42][43] In 2011, Absu gang rape, where the gang videotaped their crime, drew widespread attention and protests inside Nigeria.[44] The prevalence of group rape has been proposed as a significant contributor to spread of sexual diseases and AIDs.[45][46]


The 2013 National Crime Data report for Pakistan suggest a current rape rate of 8.4 women per 100,000 population (16.8 per 100,000 women), of which about 10% were gang rapes.[47]

In some cases such as Mukhtar Mai gang rape in Muzaffargarh, village elder's council (jirga) in Pakistan have ordered that the girl in a family be gang-raped as a means of punishing her brother, and this punishment was then carried out in public with everyone watching.[48] In 2011, Pakistan's Supreme Court freed 5 men who committed the gang-rape because their action was on orders of the village council.[49][50] Other gang rape cases reported in 2013 include Bahawalpur gang rape,[51] Lahore gang rape,[52] Peshawar gang rape,[53] Karachi gang rape of a polio-disabled girl[54] among others.

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Further information: Rape in Saudi Arabia

Qatif rape case of mid 2006 was a gang rape of teenage girl by seven men had been publicized. The justice received criticism because the victim was lashed 200 times.[55][56][57]

South Africa[edit]

Further information: Sexual violence in South Africa

Gang rape is common in South Africa,[58] and in certain parts it is called jackrolling.[59] South Africa reported over 64,000 rapes in 2012, or about 127.5 women per 100,000 population (255 rapes per 100,000 women).[60] With one woman raped every 4 minutes, South Africa has world's highest rape incidence rate per 100,000 women.[61] Between 10% to 33% of all rapes are gang rapes involving three or more people. About 25% of youth near Johannesburg described gang rape as recreational and fun.[59][62]

In certain parts of South Africa where boys are often involved in gang rapes, called jackrolling, rape rates are higher.[59] 40% of reported rape cases are on children below the age of 12.[63]

Vogelman and Lewis report 44% of rapists in South Africa have engaged in gang rape. The National Institute of Crime Rehabilitation of South Africa claims only 1 out of 20 rapes are reported in South Africa, suggesting 1,300 women are raped every day.[64]

In February 2013, a 17-year old girl was gang raped, mutilated and left to die in a town near Cape Town. This led to widespread protests.[61]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

In several recent cases, the courts of UAE have sentenced the gang raped woman to prison under its laws. For example, a British woman, after she reported being gang raped by three men, was charged with the crime of drinking alcohol in UAE; an Arab woman was sentenced to one year in prison for illicit sex after she complained of gang rape; an Australian woman was similarly sentenced to jail after she reported gang rape in UAE, while a Norwegian woman was jailed for illicit sex when she reported rape by Arabic men.[65] In another recent case, a 18 year Arab woman withdrew her complaint of gang rape inside a car by 6 men when the prosecution threatened her with a long jail term for consensual sex with multiple men.[66]

According to ABC News, a French teenage boy was gang raped by three Dubai men. The authorities demanded that the tourist confess he is gay and that he asked for sex. The boy insisted he was raped and diplomatic pressure led to the arrest and conviction of the gang members.[67]

United Kingdom[edit]

Number of gang rapes have place in the United Kingdom,[68][69] although the UK authorities do not separately collect data on gang rapes.

In 2008, a 14 year old schoolgirl was gang raped, about 9 boys were convicted. The girl believed that she wasn't their only victim.[70]

United States[edit]

The US reports about 85,000 rapes a year, about 29 rapes per 100,000 population (58 rapes every year per 100,000 women).[32] There is a rape in the US every 6.2 minutes, with 1 in 5 women likely to be raped in her lifetime.[32][71] As with other countries, the US does not collect separate data on gang rapes; Vogelman and Lewis estimate 25% of all rapes in the US are gang rapes.[64] Another source indicates 21.8% of American rapes are gang rapes.[72]

Peggy Sanday reports hundreds of prosecuted gang rape cases on college campuses.[11] A Roger Williams University study estimates from survey of crime data that 16% of all male rapists in the US participated in a gang rape crime.[73]

Some recent examples of gang rapes reported in local media include the Cleveland gang rape,[74] Richmond gang rape,[75] New Orleans gang rape,[76] St Paul gang rape,[77] Miami gang rape/murder,[78] Chicago gang rape[79] and Delaware park gang rape.[80]

Gang rapes during wars[edit]

Main article: War rape

Major ethnic conflicts and wars within the last 50 years have witnessed a campaign of gang rapes.[81]

The Congo war saw thousands of gang rapes every week, with each relief center reporting 10 or more daily victims of gang rape with battering of women.[82][83] The Rwandan genocide of 1994 witnessed numerous gang rapes by soldiers.[84] Bosnia war during the 1990s saw a similar campaign of gang rapes.[85]

In the 2000s, civil war-torn in countries such as Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria reported high rates of gang rapes by government soldiers as well as Islamic militants.[86][87][88][89] Similar incidents have been recorded in Libya,[90] Mali.[91]

As punishment[edit]

Traditionally, Cheyenne people of North America used Gang rape as punishment for female transgression.[92] Similar practice exist among Munduruku people of South America.[93]

In Mpumalanga, there are instances of gang rape as punishment.[94] In the rural areas of Pakistan,[95] India,[96] gang rape has been reported to have been ordered by village court.

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]