Forbidden or Forgiven? Rape in Cross-Cultural Perspective


Rozée, Patricia D. 1993. “Forbidden or Forgiven? Rape in Cross-Cultural Perspective.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 17 (4): 499–514. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1993.tb00658.x.

Author: Patricia D. Rozée


This article describes a conceptual framework with which to study rape cross-societally. The model considers the powerful effects of social norms in condoning certain types of rape. It also distinguishes clearly between rape and sex by making the absence of female choice the fundamental factor in defining rape. Using this conceptual model as a guide, rape is examined in a random sample of 35 world societies. Rape is not a forbidden behavior; this research demonstrates the masking effects of social norms that tend to institutionalize rape within various social customs or rituals. The concept of a rape-free culture was not supported; rape was found in all the sample societies once the definition of rape was broadened to include socially condoned rapes. The presence of both normative (condoned) and nonnormative (uncondoned) rapes in a majority of the societies studied illustrates that rape is regulated rather than prohibited. Implications for defining and studying rape in the United States are discussed.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women

Year: 1993

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