Research findings on Rape Myth Acceptance in the Indian Context

This article is written by Dr. Nitesh Kumar Jha Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, SGT University, Gurugram (Delhi NCR), & Sanya Kapur , Student ( B.Sc. Clinical Psychology (Batch- 2019), Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, SGT University, Gurugram-Haryana (Delhi NCR). The article introduces the findings of the conducted research topic “Rape Myth Acceptance in Indian Context.” The final section of this article contains the introduction of the authors.

The research observed that rape is the fourth most prevalent crime against women, and she speculated that this figure would be far higher if it remains unaddressed.

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Recognize the rape myths that are prevalent

The researchers are looking for more work in this domain. They aim to publish their research in a reputable journal so that other institutions can use the data for further research. Moreover, they aim to assist in the planning and implementation of rape prevention interventions geared towards changing individuals’ beliefs about rape myths, particularly on college campuses, where students of that age are most at risk of committing crimes.

Sanya Kapur observed that rape is the fourth most prevalent crime against women, and she speculated that this figure would be far higher if it remains unaddressed. She discovered that the lack of rape disclosure is unsurprising, given that most victims who share their rape narratives receive negative reactions from at least one person in their social network. These unfavorable reactions affect individuals validating rape myths and directly or indirectly supporting or contributing to rape. She wanted to understand the causes for this compliance, even in the non-criminal population, so she worked on research with Dr. Nitesh’s guidance and supervision, whose area of specialization is in Criminal Psychology.

Her study was on 297 emerging adults aged 18-27 years with an average age of 21.25. The study comprises both males (30%) and females (70%) representing the Indian population i.e., 28 different States; among them, 38% of the total sample belongs to Delhi, 29% from Haryana, and 11% belongs to Uttar Pradesh, rest 22% sample belongs to other 25 states of the country.

She employed three well-known instruments established in the Western culture, back-translated them into Hindi, and then administered them in English along with the Hindi translation to the sample population.

Her primary goal was to recognize the prevalence of rape myths, which are attitudes and general incorrect ideas about rape that are widely and consistently held and assist in denying and excusing male sexual violence against women. She also tried to understand the attributes that lead to these myths, so she explored “Personality,” which included the five major well-known personality variables, including neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Another element she believed may predict the acceptance of these beliefs was Ambivalent Sexism, a theoretical framework used to characterize the many behaviors and attitudes linked with sexism or hatred against women. This idea was investigated using two conceptions: stereotypically negative (Hostile Sexism) and seemingly pleasant (Benevolent Sexism) attitudes toward women. According to her findings, many forms of rape myths are prevalent in the sample community, with the most prominent being rape myths such as “She asked for it” and “He did not mean to” of being found among the sample population.

This revealed that the majority of the people in this sample believed in myths that try to justify a rapist’s actions by implying that if a male rapes someone, he probably did not mean to and things just got out of hand, as well as myths that suggest that if a woman is raped, she probably asked for it by dressing provocatively, going out late at night, or in some other way.

On analyzing the results for the factors predicting the acceptance of these myths, different factors were found to predict different forms of myths. The research found that a personality factor, neuroticism, which is characterized by sadness, moodiness, and emotional instability, and a type of sexism, Hostile Sexism, which are blatantly negative beliefs about women being incompetent, unintelligent, highly emotional, and sexually manipulative, predicted an individual’s level of acceptance towards almost every form of rape myth acceptance. The study observed that all personality variables and all types of sexism had a significant correlation with the various types of rape myths. These findings provide a solid foundation for future studies in this area.

Learn about the authors

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Sanya Kapur is a diligent and enthusiastic Clinical Psychology Graduate. She is very passionate about the study of psychology because of her never-ending desire to comprehend how the human mind works. She is a scholarship holder with strong research and academic background. Being an effective communicator with excellent interpersonal skills, she has been trained in various clinical settings to have well-formed logical reasoning and the ability to juggle tasks while maintaining excellent management abilities. She wants to expand her education and exposure while also growing professionally in the field of mental healthcare and giving back to society.

With a specialization in Criminal Psychology, Dr. Nitesh Kumar Jha is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, SGT University, Gurugram Haryana (Delhi-NCR), India. He has been guiding and mentoring students for their research projects from graduate, postgraduate to Ph.D. levels. He possesses Life membership of the Indian Society of Criminology, and also he is an Associate Life member of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychology. He is a recipient of the Indian Psychology Association President’s Gold Medal Award in the category of ‘Young Psychologist’. He also provides professional psychological services to people in need.

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