Publication Year: 2023
With a focus on gender differences, this study examines college students' perceptions of acquaintance rape and stranger rape. An analysis of the data was carried out by Dr. Nitesh Kumar Jha, Assistant Professor, and Apoorva Choudhary, Clinical Psychologist, and Ph.D. Scholar, both of SGT University in Gurugram, India. In February 2023, the study was presented at the 49th Annual Conference of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists.
A total of 60 college students, both males, and females, from private institutions in Jaipur, Rajasthan, participated in the research. An evaluation questionnaire evaluated participants’ responses to hypothetical scenarios of acquaintance rape and stranger rape.
There were notable differences in perceptions of themes and characters between male and female participants in the two rape scenarios. As a result of the research findings, it is imperative to challenge rape myths, promote healthy attitudes towards sexuality and consent, and address the specific features of these two forms of rape in order to prevent and respond to sexual assault.
Gender difference in rape supportive attitude in two rape scenarios: acquaintance and stranger rape
Acquaintance rape is a sex offense perpetrated by a person who knows the victim. A friend, student, family member, or co-worker may be the person. The term “acquaintance rape” refers to any sexual activity including coercion, manipulation, or force.
On the other hand, “stranger rape“, is one in which the victim and the offender are completely unknown to one another.
Despite the fact that acquaintance rape is prevalent, very few researches, if any, have explored the student’s reactions and gender differences on acquaintance rape and stranger rape.
Thus, this study was conducted to better understand how individuals perceive two different forms of rape; stranger and acquaintance rape. The research incorporated 60 college students with a mean age of 20 years, ranging from 18 to 29 years.
Equal numbers of male and female students from several private institutions in Jaipur, Rajasthan participated in the study.
Participants were given two hypothetical scenarios (An acquaintance and stranger rape scenario) to read in a random order, that either portrayed a circumstance of rape involving an acquaintance or a stranger followed by a questionnaire created to evaluate responses to the scenario.
Half of the participants received questionnaires describing a situation in which an acquaintance raped the victim, whereas the other half received questions describing a scenario in which a stranger had raped.
The only notable distinction between the two versions of rape description was the manipulation of the rapist’s relationship with the victim. According to the researchers, their research findings revealed that male and female participants’ perceptions of the themes and main characters in the two rape scenarios were different from one another.
Rapist punishment is strongly viewed by female participants
Female research participants reported that rapists should face penalties that are more severe than those of male participants. Regarding the decency of rapists or whether a woman needs to try to protect herself in the case of rape, male and female students did not have different opinions. Female students felt more negatively about the rapist. Their attitude reflected that the rapists should serve a longer prison sentence. They feel that those who rape are wrong and should be punished. The victim has rarely any role in getting raped female participants believed.
Females were observed to be showing more concern and sympathy with the victim and less with the perpetrators of rape. They also showed that the psychological impact of rape is more severe on the victim.
Male participants not only had a more favorable attitude toward the rapist than women did, but they also blamed the victim more. Males were far more inclined than women to believe that the women in the stories had contributed to rape.
Gender Differences in Attitudes towards Acquaintance and Stranger Rape: Implications for Prevention and Response
This finding can be attributed to several factors.
This might reflect the belief that some women have an unreasonable desire to be raped. Men may also convey the notion that forcing sex on women is equally exciting as forcing sex on themselves. As an alternative, males may refuse to assume responsibility for raping and, as a result, reject or minimize the repercussions of rape behavior. Female participants showed a greater level of victim empathy than male participants.
The victim of an acquaintance rape was held to bear more blame than the victim of a stranger rape because it was considered less serious. Participants who read the version of the scenario in which the woman was an acquaintance had more negative feelings against the victim than those who read the version in which the woman was raped by a stranger.
When the rapist was a stranger, subjects were more sure that the man was guilty of committing a crime, and the rapist in the stranger scenario was evaluated negatively compared with the rapist in the acquaintance scenario. Participants also said that because they believed the stranger rapist was more responsible for what happened and were more convinced that he was guilty, he should remain longer in prison than the acquaintance rapist. When the stranger rape scenario was compared with the acquaintance rape scenario, what happened to the woman in the story was considered more likely due to chance. Women encouraged rape more in the acquaintance scenario than in the stranger scenario. The gender differences in rape-supportive attitudes and the attitudes of rapists and rape victims of acquaintance rape and stranger rape have important implications to prevent and respond to sexual assault.
The finding that men are more likely to hold rape-supportive attitudes highlights the need for interventions that target men and boys to address these attitudes and beliefs. This could include education programs that challenge rape myths and promote healthy attitudes toward sexuality and consent.
According to the differences in rapist attitudes depending on whether the victim was an acquaintance or a stranger, preventative efforts should concentrate on addressing the particular features of these two forms of rape.
For instance, acquaintance rape prevention interventions may concentrate on developing skills for healthy social interaction, boundary-setting, and consent negotiation, whereas stranger rape prevention interventions would concentrate on situational awareness and risk management techniques.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
DR. NITESH KUMAR JHA is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology, FBSC, SGT University, Delhi NCR. His area of specialization includes Criminal Psychology, Psychology of Juvenile Delinquency, and Personality Psychology. He is an active member of various academic associations including the American Psychological Association, South Asian Society of Criminology and Victimology, Indian Society of Criminology, and Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists.
MS. APOORVA CHOUDHARY is a registered clinical psychologist with expertise working with children, teenagers, and adults to provide them with a safe environment to work through life’s issues and encourages them to take a more holistic approach to their well-being, careers, and interpersonal relationships. She is eager to gain knowledge and make a positive impact on the lives of others. She has a great interest in research, particularly in criminal psychology, sexual abuse and behavior, and clinical psychology. Read her other article at https://journals-times.com/2023/03/29/a-talk-about-childhood-sexual-trauma/
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