Gang rape

Japanese artwork, c.1830, showing a 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 throughout the world. Systematic information and statistics on the extent of the problem, however is limited.

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 psychotherapy 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", "party rape", or "multiple perpetrator rape" in scholarly literature.[4]

Causes and characteristics

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 victims 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 one in three gang rapes are reported, while less than 1 in 20 attempted but failed gang rapes are reported.[4]

A 2013 Lancet report on rape and gang rape in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka found that the crime was committed for various motives, such as sexual entitlement, seeking of entertainment, and a means to inflict punishment on the victim.[9] Associated factors in the crime included alcohol misuse, poverty, personal history of childhood victimization, need to prove heterosexual performance, dominance over women, and participation in gangs and related activities. Most cases were not reported to law enforcement, and just 23% of single or multiple perpetrator rapes that were reported by the victims ended in prison sentence.[9]

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, and creating a sense of solidarity among the soldiers or militants or the violent group.[10][11]

Gang rape is sometimes stereotyped in media 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.[12] Everywhere there is a tendency to blame the victim; however, gang rapes are almost always premeditated in their intent, target victim(s), social proof, and psychological causes.[13][14] Certain events such as civil wars, hate propaganda, and ethnic conflicts increase the incidence rate of gang rapes.[15][16]

According to one study,[17] 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.

Gang rape can be interpreted as an example of a group criminal spin. Accordingly, a group of individuals may perform an initial behavior that proceeds in a criminal direction far beyond the initial intention of its participants. Within this process, each group member contributes a certain role towards the development of the criminal spin—even the passive members, who are silent participants, support the spin by their very presence. It is considered a group criminal spin because the most gang members perform this act only during a group interaction, "letting themselves" deviate from their everyday norms. On these occasions, the group interaction provides an "I can" component of a spin: Although each member does not usually sense an inner ability and permission to act in the criminal direction, i.e., to gang rape, the perceived power of the group supplies this sense and allows the act. In the same way, a group interaction may display an "I must" motive, thus social forces within the group directs it towards raping. In any case, the interaction of members of a group in a spin gives rise to self-centered norms that contribute to the further development of the criminal spin till the extreme point of an accomplishment of the rape.

Specific countries

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


A 2013 Lancet study reports 1.9% of all rural men in Bangladesh have committed multiple perpetrator rape (gang rape) of a woman who was not a partner, compared to 1.4% urban men.[9] 35% of those who have committed gang rapes against women have also committed additional rapes where the victim was a man. The motives of rape included a combination of reasons. Two thirds of the gang rape perpetrators claimed entertainment as their motive, 30% claimed they participated in gang rape out of anger and to inflict punishment on the victim, while 11% indicated the crime followed alcohol consumption.[9]


Gang rape, or estupro coletivo, is prevalent in Brazil. In the state of Rio de Janeiro alone, over 6,000 rapes are reported every year (or about 37 per 100,000 people).[18] Nationwide, the rape rate varied between 26 and 32 per 100,000 women in 2009.[19] The arrest rates on rape complaints, was 4% in Rio.[18] About 19.6% of 2011 rapes were gang rapes.[20]


Peer pressure and sexual aggression are among the cited reasons for the crime.[21][22] Since 1983, Canada does not track rape or gang rape statistics separately, but tracks and reports Sexual Assault Tier 3 which includes both rape and gang rape. The average Sexual Assault Tier 3 victim rate in Canada was 1 per 100,000 women, and 0 per 100,000 men, according to a 2013 Statistics Canada article.[23]


A 2013 Tianjin University survey claims 20% of men said they had raped a woman, and 4% admitted to having gang raped.[24][25]

A Lancet study reports 2.2% of men in China admitted to having committed gang rape (multiple perpetrator rape) of a non-partner woman.[9] About 36% of the perpetrators had raped more than one woman, 50% of those who had committed gang rape had raped both partner as single perpetrator as well as non-partner during a gang rape, while 32% had gang raped a woman and raped a man. The study also found that 90% of the rapists were in the 15–29 age group at the time they perpetrated the first rape.[9]

In July 2013, the son of a Chinese general was charged with four other men to being part of a gang rape. This case raised significant public anger over seemingly privileged treatment of elite gang rape criminals.[26]


See also: Rape in Egypt

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.[27][28]

During July 2013 at Tahrir Square, mobs assaulted and gang raped at least 46 women in 4 days.[29] A Dutch journalist was also gang-raped in Tahrir Square.[30][31] 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.[32]


Further information: Ni Putes Ni Soumises and Rape in France

Between 5000 and 7000 gang rapes are reported in France every year.[33]

In banlieues organised gang-rapes are referred to as tournantes, or "pass-arounds").[34][35] One of the first people to bring public attention to the culture of gang rape was Samira Bellil, who published a book called Dans l'enfer des tournantes ("In Gang Rape Hell").[34][35]

In October 2012, two girls in Fontenay-sous-Bois on the outskirts of Paris reported experiencing daily gang rapes in the high-rise tower blocks, sometimes by scores of boys. One witness described 50 boys "queuing" to rape her.[36] 10 of the 14 defendants who were minors 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 the country.[36][37] In 2014, the case of a Canadian tourist allegedly gang raped by four police officers in Paris received international attention.[38]


India has been characterized as one of the "countries with the lowest per capita rates of rape".[39] As with other countries, India does not collect separate data on gang rapes. Rapes are also suggested to be underreported.[40][41]

The gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a public bus, on 16 December 2012 brought international attention, and sparked large protests across the capital of India, Delhi.[42] Other reports include gang rape of an American tourist by three Nepalese men in Himachal Pradesh,[43][44] gang rape where the victim and rapists were of different castes,[45] gang rape triggering riots in Uttar Pradesh where the victim was a Dalit and rapists were Muslims.[46]


Reported cases of gang rape include Jakarta International School gang rape of a six-year-old,[47] gang rape of a Malaysian student in Indonesia,[48] and Aceh gang rape case where the victim was charged with adultery when she reported the crime.[49]

A Lancet study[9] of Jakarta and Jayapura city on New Guinea island, found gang rape prevalence rate to be 2% and 6.8% of all Indonesian men respectively who, at some point in their lifetime, have committed multiple perpetrator rape. About 52% of the perpetrators had raped more than one woman, 64% of those who had committed gang rape had raped both partner as single perpetrator as well as non-partner during a gang rape, while 12% had gang raped a woman and raped a man. The study also found that 90% of the rapists in Indonesia were in the 15–29 age group when they committed their first rape.[9]


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.[50][51]

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.[52][53][54]


A 15-year-old schoolgirl in Ketereh Kelantan, was gang raped by more than 30 men.[55][56] Malaysia reported about 3,000 rape cases in 2012, a rape incidence rate of about 10.7 rapes per 100,000 people. About 52% of these victims were less than 16 years old.[55] Like other nations, Malaysia does not segregate rape and gang rape cases.


Nigeria reports thousands of gang rapes every year.[57][58] In 2011, ABSU gang rape, where the gang videotaped their crime, drew widespread attention and protests inside Nigeria.[59] The prevalence of group rape has been proposed as a significant contributor to spread of sexual diseases and AIDS.[60][61]


The 2013 National Crime Data report for Pakistan suggest a current rape rate of 8.4 women per 100,000 population, of which about 10% were gang rapes.[62]

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.[63] In 2011, Pakistan's Supreme Court freed 5 men who committed the gang-rape because their action was on orders of the village council.[64][65] Other gang rape cases reported in 2013 include Bahawalpur gang rape,[66] Lahore gang rape,[67] Peshawar gang rape,[68] Karachi gang rape of a polio-disabled girl,[69] among others.

Papua New Guinea

A Lancet study reports 14.1% of all men admitted to having committed gang rape (multiple perpetrator rape) of a non-partner woman sometime in their lifetime. 44% of these perpetrators had raped more than 1 woman over their lifetime.[9] In Papua New Guinea, 25% of the first rape was committed at a juvenile age less than 15, while in 70% of the cases the perpetrator's age was 15–29 at the time of first crime.

Saudi Arabia

Further information: Rape in Saudi Arabia

The Qatif rape case was a 2006 gang rape of a teenage girl by seven men. The justice received criticism because the victim was lashed 200 times.[70][71][72]

South Africa

Further information: Sexual violence in South Africa

Gang rapes occur frequently in South Africa,[73] and in certain parts it is called jackrolling.[74] South Africa reported over 64,000 rapes in 2012, or about 127.5 women per 100,000 population.[75] With one woman raped every 4 minutes, South Africa has world's highest rape incidence rate per 100,000 women.[76] 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.[74][77]

In certain parts of South Africa where boys are often involved in gang rapes, called jackrolling, rape rates are higher.[74] 40% of reported rape cases are on children below the age of 12.[78]

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.[79] A 2010 nationwide survey reported that about 27% of all South African men above the age of 18 have raped a woman in their lifetime one or more times, while 8.9% of all adult men have participated in a gang rape.[80] The gang rape prevalence rate varied significantly in different provinces of South Africa; for example, in Eastern Cape, 13.9% of men had gang raped a woman who was not a partner.[80]

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.[76]


Reported gang rape cases include gang rape of a British tourist in Spain where one of the rapists was a 70-year-old man,[81] and gang rape in Huelva of a 13-year-old girl with mental disability.[82]

United Arab Emirates

In several recent cases, the courts of the 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 the UAE, while a Norwegian woman was jailed for illicit sex when she reported rape by Arabic men.[83] In another recent case, an 18-year Arab woman withdrew her complaint of gang rape inside a car by six men when the prosecution threatened her with a long jail term for consensual sex with multiple men.[84]

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.[85]

United Kingdom

A number of gang rapes have taken place in the United Kingdom,[86][87] although the UK authorities had not separately collected data on gang rapes until the 2011 Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre report on localised grooming entitled "Out of Mind, Out of Sight",[88] but which only deals with adolescent victims. However Scotland Yard earlier in 2009, stated a concern over the rise of 'gang sex attacks' in London, detailing an increase of 71 cases in 2003/2004 to 93 cases in 2008/2009.[89]

An increased number of gang rapes have been reported in the United Kingdom since at least 1996.[90] A 15-year-old girl in 1996, from Birmingham, was gang raped by three Asian males in their mid- to late-twenties.[90] In the 1997 case, a 33-year-old Austrian tourist woman on visit to King's Cross, London was dumped in the Regent's Canal to drown after a gang-rape attack by eight teenagers.[91] On 30 April 2007 at Hackney, East London, a 14-year-old girl was gang raped by six boys, who were later convicted. Two others, aged 14 and 16, did not participate but helped prevent her escape.[92][93] In 2011, a 24-year-old woman was abducted and raped by three men after a night out in Preston, Lancashire. Two Kurdish men were convicted and sentenced; police are looking for the third attacker.[86]

Media reports of gang rapes in the UK are often racially charged since late 2000.[94][95][96] This due to a particular pattern of repeated non-white perpetrated gang rapes in the metropolitan areas.[94] The Rochdale sex trafficking gang would later epitomise the phenomenon.[97] The Home Office report of 2013 described these cases as '[showing] a particular model... of organised, serious exploitation and abuse that involves predominantly Pakistani-heritage men grooming and abusing predominantly white British girls.'[98] However the report stresses that the Government does not believe 'localised grooming' is intrinsic of any culture, religion, and or race.

In March 2014, Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker described "ground breaking work" to identify women and girls who can get drawn into gangs. "Girls associated with gangs can face sexual violence and we have provided £1.2m for 13 Young People's Advocates to support those at risk," he said on the launch of a report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a think-tank established in 2002 by Iain Duncan Smith, another Cabinet minister. Baker said the government had set up a network of more than 70 people with experience of dealing with gangs to work with 33 of the worst affected areas of the country, including 20 in London. In one case cited by the CSJ report, a schoolgirl was abducted and sexually assaulted by nine males because she criticised a gang member. The report found that girls as young as eight were being used to carry drugs while female gang members in their teens were being pressured to have sex with boys as young as 10 to initiate males into gangs. A recent report by the Office of the Children's Commissioner suggested that almost 2,500 children had been known to be victims of child sexual exploitation by gangs and groups.[99]

United States

The US reports about 85,000 rapes a year, about 27.3 rapes per 100,000 population.[100] There is a rape in the US every 6.2 minutes.[101] 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.[79] Another source indicates 21.8% of American rapes are gang rapes.[102] 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.[103]

Some recent examples of gang rapes reported in local media include the Cleveland gang rape,[104] Richmond gang rape,[105] New Orleans gang rape,[106] St Paul gang rape,[107] Miami gang rape/murder,[108] Chicago gang rape,[109] and Delaware park gang rape,[110] among others.

During wars

Main article: War rape

Major ethnic conflicts and wars within the last 50 years have witnessed a campaign of gang rapes.[111]

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.[112][113] The Rwandan genocide of 1994 witnessed numerous gang rapes by soldiers.[114] Bosnia war during the 1990s saw a similar campaign of gang rapes.[115]

In the 2000s, civil war-torn in countries such as Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, and Pakistan reported high rates of gang rapes by government soldiers as well as Islamic militants.[116][117][118][119] Similar incidents have been recorded in Libya,[120] and Mali.[121]

As punishment

See also: Corrective rape

Traditionally, the Cheyenne people of North America used gang rape as punishment for female transgressions.[122] A similar practice existed among the Munduruku people of South America.[123]

Among the Mpumalanga of South Africa, there are instances of gang rape as punishment.[124] In the countries such as Argentina,[125] Pakistan,[126] India,[127] gang rape has been reported to have been ordered as punishment.

See also


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Further reading

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