Rape Rates By Country 2020
Rape is unlawful sexual activity typically involving sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will, or against a person without/who is unable to give consent, such as someone who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability, or is below the age of consent.
Rape is considered to be a violent crime and is treated as such in a court of law. Rates of reporting, prosecuting, and convicting for rape vary between jurisdictions. Accurate rape statistics are a challenge to report as many victims do not come forward about rape or sexual assault.
War rape and sexual slavery (widespread and systematic rape) can occur during international conflicts and are considered to be crimes against humanity.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s International Statistics on Crime and Justice found that most victims of rape are female and most perpetrators are male. The number of victims, however, is significantly underestimated. Most victims of rape know their rapist, whether it is a friend, acquaintance, spouse, or partner. In the United States, this is the case in about 70% of rapes.
An estimated 35% of women worldwide have experienced some form of sexual harassment, less than 40% of who seek help and less than 10% seek help from law enforcement. According to the United Nations, there are about 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape reported by police annually from 65 countries.
Certain demographics are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault. Females age 16-19 are four times as likely and females 18-24 are three times as likely. The culture and laws in countries affect overall rape rates as well. While many countries have laws against the act of sexual assault and violence, many of them are insufficient, inconsistent, and not systematically enforced.
The ten countries with the highest rates of rape (number of incidents per 100,000 citizens) are:
- South Africa (132.4)
- Botswana (92.9)
- Swaziland (77.5)
- Bermuda (67.3)
- Sweden (63.5)
- Suriname (45.2)
- Costa Rica (36.7)
- Nicaragua (31.6)
- Grenada (30.6)
South Africa has the highest rape rate in the world of 132.4 incidents per 100,000 people. South Africa has had the highest rape rate since 2004. According to a survey conducted by the South African Medical Research Council, approximate one in four men surveyed admitted to committing rape. Despite enacting the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act in 2007, sexual violence rates have continued to rise in South Africa.
The rape rate in the United States is 27.3 incidents per 100,000 people. Rape in the United States is grossly underreported, as it is in other countries. Only 9% of rapists with face prosecution, 3% will spend time in prison, and 97% will walk free.
Preventing rape and sexual assault goes beyond enacting legislation. Putting laws into place is not always effective in stopping these actions from happening, as seen in South Africa. Countries need to look into the systematic dysfunction of their cultures and social norms to prevent sexual violence from occurring.