The socio-cultural context of rape: a cross-cultural study.

Sanday PR
JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ISSUES. 1981; 37(4):5-27.

A cross-cultural study on the sociocultural context of rape was undertaken to examine the incidence, meaning, and function of rape in tribal societies. The study utilized a cross-cultural sample of 156 tribal societies. The research described in this paper departs from the assumption that although sexual behavior of human beings was based on a biological need, it was rather an expression of a sociological and cultural force, than merely a bodily relation between two persons. Analysis of available information suggested that rape in tribal societies was part of a cultural configuration, which includes interpersonal violence, male dominance, and sexual separation. There was considerable evidence to support the notion that rape was an expression of a social ideology of male dominance. First, female power and authority was lower in rape prone societies. Second, women in these societies do not participate in decision making. The correlates of rape strongly suggested that rape was the playing out of a sociocultural script in which the personhood of males was expressed through interpersonal violence and an ideology of toughness.

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