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  • Author or Editor: Andrea Krizsán x
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Gender and politics literature has a strong focus on policy progress and the conditions that facilitate progressive change. Yet, increased opposition to gender equality makes it urgent to examine if and how current attacks affect existing gender-equality policies and institutions. We develop a conceptual framework to map patterns of backsliding of gender-equality policies. Empirically, we focus on Central and Eastern Europe as a notable example of backsliding. We find that rather than the direct dismantling of gender-equality policies, the core dimensions challenged by processes of backsliding are implementation and accountability. We argue that backsliding affects the legitimacy and effectiveness of existing laws and undermines democracy.

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Towards a comprehensive policy

Available Open Access under CC-BY-NC licence. The need to stop rape is pressing and, since it is the outcome of a wide range of practices and institutions in society, so too must the policies be to stop it This important book offers a comprehensive guide to the international policies developed to stop rape , together with case study examples on how they work. The book engages with the law and criminal justice system, health services, specialised services for victim-survivors, educational and cultural interventions, as well as how they can best be coordinated. It is informed by theory and evidence drawn from scholarship and practice from around the world.

The book will be of interest to a global readership of students, practitioners and policy makers as well as anyone who wants to know how rape can be stopped.

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Rape shatters lives. Its traumatising effects can linger for many years after the immediate pain and suffering. Rape is a consequence and a cause of gender inequality. It is an injury to health; a crime; a violation of women’s human rights; and costly to both the economy and society.

Stopping rape requires changes to many policies and practices. There is no simple solution; rather, a myriad of reforms are needed to prevent rape. New policies are being innovated around the world, north and south, which are often intended to prevent rape and to support victims/survivors simultaneously. This book provides an overview of the current best practice from around the world for ending rape.

In order to prevent rape, it is necessary to know what causes rape. The selection of the examples of good and promising practice in this book is guided by a theory of the causes of rape. The causal pathways that lead to rape involve many of society’s institutions. These pathways are embedded in the state and public services, including the criminal justice system and healthcare; culture, media and education; in other forms and contexts of violence; and in the economy.

Stopping rape requires the effective mobilisation of all of these actors and institutions. It is not a single institution that needs to change, however: most social institutions need reform, and society needs transforming. Prevention is not a simple matter of changing attitudes such as by ‘educating’ boys, although every reform makes a contribution. Preventing rape requires reforms in the many institutions that make up the social system.

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Preventing rape requires policies that affect many aspects of society. No single intervention is sufficient. This is because many of the causes of rape lie deep in the structures and systems of society. The details of these various interventions are addressed in the chapters that follow. The focus in this chapter is on: the strategic planning for a comprehensive set of policy practices; the coordination of multiple services; the initial development of specialist services for victim-survivors; and the data and research needed to evaluate policy developments.

Strategic planning is taking place at multiple levels: the UN, the Council of Europe, the EU and individual states. The creation of ‘national action plans’ (NAPs) that are regularly reviewed and evaluated has been an important part of the development of strategic planning. The development of strategic planning and the evaluation of policies require research, data and statistics. It is necessary to know how much rape there is, its patterns, and the quality of the performance of the institutions that are supposed to be addressing the problem.

There are a myriad of services and practices that might potentially be useful to victim-survivors and to changing the environment that produces rape. Coordination of multiple services for victim-survivors not only has a national component but also regional and local aspects. The specialised services for victim-survivors can be either standalone services or integrated into generic services. This chapter discusses the development of standalone services, while Chapters 3 and 4 on health and on justice discuss specialised victim services that are developed within these mainstream service providers.

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The provision of immediate assistance to victim-survivors of rape is the central contribution of the health sector to the mitigation of the harms of rape and to rape prevention. The development of standalone specialised services by feminist activists in the 1970s has been followed by the development of professional care as part of the work of health services. In some locations, such as the UK, both forms of care for victim-survivors of rape co-exist. The health consequences of rape involve both physical and mental trauma, and require a range of interventions, flexible in response to victim-survivor choices. The improvement in access to and quality of health services for victim-survivors of rape includes mental, sexual and reproductive health services. There have been important innovations in health services addressing actual and potential health issues, and in the use of the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These health services are differently organised in response to rape in different contexts (Lovett et al, 2004; Wang and Rowley, 2007; WHO, 2013a).

This chapter is focused on establishing current best practices for health sector-led interventions for women who have been raped in non-disaster zones and in humanitarian emergencies. It begins by outlining the health impacts of sexual violence and rape; this is followed by identification of how best practices have been established; and then the minimum and current best practice standards for health interventions for victim-survivors of rape and sexual violence in non-disaster zones and in humanitarian emergencies are explicated and presented. Healthcare for victim-survivors is important in both non-disaster zones and disaster zones, where it is an essential component of humanitarian programmes.

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The criminal justice system should provide justice for victims. It is intended to hold perpetrators to account, reducing impunity, and thereby helping to prevent crimes. There have been important developments and promising practices in law and in the criminal justice system concerning rape and other forms of sexual violence, but challenges remain. Three issues are addressed here: the changing approaches to rape in law; the reform of practices in criminal justice systems; and the new forms of treatment of convicted rapists. The legal and criminal justice practices in conflict zones are further addressed next, in Chapter 5.

The principles underpinning the law on rape have been developing, drawing on concepts of human rights and gender equality, although not uniformly so. The definition of rape in law has been developing, albeit unevenly, removing marital exceptions and moving towards a consent-based definition. The care with which victim-survivors are treated in the criminal justice system has implications for its effectiveness because of its consequences on the attrition of cases through the Criminal Justice processes. There are promising practices within the criminal justice system that treat victim-survivors with more respect and better prevent secondary victimisation, but there is still considerable ‘attrition’, which means that many cases of rape reported to the police do not lead to a conviction. New forms of treatment of convicted sex offenders, including rapists, are emerging, however, that attempt to reform and rehabilitate them.

Rape is illegal everywhere. It is a crime in its own right, without reference or justification to any other legal principle or standard, in many national and some international legal regimes.

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Rape is more common in conflict zones. This is linked to the greater use of violence during wartime, the absence of a consistent criminal justice infrastructure, the disruption of informal protections from households and the community, the greater gender imbalance in decision-making in militarised zones, and the specific use of rape as a weapon of war.

There is sometimes a division in analysis and policy between concern with the higher rate of rape and sexual violence by a range of men in conflict zones, and the specific use of rape as a weapon of war by soldiers. However, for some issues, such as services to support victim-survivors, there are shared features between conflict zones and other locations of humanitarian crises.

A range of responses to attempt to prevent rape and to care more effectively for victim-survivors has been tailored to meet the circumstances found in conflict zones and humanitarian crises. Some were introduced earlier, as special instances in the development of policies in Chapter 3 on victim services and healthcare systems and Chapter 4 on law and justice. But it is appropriate to pull them together in this chapter, not least because there is a distinctive policy field with its own priorities, logics for action and set of key decision-makers involved. It is a field that is constructed around the logics of ‘security’ and ‘crisis’, albeit that the content of the concept of ‘security’ is deeply contested. In the UN, it involves the UN Security Council. In the EU, it involves the High Commissioner for External Relations.

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The propagation of misleading myths about rape is damaging to victim-survivors in general, and especially when they attempt to seek justice. Rape myths and rape culture take diverse forms in new and old media and cultural industries, while the commercialisation of sex, and the circulation of extreme pornography, produce an environment that is less than ideal. There are innovative interventions in media and education to change public understandings of the nature of rape. Such initiatives include the development of projects to get bystanders positively involved, the use of new media to engage counter-hegemonic meanings and the development of educational programmes on healthy relationships in schools.

The concept of culture can be defined in contrasting ways: broadly, as overarching and all-encompassing of all social activities imbued with meaning; and narrowly, as a collection of social institutions that are significant in shaping meaningful practices in society, including the media and education, and which jointly, with other social institutions such as the economy, state and violence, constitute society as a whole. In this chapter, we take the narrower definition and focus on specific practices in defined institutions. We avoid the conflation of the two definitions, which can lead to over-estimating the effects of changes in one ‘cultural institution’ for society as a whole. To challenge and address the causes of sexual violence, the necessary strategy needs to address the full range of relevant institutions in society, not only those concerned with culture.

Civil society is multidimensional and contradictory on gendered issues. It is at one and the same time a location where new projects to contest and confront rape are imagined and constructed, and also where misogynist representations of women that are demeaning and glorify sexual violence exist.

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Gendered economic inequalities contribute to higher rates of rape and other forms of violence against women. Reducing economic inequalities is linked to the reduction of rape and other forms of gender-based violence, while reducing rape and other forms of gender-based violence is likely to improve economic growth and development (Moser and Shrader, 1999; Walby, 2004, 2009; Bedford, 2009). Strengthening women’s economic status delivers decreasing rates of rape and increases the range of options available to assist women to avoid situations in which they are particularly vulnerable to rape, including within intimate and family contexts. The best interventions operate at multiple levels, creating systemic change, and locate the strengthening of women’s economic status at the core of policy and practice. The causal pathways linking rape and gendered economic inequalities flow in both directions. Victim-survivors of rape have economic needs, including for income and housing, as well as needs for healthcare and other specialised services. Improvements to the economic wellbeing of women can increase the resilience of women from rape and from some of the consequences of rape. Rape damages women’s capacity for employment, and is thus a detriment to the contribution of women to the economy and to economic growth; rape contributes to the social exclusion of women.

Research findings have suggested both that a high proportion of rapes and sexual assaults are carried out by a perpetrator known to the victim, including intimate partners and family members (Walby and Allen, 2004), and that a high proportion of assaults by intimate partners and family members include a sexual element (Kelly, 2000).

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There has been much progress in the development of policies to stop rape, but there are many remaining challenges to address before they become comprehensive.

There is a need for further substantial reform in many areas if the widely shared goal of stopping rape, or even the more modest goal of reducing the amount of rape, is to be achieved. In each of several major policy fields, the interventions identified in this book could significantly reduce rape: strategy, coordination and research; victim services and healthcare systems; law and the criminal justice system; conflict zones; culture, media and education; and the economy.

These changes in specific policy areas are more likely if there are wider changes in the system of gender relations, so as to reduce the gender imbalance in decision-making, and to reduce gender inequalities in the economy and elsewhere. In addition, the systematic reduction in the level of all forms of violence is a necessary part of the process of reducing and stopping rape.

In each policy field, there has been specialised expert development followed by their transfer into the mainstream services and policy domains – mainstreaming requires both the development of specific expertise, and then its wider distribution into generic services through training and funding.

There have been three strands in the analysis in this book that offer contributions to the development of the theoretical model of the causal pathways leading to rape, and thus the identification of the interventions that can reduce and stop rape.

One strand concerns interventions that reduce the propensity of individuals to rape, or the vulnerability of individuals to being raped.

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