There are few crimes worse than rape. And unfortunately, it seems to be a fact of life for so many people in the world today. A quick look through the news is enough to frighten anyone, and with the numbers seemingly on the rise in many European countries, it makes the world look like it’s getting worse, rather than better. There are a number of things that have to be stated at the beginning here.
First, the definition of rape is different depending on where you are. It changes the meaning of the stats by a fair bit, and I will do my best to explain each of the ten countries’ official positions on the issue as and when they come up. Second, no matter what else is said in this article, it is always horrible, always damaging, and for some of us, always on our minds. What makes this all the worse is the reporting rate of the crime is far lower than the actual rate of the crime. So a look at these figures is, on average, only a fifth of the picture.
So let’s take a look down the list.
Top 10 Countries with the Highest Rape Crime Rates
Nearly 47% of Finnish women have suffered sexual or physical abuse, according to a survey done by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. In fact, they were one of the last countries in the EU to criminalize marital rape—it only became illegal in 1994.
To make matters worse, more than 1 in 10 women were sexually assaulted before they turned 15 years old. And over 20% have experienced physical and or sexual violence from a previous or current partner. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of them reported the incident to the police.
One woman is sexually assaulted every 90 minutes in Zimbabwe.
During the first three months of 2021, more than 1,500 cases of rape were reported, and out of these cases, nearly 800 involved children between the ages of 11 and 16; another 276 involved those between the ages of 5 and 10. However, it’s believed that the actual number is higher as many cases go unreported.
Like most first-world nations, Australia has a far higher rate of reported incidence than, say, Panama. Their 28.6 per 100,000 is high, and the real figure is likely higher, but it is also mitigated by the fact that far more people in Australia are willing to report their crimes to the police.
Not to mention the fact that the police are far more likely to do something about it than in many other nations. Australia also includes sexual assault in their rape statistics in most of their jurisdictions, something I am very much in favor of. There is also the fact that over the last few years the figure has been shrinking, rather than growing, an encouraging trend.
Violent crimes have gone up significantly in Canada over the past few years. According to the Department of Justice, young people between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest rate of sexual assault and the perpetrator is often a friend, neighbor, or acquaintance of the victim. However, more than 80% of cases go unreported—often because the victim feels ashamed or embarrassed.
And of those that are actually reported to the police, less than half result in a guilty verdict. This is worrying as sexual assault is the only violent crime that’s not declining in Canada.
6. New Zealand
The sexual assault rate in New Zealand is significantly higher than in other countries. According to the Minister of Justice Report, a woman is raped every two hours and 1 in 3 girls are likely to be raped before the age of 16. However, less than 10% of sexual offenses are reported to the police, and only 13% end in a conviction.
In 2013, a group of teenage boys who called themselves the “Roast Busters” boasted on social media about their sexual activity with drunk and underage girls. The police have since arrested two men connected to the gang and a warrant has been issued for a third who is overseas.
Sexual violence is a huge problem in India. Between 2018 and 2021, rape cases have gone up by nearly 33%. Altogether, 2,984 cases were reported in 2020, and 2,950 were reported in 2019. However, the actual number is likely much higher. According to Madiha Kark, over 50% of sexual assault cases are unreported in India.
Of the total cases of crimes against women, nearly 40% occurred in New Delhi, followed by Mumbai, Jaipur, and Prune. And the majority of perpetrators (94%) are known to the victims (e.g. relatives, neighbors, parents).
4. England and Wales
Sexual violence has increased significantly in England and Wales over the past decade. In 2021, more than 67,000 rapes and sexual offenses were recorded, marking a 13% increase from 2020; it’s also the highest recorded annual figure to date. It’s also estimated that 250,000 teenage girls are suffering sexual abuse at any one time.
At the same time, rape prosecution rates have fallen. According to government data, less than 1.5% of cases are persecuted. Why do so few cases go to court? Many victims often withdraw their complaints after being asked to hand over their phones as evidence. Even if they do choose to present it, the CPS must determine that there’s enough evidence to charge the suspect.
3. The United States
Nearly one in five women have experienced some form of sexual violence during their lifetime. Child sexual abuse is also a massive problem. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 females are sexually assaulted for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17. What’s more, is that 1 in 8 is sexually assaulted before the age of 10.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, only 384 cases are reported to the police out of 1,000. Out of them, only 57 results in an arrest, with 11 being referred for prosecution and 6 resulting in incarceration.
Sweden has the second-highest number of rape cases in the world, with 53.2 per 100,000 people. In fact, their rape and sexual molestation rates have been climbing steadily since 2015. In 2021, more than 3,000 individuals were convicted of rape, most of whom had an immigrant background.
The good news is that rape conviction rates have also gone up since the country changed the legal definition of rape to ‘sex without consent’ in 2018. And unlike other countries, offenders do not have to prove the threat or use of violence or coercion.
1. South Africa
South Africa is the rape capital of the world. That might sound a little sensationalist, but it’s true. In 2021, there were nearly 10,000 rape cases – an increase of 7.1% from the third quarter of 2020. To make matters worse, they also have the lowest conviction rates of all serious crimes – including rape – in the world.
That is an insane figure. But again, it is not all that surprising when you consider the history behind the country; so many of the people are only a generation removed from being ill-educated, tribal, second-class citizens.
What’s more, is that 90% of the population does not have equal rights with the ruling elite, which puts them behind other parts of the world. Add in the AIDS endemic, approximately 11% of the population has the disease and the belief that sex with a virgin will cure it, and we again have compounding factors driving people to commit the most heinous of crimes. Like Botswana, baby rape is a massive problem.