Federal lawmakers have passed legislation to end

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Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions
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Chapter 7 / Exercise 04
Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions
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Federal lawmakers have passed legislation to end prisoner rape, but they have not effectively funded it. The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 calls for the development of national standards to address prisoner rape and for funding programs to address this widespread problem at the state level. Victim-Blame Avoiding sexual violence requires understanding not only what precipitates it in a given society but also how the community and society respond to sexual violence Qurgens, Nowak, & Day, 2011). As an example of a community's response, consider what you just read about prison rape: It continues because authorities in the prison community ignore it and the community in general is hostile toward the victims. Research indicates that, in general, the response to sexual violence in the United States is hostility toward the victims (Wang & Rowl ey , 2007). Blaming the victim is not unique to the United States. Victim-blame, the formal term for hostility toward crime victims, is a cross-cultural phenomenon. One cross- cultural study tested the level of acceptance of the belief that a healthy woman can fight off a rape. It found that 20% of students surveyed in the United States held this belief, compared with 45% of those surveyed in Turkey, 50% in India, and 56% in Malaysia (Wang & Rowley, 2007). Just as troubling was the result that 64% of the U.S. students in the sample agreed that women provoke rape and that they place themselves at risk for rape when they go out alone. How do these attitudes impact victims of rape? The psychological effects are dev- astating. Victims who are made to feel blame for an assault experience self-devaluation,
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Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions
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Chapter 7 / Exercise 04
Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions
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Sexual Coercion and Resiliency have higher levels of psychological distress, and recover poorly (Wang & Rowley, 2007). Conversely, in societies where rape victims are not blamed, the psychological outcomes are much better (Merry, 2006; Sanday, 2007). Societies where victims of rape are not blamed legally and culturally define sexual coercion and assault as a crime and a violation of personal rights; support freely disclosing the crime after being victimized; believe the victim; provide understanding for the victim; and offer empathy, psychological support, and counseling (Wang & Rowley, 2007). In societies with positive outcomes, advocacy for victims of sexual violence can have positive results and help to promote respect for the sexual rights of all individuals. Cultural Differences in Rape Sexual coercion occurs throughout the world, and there are no industrial countries that are "rape free." However, rape takes different forms and has different meanings in different cul- tures. For example, the rate of rape in Japan is 1.78 per 100,000 people, whereas the United States has twice as many rapes. By comparison, the rate is 78.08 per 100,000 in Canada, and perhaps as high as 119 per 100,000 in South Africa today (NationMaster.com, 2011).

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