Over a quarter of Europeans think sex without consent is justifiable – poll

A Eurobarometer survey has shown alarming tendencies in attitudes towards sex without consent, with about 27 percent of respondents across the EU saying sex without consent is justifiable.

Most respondents cite reasons like being drunk or on drugs (12 percent), agreeing to go home with someone (11 percent), wearing revealing clothes, or not clearly saying no or physically fighting back (both 10 percent).

Sorted by country, those surveyed in Romania and Hungary tended to be the most likely to say each situation could justify sex without consent, while respondents in Sweden and Spain were among the least likely to say so.

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© Fabrizio Bensch

Moreover, more than 40 percent of respondents in the EU believe that harassing women in the street by making sexually offensive jokes should not be illegal, with nine percent in Slovenia and eight percent each in Austria, Germany, and Lithuania saying it is not even wrong.

The survey also asked the respondents about harassment at work: for instance, “touching a colleague in an inappropriate way” should not be illegal, think 48 percent of Hungarians, 42 percent of Estonians, and 38 percent of Lithuanians.

Most respondents also think that sexual harassment against women is either very common (20 percent) or fairly common (half of all respondents).

The location where violent acts occur is most often home, over 85 percent of respondents said, while 19 percent said public places, and another 19 percent said harassment happens most often online.

Perhaps even more alarming is the way many respondents expressed their attitude towards violence against women, with almost a quarter saying that women often make up or exaggerate claims of abuse, and 17 percent saying that it is women who provoke violence.

Latvia proved to be the only country where the majority said the victim is to blame (57 percent), followed by Lithuania (45 percent), and Malta (40 percent). In contrast, only 6 percent of respondents agreed with the statement in the Netherlands, and 9 percent in Sweden.

On the whole, the authors of the survey were optimistic regarding the awareness of violence across the EU.

Still, the survey highlights a few rather disturbing issues: first, 88 percent of the victims do not go to the police to report the offense. Also, there is clearly disagreement among the respondents whether some violent acts should be deemed illegal or even wrong. Finally, at least 70 percent of respondents said that domestic violence and sexual harassment are common in their country (74 and 70 percent, respectively).

30 November 2016 | 12:47 pm

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