chapter  1
9 Pages

Introduction

WithJESSICA WOODHAMS AND MIRANDA A. H. HORVATH

Whilst there is considerable literature on rape from various perspectives, at the time we began work on this book there were only a handful of (now dated) works that focus on rape committed by multiple perpetrators (Amir, 1971; O’Sullivan, 1991; Rozee-Koker & Polk, 1986; Sanday, 1992; Wright & West, 1981). In contrast to this, it is a phenomenon that often grabs the attention of the media; however, the media’s construction of these offences – as is often the case for rape generally (Kitzinger, 2009) – does not usually accurately represent the ‘reality’. For example, it is often portrayed as a crime committed by young, ethnic-minority men who are members of criminal gangs (e.g. Aslan, 2009; Poynting & Mason, 2007; Samura, 2009). Alternatively, the cases that are reported are those where extreme forms of violence have been used by the offenders, such as the case of a 15-year-old girl in London who was raped by a group of young men, following which they threw caustic soda over her (e.g. Greenhill, 2008), or where the group size was very large (e.g. Lee & Lee, 2004). As will be illustrated in this book, the reality is very different. The situations in which such offences occur are extremely varied (Harkins & Dixon, 2010): for example, they occur during war and civil conflict, in the context of fraternities and sports teams, on the streets and in people’s homes. The commission of such offences has not been found to be linked to poverty (Jewkes, Sikweyiya, Morrell & Dunkle, 2011); instead, the perpetrators are men and boys from all walks of life and, as will be evidenced, they can also be women and girls. Victims are of all ages and whilst they are predominantly women and girls, they can also be men and boys.