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Staying Safe against Sexual Violence around the World

Dangerous West

Chinese students, executives and businessmen traveling for both educational and business opportunities around the world for the first or initial few times are often oblivious to the dangers of the world outside China. In one reported analysis (, it has been said that countries with the highest reported crime rates (based on house hold surveys, hospital and insurance records, FIR recorded by police or by law enforcement agencies) are clearly countries of Europe and America. Asia even though less economically sound is far safer as compared to the ten countries listed (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2011):

Rape and Sexual Violence

One of the most traumatic and degrading crime against victims is the act of rape and sexual assaults. United Nations classifies rape as ‘crime against humanity’ and even ‘torture’. Unfortunately, rape has been rising in several countries in the West due to socio-political factors like ideologies of male sexual entitlement, weak legal sanctions for sexual violence etc.

It has currently reached almost epidemic levels in the western world and amazingly, the most developed countries like America, Canada, Sweden and United Kingdom are within the list of the Top 10 countries with the highest rape cases. While about 36% of women globally have experienced physical or sexual violence this statistic becomes even more disturbing in developed countries.

Top 10 Countries in the World for Rape

1) South Africa

2) Sweden

3) United States

4) England and Wales

5) India

6) New Zealand

7) Canada

8) Australia

9) Zimbabwe

10) Denmark and Finland

According to a 2014 study published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, approximately 47% of women surveyed in Finland were said to have suffered physical and/ or sexual abuse, while 52% of women in Denmark have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse. In interviews conducted in this study, more than 1 in 10 women indicated that they experienced sexual violence since the age of 15, and 1 in 20 had actually been raped. Denmark and Finland share this dubious honor of sharing position 10 on this list.

Occupying position 9 is Zimbabwe. At least 1 woman is raped every 90 minutes in this country according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics. UNICEF however reported that there are many more cases, especially against children, that go unreported in country where a climate of secrecy and denial exists.

Australia, a very popular destination of overseas studies from Asia is ranked 8th in the world for rape. According to, 1 out of 6 Australian women has to face the torture of rape by a non-partner, compared to 1 in 14 women around the world. Many of these victims are as young as 15 years of age.

Canada, which is ranked 7th in this list, is reported to have 1 in 3 females to have experienced been raped in their lives. Only 6% of the total rape cases are ever reported to the police.

Occupying 6th in this list is another popular destination of Asians for overseas studies - New Zealand. According to the Minister of Justice Publication Report, a rape takes place every 2 hours. Recent statistics suggest that 1 out of 3 girls and even 1 out of 6 boys are likely to be sexually abused before the age of 16.

India has been in the international limelight for a number of horrific rape cases that has shocked the world. In India, a woman is raped after every 20 minutes, according to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB). More disturbing, 1 in 3 rape victims is below 18 years of age, and 1 in 10 is under 14. According to 2013 statistics, New Delhi has the highest number of reported rape cases among Indian cities – followed by Mumbai, Jaipur and Pune. In India, the majority of rape offenders are known to the victims (94%).

According to a 2013 report by the Ministry of Justice, 1 in every 5 women (about 400,000 women) has experienced some forms of sexual violence since the age of 16 in England and Wales. Only about 15% of women who are victims of rape reported it to the police. Around 90% of rapes are committed by men known to their victims. Furthermore, most rape crimes take place in the victims’ homes, workplaces or settings where they have previously felt safe.

According to George Mason University, 1 in 3 women in the United States will be sexually abused during their lifetime. Many of these victims, about 80%, were first raped before age 30, and 40% of them before age 18. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAIIN) estimated that every 107 seconds, a woman in the United States will be sexually assaulted, and as high as 68% of such sexual assaults are not reported to the police. About 70% of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, and 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison.

Sweden has risen to be the second highest number of rapes in the world in recent years. With 1 out of every 4 women in Sweden becoming a victim of rape, Sweden has earned the dubious reputation of having the highest rate of rape in the whole of Europe.

The top position of rape in the world belongs to South Africa. It has been estimated that more than 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime. While about 41% of rapes are committed against children, 15% involves children under the age of 11 – making South Africa a very dangerous place for children to live in.

Safety Strategies to avoid becoming a Victim of Rape and Sexual Assaults

Typically, women are often advised to use non-aggressive strategies against sexual assault such as pleading, begging etc. Research suggests that this is poor advice.

A study by the University of Oregon, recommended 2 broad strategies to women on avoiding becoming a victim of rape and other sexual assaults are: Setting clear boundaries, and learning self defense skills.

Setting of Clear Boundaries

The setting of clear boundaries is crucial as most unwelcome sexual contact doesn’t involve a stranger jumping out of the bushes, but more often involves an acquaintance or even someone closer setting one up for an assault. But no matter whether it’s a stranger or a friend, it’s also important to recognize that unwanted sexual contact spans a range of behaviors: sexual contact (unwanted touching), sexual coercion (unwanted sexual intercourse as a result of pressure or use of authority), attempted rape (an unsuccessful attempt at forced intercourse) and rape (forced intercourse). By setting clear boundaries, it helps to dissuade a man from rationalizing and thinking that the woman is simply playing hard to get with him

Self Defense Training

In addition, the University study also found that women who took a 10 week self defense training were significantly less likely to experience unwanted sexual contact than those who didn’t. However, this study also highlighted that it is important for the training course to focus on empowering women with the techniques and tactics that uses lower body parts (e.g. use of legs instead of hands and arms) as generally women’s legs are stronger than their arms. It also highlighted the need for women to learn how to break out and counter holds (e.g. forearm grabs etc) in order to avoid being restraint against one’s will.

Other researchers came to similar conclusions – that forceful physical resistance is an extremely successful strategy. The completed rape dropped to 14% when the rapist’s attempt was met with violent physical force. Striking was more successful than pushing or wrestling. Physical resistance also appeared to be more effective when assault occurred outdoor. Women who used knives or guns in self-defence were raped less than 1% of the time.

Forceful Verbal Resistance

According to one study (source: The Effect of Resistance Strategies on Rape, American Journal of Public Health, 1993, 83(11), 1633-1634). The study found that women who used non-forceful verbal strategies, e.g, crying or pleading with the assailant were raped about 96% of the time. Forceful verbal resistance, including loud screaming was more effective than non-forceful verbal resistance. These strategies were associated with completion of rape from 44%-50% of the time.

Running Away

Running works even better than verbal resistance. Research indicates that only 15% of women who attempted to flee were raped.


Sexual assault is, of course, a complex phenomenon which has no simple solution. While many of these strategies are very successful by themselves, combinations e.g, shouting and fighting or shouting, fighting and running further increase the chances of avoiding rape


Teo Yew Chye and Qin Yunquan,

Yew Chye is a life long martial artist/ self defense expert of Singapore’s top self defense school, Kapap Academy. A psychologist by training, yew chye founded Kapap Academy in memory of his brother who was killed in a street attack. He is recognized as a pioneer in the area of realistic self defense within Singapore, and Kapap Academy has been voted by Yahoo! Sport as one of the top 5 real martial arts schools in Singapore (2014). He is the principal founder of Modern Street Combatives – a modern day, street oriented style of combatives that draws upon Kapap Combatives, Gracie Combatives, Catch Wrestling, Savate, Chin-na, Dynamic Combat Method and traditional TKD. Yew Chye is a certified Bodyguard and a NRA (US) certified weapons instructor for handgun and shotgun.

Yunquan is a social activist and a well-respected figure in both Singapore and Malaysia as a self defense expert, especially in ladies self defense. She is a National Athlete (Wrestling) and a local MMA/ Wrestling champion - having trained under international/ Olympic coaches in the area of catch wrestling – an extremely brutal submission grappling style. Yunquan is currently undergoing training under international edge weapons instructor, Tom Sotis. She is also a certified Bodyguard and the Co-founder of the system, Modern Street Combatives.

Modern Street Combatives has been introduced into over 80 schools and 108 companies in both Singapore and Malaysia.

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