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Friday, September 24, 1999 Published at 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK

UK: Scotland

One in two youths 'think rape is okay'

The researchers found the survey results "shattering"

One in two young men think rape may be acceptable in certain circumstances and a quarter think it justifiable to hit a woman, according to a report.

The research by the Zero Tolerance Charitable Trust also reveals one in three girls believe forcing a woman to have sex can be acceptable.

Glasgow and North London university academics surveyed 2,039 young people aged 14 to 21 in Manchester, Glasgow and Fife on behalf of the trust.

The researchers found one in five young men thought forcing their wives to have sex would be acceptable, while one in seven agreed it would be justifiable in a long-term relationship.

[ image: The survey also revealed a worrying attitude to violence]
The survey also revealed a worrying attitude to violence
One in 10 thought there was nothing wrong with raping a woman if the man was "so turned on he can't stop", while one in six said "if she'd slept with loads of men" was a valid reason.

One in six of the boys questioned thought they might personally force a woman to have sex with them, while nearly one in 10 would rape a woman "if nobody would find out".

The results of mean half of all those surveyed believe rape to be acceptable in some circumstances.

Only two-thirds of the young men surveyed were sure they would not force a woman to have sex.

In comparison one in three women thought it was acceptable under certain circumstances for a man to force a woman into sex.

'It was shattering'

Sheila Barton, one of the North London University researchers involved in the study, said the results were shocking.

"It was shattering," she said. "We didn't set out to find such a result so we were shocked by it."

Attitudes towards violence towards women were also investigated and revealed that one in four young men thought hitting a woman could be justified if she had "slept with someone else".

And one in eight said it would be OK to hit a "nagging" woman, while one in 10 said hitting a "disrespectful" woman was justified.

[ image: The Scottish Executive is being asked to help]
The Scottish Executive is being asked to help
Of the young women asked the same question, 12% thought it was acceptable for a man to hit a woman if she had slept with someone else, while just one in 50 said hitting a girlfriend was justifiable.

One young man said: "Some women just need a slap to the jaw and put into the bedroom to calm down."

Another, asked if women triggered abuse, said: "Some birds really do provoke rape. It's the way they strut about: 'Come and get me'."

Now Zero Tolerance wants the Scottish Parliament to adopt its Respect campaign as a model for educating young people in their attitudes towards domestic violence.

At a meeting in the Scottish Parliament, the group's leaders will tell MSPs that the parliament must take the initiative in highlighting solutions to the problem.

'Totally unacceptable'

Trust Director Evelyn Gillan: "We already work with the local authorities, but having the parliament on board would make a huge difference.

"We have lifted the profile of domestic violence to an extent that women are willing to talk about it and we need solutions now to prevent it."

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, which helps woman who have suffered domestic violence, said: "The widespread acceptance of forced sex and physical violence is totally unacceptable.

"Such attitudes can only be behind the dreadful prevalence of domestic violence in society."

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