Today’s Investigative Special Report July 17, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “Is The Decrease Of Rapes Due To The Internet?”

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

The accused rapists of Mukhtar Mai
The accused rapists of Mukhtar Mai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The controversy about has access to pornography on the Internet decreased the acts of rapes has been a subject which has been around for several decades. Some professionals working in the mental health field and law enforcement community have argued that rape is down across America. The sexual misconduct and rape has been a major problem yesterday, today, and will be tomorrow. The sexual behavior of men and women has been at times either inappropriate or criminal in nature. The question then is what role does the Internet and rape have to do with one another, if at all?
The stereotypes of what type of individual would rape someone are major factors in this discussion. Those in the forensic stereotyping of rapists generally state those individuals who rape are committing the act not because of the sexual act, but for the reason to unleash their anger, control, and violence. Sex is merely the prop and weapon to demean their victim.
Each rapist’s is different in their characteristics, age, race, needs, behavior, and economic status. Rapists have been studied across the board by those who deal with them on a daily basis. Some experts state that rapists rape those of their own race, are from low economic status which have a history of major violent conflicts, trouble with women, and generally have dysfunctional problems with women.
In walks the discovery of the Internet and the controversy about the influence it has had on rapes. The problem is the studies which have been performed to date has not provided the mental health and law enforcement community with the answers to the many questions which this controversy has identified.
According to Dr. Philippe Bensimon, “If an image can be so readily incorporated into an individual’s thoughts, the individual must already be predisposed or inclined to have such thoughts.” Bensimon statement provides a visual which may provide one of the answers to the questions about the significance of pornography in the mind of rapists. If rapists have the ability to view specific pornographic material on the Internet this may be the trigger which causes them to fantasize and then later act out.

“Various empirical studies also refer to the “domino effect” interpreting the causal links and variables that come into play before, during, and after the commission of the criminal act. To take but one example, of a sample of 561 sex offenders surveyed by Langevin and Curnoe in 2004, 96 (17%)  (Bensimon, 2007).”

One of the answers maybe in the ideology that what is internal may become external i.e. what is in the mind (fantasy) may become the physical act (rape). This would seem to be a logical and reasonable viewpoint/analysis as when someone is sexually stimulated, the need for physical contact may be the only sexual outlet the rapists would seek.

In viewing the Internet ‘pleasure zones’ provide sexual themes e.g. movies, pictures, chatrooms, websites, and an assorted other areas the rapists may need to explore to find and potentially fulfill their fantasies.

The behavior of the rapists may become a ritual for them to activate the need to act out. It is a structure that the rapist’s needs to sexually stimulate themselves by going to the Internet and viewing pornography and then acting out. The confusing part is the theory as stated above is the rapist’s acts out for control, that the sex act is a weapon. The problem with this is the studies and research support that sexual fantasy plays a major role in the development of the physical act i.e. rape.

According to authors Robert Hazelwood and Janet Warren, “Paraphilia is a term used by the mental health profession to describe what is more commonly called sexual deviation. The essential features of a paraphilia are recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving…” It seems that paraphilia may play some type of role in the mind of the rapists. These feelings can be derived from the ‘pleasure zones’ on the Internet, creating an escape from the individual acting out physically i.e. committing the actual act of rape.

Pornography combined with mental health disorders could be another answer in the formula of why pornography and rape maybe comingled. According to author Steven E. Landsburg:

The bottom line on these experiments is, "More Net access, less rape." A 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. States that adopted the Internet quickly saw the biggest declines. And, according to Clemson professor Todd Kendall, the effects remain even after you control for all of the obvious confounding variables, such as alcohol consumption, police presence, poverty and unemployment rates, population density, and so forth.

The argument then is that due to the increase in the use and access of pornography, rape is down. This final answer just doesn’t seem to fulfill the need for resolution and answers of why rapes are down over the past 25 years. There are other reasons rapes have declined, (conjecture only) e.g. the awareness and education on how to prevent rapes from occurring; the apprehension of rapists prior to the rapists committing the act; the rapists committing the act, being apprehended, which prevents future rapes to occur; the mental health field has provided their services to those individuals who may want and need to rape; prison sentences have kept rapists from being free to commit additional rapes; and many other possible factors which may be considered.

What impact technology has actually had with the decrease of rape may prove to be a question that researchers and studies will determine in the near future. At this time the answers provided above may be logical and reasonable, but still as this author believes; only time will tell.

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Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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