BANGKOK - Nearly a quarter of men surveyed in six Asia-Pacific countries admit to committing rape, often against their own partners, according to a UN report published Tuesday that exposes widespread violence against women.
Based on anonymous interviews with more than 10,000 men aged between 18 and 49-years-old in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea, the study is the first of its scale in the region.
"Violence against women is a harsh reality for many," Roberta Clarke, regional director of UN Women, said at the launch of the report in Bangkok.
"We must change the culture that enables men to enact power and control over women."
The prevalence of rape varied widely between locations, the UN said, explaining that its sample areas were not representative of whole countries.
Using a definition of non-consensual, penetrative sex as a benchmark, the study said 11 per cent of respondents reported having raped a woman who was not their partner.
This rose to nearly a quarter -- 24 per cent -- when their partner was included in the question.
Of those men who said they had committed rape, just under half (45 per cent) said they had raped more than one woman.
Alarmingly, of those who admitted rape, half were teenagers and 12 per cent were younger than 15-years-old, while the majority of men surveyed said they had not faced any legal consequences for their actions.
The highest prevalence (more than 62 per cent) of rape was found in Bougainville, in Papua New Guinea, where a decade of war ravaged the island until 1998 and community justice is often favoured over legal process.
In the restive neighbouring Indonesian province of Papua the rates were at nearly 49 per cent, while 26 per cent of respondents in Jakarta admitted to the crime.
Rates in the one Chinese area surveyed reached 22 per cent while those in Cambodia -- the most comprehensively studied with respondents drawn from five districts -- were at 20 per cent, the report found.
The probe is not intended to be an authoritative statistical overview of rape in these six countries or of the Asia-Pacific region, say the authors.
"Violence is pervasive but it is also preventable," according to report researcher Emma Fulu of Partners for Prevention.
"The factors we found associated with violence are changeable," she said, citing high rates of child abuse, recent conflicts shredding social structures and poor law enforcement.