Mexican American women's definitions of rape and sexual abuse

Examined the meaning of rape and sexual abuse from the points of view of women and suggested how rape research, prevention, and intervention strategies might become more culturally appropriate for them. Focus group approach was used to explore concepts related to rape and sexual abuse among 17 Mexican immigrant women 22-55 yrs old living in rural Arizona. The women discussed definitions of various forms of unwanted sexual experiences, their personal knowledge of someone who had been raped or sexually abused, and their perceptions of the roots of sexual abuse. Distinctions between rapto and violacion, child vs adult rape (including marital rape), motivations for rape, and social factors contributing to victim silencing were identified. The meaning and perceived impact of rape reflected the gender relations of the culture. Keeping silent was a consistent theme, underscoring the difficulties of accurately assessing rape prevalence in Latinas. Research, prevention, intervention, and treatment programs need to recognize the social context and impact of rape and be designed accordingly. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2002 APA, all rights reserved)
Author: 
Lira,Luciana Ramos
Koss,Mary P.
Russo,Nancy Felipe
Notes: 
LA- English AN- 1999-03940-001
Reprint Status: 
IN FILE
Start Page: 
236
End Page: 
265
Journal/Periodical Name: 
Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences
Volume: 
21
Issue: 
3
Abstract: 
This paper addresses the concept of rape from the perspective of Mexican American immigrant women living in America. It begins with an overview of cultural meanings of rape and sexual abuse and the impact thereof within an appreciation of cultural differences affected by religious norms, images of women, and notions of sexuality among Latinas. The study presented in this paper involved 17 Mexican American women living in Arizona who participated in four focus groups. Their discussions focused on issues pertaining to unwanted sexual contact. Definitions elicited from these discussions included notions of rapto, violacion, and abuso sexual. Furthermore, the women discussed child rape and abuse, adult rape and abuse, the causes of rape, wife rape, the causes of wife rape, and ultimately, the silence of victims. The intermingling of traditional and modern meanings of such concepts should not be underestimated nor easily overlooked when addressing the issue of rape among Latinas. Research, prevention, intervention, and treatment programs must therefore be sensitive toward culturally appropriate approaches to this issue and must be mindful of the language used to express the various experiences and perceptions in order to gage an accurate assessment of the prevalence of rape among Latinas. Due to the significance of silence and the rape experiences reported by the participants, it is very likely that underreporting is a grave reality among Latinas.
Topic Areas: 
Male-female relations; marital rape; racial/ethnic differences; underserved populations
Reference Type: 
JOUR
Reference ID: 
953
Publication Date: 
1999