National Study Shows Young Australians Have Alarming Views On Violence Against Women

24/09/2015 3:32 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Shutterstock / Sergey Nivens

Australia’s young generations have worse views about violence against women than any other age group, but experts suggest it's more naive than sinister.

The study of Australians aged 16 to 24 found two in five believed rape resulted from men not being able to control their sexual urges.

Disturbingly, the study of 1923 people also found 20 percent of young people believed women often said ‘no’ when they meant ‘yes’.

This compared to 13 percent of 35 to 64 year olds.

Completed in 2013 by the state-funded Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, researchers also asked about the concerning trend of using GPS and phone technology to track partners -- which has since been used by perpetrators of domestic violence to try and locate safe houses.

In 2013, 46 percent of young people believed it was acceptable to some degree to track a woman “by electronic means” without her consent.

Young men were more likely to agree with electronic tracking at 52 percent compared to 40 percent of young women.

Co-author Kristin Diemer said young people were picking up on what they saw around them.

"There are concerning views on violence against women among older people but these views are exaggerated in this young group," Diemer said.

"I'm thinking a lot of it may have to do with life experience. Young people with little life experience might have a relatively ideological idea of relationships."

She said one statistic that stood out to her was the suggestion that some believed rape resulted from men not being able to control their sexual urges.

"It's still being used as a way of excusing rape," Diemer said.

"I think if you flipped the question on its head and asked men 'can you control your sexual urges?' They would say of course they could.

"It shows young people need to be involved in conversations about what consent is -- sexually or otherwise."

Diemer said the younger generation also had a curious double standard about gender equality as 22 percent of young people agreed that men should take control in relationships compared to 16 percent of 35-64 year olds.

"It brings up interesting questions about power dynamics in relationships," Diemer said.

"While generally younger people were supportive of gender equality in the workplace and in society, the study showed they still thought a man should control a relationship.

"We need to start younger working with young girls to teach them to make their own decisions and not defer to positions of more authority -- which is often a man."

As for the current debate surrounding whether convicted assaulter and pop star Chris Brown should be allowed to perform in Australia, Diemer said he should explain what's changed.

“It illustrates clearly in the public eye the dynamics that abusive relationships often take," Diemer said.

“The violent episode was played out in public and he was accused and charged but Rihanna also withdrew her charges, she also wrote a song that was quite emotional about the ups and downs of a relationship that seems to be about being a victim of violence.

“I Australians could put pressure on him to speak out about his change. To try to turn it into a positive.”

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