Gang rape occurs when two or more perpetrators force sexual coercion from the same victim in the same incident. A person does not usually need to be accused of actually raping a victim to be charged with gang rape, but can be so charged if he or she is shown to have used force or threats to bring about the rape by other perpetrators. Rape is a serious crime, the psychology of which mystifies many people.
Regions may differ on whether gang rape is a separate legal charge from a standard rape accusation. Some areas, such as New South Wales in Australia, have specific statutes dealing with this type of rape, known there as aggravated rape in company. In most regions, rape is a felony charge that carries prison terms and sometimes permanent registration on a sex offender list, which may impose lifetime restrictions on behavior and place of residence. Related charges may include aggravated assault and a variety of sexual crimes in addition to rape.
There are many motivations behind gang rape. Often, the crime occurs under the influence of alcohol or drugs, where judgment may be impaired in both the victim and the perpetrators. Some notorious cases have involved hate crimes, in which the act was perpetrated as a means of punishing a person for his or her nationality, gender, or race. Although data varies somewhat, young women are the primary victims of this crime.
Gang rape is sometimes related to prison rape, a crime that is thought by experts to be extremely widespread and underreported. Prison rape often occurs as a means of retaliation or in the establishment of a prison hierarchy. A larger problem, some experts suggest, is that some instances of rape in prison have been permitted with the assistance or at least tacit consent of prison officials. Since prisoners as a group have little public sympathy, some prisoner advocates believe this is a crime that shows no sign of diminishing.
In some regions, particularly those with strong religious law systems, gang rape may actually be a charge pressed against a victim. Saudi Arabia has been the source of much controversy in the 21st century as a result of several cases where female victims have been charged and convicted of adultery. In one case, a woman who was raped 14 times was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison for inciting the incident by agreeing to ride in the car of a man to whom she was not related. In 2009, an unmarried woman was charged with adultery in similar circumstances, sentenced to a year in prison and 100 lashes to be administered after she gave birth to a child conceived through the rape.