It is impossible to justify an act as heinous as rape. All too often, though, that’s exactly what people try to do, pointing the finger at victims – the clothes they had on, the make-up they were wearing, the signals they sent, the alcohol they had consumed.

While we might like to think these attitudes are limited to a small, unenlightened group of people, recent research suggests they are shockingly widespread.

As part of a European Commission report on gender-based violence, 30,000 EU citizens were asked whether they thought sex without consent was acceptable in certain circumstances, such as when a woman is wearing “revealing” clothing. Over a quarter of respondents said they thought it was.

The report also found that over 10% of respondents thought sex without consent could potentially be justified if the victim had voluntarily gone home with the aggressor, was wearing “provocative, revealing or sexy” clothing, or if they had somehow not said no clearly enough.

Results on a country level

Opinions varied from country to country, as this chart, created by Statista for the Independent, shows.

 European attitudes towards rape
Image: Statista

Respondents in Romania and Hungary were consistently more likely to say that each situation could be a justification for sex without consent. In the UK, 22% of respondents said rape was acceptable in some circumstances, and 12% said excessive drink or drug intake could make non-consensual sex acceptable.

Respondents in Spain and Sweden were among the least likely to say rape could ever be justified.

“The only thing that causes rape is rapists”, sexual assault awareness campaigner Annie Clark once said. These shocking results show how much work still needs to be done for people to realize that.