Rape Amongst Animals

Yet again I am focusing on a topic that has moral implications for humans, but little to the same extent for animals. Why do many different species accross the spectrum engage in this activity and what advantages do they get by forcing themselves on another female?

It is well known to humans that there are few species aside from us that engage in sex for pleasure. Aside from dolphins and monkeys, we are the only ones and therefore, we can rule out this reason for rape when looking at an array of different species.

When a female is in estrous (or in heat) she exudes a pheromone that drives the males crazy. It is because of this pheromone that males want to mate and pro-create.  However, during the rest of the year the female releases no such chemical and so the males of her species never think of sex, only of carrying on their genetic lineage.

Mallard Ducks, Orangutans, Chimpanzees, Elephant seals, Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Bonobos, Zebras and Scorpion flies are all species that engage in this act, which to human eyes is so immoral and horrific. Among these species, there is a variation between the acceptability of rape and the consequences that an animal society would impose on an offender.

When we look at the many different species mentioned above, there is one thing that may catch your eye; Almost half of the species who engage in forced copulation are monkeys. Why?  Although there are many species of animals that do not engage in sex for pleasure, merely to carry on their genetic lineage, monkeys are one of the few that do. For example; If a female scorpion fly was to refuse a male scorpion fly after his first sexual advances, he would be likely to chase after her and force himself on her. Animals such as insects take no sexual pleasure in copulation, so this form of violence is simply a way that a male can ensure his lineage will continue.

A society of Bonobos

But, rape among the monkey species are very different cases than rape among scorpion flies. Because animals like Bonobos and Chimpanzees  take pleasure in copulation, their reasons would perhaps be considered more selfish than those of animals who rape only for the reproduction aspect. Rape by females is non-existent, but if it is, Scientists are yet to witness the act. Because females of a species are more often without allies and generally thought to be more vulnerable than males, they are most often the targets of their fellow species anger and violent tendencies. If a female is raped in a monkey’s society, the offender will be killed by the other animals. However, this is not the case for many other animal societies.

Male sea lions fight for a beach filled with females, but then this leaves lots of males on the sidelines with no females, they become extremely frustrated because they had to travel far to that beach for a chance to copulate. They will often take it out on youngsters that stray from the group, they will beat them up and throw them around and then rape them, usually killing them.

There are obviously extreme acts of violence among species and considering the number of animals (both undocumented and documented) in the world, the number found to be engaging in rape are almost minuscule. However, the numbers are still there and among animals, although it is not always approved of, rape in often generally accepted by all.

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