A report issued in the United States of America after interviews with rapists and victims has presented important advice to women to help prevent rapes. The advice could be useful for women all over the world, to help to protect them against this horrific crime, which can leave psychological scars that never completely heal. Apparently, the first signal which attracts a potential rapist is the hair. Women with long hair or pony tails are much more likely to be raped than those with short hair. We can assume from the report that the hair is a powerful symbol of femininity, which the rapist has an internal and unconscious desire to humiliate. The second signal is clothing which is easy to remove. The rapists' attacks usually last for only a few minutes, if not seconds and they want quick and easy access to their victims. Thirdly, women who are distracted are easier to dominate quickly than those who are alert. Therefore the main victims are those women alone in places where there are fewer people, those using mobile telephones and so on. The favourite time for rapes in the USA is in the early morning (05:00 to 08:30) and the main areas of attack are public bathrooms, garages or overnight convenience stores. Many convicted rapists stated that if the victim presented any resistance, they would be discouraged from continuing and they would never attack any woman who had an instrument with which she could fight at a distance, such as an umbrella. However, how does any woman know that the man attacking her is not a psychopath who will kill her if she makes any form of resistance? The best policy is one of caution and avoidance, avoiding badly-lit streets and not engaging anyone unknown in conversation in suspicious circumstances, our correspondent Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey reports from Lisbon.

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