Rape statistics

Rape statistics

POV = August 2007
essay = August 2007
rewrite = August 2007

Statistics on rape are common in western countries and are becoming more common throughout the world. They are, however, highly politicized, often sex biased, and have been accused of being unreliable because they are so diverse and are used by different groups for different reasons. This is partly because of inconsistent definitions of rape in both legislative and academic studies. However, it is also because of over reporting, under reporting and false reporting of the crime. In the United States rape is defined differently by separate states. In many legislatures in the world some non-consensual sexual acts are not defined as rape at all. They may be considered legal, or as an illegal form of sexual assault. In some jurisdictions, male-female rape is the only form of rape considered rape while in others male-male, female-male or female-female rape may also be included as a legal form of rape. [ [http://www.cjonline.com/stories/080804/loc_crimestats.shtml Statistics can be misleading 08/08/04 ] ] Rape of children is rarely reported in official reports. Nor is the rape of children by their mothers and fathers or other relations represented in official publications. Rape, alone among other major crimes, suffers from severe definitional contradictions that create controversial statistical disparities.

These factors lead to accusations that all rape statistics are unreliable. For example, male-female rape in particular is a highly politicized issue, leading to the polemical use of questionable statistics.cite web |url=http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1719 |title=False rape accusations may be more Common Than Thought |accessdate=2007-11-28 |last=McElroy |first=Wendy |date=May 2, 2006 |work= |publisher=Fox News] According to USA Today reporter Kevin Johnson "no other major category of crime - not murder, assault or robbery - has generated a more serious challenge of the credibility of national crime statistics" than has rape. ["Rape statistics not crystal clear" by Kevin Johnson, USA Today, November 19, 1998]

A United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of male-female rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries. [ [http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/Eighth-United-Nations-Survey-on-Crime-Trends-and-the-Operations-of-Criminal-Justice-Systems.html The Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (2001 - 2002)] - Table 02.08 Total recorded rapes]

According to United States Department of Justice document Criminal Victimization in the United States, there were overall 111,490 white and 36,620 black victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005. Out of the 111,490 cases involving white victims, 44.5% (49,613) had white offenders and 33.6% (37,461) had black offenders, while the 36,620 black victims had a figure of 100% black offenders, with a 0.0% estimation for any other race based on ten or fewer sample cases. [ [http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cvusst.htm United States Department of Justice document, (table 42)] ]

Male on male, female on male, and female on female rape statistics are rarely shown in official reports. However, some researchers have shown that these types of rape are far more common than once believed despite cultural, social and political double standards that hinder recognition, research into, and reporting of these forms of rape.Fact|date=March 2008

Over reporting and under reporting

Male-female rape is sometimes over reported by researchers, activist groups, and others who have an interest in highlighting this kind of rape for political purposes. One tactic used to create artificially high rape statistics is to inflate the definition of rape beyond commonly accepted legal definitions which leads to exaggerated statistics. Another is to combine rape and other forms of sexual assault into a single statistic as shown above in the 'rape/sexual assault' statistic that shows 111,590 victims. This kind of statistical misrepresentation can lead to an alarmist (and false) sense of male-female rape incidence levels, especially as compared to other violent crimes or as compared to other forms of rape. [ [http://www.springerlink.com/content/qph2105740rt17r0/ SpringerLink - Journal Article ] ] For example, some researchers now believe, contrary to popular perceptions otherwise, that male-male rape is the single largest category of rape in the United States due to the drastic decline in male-female rape and due to chronic under-reporting of male-male rape in US prisons.

According to the 1999 United States National Crime Victimization Survey, only 39% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials. For male rape, less than 10% are believed to be reported. Female-male and female-female rape are ignored altogether in this survey. The most common reasons given by victims for not reporting rapes are the belief that it is a personal or private matter, and that they fear reprisal from the assailant. A 2007 government report in England says "Estimates from research suggest that between 75 and 95 per cent of rape crimes are never reported to the police." [Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, "Without consent: A report on the joint review of the investigation and prosecution of rape offences", January 2007 accessed at [http://inspectorates.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic/inspections/thematic/wc-thematic/them07-wc.pdf?view=Binary] April 5, 2007 - p.8]

Traditional (male-female) focused rape-related advocacy groups have suggested several tactics to encourage the reporting of sexual assaults, most of which aim at lessening the psychological trauma, often suffered by female rape victims following their assault by male rapists. Many police departments now assign female police officers to deal with rape cases. Advocacy groups also argue for the preservation of the victim's privacy during the legal process; it is standard practice among mainstream American news media not to divulge the names of alleged rape victims in news reports but this practice is becoming increasingly controversial due to well publicized cases of false rape accusations. Traditional rape-related advocacy groups are also beginning to support male-male rape victims as well as male-female rape victims. Other advocacy groups that support male victims of female rape encourage recognition of female-male rape as rape rather than as a 'love affair', a 'relationship', or as a beneficial form of sex 'education'. However, female-male and female-female rape is rarely recognized as a statistically significant form of rape despite research indicating otherwise. Thus reporting rape by females remains difficult or impossible especially in jurisdictions where rape by a female is considered no crime or where the false perception persists that rape of a male by a female is impossible. [ [http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/pblct/sexoffender/female/toc_e.shtml] ]

Psychologists who research female-male, and female-female rape suggest that significant under-reporting of these crimes is occurring. They suggest that the double standards in perception that exist between male and female rape, the taboo nature (see incest) of some female rapes, and the lack of rapist-gender reporting in many jurisdictions contribute to this alleged under reporting in the United States. Canadian researcher Linda Halliday-Sumner suggests from the slowly emerging information about female sex crimes that women commit about one third of all sexual offenses. However, she notes that, in Canada, just 19 of 4545 (or just 0.4%) federal prisoners convicted of sex offenses were women in 1997. [ [http://www.vaonline.org/vls6.html Female Sex Offenders, by Linda Halliday-Sumner] ]

False reporting

Authors A.W. Burgess and R.R. Hazelwood observe that "little is published which addresses the issue and concept of false allegation." The classification of "false reporting" makes no distinction between women who wilfully misreport and women who mistakenly identify innocent men. [Hazelwood, R. R., & Burgess, A. W. (2001). "Practical aspects of rape investigation: a multidisciplinary approach". CRC series in practical aspects of criminal and forensic investigations. CRC Press. ISBN 0849300762 - p.178] Figures on false reporting used by journalists have ranged from 2% to 50% depending on their sources:

"... one explanation for such a wide range in the statistics might simply be that they come from different studies of different populations... But there's also a strong political tilt to the debate. A low number would undercut a belief about rape as being as old as the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife: that some women, out of shame or vengeance ... claim that their consensual encounters or rebuffed advances were rapes. If the number is high, on the other hand, advocates for women who have been raped worry it may also taint the credibility of the genuine victims of sexual assault." [http://archives.cjr.org/year/97/6/rape.asp The Elusive Numbers on False Rape] November/December 1997]
In her work, "The Legacy of the Prompt Complaint Requirement, Corroboration Requirement, and Cautionary Instructions on Campus Sexual Assault", Michelle J. Anderson of the Villanova University School of Law states: "As a scientific matter, the frequency of false rape complaints to police or other legal authorities remains unknown." [ [http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=555884 The Legacy of the Prompt Complaint Requirement, Corroboration Requirement, and Cautionary Instructions on Campus Sexual Assault] Forthcoming] The FBI's 1996 Uniform Crime Report states that 8% of reports of forcible rape were determined to be unfounded upon investigation, [ [http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/Cius_97/96CRIME/96crime2.pdf Crime Index Offenses Reported] 1996] but that percentage does not include cases where an accuser fails or refuses to cooperate in an investigation or drops the charges. A British study using a similar methodology that does not include the accusers who drop out of the justice process found a false reporting rate of 8% as well. [ [http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors293.pdf A gap or a chasm? Attrition in reported rape cases] Home Office Research - February 2005]

In 1994, Dr. Eugene J. Kanin of Purdue University investigated the incidences, in one small urban community, of false rape allegations made to the police between 1978 and 1987. Unlike those in many larger jurisdictions, this police department had the resources to "seriously record and pursue to closure all rape complaints, regardless of their merits". The falseness of the allegations was not decided by the police, or by Dr. Kanin; they were "... declared false only because the complainant admitted they are false." The number of false rape allegations in the studied period was 45; this was 41% of the 109 total complaints filed in this period. In Dr. Kanin's research, the complainants who made false allegations did so (by their own statements during recantation) for one or some combination of three major reasons:
*providing an alibi. Dr. Kanin's report describes a woman who got into a bar fight and, fearing that this might prevent her from regaining custody of her children, filed a rape complaint to account for her injuries.
* a means of gaining revenge. Dr. Kanin's report describes an 18 year old woman who engages in consensual sex with a boarder staying at her house. After he refuses to continue their relationship she accuses him of rape.
* a platform for seeking attention/sympathy. Dr. Kanin's report describes a woman who becomes attracted to her therapist and in an attempt to elicit sympathy from him fabricates a story of rape and is subsequently pressured by him to report it to the police. Dr. Kanin also looked at the police records of two large mid western state universities and found that, of the 64 rape accusations, 32 (50%) were eventually recanted. Unlike the city police in the other study, the university police did not use polygraph examinations and the investigations were all performed by female officers. This figure also forms a lower estimate of the total number of false accusations reported to the police during this period and it is similarly possible that there were false accusations that were never recanted and resulted in convictions. However Kanin warns against reading too much into his results: "Certainly our intent is not to suggest that the 41 percent incidence found here be extrapolated to other populations, particularly in light of our ignorance regarding the structural variables." [ [ Kanin's Study] ]

A 2006 paper by N.S. Rumney in the "Cambridge Law Journal" provided an exhaustive account of studies of false reporting in the USA, New Zealand and the UK. [Rumney, N.S., "False Allegations of Rape", "Cambridge Law Journal", 65, March, 2006, pp.128-158 (journals.cambridge.org/production/action/cjoGetFulltext?fulltextid=430300)] A tabulated list of studies on false reporting published between 1968 and 2005 placed the percentage of false reports between a minimum on 1.5% (Theilade and Thomsen, 1986) and a maximum of 90% (Stewart, 1981). Rumney notes that early researchers tended to accept uncritically Freudian theories which purported to explain the prevalence of false allegations, while in more recent literature there has been "a lack of critical analysis of those who claim a low false reporting rate and the uncritical adoption of unreliable research findings" (p.157) Rumney concludes that "as a consequence of such deficiencies within legal scholarship, factual claims have been repeatedly made that have only limited empirical support. This suggests widespead analytical failure on the part of legal scholarship and requires an acknowledgement of the weakness of assumptions that have been constructed on unreliable research evidence".

ee also

*Types of rape
*Child sexual abuse
*Sexual slavery



* Macdonalds, J. (2007). Rape. In "The World Book Encyclopedia". United States of America: World Book Inc.
* Rape (2007). In "The New Encyclopædia Britannica" (Vol. 9). Chicago, Il.: Britannica.
* Howard, Angela & Kavenik Francis. (2000). "Handbook of American Women's History". CA: Sage Publications Inc.

External links

tatistics on sexual violence and reporting

* [http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/ibrs.htm US Department of Justice: Incident-Based Statistics (new, non-uniform and incomplete)]
* [http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (non-uniform sources and discriminates against male rape victims)]
* [http://www.ncpa.org/studies/s229/s229.html Probability statistics compiled by NCPA from US Department of Justice statistics] October 1999
* [http://www.ibiblio.org/rcip/stats.html Rape and Sexual Assault Statistics]
* [http://www.quadrant.org.au/php/article_view.php?article_id=315 Child Sexual Abuse, Real and Unreal] November 2002
* [http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5001659224 False rape allegations] 1994
* [http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=18108 Duke Rape Case All Too Common] December 18, 2006

How to report rape

* [http://www.ibiblio.org/rcip/reporting.html Reporting rape]

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