Tuesday, June 20, 2006

MCSR Submits Letter in Response to "Post" Article

On Monday, June 19, 2006 the Washington Post reported in "Statistics Show Drop in U.S. Rape Cases" that the number of rape cases reported in the US has dropped by 85% since the 1970's.

The following week, The Post ran Men Can Stop Rape's response, "More Must Be Done to Prevent Rape", on page A20 and online.

Read the article and our response, then send us your own!

Men Can Stop Rape's Response:

Regarding "Statistics Show Drop in U.S. Rape Cases" [front page, June 19]:

It may be true that the number of rapes has dramatically dropped since the 1970s, which would be reason to celebrate. But it is more likely that the methods used to track rape statistics were unable to take into account all incidences of rape. Our diverse U.S. demographics, for example, include increasing numbers of cultural groups -- Latinos, Middle Easterners and Southeast Asians -- with strong stigmas against reporting rape on a survey or to police.

Regardless of what one believes about the numbers -- and any decrease in occurrences is worth honoring -- they don't change what we do about the problem. If rape rates have gone down, it is because our country has invested in an infrastructure of rape crisis centers nationwide to support survivors and we have begun to take substantial steps in creating a national movement engaging men in preventing sexual violence. Were we to stop or reduce investment in crisis centers and in prevention education, it seems likely that the statistics would move upward again. The time to enhance our investment is when we see that we are making headway in addressing the problem.

If the numbers are underreported, then we need to find even more effective ways to support all survivors of sexual assault and engage men in stopping rape. Whichever statistics are right, there is still work to be done to ensure safer relationships, families and communities.

Patrick Lemmon
Executive Director
Men Can Stop Rape
Washington

How do YOU interpret the dramatic drop in statistics?
(Feedback can also be listed on MCSR's website: http://www.mencanstoprape.org/info-url2699/info-url_show.htm?doc_id=377911) Share

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  1. Thank you for your letter Patrick. Two studies that are not designed to detect rape cannot replace the information uncovered by hundreds of other studies on rape and other forms of sexual assault, especially those that were specifically designed to study rape and take into account factors like women's safety and privacy.

    Researchers know that many factors contribute to the underreporting of rape in crime surveys and reporting to police. These include the fact that women are more likely to be raped or otherwise assaulted by men they are married to, living with, or dating than by stangers. Many people do not consider violence in this context to be a crime so the most common forms or victimization for women don't show up in crime studies or reports to police.

    Reporting to police is also surely hindered by horrible media coverage of sexual assaults that consistently attacks the woman reporting the rape, opting much more frequently to support and believe accused rapists.

    Reporters should do their homework and consult with scholars who understand the research before making sweeping claims about numbers of assaults. Anyone who understands statistical research knows that it produces estimates only, and that some studies are better at uncovering accurate estimates than others.

    In the case of rape, crime surveys and police reports are not among the best sources of information simply because these studies are not designed to detect rape and have been shown repeatedly to do a poor job of representing the realties of rape.

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  2. Elio Cruz10:16 AM

    I would have to agree with Patrick in his responce to the Post's Rape decline article. I believe that some of the Goverment statistics are not accurate based on information they collect and how they use it. Even if some cases of rape are not reported, they should have enough information to categorize and depict the numbers to the public. And plus, the numbers were based on survey's...there are many instances were surveys have faulty information.

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