Debunking the 1 in 5 and the 2% false allegation lies.
The Factual Feminist - Sexual assault in America: Do we know the true numbers?
Michelle Malkin: The TRUTH About FALSE Rape Allegations
Op-Ed: That ‘Only 2 to 8 Percent of Rape Accusations Are False’ Stat Is Extremely Misleading
by JASON RICHWINE April 6, 2015
The independent review of Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus” debacle contains an authoritative-sounding claim about the rarity of false rape accusations:
[Sabrina Rubin] Erdely and her editors had hoped their investigation would sound an alarm about campus sexual assault and would challenge Virginia and other universities to do better. Instead, the magazine’s failure may have spread the idea that many women invent rape allegations. (Social scientists analyzing crime records report that the rate of false rape allegations is 2 to 8 percent.) At the University of Virginia, “It’s going to be more difficult now to engage some people … because they have a preconceived notion that women lie about sexual assault,” said Alex Pinkleton, a UVA student and rape survivor who was one of Erdely’s sources. [emphasis added]
The linked academic study actually concludes that false rape allegations occur at a rate of 2 to 10 percent, but leave aside the typo. Readers could easily interpret the above paragraph to mean that when a woman files a complaint about sexual assault, then an assault did in fact occur over 90 percent of the time. That interpretation is wrong.
A “false” rape allegation is provably false – meaning, for example, that the accused has a bulletproof alibi or the accuser eventually recants. In many of the cases examined by the authors of the study, there was simply not enough evidence to bring charges. A rape might have occurred, but it might not have. Such cases are not classified as false.
Specifically, in their analysis of sexual-assault cases at a large university, the authors found that 5.9 percent of cases were provably false. However, 44.9 percent cases “did not proceed” – meaning there was insufficient evidence, the accuser was uncooperative, or the incident did not meet the legal standard of assault. An additional 13.9 percent of cases could not be categorized due to lack of information. That leaves 35.3 percent of cases that led to formal charges or discipline against the accused. So there is obviously a lot of uncertainty here, a lot of he-said/she-said when allegations are filed. It would be a mistake to conclude, on the basis of the existing evidence, that nine out of ten assault claims are genuine.
I have a strong aversion to misleading statistics, especially when they are used as arguments from authority to shut down debate. (See my piece from last week, “The Amnesty Numbers Game.”) What percentage of sexual-assault claims involve actual criminal incidents? I have no idea, and I doubt that anyone really does. When it comes to hot-button political and cultural issues, we need to do a better job of admitting what we don’t know.
Mark Perry's top ten gender charts of the year for 2014
2014 was a very interesting year for gender-related issues that included former White House press secretary Jay Carney struggling (squirming?) at a press conference in April to defend the 13% gender pay gap at the White House at a time when Obama was busy signing two executive orders concerning fair pay for women working for federal contractors, a perennial debate about how much gender discrimination contributes to the unadjusted 23% gender pay gap nationally, a media frenzy about an alleged campus sexual assault/rape epidemic, an op-ed about the “supposed campus epidemic of rape” by George Will that stirred up a national controversy and elicited a response from four Democratic senators and resulted in Will’s syndicated column being dropped by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and a horrific, but later discredited, report in Rolling Stone magazine about a gang rape of a female University of Virginia student by seven different men in a fraternity house while the victim was lying on shards of glass. To help summarize last year’s top gender-related stories, click here to review the Top Ten Gender Charts of the Year for 2014.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995 –2013 (released December 2014)
The report was based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) of women ages 18-24 for both reported and unreported cases of rape and sexual assault. Rape and sexual assault are defined by the NCVS to include: a) completed and attempted rape, b) completed and attempted sexual assault, and c) threats of rape or sexual assault, so the study provides a pretty comprehensive analysis of rape and sexual assault among young women.
The report includes both: a) students (enrolled in college, university, trade school, or vocational school) and b) nonstudents for the 18 to 24 age group, which allows for a comparison of “campus rape/sexual assault” and offenses that take place for that age group among nonstudents. Here are some of the report’s findings:
1. Over the 1995-2013 period, the rate of rape and sexual assault victimization was almost 25% higher for nonstudents ages 18-24 (7.6 cases per 1,000 females) compared to students enrolled in a post-secondary institution in that age group (6.1 cases per 1,000 females), see chart above. So despite all of the media attention on campus sexual assault, women enrolled in colleges and universities are actually much safer compared to women in that age group who are not attending a post-secondary institution.
2. Over the 1995-2013 period, the rate of rape and sexual assault victimization for both students and nonstudents has been falling (see chart). For women attending college, the rate of rape/sexual assault has fallen by more than 50%, from 9.2 incidents per 1,000 women in 1997 to 4.4 cases per 1,000 in 2013. According to the media, politicians and gender activists, there is supposed to be a college “rape epidemic” when in fact, the rate of college female victimization has been trending downward for the last two decades.
3. What might be the most important statistic (and was not provided in the report and is not being reported by the media, except Ashe Schow at the Washington Examiner) is that the data provided by the NCVS show that only about 1 in 41 women were victims of rape or sexual assault (threatened, completed and attempted; and reported and unreported) while in college for four years during the entire period investigated from 1995 to 2013, based on this analysis:
6.1 women per 1,000 = “1 in 163.9 women” per year, and over four years attending college would then be = “1 in 41 women” while in college.
Because the victimization rate has been trending downward, that same analysis using data from the last four years (2010 to 2013) reveals that 1 in 52.6 women have been sexually assaulted or raped in recent years.
Bottom Line: Using Bureau of Justice survey data that includes: a) reported and unreported cases of sexual assault and rape, and b) threatened, attempted and completed cases, the rate of campus sexual assault, we can say that:
1. Women ages 18 to 24 attending college have about a 25% lower chance of being the victim of rape or sexual assault compared to their nonstudent counterparts.
2. College campuses have become safer for women in the last few decades, based on the decline in the rape/assault rate by 50% since 1997.
3. Over the last four years, about 1 in 52 college women were raped or sexually assaulted, which is different by a factor of more than ten times compared to the “1 in 5″ claim made by the White House based on the findings of one survey from students at two universities. Of course, 1 in 52 college women being the victim of a rape or sexual assault is still too high, but the controversy about campus sexual assault (and the victims) is best served by truthful and accurate data, and this new report from the Justice Department will hopefully contribute to the accuracy of the data on a very important issue.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics - Violent Victimization of College Students report (published January 2005)
Statistics surrounding sexual assault are notoriously unreliable and inconsistent, primarily because of vague and expansive definitions of what qualifies as sexual assault. Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute explains that the study often cited as the origin of the "one in five" factoid is an online survey conducted under a grant from the Justice Department. Surveyors employed such a broad definition that "'forced kissing" and even "attempted forced kissing" qualified as sexual assault.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics' "Violent Victimization of College Students" report tells a different and more plausible story about campus culture. During the years surveyed, 1995-2002, the DOJ found that there were six rapes or sexual assaults per thousand per year. Across the nation's four million female college students, that comes to about one victim in forty students. Other DOJ statistics show that the overall rape rate is in sharp decline: since 1995, the estimated rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations has decreased by about 60 percent."
Source: The Rape 'Epidemic' Doesn't Actually Exist by Caroline Kitchens published October 24, 2013
If the one-in-four statistic is correct—it is sometimes modified to “one-in-five to one-in-four”—campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America, was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants—a rate of 2.4 percent. The one-in-four statistic would mean that every year, millions of young women graduate who have suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience. Such a crime wave would require nothing less than a state of emergency—Take Back the Night rallies and 24-hour hotlines would hardly be adequate to counter this tsunami of sexual violence. Admissions policies letting in tens of thousands of vicious criminals would require a complete revision, perhaps banning boys entirely. The nation’s nearly 10 million female undergrads would need to take the most stringent safety precautions. Certainly, they would have to alter their sexual behavior radically to avoid falling prey to the rape epidemic.
None of this crisis response occurs, of course—because the crisis doesn’t exist. During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory had discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing results—very few women said that they had been. So Ms. commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way of measuring the prevalence of rape. Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had experienced actions that she then classified as rape. Koss’s method produced the 25 percent rate, which Ms. then published.
Koss’s study had serious flaws. Her survey instrument was highly ambiguous, as University of California at Berkeley social-welfare professor Neil Gilbert has pointed out. But the most powerful refutation of Koss’s research came from her own subjects: 73 percent of the women whom she characterized as rape victims said that they hadn’t been raped. Further—though it is inconceivable that a raped woman would voluntarily have sex again with the fiend who attacked her—42 percent of Koss’s supposed victims had intercourse again with their alleged assailants.
Source: The Campus Rape Myth by Heather Mac Donald printed Winter 2008 in City Journal
Hidden Rape: Incidence and Prevalence of Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of Students in Higher Education (M. Koss - Aug. 1985)