The real scandal


7:26 pm - March 2nd 2009

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“Each year, around 1 in 10 women in Britain experience rape or other violence. One in four local authorities leave female victims of violence without the specialised support they need.”

From an Amnesty UK press release

International Women’s Day is coming up soon (this Sunday in fact) and Amnesty is doing loads of online stuff in the run-up to the big day, particularly this Friday.

We want to persuade thousands of people on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter to update their avatars and statuses at 1:10 on Friday 6th March. The status update is:

Each year, 1 in 10 women in Britain experience rape or other violence. Act now. www.oneten.org.uk.

On Twitter, we’re asking members to change their profile picture to our avatar and use #1in10 to spread the message.

We’re then directing everyone to Map of Gaps where they can see which services are missing in their local area and email their MP, asking them to do something to sort it out.

It would be great if you could get involved and mention this in your blog to help promote action on this issue.

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Reader comments


While this is naturally a very important issue, I think that “Each year, 1 in 10 women in Britain experience rape or other violence” strikes me as a fairly dodgy sounding conjunction of statistics. What counts as other violence, and what proportion of men suffer violence of that kind? I know that young men are more likely to be victims of common assault than anyone else, but does that count as violence? So I think the slogan indicates a rather artificial construction based on timing and priorities. But hell, I guess that is activism for you.

2. Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon

More sophisticated analysis of various types of violence is available from the British Crime Survey. Also, for anyone who believes in localism the way ‘postcode lottery’ is used by the linked study is ludicrous. Services should be where they are needed which will inevitably result in different areas having different stats.

You know just ONCE, just ONCE I would like for something like this to be posted, and the first comment NOT to be “But what about the MEN!!!”

You want to see a decrease in violence towards men? Why not campaign about it? Why derail EVERY SINGLE FUCKING CAMPAIGN about violence against women?

GAAH!!!

Nick, I realise that it’s not you personally that derails every single campaign about violence against women but… You do see what I’m getting at, don’t you? I mean, you don’t see Save the Whale protestors derailing anti-seal cull protests, and you don’t see anti-seal-cull protesters at whale hunts shouting “but what about the SEALS??”

How about if you support us, and we’ll support you?

How about instead of rubbishing this campaign, why not say “great idea girls, and something I can fully support. No woman deserves to be beaten up and raped! Incidentally, I am supporting this other campaign, about male violence, fancy joining in?”

Wouldn’t that make everyone happier than male privilege butthurt about someone concentrating on something other than men?

Ah. Now I see what Jennie was ranting about on twitter…

Will try and remember the twitter/facebook thing on Friday.

“You know just ONCE, just ONCE I would like for something like this to be posted, and the first comment NOT to be “But what about the MEN!!!””

Thank you, thank you. Sometimes I just don’t have the fucking strength to comment on here. I mean FFS the other week there was a post about FGM and the first comment was “but what about male circumcision” (don’t agree with MC either but it’s like comparing a headache with decapitation, but I digress)

As Jennie says, if you don’t like it then campaign about it and draw solidarity with us but stop trying to derail just about everything in the women’s movement by WATM.

But usually it is an attempt to deliberately derail women’s movemens isn’t it? The point of it is to make it seem like sexism isn’t structural and there’s no such thing as patriarchy. To make out that sexism is just something individuals male or female do to other individuals male or female on a random basis.

Tim, whatever the intention is, the effect is to draw discussion away from the subject the conversation started with (violence against women) and to centre the spotlight on men. Again. /which I realise I am perpetuating by responding to you. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to stop.

Anybody actually want to talk about the subject at hand?

#7 – Good point, and in that spirit:

Normally I hate the term “postcode lottery” because it’s usually used just as a way of running down the NHS or comprehensive schools and arguing for less investment/and or privatisation. So I was slightly surprised to see it used in this context.

However, the point about the necessity of a range of services with different entry points was one I’d not really thought before – too easy to think “oh, there’s a rape crisis centre within walking distance so we’re covered”.

It’d be great to see a commitment from the government along the same kind of lines as the “children’s centre in every community” commitment that’s now being rolled out. To have a range of services that are guaranteed visual focal points in every community could also play a role in public education and making subjects like rape & domestic abuse less taboo.

I don’t know where/how rape crisis centres fit in with domestic violence shelters. Domestic violence shelters HAVE to be secret, so that the abused partner knows their abuser is not going to suddenly appear in the night.

I suspect that there are many towns in which the two functions are fulfilled in one building, that’s of the towns that have this sort of service at all, but I’ll happily be proved wrong.

Actually, I think Nick has a good point about the figures.

1 in 10 women are the victim of some form of violence. That’s not good.

But if 1 in 10 men are also the victim of violence, then it’s a significantly different problem to do with violence in society generally. If it’s only 1 in 20 men, then there’s a gap that needs to be addressing above and beyond normal attempts to reduce violent crime.

I’ve had a look around the one in ten site, which redirects weirdly to a different blog, and there isn’t a quoted wourse that I can see for the stat. Consequently, it’s a headline.

And Amnesty have a track record of inflating figures to make things worse than they actually are. And the problem with that is that it allows the do-nothings to dismiss the entire campaign as hyperbole.

1 attack is wrong. But inflating the numbers and using ill-defined terms is something that damages a campaign.

Where is their figure from, and how does it compare to the general population? That’s the question that determines how big the problem is.

“But if 1 in 10 men are also the victim of violence, then it’s a significantly different problem to do with violence in society generally.”

No, not necessarily. Because the forms of violence, the context in which they took place and their effects could still be divergent. You might need different and concurrent solutions to violence against men and violence against women even if the figures turned out to be roughly equivalent. In which case the kind of solutions this report puts forward are still useful.

For gods sake we are talking about men’s violence against women.

http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/equality/vaw/index.html

“This is the first Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) annual Violence against Women performance report. This report covers a range of Violence against Women (VAW) strands for 2007 – 08: domestic violence; forced marriage; so-called ‘honour’ crimes; female genital mutilation; rape and sexual offences; human trafficking; prostitution; child abuse; and pornography.”

http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/CPS_VAW_report_2008.pdf

If you can make the time, then please read it.

You know just ONCE, just ONCE I would like for something like this to be posted, and the first comment NOT to be “But what about the MEN!!!”

Good point Jennie.

the forms of violence, the context in which they took place and their effects could still be divergent. … In which case the kind of solutions this report puts forward are still useful.

Absolutely.

Which is why I spent time trawling around the site and linked sites looking for some actual evidence or actual arguments.

If the overwhelming majority of male victims are from very low socio-economic groups, but women are equally likely to be victims regardless of group, for example, then it is a significantly different issue.

If women are much more likely to be a victim than a man, it’s something that needs resourcing as a specific.

But this campaign isn’t saying these things. There’s a good argument for saying that women as victims need different types of resources than men as victims. I can understand that might be true.

But this campaign isn’t saying that either.

A local council, trying to allocate the paltry amount of the discretionary spend it has in its budget, is going to be incredibly hard nosed. 1 in 10 are the victim of rape or some type of violence? What types of violence? Give those figures.

It’s vitally important that problems such as this are treated as a serious issue. Unsubstantiated headline grabbing campaigns that can be debunked due to vague terminology and problematic statistics that address headline rather than underlying issues do more damage then they do good.

This has every indication of, once again, being such a campaign. Which not only makes it a waste of Amnesty money, but it also damages the chances of other campaigns on similar issues. Which means that the crisis centres and refuges being argued for (and necessary) are less likely to get built. Especially if, as Belinda argues, those centres that do exist are in the areas where they’re most needed already:

for anyone who believes in localism the way ‘postcode lottery’ is used by the linked study is ludicrous. Services should be where they are needed which will inevitably result in different areas having different stats.

That’s a real problem.

Unsubstantiated headline grabbing campaigns that can be debunked due to vague terminology and problematic statistics that address headline rather than underlying issues do more damage then they do good.

Let me be brutally honest Mat. These kind of campaigns are never aimed at people such as ourselves.

These kind of campaigns are never aimed at people such as ourselves.

Exactly.

I don’t know who this campaign is aimed at, but it sure as hell isn’t the people most likely to be able to effect change.

The utter cynic in me sees another fundraising campaign. I’d discount that completely out of hand if Amnesty didn’t have a track record of this sort of misguided campaign using dodgy data on rape stats.

Who do you think it’s aimed at then? Council CEOs and Group Leaders? Voters? Or potential activists/contributors?

17. Shatterface

Nick, MatGB & tim f are right: this is a tabloid style headline which gives the impression that one in ten women will be raped this year, which clearly isn’t true. The cop out ‘other violence’ could mean ANYTHING and without a clear definition we might just as well ask ‘what about’ violence against men. I’m willing to bet a tenner that the next kid who is shot or stabbed is a teenage boy.

We get enough meaningless statistics from the government and the media as it is: the Left should be setting an example regarding accuracy and precision.

The phrase ‘this year one in ten women will be the victime of violence, including rape’ is more accurate.

Let me be brutally honest Mat. These kind of campaigns are never aimed at people such as ourselves.

Yes, but they ought to be…

I mean, who is going to be more likely to effect change here?

Me, as part of the choir being preached to, or you, who runs several successful media outlets with diverse readerships, and actually has the chance to affect things on a much wider scale?

That’s one sense in which those who perpetrate whataboutery are right: it’s not the women who have been beaten, the victims, and those who care for them who need to be won over here. We already know that rape crisis centres are in woefully short supply and desperately needed. It’s the people in power that need to be won over, and they are overwhelmingly not in the affected group. And even though there are those, like yourself and Mat and probably Nick, who acknowledge that violence against women is an important issue… It’s never going to be THE most important issue to you, is it? I mean, it’s possibly going to affect your loved ones, but unless one of you has a sex change, it’s not going to affect YOU.

So Mat’s right, if we’re going to succeed with this sort of campaign, we need to get the stats accurate and persuasive, not inflated and debunkable, in order to persuade people who have more pressing matters on their minds. And that means that stats for all of society need to be there and comparable with stats on violence against women. The only way to properly combat the inevitable whataboutery, which my somewhat visceral reaction above was against, is to be armed with solid evidence to defeat it with.

I really wish amnesty had given us some.

16, Shatterface: which clearly isn’t true

Err, no. Which clearly isn’t statistically provable, possibly. But the vast majority of rapes go unreported, for various reasons, so you can’t possibly know whether or not that is true. Neither can Amnesty. And that, as Mat says, is a big problem.

20. Shatterface

If the statistics for rape are statistically unprovable it makes a mockery of the issue to base the campaign ENTIRELY on those statistics.

21. Shatterface

The biggest problem Amnesty’s campaign is going to face has already been demonstrated here: instead of debating the causes and solutions, the arguements will all be about the accuracy of the stats.

Yes, it does. Which means that this campaign, like so many before it, is doomed to failure. And I’m only just resisting Joni Mitchell quotes at this point. I mean, they could, at least, use the British Crime survey…

It’s 2 am, I’m exhausted, and Newmania is going to pop up and be a twat any minute. What say we take this up again in the morning?

Here’s some evidence on the claim, from the British Crime Survey. You’ll recall that the BCS interviews people about their experiences of crime, so tries to get round the issue of some crimes not being reported to the police and so not being on the official figures.

“The risk of being a victim of violent crime in the 2007/08 BCS was 3.2 per cent. Men
(4.1%) were almost twice as likely as women (2.3%) to have experienced some sort of
violence in the year prior to interview. The risk for men aged 16 to 24 was highest at
13.4 per cent.
• Not only did men have the highest risk of violent crime victimisation, but 87 per cent of
violent incidents involved male offenders.”

You’ll find the quote above on page 59 of the Crime in England and Wales 2007/08, Home Office Statistical Bulletin 07/08 (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/bcs1.html).

Of course, you can define “violence” to get any figure you want. I remember a study a year or two back that said most children had been assaulted. When you looked closey at the data it turned out that an “assault” included being pushed, shoved or hit by a sibling, which made me wonder why it wasn’t nearly 100%.

I was beaten about the head repeatedly by a woman last night. I’m much bigger and stronger than her, but I daren’t do anything to try and stop her. I once tried putting out an arm so that she couldn’t reach. She called the police and that’s battery apparently. I’ve got a headache, I can’t see properly and I’m probably going to have a black eye.

Fortunately I work on my own, but I’ll be telling a business meeting on Thursday that I walked into a door.

Every woman I’ve ever had a relationship with has been given to violence. Over the years I’ve been stabbed, punched and kicked on countless occasions. Not only do the authorities not help, they treat any attempt at self-defence as a crime. Our society treats any violent behaviour towards women as absolutely reprehensible, while treatiing violence by women as fine and dandy. I have never known any man who would treat a woman with the same violence as every woman seems to think it’s OK to treat men.

So I feel rather strongly about this subject. Take your pathetic, obviously made up statistic and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

Fred – if your last post is accurate, I would suggest you seek help.

If, as you say “Every woman I’ve ever had a relationship with has been given to violence. Over the years I’ve been stabbed, punched and kicked on countless occasions.” I wonder if there’s something about you that either attracts abusive women or causes women to become abusive. I don’t think this is normal or common.

Self-defence is not battery and I’ve almost never heard of the police treating it as such. Of course, if there are no witnesses and the women is claiming you attacked her, so it’s just two people each saying the other one’s a liar, that’s harder for the police and not the same thing at all.

You don’t have to go through your life in a succession of abusive relationships, but blaming womankind isn’t going to help you kick the habit.

(I have no medical or counselling training and I know nothing about you beyond what you’ve written here. If I’m talking crap, I apologise – just ignore me).

@24 Fred: Every woman I’ve ever had a relationship with has been given to violence.

What factor is the same in all your relationships? You.

If all of a person’s relationships have turned out to be violent, then that person is almost certainly doing something that causes that pattern to happen, for example being attracted to the wrong sort of people. And they’ll continue to have violence done to them until they change their behaviour.

“I have never known any man who would treat a woman with the same violence as every woman seems to think it’s OK to treat men.”

Gee could this be because you don’t date men? Nearly all the women I know have experienced abusive relationships.

No one is saying women aren’t capable of violence, but the fact is men are the major perpetuators of it. It’s not a made up statistic, it’s a FACT.

@ 25& 26
Of course you’re probably right but I can’t help thinking that if it were a woman who was the victim of violence then the tone would have been more sympathetic. If what Fred says is true then some terrible things have happened to him and suggesting however obliquely that it’s his fault is not going to help. Anyone who suggested a female rape victim was the cause of her own problems would be shouted down in no time at all.

“Nick, I realise that it’s not you personally that derails every single campaign about violence against women but… You do see what I’m getting at, don’t you? I mean, you don’t see Save the Whale protestors derailing anti-seal cull protests, and you don’t see anti-seal-cull protesters at whale hunts shouting “but what about the SEALS??”

How about if you support us, and we’ll support you?

How about instead of rubbishing this campaign, why not say “great idea girls, and something I can fully support. No woman deserves to be beaten up and raped! Incidentally, I am supporting this other campaign, about male violence, fancy joining in?”

Jennie, I understand your frustration and I apologise if my comment really annoys you. But I have to say, I don’t necessarily support a campaign for a new set of organisations or institutions to support victims. That is important of course, but also the sort of thing best left to the voluntary sector.

In so far as the state can contribute to the problem, I have a much simpler solution: there is no excuse for a convicted rapist spending less than a decade in prison, with the option of 2 or 3 if they seem likely to re-offend, or their entire lives if they have been convicted previously. And, of course, the great thing about this attitude is that it works to protect both women and men simultaneously! We don’t actually need to divide up our interests into these silly collectives based on gender. And when people try to do that, to offer a very partial and prioritised ‘issue’, I am going to tend to believe that a special interest group is behind the lobbying – someone angling for more government funding.

#25 and #26 – wow.

I don’t have the stats to hand, but Fred is right that violence against men by women does tend to be treated less seriously by the police. This is another example, really, of how the patriarchy hurts both sexes. The patriarchy conditions us all to believe that men are strong and women are weak; violence against men by women is therefore laughable.

Victim-blaming Fred is not the way to get him to stop being attracted to abusive people, though. Abuse victims tend to have incredibly low self esteem and blame themselves anyway. Telling him it’s all his own fault is only going to make this worse, because abusers are very good at, at least initially, painting themselves as the solution to all an abused person’s problems. They tell you they’re not like the others, they’ll look after you, you don’t need anyone else…

Fred, not all women are violent and abusive, I promise you. Just like not all men are. But there are tell-tale signs you can look out for in a relationship before it escalates to the stage of actual abuse, and I suspect they are the same in abusive women as the are in abusive men.

http://thingsarelookinup.com/Abuse/test.shtml – might help.

Nick, having worked in the voluntary sector, unfortunately I think you are dead wrong about leaving the provision of rape/violence support services to it. I’d attach a rape and domestic violence unit to every hospital myself, but perhaps that’s just me.

PS: also, Nick, thank you for being more gracious than I was. It’s just very frustrating the predictability of how these debates will go. The thing is, as Mat says, Amnesty are making it worse with their dubious statistics.

Dubious isn’t the word. If Mr Quist’s figures from BCS are accurate, they’re not dubious, they’re downright dishonest, it’s not 1 in 10, it’s something like 1 in 40.

That’s still a bad figure, but it leads the whole campaign open to complete dismissal, and turns it into simple scaremongering.

“it’s not 1 in 10, it’s something like 1 in 40.”

Quite, and men have nearly twice the risk that women do.

That is the only point I wanted to get across. It sounds weird and contrived and, therefore, probably confusing the real issue rather than casting light on it.

@24 Fred: Every woman I’ve ever had a relationship with has been given to violence.

What factor is the same in all your relationships? You.

If all of a person’s relationships have turned out to be violent, then that person is almost certainly doing something that causes that pattern to happen, for example being attracted to the wrong sort of people. And they’ll continue to have violence done to them until they change their behaviour.

So, if a man get beaten by a woman, its the man’s fault.

If a woman gets beaten by a man, its the man’s fault?

Is it any wonder kids grow up confused by female logic?

F0ul AFAIK Cabalamat is a boy. Just FYI.

Dubious isn’t the word. If Mr Quist’s figures from BCS are accurate, they’re not dubious, they’re downright dishonest, it’s not 1 in 10, it’s something like 1 in 40.

Firstly, it depends how you define violence.

Secondly, Mat you said: I don’t know who this campaign is aimed at, but it sure as hell isn’t the people most likely to be able to effect change.

Most ordinary people don’t spend all their time trying to sift through or be pedantic about how the stats are defined (and I don’t mean that derogatorily). If they’re fired up about an issue they’ll get involved. Bloggers, generally, are the last people to get involved in a mass movement campaign because we’re generally quite cynical.

F0ul AFAIK Cabalamat is a boy. Just FYI.

with the feminisation of society over the past 30 years, now everyone can use female logic!

39. Shatterface

I remember the mockery Ross Kemp got when he was assaulted by his partner: the response, even from some feminists at The Guardian, was that he was obviously some kind of wimp despite his hard-man image. The unspoken assumption was that a ‘real man’ would have hit her back.

Of course if he HAD hit her back, he’d have been a monster.

Anyway, its really time to ditch the notiin that violence is a matter of quantity rather than quality. I’ve been beaten on occasion and receive threats quite frequently as a part of my job; however I’ve never been raped and I’m pretty sure the psychological effect of that would be far more long-term than a few bruises and some minor scarring.

ordinary people don’t spend all their time trying to sift through … stats are defined … If they’re fired up about an issue they’ll get involved

Yes, yes they might. And this is a campaign aimed at ordinary normally uninvolved people?

With what purpose? What’s the objective?

Get a bunch of people to sign a petition? Write to their MP or Councillor?

Then what? The petition is presented, the letters received, questions are asked in Parliament or the Council chamber.

And whoever it is in charge of the purse strings turns around and says “1 in 10? Not according to all the data I’ve got access to, it’s more like 1 in 40”

Case closed, campaign over, nothing acheived.

Persuade normal people it’s an issue to get them involved. Great, I spend a lot of my time trying to do that on a lot of campaigns. But to change the minds of those in power?

you need solid evidence and a clear objective.

Amnesty has been told before this sort of campaign is counter productive.

To be fair, the other site, tangentially mentioned, does attempt to explain itself more fully:
http://www.mapofgaps.org/myths-and-facts/

But that 3 million figure is completely unsourced, and doesn’t come from any data set I’ve seen before, as Quist says above, it’s 1 in 40 according to BCS.

So they might manage to get a lot of traction and awareness raising. To what benefit? Don’t you think those that do succesfully lobby will be annoyed getting responses back from Cllrs and MPs along the lines of “I’ve investigated the material you provided, it appears to be making figures up out of thin air”?

To persuade many many people that there’s a problem is great. To persuade many many people that Something Must Be Done migt be effective. But if those holding the purse strings can easily turn around and say “actually, those figures are horribly inflated and completely unsourced”, then nothing will actually happen, you’ll just get a lot of annoyed people.

I’m incredibly sympathetic to the idea that more rape crisis and similar centres should be out there. But that means persuading local councils (mine has a budget of £450m of which about £70million isn’t required to go on one thing or another, every little penny is accounted for). Councils don’t have any spare cash.

To get them to take it seriously, you need actual real substantiated facts. Where are they?

Shatterface

I remember the mockery Ross Kemp got when he was assaulted by his partner: the response…was that he was obviously some kind of wimp despite his hard-man image

I can remember an attempt to call out said partner and get her fired, she was at the time running a campaign against domestic violence after all.

There are a lot of double standards, yes, and Jennie’s point above is sound. Blaming the victim is wrong. Regardless of whether the victim is male or female.

That a lot of “campaigning journalists” are frequently hypocrites on this issue (and indeed many others) really doesn’t help.

“Each year, around 1 in 10 women in Britain experience rape or other violence…”

From an Amnesty UK press release

This statistic has certainly had an effect on me. Specifically, it has made me resolve to distrust anything Amnesty UK ever tells me.

I’d be surprised if fewer than 9 in ten people had not experienced murder or other violence.

Mat- I think part of the problem is domestic violence, regardless of which sex it’s perpetuated by, is it’s still seen as primarily physical battery. I have to say regardless of how much physical damage is done, the fact is hitting someone you are meant to be in a relationship with is emotionally devastating to the victim.

Unfortunately I don’t think media types think about that.

Sounds like we need to mount a campaign to get Amnesty to tell the truth so as not to turn a load of people off activism by disillusioning them…

45. AmberAvon

I think if you look at worldwide figures then 1 in 10 women will be raped this year. The risk in the UK is lower, but higher in other areas of the world. As rape is a recognized weapon of war then women, men and children are all at higher risk in places affected by war.

46. AmberAvon

Rape Crisis Centres are being progressively closed down due to government funding being withdrawn. The nearest one to me is 50 miles away so not exactly local!

Mat: So they might manage to get a lot of traction and awareness raising. To what benefit?

That is a benefit in itself.

Will be blogging about this and writing to my MP about it, seeing as he has yet to pledge support on the issue.

You know just ONCE, just ONCE I would like for something like this to be posted, and the first comment NOT to be “But what about the MEN!!!”

Jennie, i’ve had this twice this week already in response to saying i’m going to Million Women Rise on Saturday.

“Most ordinary people don’t spend all their time trying to sift through or be pedantic about how the stats are defined (and I don’t mean that derogatorily). If they’re fired up about an issue they’ll get involved.”

Well, yes Sunny. But we have words to describe those who use untruths to get people aroused. “Rabble-rousers” is one, “demogogues” is another, “liars” a third.

That’s why where the stats come from, how they are calculated….you know, what is the truth of the matter….is so important.

“I think if you look at worldwide figures then 1 in 10 women will be raped this year.”

I very seriously think not you know. I very seriously indeed think that this is mindless bullshit.

Think through it for a moment. The average female lifespan, globally, is about 60 years or so. If on average, one in ten are raped in a year then all will be raped in a decade and over that average lifespan every woman in the world is raped….on average of course….six times.

Given that average fertility is now under 3 per woman per lifetime you’re claiming that rape is twice as common as pregnancy.

So that statistic is either complete drivel or you’re using a definition of rape that is so extensive as to be meaningless.

50. AmberAvon

I am glad you are feeling so uncomfortable with these figures that you are disputing them – they are terrible.
I don’t know the normal way of posting links on here but this link may give you a little more information, there is obviously a lot more information on the web: http://www2.gmu.edu/dpt/unilife/sexual//brochures/WorldStats2005.pdf

From the .pdf you link to.

“1 out of 3 women worldwide has experienced rape or sexual assault. (2001)1”

Firstly, that’s rape and sexual assault, not just the rape that you claimed above.

Secondly, the figures you gave lead to 6 rapes per lifetime per woman on average. The figures that you have now pointed me to show a one in three chance of a rape or sexual assault (remember, a wider definition) over a lifetime.

So your number for rapes is at least 18 times overstated.

As I said, drivel.

52. AmberAvon

Fair enough, dismiss it all as drivel.

Of course he will. He’s a known internet wanker.

54. AmberAvon

Ta Gina, actually just looked up his website and it mentions UKIP so I obviously find his views irrevelant.

No Gina, he’s a known pendent.

He’s correct, Amber is overstating and conflating figures. She might be right to say 1 in 10 may be raped over the course of their entire life, but her source most certainly does not say that for one ditinct year.

I’m reading it now, it’s talking about lifetime incidence, not annual incidence. It’s presented in a way that doesn’t make that 100% clear, but that’s what it’s talking about.

Yes, while Tim may be a UKIPper, he’s absolutely right here.

That doesn’t mean rape isn’t a massively serious and underreported problem – it is – and it doesn’t mean that people who are concerned about rape and domestic violence are wrong – they are right – but using bullshit statistics to talk your cause up is stupid and wrong even when your cause is entirely right.

“I’m reading it now, it’s talking about lifetime incidence, not annual incidence”

Fair enough.

Not going to convince me on Tim though. I’ve seen him stir shit too many times.

58. AmberAvon

Ok, mixed my figures up. Will be more careful next time. These figures are only the tip of the iceberg anyway.

On Iraq, I seem to remember the argument went like this:

“The invasion has killed a million people.”
“No it hasn’t – that figure is massively exaggerated.”
“Who cares? The point is that too many people have died.”

On CCTV, the argument has been:

“The average person is filmed by CCTV cameras 300 times a day.”
“No they aren’t – that figure is completely made up.”
“Who cares? The point is that there are too many CCTV cameras.”

In both cases, we have the rather dispiriting spectacle of people making an argument from dodgy statistics and then claiming that statistics are unimportant. Please don’t let it happen here.

I think you’re misremembering the Iraq stats debate. The actual argument went more like:

Decentists: “the invasion has saved lives”
Epidemiologists: “no, it’s cost somewhere between 50,000 and 700,000 lives”
Decentists: “700,000 lives! Piss off, you’re having a laugh”
Epidemiologists: “well, we’ve actually done the fucking study, you’ve not even bothered to count the number of Iraqis you killed. Anyway, the point is, whatever the exact numbers, the invasion has certainly caused a massive increase in medium-term mortality rates”.
Decentists: “Ahahaha! so, you admit you don’t know how many people we’ve killed. See you, lying with dodgy statistics! Liars! We win”.
Epidemiologists: “fuck it, I’m going back to avian flu, at least that way ignorant genocidal hacks who know sod-all about my discipline, or what they’re talking about in general, won’t make up lies about my professional integrity to support their revolting political aims.”
Decentists: “Hooray! We win again! We are glorious liberators!”

Don’t forget SARS.

John B, you’re describing the argument between decentists and epidemiologists, whereas I’m describing the argument between (for want of a better way of putting it) two sets of blog commenters. These two arguments are on roughly the same issue, but are absolutely not the same (and I’m not disputing your characterisation of the former argument). My point is that bad presentation of statistics to make a point, followed by denial that the statistics are important when the statistics are challenged, is massively dispiriting and undermines what may well otherwise be a good case (that the Iraq war was wrong, that there is too much CCTV, that we need to do more to tackle sexual violence).

Fair enough. The version of the Iraq stats argument I saw was the one pushed by the likes of Tim Lambert and Dan Davies against an alliance of hacks, obfuscators, decentists and neocons; there may well have been other versions elsewhere on the Internets. I agree with you on bad stats presentation, hence my #56.

Sounds like we need to mount a campaign to get Amnesty to tell the truth so as not to turn a load of people off activism by disillusioning them…

I doubt that would happen. I think you’ll find that most activists are extremely easily convinced by arguments that their cause is righteous, themselves noble, and their enemies evil.

And those who are sceptical will mostly take the view that dishonest and misleading information is perfectly acceptable because it is useful. It is a “benefit in itself” “to get traction and awareness raising”, and so on.

The likelihood is that you will get a mutually-deluding group of people, with an ever-less-accurate view of reality whose actions, in consequence, will tend to become either useless or harmful, however good their intentions.

Probably this will tend to discourage new recruits, though.

65. Shatterface

I remember a lot of people being utterly convinced that Satanic ritual abuse was rife across Europe and America. They had terrifying statistics, ‘recovered memories’ from victims and even ‘confessions’ in some cases.

It wasn’t just right-wing Christians either, a lot of respected feminists were involved.


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: The real scandal http://tinyurl.com/aepwa7





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