Amnesty’s statistics on violence against women


by Sunny Hundal    
9:25 am - March 7th 2009

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Some commenters recently raised concerns about Amnesty UK’s statistic: ‘Each year, around 1 in ten women in Britain will experience rape and or other violence‘. So, Rachel North emailed them and got this response:

The information for this particular action is taken from the Map of Gaps Report 2, a report by End Violence Against Women (a coalition that Amnesty is part of – we have a Stop Violence Against Women campaign) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission..

The actual statistic ‘Each year, around 1 in ten women in Britain will experience rape and or other violence. One in four local authorities leave female victims of violence without the specialised support they need’ is a condensed version of the statistic.

Over 30 million women live in Britain. Each year, 3 million women in Britain experience rape, domestic violence, stalking or other violence. One in four local authority areas leave women who experience violence without any support from the from the Map of Gaps Report 2, and is featured on the homepage of the website http://www.mapofgaps.org/

We are promoting this condensed version to people on online social networks so that they can use it as a status update on Facebook / Myspace or a tweet on Twitter, in order to raise awareness of this situation across these online communities – The link that we’re asking people to put at the end of this statistic on their profile update is http://oneten.org.uk which takes you to a landing page featuring further information and a link to http://www.mapofgaps.org/ which contains all the relevant detailed statistics and the Map of Gaps Report 2.

This site is a microsite which explains the Map of Gaps Report 2 and provides the functionality for users to find out which services are lacking in their local area and email their MP directly from the site. This is the action that we are promoting – we are not asking for any donation.

We are campaigning on violence against women in this instance as we are using the opportunity to raise awareness for International Women’s Day – I have forwarded your email on to our Stop Violence Against Women campaign manager but if you are interested, we have a short video on the campaign

as with Rachel, I’m satisfied by that response.

On a related note, a group of Tory MPs recently asked US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to come to the UK and address the Cornerstone Group at one of their forthcoming dinners. She said ‘thanks but no thanks’, adding that:

Please feel free to remain in contact with my office. I have asked our Office of International Trade to be available to answer any questions you may have about Alaska.

Awww!

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


New post: Amnesty’s statistics on violence against women http://tinyurl.com/db7qub

This has far less to do with the accuracy of the figures than with the dishonesty of conflating rape, other violent assault and stalking in one figure. If The Daily Mail did something similar with race, immigration or crime figures there would be an outcry here (and rightly so). To add insult to injury, merely pointing this out brands me as a misogynist by people who seriously and with a straight face consider themselves ‘liberals’. Sheesh!

Thanks Sunny,

I got a much more detailed longer response which I’ll post here, as you get much more traffic than me and your readers and contributors had a long thread about it.

HI Rachel

Thanks for your emails concerning the 1 in 10 motif we want to promote for international women’s day and thanks for taking it seriously and asking relevant questions, we appreciate it. Sorry this is a long email but I wish to do justice to all your concerns. I would only wish you to take your time and provide your support if you believe in the campaign and the integrity on which it is based.

It is remarkable how much time we have to spend justifying our concerns about violence against women rather than actually addressing the issues – I am not sure that the basis for any other campaign has ever been so laboriously discredited and squabbled over. This is not aimed at you, it is an observation of how much resistance there is to our even mentioning violence against women but that is why we are doing this campaign.

Statistics

Our first point on statistics is that we would urge people to show support for victims of violence against women rather than get into a debate about the niceties of statistics. Evidently that is a perhaps bit disingenuous given that we have “started it” by launching a stat led page but see points below.

It is very interesting that when we undertook focus group research on how to engage men in preventing violence against women at the launch of the stop violence against women campaign in 2004, we found many hurdles to men getting involved. Top among the hurdles was that they spent more time haggling over and disbelieving statistics than actually considering the injustices of violence against women. Interestingly though, once the men began to accept the statistics they were very horrified and had massively underestimated the scale and extent of violence against women. Do we have to dispute the niceties of the stats or can we have a more humane starting point that we reject violence against women and wish it to end. Within that of course stats should not be misused but stats are illustrative only and they are not the point of the campaign which is to end violence against women.

Statistics are notoriously malleable and indeed we try not to run campaigns through stats for precisely this reason. On the other hand if you don’t come up with figures for government and policy and indeed for media then the issue doesn’t get on the agenda let alone get resources and so you are obliged to play the statistics haggle game. In addition if you have only one line of text to get people interested in a campaign then a headline stat is a good shorthand way in to attract attention and it is in that context we have gone for the 1:10 motif for international women’s day.

Out of interest the other hurdles to men getting involved in preventing violence against women were that they didn’t think there was anything they could do, they felt that you never know the other side of the story so they shouldn’t get involved (this of course would seem to some extent to implicitly imply that the victim may have sometimes provoked and deserved the violence as though the violence is justified – compare coverage of Rhiannon beating which showed similar assumptions of blame of Rhiannon), they feared the women’s movement would be hostile to them getting involved ( not entirely unfounded fear I have to confess) and they thought it was a women’s issue etc.

As I am sure you are aware there are people with agendas out there and it is enough to look at Comment is Free to see that there is a very organised cohort of regular posters who are always keen to try to discredit articles and postings that are liberal at all and particularly articles or postings that they think are “radical feminist” in nature (this being in their mind a term of abuse of course). The fact that it is a “Liberal” site in no way discourages, indeed actively encourages, these posters to come and take issue.

However you are of course right that those who are keen to attack will seek every avenue to do so and we have to be careful – however I think we were careful. Not sure that I can go into proving stats here but rather referring to original research and worth noting that much of the material cited in our campaign is also taken from Home Office and British Crime Survey sources not only from “radical feminist” groups as we are often called. Key reports in full produced by, amongst others, the End Violence Against Women Coalition include 2 reports called “Making the Grade” auditing government performance on violence against women, “Realising Rights – a blueprint for an integrated strategy to end violence against women” and now 2 reports called “Map of Gaps” monitoring service provision by a strict and clear methodology.

As to your other points:

1) Men are both the victims and the perpetrators of the vast majority of violence. This is not disputed. That includes, guns, knife and gang violence, street and pub brawls etc. However that is not the focus of this campaign. We are not talking about violence but about gender based violence – see below.

2) The focus of this campaign is violence that is suffered disproportionately or exclusively by women and is targetted at women because they are women i.e. gender based violence as both a cause and consequence of continued inequality and this is drawn from the United Nations definition of violence against women in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Last year the UK presented its report on UK delivery against CEDAW to the CEDAW committee and the CEDAW committee expressed disappointment that the UK had still not adopted the UN definition of violence against women or the recommended integrated strategic approach to tackling VAW in the UK. This is indeed what is being called for by the End Violence Against Women Coalition of which Map of Gaps is one of their products.

3) As we are running a campaign against violence against women and this particular feature is for international women’s day, we have not chosen to feature the number of men who experience rape. As with women it is difficult to know the scale and extent of male rape since there is such a huge reluctance to report it and so few convictions. This reluctance is likely to be all the greater among men as the sense of emasculation and shame will be all the greater for male victims of rape because to be raped is associated with being weak or feminine. However 47,000 rapes of women are reported in the UK every year this is an accepted stat agreed by police and home office, a report of rape reaches UK police every 34 minutes – police reports. You can be sure that the vast majority of men and women in the UK would massively underestimate this if asked how many rapes occur – in a recent poll of London students the majority of students estimate around 500 rapes a year. Part of the point of this campaign is to open people’s eyes to the scale and extent of violence against Women in the UK. The conviction rate in England and Wales for rape is at 6.1% and in Scotland is at 3%.Of course there are those who like to assume that this means 93% of cases are false allegations however home office own figures recognize that what can be put down as being a false allegation for rape is the same as false allegations for most crimes being about 8% of allegations. In 1997 home office figures reported 342 male rapes reported. In 2007 Dublin rape crisis centre reported that 12% of rapes reported to them involved male, victims the vast majority by male perpetrators.

4) We are not defining “violence” we are defining “violence against women” – gender based violence disproportionately suffered by women because they are women as per UN definition the detail of which can be found
“Violence that is directed at a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty…”. CEDAW General Recommendation 19

DEVAW 1993:

“Recognizing that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men,”

Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs. “

5) Therefore it is not non-specified violence like muggings etc it is violence against women as defined above. It is these women that should have viable options to attend specialist non-statutory sector services if they wish (in addition of course to A and E or GPs etc). Indeed we find that if women receive help from non-statutory sector services there is a much greater chance of their also then having the trust, confidence and support they need to go through with prosecutions etc.

6) We are saying 1 in 10 suffer rape or domestic violence every year and there is not enough support, service or resources invested in meeting demand at all let alone in providing the option of specialist service provision. So no the figure is not being lumped in with other forms of violence – that is perhaps why the figure is so shocking and why we need to publicise the scale and extent of violence against women.

7) the aim of this campaign is to raise awareness about the scale and extent of violence against women, to get people to take action to pressure their local MPs into demanding better access to services and resources for violence against women and to raise awareness that we are running a campaign and we need activists to support us in taking action. If people give us money as well of course we are grateful but this is not a fundraising ask it is a campaign action ask. It directs people to a letter writing action.

Short version:

The 1 in 10 statistic is a figure we pulled out of our collective arses because it looks good on the campaign literature but we have no actual means of backing it up with evidence.

Ha ! Surgical strike from Unity. I am quite capable of not being vio,entoweards women without ther assistance of whatevere additional attack on men in being planned

Sunny

Are you “satisfied with that response” because it dovetails neatly with your social and political prejudices or because you have any evidence that there is a grain of truth in the statement?

I have trawled through the documents you linked to but can find no statistical data indicating the scale of the problem. If it is there please point me to it.

According to the statistics quoted above on rape, there are around 3,000 cases proven each year- that’s one in ten thousand women, not one in ten. I am not promoting this as an accurate statistic but at least it comes from somewhere.

.

I wonder if we compared men on women violence with men on men violence which would appear the “exceptional” problem.. After all women are to weak to be violent to anyone rather than too saintly so men against men is the only point of comparison.
If , as I suspect , women are notably safe from violence then perhaps ones efforts might be better directed elsewhere ?

According to the statistics quoted above on rape, there are around 3,000 cases proven each year- that’s one in ten thousand women, not one in ten. I am not promoting this as an accurate statistic but at least it comes from somewhere.

Congratulations, that’s an even more ignorant abuse of statistics than Amnesty’s – the suggestion that ‘proved in a court of law against a specific attacker beyond reasonable doubt’ is a sane reporting measure for rape incidence, given the nature of the crime and the way in which it is reported and prosecuted, is just fucking revolting.

Unity is right in general terms, though. There is no source at all for the one in ten; it is made up; and by making it up Amnesty have detracted from the point of their campaign.

And this is poisonous:
“Top among the hurdles was that they spent more time haggling over and disbelieving statistics than actually considering the injustices of violence against women.

Or “damn those bastard men for caring about whether or not what we’re saying is true, rather than just agreeing that it’s awful”.

Thanks for that Rachel, good to see they’re engaging on it.

Unity and others – this isn’t an abuse of stats, to me, because the campaign is about violence against women. That doesn’t necessarily just mean violent attacks, and includes instances such as stalking and other types. I think that’s justified.
What that has to be with being liberal I don’t know – I and others supporting the campaign are merely taking a broader view on the issue. If you don’t want to support the campaign that’s your prerogative.

The way people keep referring to ‘the facts’ without providing supporting evidence is rather depressing.

However…I have tracked down the statistics in the mapofgaps report so here it is:

Map of Gaps quotes the British Crime Survey (2004/2005), in fact this sub-report (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/rdsolr1206.pdf)
as saying over the past 12 months adult women in England & Wales have suffered:

Stalking – 8.9%
Domestic violence – 5.9%
Sexual Assual – 2.8%

As there were 16.3m females between 16 and 59, they extrapolate to get 1.45m, 0.96m, and 0.46m in each of the three categories. Add these up and you get 2.9m, which then if you add on for Scotland and Northern Ireland you get 3.0m. To get 1/10 you then take 30m women, which is a bit odd as it must include pensioners and children but in fact the ratio would be higher.

This is not that bad. The mapofgaps report acknowledges there could be double-counting (but says for the pupose of ascertainly service provision it is not that important); a quick look at the BCS suggests this might be as high as 30% (table A7, p.18) but I might have read that wrong.

The figures above tally with the BCS data, but I’m not sure why they don’t include [non-sexual] ‘family violence’ (as distinct to ‘partner violence’,) which would mean an underestimate. On the other hand p.12, table 5, of the BCS report says 5.9% of women suffered ‘partner violence’ and ’3.1% ‘family violence’ (for men it is 4.7% and 2%) so I think 5.9% is the minimum (if all those suffering family violence were also counted in partner violence).

Clearly stalking is the largest category by far, of which about 40% was sending obsene or threatening letters or phone calls.

So I think it is wrong to say it is not sourced at all, and given certain assumptions 10% is about right (for example see A5 on p.16 which presents the data in a different way), although it should perhaps be noted that this includes a whole range of violence from ‘repeated belittling’ to rape, and there is an element of double-counting.

I should add that this is from 2004/2005. I think rates have fallen since then, but i don’t think such a detail study was releaed for the last few BCSs

Shorter Sunny: “any claim is to be supported, if it is useful to the cause”.

Thank you for telling us never to trust you.

I `m not much cop at fishing around the interweb but I have managed to get this out of the ONS

“The British Crime Survey in 2007/08 showed that the risk of being a victim of violent crime was 3.2 per cent, although there were differences between men and women. Young men, aged 16 to 24, were most at risk, with 13.4 per cent experiencing a violent crime of some sort in the year preceding the interview, compared with 6.4 per cent of women of the same age. For both sexes, the risk of being a victim of violent crime decreased with age. For those aged 25 to 34, 5.7 per cent of men and 3.3 per cent of women were victims of violent crime in the previous year. For those aged 75 and over, the proportions fell to 0.3 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. ”

It could hardly be clearer then , women are marvellously safe as a group .When you consider that women are inherently feeble physically this bears great testament to the residual chivalry of the larger and more powerful male . In that women have no ability to assault anyone whether their absence in the ranks of assailants is due to an innate moral superiority or lack of opportunity we can only guess .
My theory is that they posses an innate moral sensitivity which makes the call for men to be guilty until proven guilty in case of rape accusations ,an urgent necessity .As women always tell the truth there can be no possible objection

but …”Women were more than twice as likely as men to be worried about violent crime – 21 per cent of women compared with
8 per cent of men. Women aged 16 to 24 expressing the highest level of worry at 28 per cent. ”

ONS

Newmania:

…tumbleweed…tumbleweed…tumbleweed::……

16. Shatterface

’82.6 percent of statistics are made up on the spot’

- Vic Reeves.

“I’m satisfied by that response”

and I am not.

Lying about a problem, (and lets split no hairs here, that is what they are doing), is not helpful. Domestic violence is not part of their remit and trying to get a message across is not a good reason for making stuff up.

I suggest the author of the following quotes look for his fellows in the eighth circle:

“Our first point on statistics is that we would urge people to show support for victims of violence against women rather than get into a debate about the niceties of statistics”

So they admit that they lied.

“Interestingly though, once the men began to accept the statistics they were very horrified and had massively underestimated the scale and extent of violence against women.”

Astonishing, people didn’t initially believe the stats you made up.

“Do we have to dispute the niceties of the stats or can we have a more humane starting point that we reject violence against women and wish it to end.”

Despite what you may believe, those arguing over the stats also think violence against women, (or indeed anybody), is a Very Bad Thing. Those disputers believe it is important enough not to lie about it.

“of course stats should not be misused”

Then stop doing so. LIES DO NOT HELP.

This is depressing stuff: “Our first point on statistics is that we would urge people to show support for victims of violence against women rather than get into a debate about the niceties of statistics.”

Some people spend their whole lives studying and debating the “niceties of statistics”, and for very good reasons. Florence Nightingale was a statistician. Her careful, detailed investigations in army hospitals formed the basis of a campaign which revolutionised battlefield medicine, saving countless lives. She didn’t tell MPs things like “2 in 3 wounded soldiers die from gunshots or other causes”.

Statistical accuracy isn’t some hair-splitting game for pedants. For Amnesty to treat it with contempt because their campaign is above such details, is just arrogant. On the contrary, since this issue is so important, it’s all the more necessary that we get a clear picture of the truth. Muddying the waters with sensationalist and misleading stats is counterproductive.

Here’s another important project I’d encourage everyone to support: http://www.stat.auckland.ac.nz/~iase/islp/

When you consider that women are inherently feeble physically this bears great testament to the residual chivalry of the larger and more powerful male .

There may well be such a sense of chivalry, but the quoted ststistic does not prove it. There might be other expanations. For example, if women were, on average, more risk-averse than men, they would be more likely to avoid situations it which bodily harm is likely. Then, too, violence occurs mostly among near equals – if you know you will lose a fight, there is not much point in fighting it before you give up.

Ad – I’m not your dad and I’m not asking you to take anything on trust. As I said above, no one is being forced to support a statistic because you don’t agree with the definition. I do. Thts my right.

I did some digging into this when the Map of Gaps report appeared in January. I am sceptical about both the statistics and the way in which they have been presented by the campaign, and subsequently in the media.

Amnesty say in point 4 to Rachel:

“We are saying 1 in 10 suffer rape or domestic violence every year and there is not enough support, service or resources invested in meeting demand at all let alone in providing the option of specialist service provision.”

and in their slogan:

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

They cite the Map of Gaps 2 report as their source.

Yet the report they cite actually says (page 15, “the extent of VAW”):

“data from the British Crime Survey (BCS) on domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking (Walby & Allen 2004; Finney 2006) were used to calculate a maximum of 2,861,900 and a minimum of 2,513,464 potential service users who were currently
experiencing or had recently experienced at least one incident of domestic violence, rape or stalking in England and Wales.”

Matthew has demonstrated that, whatever it is, all stalking cannot be defined as “rape or domestic violence”, and is the biggest category of these incidents, and the Map of Gaps report specifically excludes it from those 2 categories.

Yet Amnesty conflates it back in with “rape and domestic violence”.

They are are being dishonest, and I think the biggest problem here is that they are wrecking their own reputation. That risks undermining the other work they do, such as with Prisoners of Conscience.

I’d agree with Mat (on the other thread?) that if you are doing a high-profile campaign then getting your stats right is even more critical than it is normally, otherwise you are just giving people an excuse to conclude that your campaign is wrong and you are crying wolf.

I think there are other problems with the rigour of the Map of Gaps report, but I’ll keep those for an article on my own site when I have done my digging.

What a waste of a campaign opportunity.

Media presentation of this campaign.

The Map of Gaps thing comes around every year at the end of January (this is year 2).

I think the presentation (as well as the statistics) are undermining the campaign – which, I’m assuming, we all agree is very important.

The headlines for the first two Maps of Gaps on the BBC have been:

29 January 2008: link: “Rape support service ‘in crisis’”. It says:

“The Fawcett Society said fewer than one in four local authorities currently provided services for rape victims.
Of the 38 support centres that did exist, half were struggling due to a lack of funding and they needed more government support, it said.
The Home Office said it was looking at ways of expanding such services.”

30 January 2009: link: “Legal threats over rape support”. It says:

“More than 100 councils could face legal action for not providing specialist support services for women affected by sexual violence.
..
The Local Government Association said the threats were “irresponsible”.
..
The study, called the “Map of Gaps,” charts services across Britain and suggests more than 100 local authorities, a quarter of the total, have no specialised help at all.”

We all know that these services take a long time to set up and start running. Based on their own statistics I’d have thought that progress from “38″ (or even a quarter) to about 75% (or 300) in 12-14 months is bloody amazing.

They are are being dishonest, and I think the biggest problem here is that they are wrecking their own reputation. That risks undermining the other work they do, such as with Prisoners of Conscience.

Seriously, why don’t you you just fuck off with your “undermining other work that they do”

How dare you say that male on female violence needs take – what? fade into the background? pretend it doesn’t exist? What bit do you not understand – Violence against Women is just as important as Prisoners of Conscience.

As I’ve just said in another thread I am a survivor of domestic violence. And, here, your rhetoric and flippancy about violence against women is soul destroying.

AR:

>Seriously, why don’t you you just fuck off with your “undermining other work that they do”

No, I’m not “fucking off” with anything. VAW matters, and addressing it matters, which is why I’m supporting the day, and why I’ve taken the trouble to ask the questions.

>?How dare you say that male on female violence needs take – what? fade into the background? pretend it doesn’t exist?

I didn’t say or suggest that.

>What bit do you not understand – Violence against Women is just as important as Prisoners of Conscience.

I didn’t suggest that it wasn’t; however Amnesty have got this seriously wrong and of course that is going to impact on their reputation and their work. It’s already been in this debate that “Amnesty have a reputation for this kind of thing”.

I don’t see how suggesting that we need decent data to run campaigns and make policy decisions is controversial. What will happen is that anybody scratching beneath the surface will find that this campaign is using inaccurate information to create screaming headlines. That will *not* help anyone.

>As I’ve just said in another thread I am a survivor of domestic violence.
>And, here, your rhetoric and flippancy about violence against women is soul destroying.

I don’t see *any* rhetoric or flippancy.

The headline grabbing media presentation is going to come back and bite them in the arse, and it will be the interests of victims of violence that suffer as a result.

I suggest any further comment on theother thread.

25. Alex Higgins

What a sick, sick thread.

“Shorter Sunny: “any claim is to be supported, if it is useful to the cause”. Thank you for telling us never to trust you.”

Oh well done, for catching Sunny trying to promote his slick anti-rape agenda. There goes the left again, always dedicated to the cause of reducing rape and battery.

Pat yourself on the back. Today you did something good.

“Sunny. Are you “satisfied with that response” because it dovetails neatly with your social and political prejudices or because you have any evidence that there is a grain of truth in the statement?”

Could there a grain of truth in the statement that large numbers of women are raped, beaten, kicked or slapped by their male partners?

Could there? Even a single grain? Even like unto a mustard seed of truth?

No, it is Sunny’s social and cultural prejudice against rape and assault all over again.

“Lying about a problem, (and lets split no hairs here, that is what they are doing), is not helpful.”

But concern trolling Amnesty International is really very helpful.

Not to split hairs, but this entire thread is a sorry disgrace.

I hope the women I know who have been subjected to rape and “the other violence” which we all consider so spurious of the commie liars Amnesty to bring up never, ever read it. And so should you.

I hope the women I know who have been subjected to rape and “the other violence” which we all consider so spurious of the commie liars Amnesty to bring up never, ever read it. And so should you.

Presumably, if the police were to lie to put a known rapist behind bars, then anyone who criticised the police’s lying would be similarly beyond the pale? After all, it’s in all a good cause, so opposing their actions would be tantamount to condoning rape.

27. Alex Higgins

Yes, John B, you presume correctly.

I must believe passionately in lying in favour of a good cause and for police abuse of power.

I can’t imagine any other reason for reacting angrily to a national discussion of violence against women becoming a discussion about the ethics of an Amnesty campaign headline.

NB Sarcasm may well be the lowest form of wit, but I don’t think a higher form of wit has been earned here.

Sunny: By “Satisfied” do you mean “I think it is correct?” Or “I think it is useful”?


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