Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Myth of the 97 Percent

Perhaps you have heard the often cited statistic that 97 percent of rapists never spend a day in jail.  If you are a skeptical person like me, you may have wondered where this statistic comes from and how was the data compiled.  Well unfortunately how the data was compiled is a closely held secret, perhaps out of fear skeptics would be able to debunk it as they did when Ms Magazine put out it's report that 1 in four women is sexually assaulted.  We can at least know the source for the 97 percent myth.  It is RAINN.

This page lists several statistics and two of them are the 97 percent claim and the other is 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.  It then provides a link that promises us an opportunity to learn more about reporting statistics but alas, it is merely a clicktease.  The link goes here.

However that link does take us somewhere else, the National Crime Victimization Survey.  Here is the link.

This is a survey administered by the Census twice a year of about 44-77,000 homes in which the households are interviewed every six months over the course of 3 years.  You want to focus on question 41a and 43a those two questions deal with rape.

Questions 44a and 45a deal with reporting something to the police, most likely how the 60% number came about.  There doesn't appear to be a question that details the outcome such as the attacker being arrested or going to jail so it is unclear how RAINN arrived at this 97% number.

Why it matters

It should be clear to the discerning eye that the 97% number is simply to high to be accurate.  Actual victims of rape might think twice about coming forward if they believe that going through the trauma of facing the accused in court results in 97 percent acquittal rate.  In other words, this myth hurts rape victims.

Here is what we do know, rape has been and always should be defined as the forcing a sexual act on someone against their will.  However certain groups of people have pushed to have that definition expanded as in the case of Ms Magazine when they included groups of women who had sex with someone and latter regretted it.  Such as the case with this woman.

Not only did she pose and smile for the camera but at no time did she ask for help or for him to stop.  Quite the opposite, she was stroking her hair with her hands and was enjoying herself.  You can see the video and the news report by clicking below.  Guys this is why I don't do bar girls, it can always lead to a rape accusation the next day when she sobers up.

A more accurate number

Because RAINN will not release it's data we have to treat their numbers as suspect.  This is my theory.  The 97 percent number comes down to the total number of women who were raped added to those who reported having sex and later regretted.  Then factor in the number that 60 percent of the time the women do not go to the police.  This can be due to many factors.  Such as not wanting to endure the trauma of a courtroom or perhaps they already believe the 97% myth.  Of those who do go to the police there is a large number who wait to long for a rape kit (a test to retrieve DNA) to be performed, or other circumstances that lead the police to decline to make an arrest.

For those who do get arrested, the lawyer for the accused and the D.A. often will work out a plea bargain especially for first time offenders, or when the DA doesn't have enough evidence to convict.  Such as the victim's failure to identify the attacker at a lineup.  Finally, the last factor is the conviction rate for those who go to trial.  

In the end, we must remember this.  A person is innocent until proven guilty.  A person has the right to face his or her accuser in court.  A person also has the right to a trial by jury.  While these rights can be a burden for the victim remember the words of Sir William Blackstone, "Better 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

How to put a rapist behind bars.

The first thing is to fight back if you can.  DNA can be extracted from the fingernails so claw at him.  As soon as it is over get to the hospital and demand a rape kit be performed on you.  Then, while your memory is fresh have your statement recorded by the police.  Remember every detail you can.  If an arrest is made be prepared to face the trauma of a courtroom.  I'm not going to sugar coat this.  The defense will try to put the victim on trial and this requires a lot of inner strength to survive.  However, know that putting your rapist behind bars will save others from what happened to you.  Finally see a qualified therapist to help you along the way to recovery.

Why we should stop using the 97% figure

It hurts rape victims as it demotivates them from going to the police.
The data can not be independently verified to be accurate.
It might actually encourage rapists into thinking they can rape and not get caught.

For more on the 97 percent myth read this post from Reddit

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