By Joe Manthey
Lately our community has been bombarded with a United Nations (UN) claim that “One In Three Women On The Planet Will Be Raped Or Beaten In Her Lifetime.” The UN fails to cite any sources for this claim and the latest UN report-- "Prevention of violence against women and girls. Report of the Secretary-GeneralE/CN.6/2013/4" --on violence against women provided by a UN media officer when asked for such does not make the “one in three” claim.
By extrapolation of this “lifetime” figure, Eve Ensler, founder of the Vagina Monologues, assumes that, worldwide, one billion women have been raped or beaten. Consequently, this year’s V-Day theme is "One Billion Rising."
Ensler used war-stricken Congo as an example in an attempt to persuade the public of her one billion estimate, reasoning that because one in three women in the Congo are victims of male violence then all women world-wide must suffer at the same rate.
In all fairness to the V-Day activists, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Intimate Pertner and Sexual Violence Survey http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/ also suggested that rates of sexual violence in the United States are comparable to those in the Congo.
It found that in 2010 approximately 1.3 million women were raped and an additional 12.6 million women and men were victims of sexual violence. It reported, “More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”
What the CDC did to arrive at these inflated statistics was redefine sexual violence which allowed the surveyors to determine what counted as an assault.
For example, women were asked, “When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had vaginal sex with you?” 61.5 percent responded affirmatively and were thus classified as rape victims due to “alcohol or drug facilitated penetration.”
If a woman was unconscious or severely incapacitated, that’s rape. But being under the influence does not necessarily constitute such.
Participants were also asked if they ever had sex because someone pressured them by “telling you lies, making promises about the future they knew were untrue?” All affirmative answers were counted as “sexual violence.”
And if a suitor wore her or him down by “repeatedly asking” or “showing they were unhappy” they were similarly classified.
Hence, what the fine print reveals is that “advocacy research” prevailed as the CDC 1 in 3 numbers are inconsistent with the 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, which estimated 188,380 rapes and sexual assaults on females and males. Granted, not all assaults are admitted in surveys, but that’s a fraction of the CDC’s survey estimates.
Technically, the one billion number is correct, but only if you equate being 'beaten' as having ever experienced any form of physical 'violence,’ such as being pushed or slapped. http://www.k4health.org/sites/default/files/L%2011.pdf However, using the same technical definition, twice as many men than women have experienced the same forms of violence and abuse in their lifetimes. http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/DALY6%202004.xls
Perhaps the V-Day activists believe these inflated numbers will draw needed attention to the genuine problem of sexual violence against women. Unfortunately, stretching the definition of violence against women does a disservice to legitimate victims.
To state that 1 billion women - one in three worldwide – will be beaten or raped in their lifetime (presumably by a man) is statistically quite incorrect. Why then make such an outlandish claim, if not to smear the character of men and boys as inherently violent and abusive?
Joe Manthey is a Petaluma resident and a male advocate. Visit his website at www.joemanthey.com. For an alternative to the U.N. global analysis of domestic violence visit http://www.oneinthree.com.au/. For a bibliography that examines scholarly investigations which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners visit http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm.