Olga Wolstenholme's picture

Statistic Goggles: Like RoboCop Vision Only Scarier

Statistics are frightening.

Take these statistics on sexual assault from RAINN: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network for example:

  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).
  • 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
  • About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.1
  • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.
  • 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
  • In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.
  • 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
In my head, all of this translates to: there’s a shitload of rapists and child abusers in the world.
When you say: “Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.”
I hear: “Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulting someone.”
So, there are times when I walk down a crowded street I look at people with my statistic goggles on (or RoboCop vision) and I apply these stats to random strangers. I wonder, which one among you is a rapist? Which one among you is a pedophile? It’s a pretty useless endeavour and I definitely don’t recommend it, but sometimes that’s just how my brain works.
Christina Engela's picture

Crying Wolf

"In a multiple-bias incident [of reported hate crime], two conditions must be met: (a) more than one offense type must occur in the incident and (b) at least two offense types must be motivated by different biases."

Sounds like the definitive intro to an episode of "Law & Order", doesn't it?

If there were no statistics to show the high incidence of hate crimes committed against GLBTIQ people specifically on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the Religious Right could go on making false claims that hate crime is "thought crime" and that the concept of hate crime was no more than a gay rights propaganda tool, and that it is their religion which is under attack, and not the pink community. In fact, this is exactly why they have been fighting tooth and claw to stop the passage of hate crimes laws. Why? Because without them, the FBI could not legitimately record such crimes - and the statistics would not be made available - and they could go on trying to obscure the fact that GLBTIQ people are indeed under attack - by themselves.

The recent passage of hate crimes laws in the USA have made such statistics valid and are currently available on the FBI website. To start off with, yes, these are American statistics - but as in America, the bigots and anti-gay activists in South Africa echo the very same rhetoric and follow the very same strategies as they do there, in fact to a large extent they have been influenced and even mentored by the American religious right. If accurate hate crime statistics were available in this country, there is no doubt in my mind they would reflect a very similar result demographically.

The FBI reported the following reported incidents of hate crime involving physical violence in the USA in 2008:
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