Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Statistics Show Drop In U.S. Rape Cases

Washington Post

The number of rapes per capita in the United States has plunged by more than 85 percent since the 1970s, and reported rape fell last year even while other violent offenses increased, according to federal crime data. This seemingly stunning reduction in sexual violence has been so consistent over the past two decades that some experts say they have started to believe it is accurate, even if they cannot fully explain why it is occurring.

I believe the vision of those who started rape crisis lines, and the work that is being continued by rape advocates today, is the number one contributor to this decline.

Victim blaming hasn't magically disappeared, but the support available for victims of rape shows that not everyone accepts that rapists are enticed into wrongdoing by their immoral victims. Most of us now accept that a Lolita-like teenager is either a predator's fantasy or a girl who most likely has a history of being sexually abused.

The increased awareness and the increase in the number of victims and survivors reaching out and speaking out can make it seem like rape is now an epidemic that sprang from nowhere. But it is instead a ground swell of opposition to letting rapists operate unnoticed and unimpeded.

Many rapists who once knew they were safe from prosecution because of how and where they picked their victims don't feel so safe anymore. To me that's a good thing. But to these men and those who still see many victims as unworthy of being called true victims, this crackdown on all classes of rapists isn't such good news. They believe we've gone too far when any type of woman or girl has a shot at justice.

If those who attack the efforts of rape advocates succeed at letting men and boys make "mistakes" when it comes to getting consent, I have no doubt that the trend WILL reverse itself. We can't let that happen.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:02 AM   2 comments links to this post


At June 21, 2006 5:10 PM, Anonymous humbition said...

I sincerely hope that these statistics reflect a real change in the culture and in those cultural ideas which have promoted rape.

One does see a lot of old-fashioned victim-blaming and she-asked-for-it mentality in the public reaction to rape trials covered by the press, not to mention some members of juries. So I am surprised.

What I believe happened in, for example, the Duke case -- I believe the woman in that case -- is no "mistake." What one sees in so many public comments is the making of excuses for men on the basis of their being from a socially privileged group, and therefore they must be OK. And that is common to a number of contemporary rape trials.

I don't want backlash logic, the sad and threadbare excuses of the past, to win. Not in any way. I hope the rape statistics represent a real change, and that if they are lower they remain so.

At June 21, 2006 5:22 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


I think it's because of the progress that's been made that we have people who are doing everything possible to turn the tide so only rapists nobody likes will be convicted.


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