When I look at this number I'm also reminded of higher numbers I've blogged about:
Quarter million rapes estimated in the Congo during last 4 years from Nov. 2006.
Can A Crime That Happens 248,300 Times A Year In The US Really Be Rare? from Dec. 2008.
These numbers could leave me depressed if I only thought about the actions of those who find ways to justify their own individual violence and those who find ways to justify or deny the violence of others.
But I know for certain that I'm far from being alone in my "radical" opposition to all forms of sexual violence, in my "radical" opposition to all excuses for why certain rapists are not "real" rapists and in my "radical" opposition to those who slander or dismiss those who have been sexually assaulted.
The big lie which the rape apologists wish for us to believe is that there is nothing we can do ethically to dramatically reduce the number of sexual assaults.
This lie depends on:
- The false claim that the only way for rape victims to have any reasonable chance to get justice after reporting is for innocent men to be punished for rapes they never committed.
- The false claim that rape prevention efforts aimed at changing the behavior and attitudes of potential rapists is anti-male.
The truth is that competence and thoroughness of investigations and prosecutions benefit all who are innocent. Competence and thoroughness would discourage many would-be rapists who want to think of themselves as non-rapists. This would also discourage many would-be fraudulent accusers.
Sloppiness and ethical breaches benefits the guilty.
If this claim about reasonable conviction rates were true then the only way for those who have been victims of attempted murder to have any reasonable chance to get justice would be for innocent people to be punished for crimes they never committed. The denialists will claim that the difference is physical evidence, but in rape cases serious injuries or even death are often dismissed by defense attorneys as nothing more than evidence of rough sex.
Being suckered by a lie is not the same thing as having reasonable doubt. The best way for people to avoid being suckered by the lies of rapists and their defenders is for the general population to have a better understanding of the issues which are needed to prevent people from rationalizing rape.
The truth is that effective prevention efforts teach people -- children and adults -- about appropriate sexual boundaries. I believe that many rapists would not be able to rationalize rape if they had been taught about their responsibility to ensure that they have freely given consent prior to taking action and if they had been taught that no behavior they see justifies or cancels out the reality of rape.
The number of rapes would drop if everyone understood that nobody has a legal obligation to clearly communicate lack of consent to prevent unwanted sexual contact or actions.
This basic education would help boys and men ensure that they have not been misled by someone who will not face criminal charges for their dangerous advice related to consent.
This rape prevention education needs to be integrated into all sex education programs to prevent future violence but also to help children understand that any sexual violence or sexual abuse they have experienced is not sex.
The belief in any part of these lies related to the reduction of rape is what prevents positive change. When the task of preventing rape seems impossible that results in many people never trying to get the task done. Yet preventing rape is not impossible.
The reason rape prevention is not impossible is because rape is not caused by biology or by sexual desire, it is caused by how people -- rapists and non-rapists -- think about the ethics of sexual contact and the actions which follow those thoughts.