Monday, September 14, 2009

Underreporting of rape is not a certainty

Here's an excerpt from a recent law review article that appeared in the New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement. It explains that the politicization of rape renders it impossible to discern whether underreporting even exists.

If there is one thing this blog is fighting for, it's to end the divisive politicization in this area. The truth is being held hostage by radical feminist ideology. Let's have an honest, objective look at both rape and false rape claims, which, I am certain, will show that the former is not nearly as prevalent as the sexual grievance industry insists, and the latter not only is far more common, but becoming more and more prevalent because it is not deterred. An honest look at these issues will promote a greater respect for the rights of the presumed innocent, many of whom are, in fact, falsely accused; moreover, it will not dampen the public's desire to eradicate rape, it will only heighten it -- because the public will know it is not being fed radical feminist lies.

Here is the excerpt. Some context: the author is questioning the work of other scholars who concluded that underreporting is a fact:

Hanson refers to an article that he coauthored with James Bonta. Their article offers various reasons to support the notion that crimes are underreported. One reason they offer is the slippage in the Uniform Crime Reports. According to Bonta and Hanson, the Uniform Crime Reports underreport because if there is an act consisting of several violent and non-violent crimes, only the violent offenses are counted. The authors do not explain or justify how this counting method contributes to the underreporting of sex crimes. Instead, they point out that the victim reports contribute extensively to the variability in reporting rates for different offenses. Bonta and Hanson did not actually conduct any victim surveys for their article. Instead, they refer to three previous studies done by the Canadian government. In praising victim studies, Bonta and Hanson point out that these studies "have the advantage of detecting crimes that are unreported to the police." However, they also mention the drawback that some crimes are not reported because the victims are not aware that those crimes have occurred or because the victims are embarrassed by the crimes. Curiously, the authors do not offer any reasons why the data from victim surveys might be unreliable (e.g., exaggeration, lack of understanding legal criteria, and making oneself a victim). Instead, they take the survey data from over 61,000 telephone calls and 10,000 interviews at face value to conclude that all crimes are underreported. . . . .

A recent study of sex-crime reporting concludes that serious investigation for rates of sex crimes, free from ideological bias, is only just beginning. In his paper, Philip N. S. Rumney claims that in the past, those influenced by psychoanalytic theory discounted reports of sex crimes, while more recent studies of sex crimes too readily believe victims in spite of the unreliable nature of the studies. He concludes that:

"As a consequence of such deficiencies within legal scholarship, factual claims have been repeatedly made that have only limited empirical support. This suggests a widespread analytical failure on the part of legal scholarship and requires an acknowledgement of the weakness of assumptions that have been constructed upon unreliable research evidence."

It could be the case that sex crimes are underreported. Unfortunately, competing agendas on both sides of the issue have hidden methodologically infirm studies behind rhetoric to obscure the uncertainties in the numbers."

J. Fennel, Punishment by Another Name: The Inherent Overreaching in Sexually Dangerous Person Commitments 35 N.E. J. on Crim. & Civ. Con. 37, 49-51 (2009).