Actually, the figures are much worse: The above number comes from the UN and is based on police records from 80 countries in 2008 (as for the remaining 113 UN members you are allowed to wonder if they are serious about their membership). But that may just be the small tip of a gigantic iceberg: Researchers suggest that between 70% and 95% of all rape crimes are never reported. Taking the 70% estimate would mean that more than 1.3M women are raped or sexually assaulted each year. And very close to 100% of it done by men. Add to that domestic violence, harassment and other acts considered criminal and the scale of male aggression becomes staggering. If these “incidents” had a single pathological label, it would be the biggest entry in the the World Health Organization’s database. A rampant disease of sexual violence.
What’s wrong with us men?
I know that numbers on this issue are fraught with uncertainties, uneven data capture and reporting norms, giving rise to hot debates. Some (mostly women) say they are much bigger and others (mostly men) that women cry “rape” whenever it suits them. In the absence of quality data and tools, that discussion leads down the shouting-match alley, which, as we all know, is blind. A situation that ought to motivate some serious initiatives to at least produce better data.
Unfortunately the data capture and reporting effort seem to deteriorate: Over the past years the number of UN member states submitting their reports have dropped from 84 to 57. In 2010, less than a third of UN members cared to send any data at all. And that is not because sexual violence is on the decline. Quite the contrary: In 2009, 73 countries reported a total of 420.000 police recorded offenses while in 2010 (the most recent data), only 57 countries send their data, yet the total reached 373.000.
So who aren’t reporting? France didn’t report in 2010. Neither did Finland. But among the member states that have never filed their report we find countries like Denmark, Brazil, (south) Korea and Slovakia. Much more serious, though, countries like the USA, China, Indonesia and several others with very significant populations also never participated. It this intentional? If so – why? And if not, it smells of sloppy administration or worse: Plain incompetence.
The shocking part is that even if you allow all of the non-reporting countries to have male populations made up of quasi angels, the 400.000 victims counted by the UN, is bound to balloon to a mind-numbing figure. Multiply that with whatever percentage of the iceberg is submerged and the issue can no longer be ignored. Also, it is no longer possible “simply” to think in terms of better laws and law enforcement, better education and better preventive measures: Guys, there’s something wrong with us. You may not be a rapist and you may never have hit a woman, but way too many of our gender siblings are and have. And continue to do so, to the tune of several million acts of sex related violence every year. This must be stopped if we are to build a better world for our kids. And save what is left of our male dignity.
If you are a man and believe this insanity must be stopped, then share this post, get involved locally, help raise awareness.
Here are some links you might want to have a look at:
To dig deeper and act:
A global movement to end violence against women and girls: Vday
RAINN – the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (US)
What Wiki has to say
Also related: The Girl Effect with more here
Anecdotal but symptomatic and telling:
Sophie Peeters’s film school thesis: A hidden-camera documentary on rampant sexual harassment in the streets of Brussels.
Here is a poignant piece of related commentary
US Senate candidate Mike Baumgartner says “go fuck yourself” – in writing – to a journalist
Eve Ensler says: “Dear Akin, I want you to imagine”
She is talking to Tod Akin – US Senator because of this
But crank up your attention when she says “I’m over it” – this is not an elegant piece of deep denial. You have to look for a whole different register.
And make your own searches, link up and stand up to show you may be a man but you are not one of them. You may want to start by contemplating this:
When a child hits a child, we call it aggression. When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility. When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault. When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.
― Haim G. Ginott [1922-73]
On a final note, I have this to say: To teach through violence is to teach violence.