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The danger to women lurks within us

In a Dec 27, 2012 editorial in The Hindu, Praveen Swami shares several statistics on how other countries have combated rape. Lest we take too much comfort from some of the statistics, he reminds us that in a culture of misogyny, legal and judicial reforms can only go so far. He ends his piece on the following sobering note.

Fixing the police and the justice system, thus, will only achieve so much – and that so much is not a great deal. The real battle is one that women’s organizations have fought to address for decades – to change the ways in which men relate to women; to create a culture of masculinity that does not involve subjugation. For progress to be made, we must begin by acknowledging this one fact; the problem isn’t the police, the courts or government. The problem is us.

And now for the statistics cited in Swami’s article…

  • In US, incidence of sexual violence fell from 2.8 per 1,000 in 1979 to 0.4 per 1,000 in 2004.
  • Every year in the US, the highly regarded Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates, over 200,000 women suffer sexual assault – one approximately every two minutes.
  • In 2000, a United Kingdom survey concluded that 4.9% of all women had experienced at least one rape or sexual assualt; a more recent survey puts the figure at above 10%.
  • Ireland, Germany and Sweden have survey estimates that range from 25 to 34 percent.
  • For every 100 rapes that take place in the U.S., only 46 are reported. The 46, on average, lead to just 12 arrests. Nine of the 12 arrested perpetrators go on to be prosecuted – but only a third of these are eventually convicted of rape. Put simply, just 3 out of every 100 rapists ever see the inside of a prison cell.
  • India’s conviction rate is headed in the wrong direction: 44.3% in 1973 to 26.5% in 2010.