‘The Independent’ Publishes a More Accurate Rape Infographic
12:30 pm, January 11th | by Colette McIntyre
A few days ago, under the headline “The saddest graph you’ll see today,” the Washington Post published the Enliven Project’s infographic depicting statistics on rape, rape prosecutions, and false accusations. The infographic quickly went viral; I personally found the graphic through a friend’s Facebook post that had more likes and comments than the status I wrote a year ago about Jonathan Taylor Thomas being in my history seminar (the standard by which I gauge all Facebook posts’ success).
The next day a disconcerted Amanda Marcotte entered the tweeting and “Like”-ing fray with a critique of the Enliven Project’s methodology and the graphic’s inaccurate representations. According to Marcotte, “the saddest graph” is “misleading in significant ways,” namely that it assumes one-rape-per-rapist (while nearly one in five women have been raped, it doesn’t follow that one in five men is a rapist), overestimates unreported rapes, and inaccurately depicts the number of false accusations that occur. The Enliven Project did respond to Marcotte’s concerns, sharing the sources of their sexual assault statistics, but no amended version of the graphic was issued.
Yesterday’s cover of the British newspaper The Independent had an equally powerful but more accurate depiction of the legal issues surrounding rape. While The Independent replicates the previous graphic’s simplicity, the new graphic steers clear of the original’s errors, counting the number of actual rapes instead of estimating the number of rapists, lowering the estimate of unreported rapes, and steered clear of estimating false accusations. Problems with clarity are definitely still present — I’m particularly interested in the seeming interchangeability of “sexual assault” and “rape” in both infographics — but the graphic still offers an arresting look at society’s rape problem. Though the statistics, culled from recent research by the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, and the Office for National Statistics, are particular to Britain, the phenomenon of unreported rapes and dismal conviction figures is endemic to the United States as well and such a lack of justice should be infuriating in any country. While up to 95,000 people are raped in England each year, only 1,070 rapists are convicted; in the United States, only five out of every 100 rapes lead to a conviction. No matter how you display the numbers, the conclusion should be the same — we are doing something wrong.