An infographic has been going around the web today that purports to show just how many rapes go unreported, and how few false accusations of rape are made. I already know the sad ballpark statistics on this, but it’s still shocking to see it represented so starkly.
As you can see, only a teeny tiny proportion of rapists ever have to answer for their crimes. But it’s still a much higher number than the number of people who are falsely accused. That number is so small as to practically be statistically insignificant. It’s certainly much smaller than those “protect the accused!” alarmists would have you believe.
And actually, the proportion is even smaller than the infographic is making it look. According to Slate’s Amanda Marcotte, the graphic is conflating “false reports” with false accusations. A false report is any claim of rape someone files that is never substantiated (not necessarily because it didn’t happen). The percentage of these in which an attacker is actually named is rather small. Hence, the number of men who are falsely accused of rape is even smaller than the chart shows.
Marcotte has a few other corrections for the graphic that are actually somewhat encouraging:
-It makes it look like a higher proportion of men rape than actually do. This “could be clearer by just labeling the little dudes ‘rapes’ instead of ‘rapists.’” The good news: most men are not rapists. The bad: most rapists stack up multiple rapes and never get caught.
-The number of unreported rapes that occur is incredibly hard to pin down; however, RAINN recently estimated that 54% of rapes go unreported. This is still not great, but it’s better than the graphic would have you believe.
From these numbers, it’s clear we still have a long way to go in terms of holding rapists accountable for their actions. One thing should be crystal clear, though. It’s obviously terrible when even one person is falsely accused of a crime, but low reporting and conviction rates are an exponentially bigger problem than protecting all the poor defenseless men falsely accused of rape, because the latter exist mainly in the imaginations of “men’s rights” advocates.
Image: The Enliven Project