I was in a conversation about different ways people can help in regards to the issue of female perpetrated sexual abuse. One of the ways that people can help that can have a big impact is to write or e-mail to places that have misleading figures or no mention of survivors of female sex offenders.
For example, Humboldt State University has a Rape and Sexual Assault prevention website. On this they have a page titled Sexualized Violence Statistics. They list the following statistic:
An estimated 91% of victims of rape & sexual assault are female and 9% male.
Nearly 99% of perpetrators are male. 1 This US Dept. of Justice statistic does not report those who do not identify in these gender boxes.
This is misleading in a number of ways. The United States Department of Justice found a rate of 8.3% for “Other sexual offenses” for females. (United States Department of Justice. (2003). Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Washington, DC: USGPO) This does not include the 1% for “Rape”.
So we have about 10% for all forms of sexual violence yet if you read that page and statistic it easily appears as if it is only 1%.
This also does not take into account problems around the word “Rape”. For example, frequently the term rape is used instead of a term such as sexual violence or sexual offences. With many states and some countries having had, or like Idaho and Georgia, still have laws that make it impossible for a female to be convicted of rape. This causes a misrepresentation of the true numbers. Some agencies have this same problem with outdated definitions. For example the FBI’s definition of rape was limited to male-to-female intercourse. Even today the UCR Program defines forcible rape as “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will” (p. 19). . Ohio’s Office of Criminal Justice Services has the following definition listed in their crime definitions:
FORCIBLE RAPE = The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Assaults or attempts to commit rape by force are included here; however, statutory rape (without force) and other sex offenses are not included.
If you look at the FBI’s handbook about the UCR you will see this:
Carnal knowledge is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th ed. as “the act of a man having sexual bodily connections with a woman; sexual intercourse.” There is carnal knowledge if there is the slightest penetration of the sexual organ of the female (vagina) by the sexual organ of the male (penis).
Agencies must not classify statutory rape, incest, or other sex offenses, i.e. forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling, etc. as Forcible Rape
By definition, sexual attacks on males are excluded from the rape category and must be classified as assaults or other sex offenses depending on the nature of the crime and the extent of injury.
This misleading number can cause problems for survivors of female perpetrated sexual violence. We have recently had posts and comments from surivors talking about this very thing. Places that continue to do this are helping to ostracize the millions of women and men who are survivors of female perpetrated sexual abuse.
By speaking out, writing and e-mailing places that do this and letting them know how you feel about this is one way to try and get them to change. And when they change it it means more people will become aware and that is the first step.
A few studies to consider:
In a study of 17,337 survivors of childhood sexual abuse, 23% had a female-only perpetrator and 22% had both male and female perpetrators. ( Dube, Shanta R et al. “Long-Term Consequences of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Gender of Victim.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. (2005):28(5), p 430 – 438.
The sexual abuse of children by women, primarily mothers, once thought to be so rare it could be ignored, constituted 25% (approximately 36 000 children) of the sexually abused victims. This statistic is thought to be underestimated due to the tendency of non-disclosure by victims. – (Source National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect)
According to a major 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education – In studies that ask students about offenders, sex differences are less than in adult reports. The 2000 AAUW data indicate that 57.2 percent of all students report a male offender and 42.4 percent a female offender with the Cameron et al. study reporting nearly identical proportions as the 2000 AAUW data (57 percent male offenders vs. 43 percent female offenders).. (Source .PDF Download)
One in six adult men reported being sexually molested as children, and — in a surprise finding — nearly 40 percent of the perpetrators were female, a new study found. (Source Link)
Approximately 95% of all youth reporting staff sexual misconduct said they had been victimized by female staff. In 2008, 42% of staff in state juvenile facilities were female. (Bureau of Justice Report)
Women reported to have perpetrated conflict-related sexual violence in 41.1% of female cases and 10.0% of male cases. (Source Link)
Another study that I have posted about makes a point that applies here when it stated:
Moreover, professional minimization or disbelief of victims’ allegations of female perpetrated sexual abuse may actually exacerbate the negative effects of the sexual abuse, ultimately inciting secondary victimization.
Another study had a comment from one of the researchers that stated:
“programs that focus only on male perpetrators and female victims are addressing only half of the problem.”
Sexual Violence is a human rights problem that is not restricted to one gender. Isn’t time we stopped addressing only part of the problem?