Why false rape is not the problem.

It seems that every discussion about rape involves someone trying to derail the discussion by talking about false rape claims. This post is intended to show that these claims, and the results from them, are insignificant when compared to the larger problem of rape.

First I’ll state some statistics. (See the bottom of this post for references):

  • Reporting Rate for rape (Proportion of people who are raped that report it to the authorities) = 20%
  • Rate of false rape reports = 3% (Similar to false reports for other crimes)
  • Attrition rate for rape reports (proportion of reports that DO NOT result in a conviction = 87% (Which means 13% of reports DO result in a conviction
So if we consider 1000 actual rapes.Of these, only 20% will be reported = 200 rape reports.3% of rape reports are false – so with 200 actual rape reports, there will be around 6 false reports.

Of the 200 actual reports, only 13% will result in a conviction = 26 convicted rapists. So out of 1000 actual rapes. Actual women having their lives changed for ever by the trauma of rape – there will be only 26 convictions.  974 Rapists will go free. And some of those will rape again.

Of the 6 false reports if 13% were also convicted that would be 0.7 innocent men in prison. However, in reality very much fewer false reports will make it to a conviction, since if the report is false there can be no corroborating evidence. Such cases will almost all be weeded out during the investigative stage. The conviction rate for false reports will be a small fraction that for actual rapes. So the number of unjust convictions per 1000 rapes will be insignificant.

Of course even one miscarriage of justice is one too many – but set against 1000 actual rapes and 974 un-convicted rapists, it seems obvious to me where the real problem is, and where we as a society needs to focus our attention.

We need to stop men raping, and we need to put those who do behind bars.

References for statistics

  • What is the reporting rate for rape – that is what proportion of people who are raped/seriously sexually assaulted actually report the assault to the authorities. This article puts it at 20%. I’ve read figures as low as 10% but for the sake of this post, I’ll take the higher figure.
  • What is the rate of false rape reports? Here is is stated as 2% to 8%. Higher figures you may have seen will usually be based on police data of “unfounded” or “uncorroborated” cases, rather than actual false reports. Even the 8% in the range above is biased upwards by this type of reporting. However for the sake of this post, I’ll assume the 2%-8% range is valid, and pick a midpoint at 5% (EDIT: More recently, a DPP report has fairly convincingly demonstrated the lower figure of 3% is more realistic for the UK. Post amended accordingly.)
  • What is the “attrition” rate for rape cases (the proportion of rape reports that do NOT result in a conviction). I’ve read figures as high as 94%. This article claims 87%. Again, for this article, I’ll take the lower figure.

3 thoughts on “Why false rape is not the problem.

  1. I’ve published your comment – because it allows me to demonstrate how rape apologists such as yourself set out to exaggerate the rate of false allegations for rape.

    To take your first comment. The very study YOU reference 100% backs up the figure I use of 3%: “The researchers noted that some of these classifications were based simply on the personal judgments of the police investigators and were made in violation of official criteria for establishing a false allegation”
    “Closer analysis of this category applying the Home Office counting rules for establishing a false allegation and excluding cases where the application of the cases where confirmation of the designation was uncertain reduced the percentage of false reports to 3%” (reference : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_accusation_of_rape#British_Home_Office_study_.282005.29)

    WRT to your second point – wrong again. As I clearly state in the post – in a representative sample of 1000 actual rapes, where 200 are reported, then there will be 6 false allegations. I allow in the first case that if ALL of those get through to court – then on average the result will be less than 1 unjust conviction. I then point out that in reality, very few of them will get to court because of lack of corroborating evidence. Even fewer will result in a conviction for the same reason.

    Don’t bother with a second reply. It almost certainly won’t be published.

  2. I expect this comment to be deleted, but to point out a couple of things:

    1 The stat for false rape claims varies, but the largest study to date by the British Home Office on a sample of 2,643 cases 8% were classified as false reports, that’s almost 1 in 10. The actual figure will be higher as to be recorded as a false report it must be *proven* as such for example if the defendant has a valid alibi or if the complainant admits to filing a false report. We don’t know how many of the cases which ended in not guilty for the defendant were false accusations. So realistically the stat will likely be at least 1 in 10 rape reports being false.

    2 You are making the assumption that every single case which ends in not guilty for the defendant really was a legitimate claim where a rape happened which should have ended in a guilty verdict. As mentioned above for all we know some (or more than some) of those cases could have been false accusations. We just don’t know, so instead of saying “actual rapes” you should be saying “alleged rapes”.

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