Update (November 8): A correction has been published. This line was amended from “this country has, after all, the highest reported number of rapes by men of women per capita in the world” to “one of the highest reported number of rapes per capita in the world” on 8 November, 12.41pm AEST. According to UN statistics, for 2011, the most recent year reported, the rate per 100,000 population for Australia and New Zealand is given as 30, seventh among the 72 nations listed. Note that the same statistics report that in 2011 there were 0 reported rapes in Mozambique, Cameroon, Morocco, Lesotho, Guinea, Bermuda, Barbados, Guatemala, Argentina, Turkmenistan, Republic of Korea, Brunei, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, the Solomon Islands and 49 other countries …
Today, Van Badham has a really good piece in The Grauniad (Australian online edition) on ‘How not to raise a rapist’. Leaving to one side the important points she makes about the existence of a culture of violent woman-hating, I was struck by the claim that Straya has “the highest reported number of rapes by men of women per capita in the world”. I’d not encountered this statistic before, so I decided to take a closer look. Having done so, it appears that this claim is not in fact supported by the evidence cited.
To begin with, Badham’s article links to an article on LiveLeak: USA – Country With Most Amount of Rape Cases. This article is a republication of an article which originally appeared on The Global Post, Which country has the highest reported incidents of rape? [DATA], by Kyle Kim, dated March 18, 2013. Kim asks “…what do rape incidents look like globally? We’ve produced one partial answer via charts using the latest international data available on reported rapes by the United Nations”. Kim notes that “When looking at reported rape cases per capita, Australia, Botswana and Lesotho rank highest”. As evidence, Kyle provides a link to the website of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime where the reader can download the relevant UN data. Unfortunately, this link — http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/crime/CTS12_Assault.xls — does not provide the required statistics: what Kim links to is in fact an Excel sheet providing data on ‘Assault at the national level, number of police-recorded offences’, where ‘assault’ is defined as meaning ‘physical attack against the body of another person resulting in serious bodily injury; excluding indecent/sexual assault; threats and slapping/punching’ and ‘assault’ leading to death.
The relevant UN data is actually contained in another document produced by the same agency: ‘Total sexual violence at the national level, number of police-recorded offences’, where ‘sexual violence’ is defined as ‘rape and sexual assault; including sexual offences against children’ http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/crime/CTS_Sexual_violence.xls. According to these statistics, the reported rate of rape in Australia* for the year 2011 (the most recent year for which data is available) is actually 30.0 per 100,000, a figure which sits at the lower end of the global spectrum. (The same document also states ‘Please note that when using the figures, any cross-national comparisons should be conducted with caution because of the differences that exist between the legal definitions of offences in countries, or the different methods of offence counting and recording’.)
In summary, based on the references cited, it doesn’t appear to be the case that Straya has “the highest reported number of rapes by men of women per capita in the world”.
*The data may actually be referring to New Zealand in this case.