Dangerous Indifference

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

One of the things I write about here a lot is how rape is not, as it is often mischaracterized, a "misunderstanding" between two people. Rape is not an act committed by hapless men (or women, although female rapists are not typically the beneficiaries of this particular apologia) who just don't know any better. Rape is committed by predators, and predators prey.

In 2009, Thomas MacAulay Millar took a look at "who commits the vast majority of rapes, the nonstranger rapes." An except from that piece:
Lisak & Miller also answered their other question: are rapists responsible for more violence generally? Yes. The surveys covered other violent acts, such as slapping or choking an intimate partner, physically or sexually abusing a child, and sexual assaults other than attempted or completed rapes. In the realm of being partner- and child-beating monsters, the repeat rapists really stood out. These 76 men, just 4% of the sample, were responsible for 28% of the reported violence. The whole sample of almost 1900 men reported just under 4000 violent acts, but this 4% of recidivist rapists results in over 1000 of those violent acts.

If we could eliminate the men who rape again and again and again, a quarter of the violence against women and children would disappear. That's the public policy implication.
That rapists are not merely misguided boys who just made a mistake, but in fact devious predators who attack again and again and again, was underlined by the findings of a second study, led by Dr. Stephanie McWhorter:
McWhorter used a Sexual Experiences Survey tool that has been in use for more than 20 years. Of her 1146 participants, 144, or 13%, admitted an attempted or completed rape — substantially higher than Lisak & Miller. But in another respect, her work very much matched theirs: 71% of the men who admitted an attempted or completed rape admitted more than one, very close to Lisak & Miller's 63%. The 96 men who admitted multiple attempted of completed rapes in McWhorter's survey averaged 6.36 assaults each. This is not far from Lisak & Miller's average of 5.8 assaults per recidivist. Looked at another way, of the 865 total attempted or completed rapes these men admitted to, a staggering 95% were committed by 96 men, or just 8.4% of the sample.
This is an important context to bear in mind when we see news like this [video may autoplay at link]: "100 serial rapists identified after rape kits from Detroit Crime Lab are finally processed."

Also in 2009, more than 11,000 rape kits, "some dating back to the 1980's, were found abandoned in a Detroit Police storage facility." In the intervening years, 1,600 of them have been processed, and just in that frustratingly small number of tested kits, "about 100 serial rapists and ten convicted rapists" have been identified.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy "told reporters that perpetrators have moved on from Michigan to commit similar crimes in 23 other states."

Because of untested rape kits, at least 100 serial rapists have moved across at least 23 other states, continuing to rape people. Because of untested rape kits, because of the lack of political will to fund sexual assault investigations, at least 100 serial rapists have continued to victimize people.

And that's just from untested rape kits in Detroit. There are an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits nationally.

Again: The public policy implication of stopping repeat rapists is eliminating a quarter of the violence against women and children.

To continue to leave these rape kits untested, pathetically citing budgetary constraints, is dangerous indifference. It is a shameful facilitation of the rape culture, and a contemptible gift to rapists.

[H/T to Amanda Levitt.]

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