Tuesday, November 29, 2005

ICM poll on sexual abuse

There has been a lot of media coverage of an ICM poll for Amnesty International

"A new ICM opinion poll commissioned by Amnesty International indicates that a third (34%) of people in the UK believe that a woman is partially or totally responsible for being raped if she has behaved in a flirtatious manner."

I went over and checked the actual questions asked by ICM
Conclusion - The poll questions are flawed, therefore the result is flawed.


Inaccurate Reporting
The figure of 34% being quoted is a disingenuous aggregation of "totally responsible" and "partially responsible". Poll results show that those who answered "partially responsible" outnumbered those who answered "totally responsible" typically by ratios of around 3 to 1. That leaves around 8% of respondents answering "totally responsible", pretty much the level of idiocy you would expect. Also, the poll does not give gender split, which would also demonstrate %age of women who returned answers attributing total or partial responsibility. This is important, as some commenters on the poll results have mindlessly concluded that "34% of the British are actually rapists themselves, and they've been led on by strumpets, so it's not their fault they're all a bunch of rapists, mate"

Poll Assumption
The poll questions contain the assumption that responsibility for a rape can be divided up between rapist, the raped, and most likely the lighting levels and crime rate of where a rape happens. So the responses necessarily endorse that assumption.

Major Problem
The poll conflates two ideas, that 1) responsibility for a rape can be shared out, with 2) the fact that there are steps that can be taken to minimise to some degree the risk of being raped

(to make it country simple, agreeing with either one of above propositions, the first being disagreeable, the second being fairly uncontentious, would have a respondent answering "partially responsible" by the structure of this poll)

These two ideas are not incompatible, but when not separated they are going to produce flawed responses, as affirming that women can reduce risk of rape can be interpreted, as it has been by Amnesty International's uncritical reporting, as having asserted that there exists a popular attitude that women are responsible to some degree for rape.

Such a view may exist, but this flawed poll does not prove that to be the case.

Rape is too serious a social issue to let Public Debate be clouded by small polls using flawed questions to deliver flawed conclusions that are then held up as representing "public attitudes towards rape." That is my motivation for writing this blog post.

*** PLEASE NOTE *** writing about Rape has killed my context-based GoogleAds. shows there are still some activities that it is not okay to turn a dollar from ***


Blogger HF said...

"*** PLEASE NOTE *** writing about Rape has killed my context-based GoogleAds. shows there are still some activities that it is not okay to turn a dollar from ***"
Well, I find it very reassuring that there seem to be no sellable products or services that are related to rape. I hope it stays that way.

4:29 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

rape alarms?

9:25 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

My opinion: the best miliue for moral arbitration is not a poll.

I find this topic very similar to a debate I had about terrorism. I used to believe that a terrorized country may have done something to "bring it on themselves." After losing an argument, I learned that no action--even if that action has dubious moral merit--can be used to justify a completely incorrect action by another (like rape, or flying jets into buildings.)

2:17 PM  
Blogger kingfelix said...


absolutely my point. if the poll had asked the question, A or B, who is responsible for a rape, the rapist or the rapist's victim, then the responses to that question would most likely have Contradicted the questions that followed.

i outlined my grievance to ICM, but they did not have the grace to reply, despite the fact that their assumptions in these polling questions caused headlines throughout the British media and abroad.

some people, they ain't got no class to them

2:26 PM  

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