Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sexual assault in the military - putting the numbers into perspective 

"A nonprofit victim's support group reported... that sexual assaults continue to occur among members of the armed services stationed in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Bahrain.

"The Miles Foundation said it has received 307 reports of sexual assaults from soldiers deployed overseas since units were deployed in their respective locations...

"The Miles report said that 104 of the cases they've been informed of had been reported to military authorities, including chaplains, command criminal investigators and medical personnel."
Even one case of sexual assault is a tragedy and one too many. Is the situation among the troops, however, better or worse than among the wider population back at home?

In 2001, there were 248,250 rapes and sexual assaults in the United States reported to law enforcement agencies. This comes to just under 85 reported cases per 100,000 population per year.

The Miles report lists 104 reported cases* over two years out of the total population of almost 200,000 troops stationed throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. This comes up to about 25 reported cases per 100,000 population per year.

You also have to consider that 100,000 soldiers does not equal 100,000 population back home, because that civilian 100,000 also includes women and children, whereas 100,000 soldiers are overwhelmingly men between the ages of 18 and 50. If you want to arrive at a figure of sexual assault in the United States per 100,000 men in the relevant aged bracket, you have to multiply 85 by around three (or maybe even four), to get ca. 250 sexual assaults per 100,000 men between the ages of 18 and 50 (as they constitute somewhere between a third and a quarter of the total population).

Thus, the sexual assault rate in the armed forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, however unfortunately high, is still at least ten times smaller than the rate in the general population in the United States.

So far, no one has yet tried to use sexual assault statistics to blacken the name of the American armed forces serving overseas. While the above figures are pretty rough, bear them in mind in the future, just in case the far-left does decide to start portraying the US troops as rapists, in addition to being thugs and torturers (the usual post-Abu Ghraib spin).

* We can effectively only work with reported numbers, as the total number of cases is guesswork. The Miles report above lists over 300 cases of which 100 were reported. Overall, some think that only one in six sexual assaults ever gets reported.


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