Are US Sexual Assault Stats Really as Bad as the Congo's?

Does the United States really have a sexual violence rate that is comparable to the Congo? In a Washington Post piece, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident scholar Christina Hoff Sommers explains how a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study is fundamentally flawed, and an example of careless advocacy research with bad consequences:

  • Myth: A new CDC survey found that "more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime." This misleading report was even hailed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for giving "a clear picture of the devastating impact these violent acts have on the lives of millions of Americans."

  • Fact: US Participants were asked if they had ever had sex because someone pressured them by "telling you lies, making promises about the future they knew were untrue?" All affirmative answers were counted as "sexual violence."

  • Conclusion: The CDC effectively has set a stage where each step of physical intimacy requires a notarized testament of sober consent. What the study really reveals is the devastating impact of a wide array of ambitious government programs that do not help and take funding away from programs that do help. Survivors of sexual violence would be better served by good research and sober estimates -- not inflated statistics and sensationalism.

AEI resident Scholar Cristina Hoff Sommers is best known for her critique of late-twentieth-century feminism. Among her books is Who Stole Feminism? She can be reached via her research assistant at [email protected] or 202.962.5897.

For help reaching any AEI scholars and for all other media requests, please contact Jesse Blumenthal at [email protected] (202.862.4870).

AEI's in-house ReadyCam TV studio may be booked by calling VideoLink at 617.340.4300. For radio interviews, please e-mail [email protected] to reserve AEI's ISDN facilities. 

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