White House Rape Data "Not Supported By The Scientific Evidence"

Posted: Dec 31, 2014 9:00 AM

Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) may have backed away form the claim that one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college, but the White House is sticking by those numbers.

There are still multiple references to the one-in-five statistic on the White House website, including this January 2014 speech by President Obama, this White House Task Force report on sexual assault, and this "FACT SHEET" on protecting students from sexual assault.

The problem is there is nothing scientific about this number.

"Regardless of which studies are most accurate," the Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice webpage on measuring campus sexual assault reads, "the often-quoted statistic that one in four American college women will be raped during her college years is not supported by the scientific evidence."

The NIJ does acknowledge that "several studies" do "indicate" that "between 18 and 20 percent" of college women do "experience rape or some other form of sexual assault during their college years." But the agency goes on to stress that, "responses to survey questions will depend on how a term is defined, and how a woman interprets the definition."

Obama's one-in-five number for college women experiencing rape also does not comport with Centers for Disease Control data which did find that while one in five women is raped, the proper time span for that statistic is over their entire lifetime, not just college. That CDC study also found that just 37 percent of rapes committed against women occur when they are of college age. Most women who are raped, according to the CDC, were victimized before they turned 18, not when they were in college. 

Not only are college aged women not the most likely women to be raped, but according to University of Colorado Denver criminology professor Callie Marie Rennison, women aged 18 to 24 who do not attend college are victims of sexual violence 30 percent more often than those that do attend college.

So not only are college aged women not the most likely age group of women to be raped, but those women of college age who are in not in college are far more likely to be victimized then those in college.

So why the White House Task Force just for college women?

Rape is a terrible crime. One that, blessedly, has fallen by 30 percent since 1993

But if the White House want to prevent more rapes, why is it spreading false narratives that college campuses are hot beds of sexual violence, something that the data above shows is patently false?