Thursday, March 05, 2009


Amnesty are asking people to draw attention to a shocking statistic: ‘Each year, around 1 in 10 women in Britain experience rape or other violence. One in four local authorities leave female victims of violence without the specialised support they need’.

Amnesty want to persuade thousands of people on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter to update their avatars and statuses at 1:10 on Friday 6th March. The status update is: Each year, 1 in 10 women in Britain experience rape or other violence. Act now.

On Twitter, Amnesty are asking members to change their profile picture to our avatar and use #1in10 to spread the message.

And Amnesty are then directing everyone to where they can see which services are missing in their local area and email their MP, asking them to do something to sort it out.

There is a big debate going on aboutwhether this statistic is accurate over on Liberal Conspiracy, so I emailed Amnesty to see if they could shed any further light on it. They replied:

'The information for this particular action is taken from the Map of Gaps Report 2, a report by End Violence Against Women (a coalition that Amnesty is part of - we have a Stop Violence Against Women campaign) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The actual statistic 'Each year, around 1 in ten women in Britain will experience rape and or other violence. One in four local authorities leave female victims of violence without the specialised support they need' is a condensed version of the statistic Over 30 million women live in Britain. Each year, 3 million women in Britain experience rape, domestic violence, stalking or other violence. One in four local authority areas leave women who experience violence without any support from the from the Map of Gaps Report 2, and is featured on the homepage of the website
We are promoting this condensed version to people on online social networks so that they can use it as a status update on Facebook / Myspace or a tweet on Twitter, in order to raise awareness of this situation across these online communities - The link that we're asking people to put at the end of this statistic on their profile update is which takes you to a landing page featuring further information and a link to which contains all the relevant detailed statistics and the Map of Gaps Report 2 .

This site is a microsite which explains the Map of Gaps Report 2 and provides the functionality for users to find out which services are lacking in their local area and email their MP directly from the site. This is the action that we are promoting - we are not asking for any donation.

We are campaigning on violence against women in this instance as we are using the opportunity to raise awareness for International Women's Day - I have forwarded your email on to our Stop Violence Against Women campaign manager but if you are interested, we have a short video on the campaign '

So thanks for that Amnesty. And please do support this campaign.

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Blogger kris said...

Thank you for getting the word out on this and letting us know.

March 05, 2009 6:32 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks Kris.

here's the Amnesty response in full

HI Rachel

Thanks for your emails concerning the 1 in 10 motif we want to promote for international women's day and thanks for taking it seriously and asking relevant questions, we appreciate it. Sorry this is a long email but I wish to do justice to all your concerns. I would only wish you to take your time and provide your support if you believe in the campaign and the integrity on which it is based.

It is remarkable how much time we have to spend justifying our concerns about violence against women rather than actually addressing the issues – I am not sure that the basis for any other campaign has ever been so laboriously discredited and squabbled over. This is not aimed at you, it is an observation of how much resistance there is to our even mentioning violence against women but that is why we are doing this campaign.


Our first point on statistics is that we would urge people to show support for victims of violence against women rather than get into a debate about the niceties of statistics. Evidently that is a perhaps bit disingenuous given that we have "started it" by launching a stat led page but see points below.

It is very interesting that when we undertook focus group research on how to engage men in preventing violence against women at the launch of the stop violence against women campaign in 2004, we found many hurdles to men getting involved. Top among the hurdles was that they spent more time haggling over and disbelieving statistics than actually considering the injustices of violence against women. Interestingly though, once the men began to accept the statistics they were very horrified and had massively underestimated the scale and extent of violence against women. Do we have to dispute the niceties of the stats or can we have a more humane starting point that we reject violence against women and wish it to end. Within that of course stats should not be misused but stats are illustrative only and they are not the point of the campaign which is to end violence against women.

Statistics are notoriously malleable and indeed we try not to run campaigns through stats for precisely this reason. On the other hand if you don't come up with figures for government and policy and indeed for media then the issue doesn't get on the agenda let alone get resources and so you are obliged to play the statistics haggle game. In addition if you have only one line of text to get people interested in a campaign then a headline stat is a good shorthand way in to attract attention and it is in that context we have gone for the 1:10 motif for international women’s day.

Out of interest the other hurdles to men getting involved in preventing violence against women were that they didn't think there was anything they could do, they felt that you never know the other side of the story so they shouldn't get involved (this of course would seem to some extent to implicitly imply that the victim may have sometimes provoked and deserved the violence as though the violence is justified – compare coverage of Rhiannon beating which showed similar assumptions of blame of Rhiannon), they feared the women's movement would be hostile to them getting involved ( not entirely unfounded fear I have to confess) and they thought it was a women's issue etc.

As I am sure you are aware there are people with agendas out there and it is enough to look at Comment is Free to see that there is a very organised cohort of regular posters who are always keen to try to discredit articles and postings that are liberal at all and particularly articles or postings that they think are "radical feminist" in nature (this being in their mind a term of abuse of course). The fact that it is a “Liberal” site in no way discourages, indeed actively encourages, these posters to come and take issue.

However you are of course right that those who are keen to attack will seek every avenue to do so and we have to be careful - however I think we were careful. Not sure that I can go into proving stats here but rather referring to original research and worth noting that much of the material cited in our campaign is also taken from Home Office and British Crime Survey sources not only from "radical feminist" groups as we are often called. Key reports in full produced by, amongst others, the End Violence Against Women Coalition include 2 reports called "Making the Grade" auditing government performance on violence against women, "Realising Rights - a blueprint for an integrated strategy to end violence against women" and now 2 reports called "Map of Gaps" monitoring service provision by a strict and clear methodology.

As to your other points:

1) Men are both the victims and the perpetrators of the vast majority of violence. This is not disputed. That includes, guns, knife and gang violence, street and pub brawls etc. However that is not the focus of this campaign. We are not talking about violence but about gender based violence - see below.

2) The focus of this campaign is violence that is suffered disproportionately or exclusively by women and is targetted at women because they are women i.e. gender based violence as both a cause and consequence of continued inequality and this is drawn from the United Nations definition of violence against women in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Last year the UK presented its report on UK delivery against CEDAW to the CEDAW committee and the CEDAW committee expressed disappointment that the UK had still not adopted the UN definition of violence against women or the recommended integrated strategic approach to tackling VAW in the UK. This is indeed what is being called for by the End Violence Against Women Coalition of which Map of Gaps is one of their products.

3) As we are running a campaign against violence against women and this particular feature is for international women's day, we have not chosen to feature the number of men who experience rape. As with women it is difficult to know the scale and extent of male rape since there is such a huge reluctance to report it and so few convictions. This reluctance is likely to be all the greater among men as the sense of emasculation and shame will be all the greater for male victims of rape because to be raped is associated with being weak or feminine. However 47,000 rapes of women are reported in the UK every year this is an accepted stat agreed by police and home office, a report of rape reaches UK police every 34 minutes – police reports. You can be sure that the vast majority of men and women in the UK would massively underestimate this if asked how many rapes occur – in a recent poll of London students the majority of students estimate around 500 rapes a year. Part of the point of this campaign is to open people’s eyes to the scale and extent of violence against Women in the UK. The conviction rate in England and Wales for rape is at 6.1% and in Scotland is at 3%.Of course there are those who like to assume that this means 93% of cases are false allegations however home office own figures recognize that what can be put down as being a false allegation for rape is the same as false allegations for most crimes being about 8% of allegations. In 1997 home office figures reported 342 male rapes reported. In 2007 Dublin rape crisis centre reported that 12% of rapes reported to them involved male, victims the vast majority by male perpetrators.

4) We are not defining “violence” we are defining “violence against women” – gender based violence disproportionately suffered by women because they are women as per UN definition the detail of which can be found
“Violence that is directed at a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty…”. CEDAW General Recommendation 19

DEVAW 1993:

“Recognizing that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men,”

Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs. “

5) Therefore it is not non-specified violence like muggings etc it is violence against women as defined above. It is these women that should have viable options to attend specialist non-statutory sector services if they wish (in addition of course to A and E or GPs etc). Indeed we find that if women receive help from non-statutory sector services there is a much greater chance of their also then having the trust, confidence and support they need to go through with prosecutions etc.

6) We are saying 1 in 10 suffer rape or domestic violence every year and there is not enough support, service or resources invested in meeting demand at all let alone in providing the option of specialist service provision. So no the figure is not being lumped in with other forms of violence – that is perhaps why the figure is so shocking and why we need to publicise the scale and extent of violence against women.

7) the aim of this campaign is to raise awareness about the scale and extent of violence against women, to get people to take action to pressure their local MPs into demanding better access to services and resources for violence against women and to raise awareness that we are running a campaign and we need activists to support us in taking action. If people give us money as well of course we are grateful but this is not a fundraising ask it is a campaign action ask. It directs people to a letter writing action.

March 07, 2009 1:08 pm  
Blogger Helen G said...

As a trans woman, I was very concerned that we were excluded from the research.

I blogged about my correspondence with Amnesty UK about this exclusion here:

I begin to despair that transphobic violence will ever be taken seriously by anyone outside the trans community.

March 07, 2009 6:01 pm  
Blogger Dr. Deb said...

Terrible statistics.

March 09, 2009 1:39 am  
OpenID regordane said...

In other words, a load of waffle to obscure the fact that the statistic is just plain wrong. OF COURSE people will spend "more time haggling over and disbelieving statistics than actually considering the injustices of violence against women" if supposedly respectable organisations like Amnesty shoot themselves in the foot by quoting statistics that have no basis in fact.

Violence against women is, as Amnesty say, a desperately important issue (I am a woman, btw). Which makes it all the more sad that they have self-destructed in this way.

March 09, 2009 4:46 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

Many thanks for posting this Rachel.

I guess I'm part of the "very organised cohort" on Comment is Free that, in our rampant misogyny and belligerent aggression, insist that the statistics we are told by campaign groups are actually true. What a bunch of bastards, eh?

Amnesty, as you may know, have some serious form on this. For years, their website carried the "fact" that violence against women is the number one killer of women aged 15-44 worldwide. This is palpably false, and the research paper where this "fact" supposedly originates says no such thing. It placed rape & dv at Number 6 on a table of causes of morbidity (not mortality.) Even after it was pointed out to Amnesty (repeatedly) that the statistic was false, they refused to take it down. (incidentally, the BBC apparently used the exact same false factoid on their evening news programme this week.)

I've written about the hazards of abusing statistics here, including tracking the origins of that famous statistic. I also argue that misusing stats is dangerously counter-productive for campaigners and activists.

For an organisation like Amnesty, which stands or falls on the reliability, veracity and accuracy of their information, it is frankly appalling. And I say that as a lifelong supporter.


March 12, 2009 11:54 am  
Blogger FrankFisher said...

It is very interesting that when we undertook focus group research on how to engage men in preventing violence against women at the launch of the stop violence against women campaign in 2004, we found many hurdles to men getting involved. Top among the hurdles was that they spent more time haggling over and disbelieving statistics than actually considering the injustices of violence against women

Yeah. That was me. The "greatest cause of morbity" stat, mentioned by AllyF above, was the thing that jumped out at me back then, and repeated communications to Amnesty to trace the origins of that absurd figure proved fruitless. I encountered nothing but resentment and anger that I was even asking.

This is, of course, all about money. Amnesty need punchy campaigns, not to do anything here in the Uk, but to raise money. Hell, they have to employ researchers on 37K a pop to falsify statistics, that costs bigtime!

The BBC news on Monday repeated that stat - that has now wormed its way into the Home Office too. I have an official complaint in with the BBC, and I'll be taking that to the BBC trust if they don't make an onscreen retraction, so let's see...

Would be easier if I wasn't spending so much time managing this organised cohort of misogynist posters at CiF

March 12, 2009 2:10 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Well, it worried me because after taking a fairly personal and indepth interest in rape stats over the last 6 years, it sounded wrong. But I am crap at maths, I mean, seriously crap at maths, it took me 5 goes to get my O'level and even then I only ended up getting it via some random welsh board. I can't crunch stats like Unity can.

I saw the arguments about the veracity of the figures break out and I felt sad: I understand why they needed and wanted give the campaign a hook.

1:10 is a good hook.

And Amnesty are the good guys. They deserve support. They emailed me and asked me to support the campaign. I looked at the stas and was, frankly, surprised

So I emailed them this...

Before I write this up, can you help me understand where this statistic came from?
How does it compare to 15-24 men, for example, whom I understand to be statistically far more at risk of violence from other young men, than women as a whole group, in the UK?

Is it the case , for example, that 1 in ten UK women will experience rape and or violence and meanwhile one in five young men, or one in ten men, or one in twenty men will experience violence, and one in a thousand men will experience rape? ( Examples, because I don't have the stats to hand right now - I'm at work).

Is the campaign saying that one in women will experience rape/violence this year? How is 'violence' defined? Violent mugging? Common assualt? Violence in the home?

See, I'm not sure that a female victim of nonspecified 'violence' would necessarily need a specialist women's only treatment unit - a GP or a hospital would seem the best first place to go and get treated, after, say, a viuolent mugging, or punch in the face from an angry driver when cycling, or black eye from the bully in school, followed by a counsellor if needed.

A woman needing to go to a specialist 'violence' or rape crisis centre would be a woman who has suffered a very particular kind of violence - domestic violence, or rape, family violence, '' honour' violence, etc.

Is the campaign saying one in ten women in the UK will suffer from rape or domestic violence this year and every year and need specialist treatment at a woman only centre or rape crisis centre? Because I don't see how that is right. Not in the UK.

If the figure is being padded out by lumping all kinds of violence in with rape and DV then I think you are on dangerous ground. I want to support this but I do need more information to do so before I start waving around figures saying that 1 in 10 women will be victims of specific dv/rape violence this year - as a violence/rape survivor myself I think it is crucial to be accurate about the real risks without fearmongering

There's an argument going on about this over at Liberal Conspiracy, which as you know is very sympathetic to Amnesty's campaigns, but is equally confused by how Amnesty got to the figure. If it can be debunked, someone will debunk it, and that damages the efforts of people in rape crisis centres who are desperately trying to fundraise.

Is the aim of this campaign to fundraise for amnesty, or the horribly-underfunded rape crisis centres?

Thanks for any help you or your colleagues can give.

best wishes


And the person I emailed not only came back quickly but also passed it on and I got the very detailed, but hurt-sounding response I passed on.

It is sad that a worhty campaign has been, to my mind, the victim of its own need to slot into a mediatised hook: Flat Earth Churnalism Journalism strikes again, I guess.

I tend not to get involved with gender-specific campaigns because I don't feel comfortable with them. The fall out from this is one of the reasons why, though not the main reason I tend to avoid them.

Was there a link to this blog from CIF by the way? I saw a load of traffic come over at the weekend, but couldn't find yer actual post.

Thanks for the comments anyway.

March 12, 2009 2:50 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

"Was there a link to this blog from CIF by the way? I saw a load of traffic come over at the weekend, but couldn't find yer actual post."

Not to my knowledge, I posted a mention of it yesterday because it came up in conversation.

March 13, 2009 2:03 pm  
Blogger Stewart Kenneth Moore (Booda) said...

An excellent way to utilise SN websites and get the message out. In the days running up to the Iraq war I campaigned to encourage people all over the UK to boil the kettle at the same time. The idea was to encourage a power surge on the national grid and in this way register public opinion that was not being heard by No10. The following day I was amazed to read on the BBC that there had been a power surge at the time I'd suggested. Only, it was nothing to do with my 'Make Tea, Not War' was 'Corrie', some character or other committed a murder and people all over the UK ...just had to see it, and so during commercial the population leapt up for a cuppa' en masse.

March 20, 2009 10:40 am  

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