The truth about false rape accusations

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limetang
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It would seem that you often find two fairly extreme fairly vocal camps when it comes to the topic of false rape accusations.

You have one side that tells you that false rape accusations are actually astoundingly rare and so aren't really something we should spend any real time or effort thinking about when compared to rape which is a much more common and so more serious issue.

You also have the other extreme that tells you that most rape accusations are probably false, that most women are evil and vindictive and that we should treat every sexual encounter with a woman as false accusation waiting to happen.

I don't know where these two ideas come from because they're both demonstrably false, because the truth about false accusations, at least from what I have read, is much more uncertain than that.

There was a study done (http://www.icdv.idaho.gov/conference...llegations.pdf) and it found that 5.9% of accusations of rape were provably false, which (from my admittedly limited legal knowledge) appears to mean that either the accused had a ironclad alibi refuting the claims outright, the accuser admitted it was all made up or something along those lines. So from this you can understand why people say that false accusations are rare, after all that means that the other 94.1% of cases are genuine right? Not really out of the remaining 94.1% of accusations, 44.9% didn't proceed (meaning that there was either insufficient evidence or something along those lines), 13.9% of the accusations couldn't be characterised as there was insufficient information provided, and 35.3% lead either to charges or discipline/punishment for the accused.

This actually leaves us with a problem when it comes to saying how common false accusations are because as is clear that remaining 94% is still going to contain false accusations in the same way that all the accusations that, for some reason or another, didn't result in convictions are going to contain real, unpunished, rapes.

Now unless someone knows of research that has been done, or a proposed method that gives us a more precise figure for false accusations, I personally can't see how anyone can be as sure as they seem to be about either false accusations being pitifully rare, or being endemic. It seems to me that the true figure of false accusations (and rapes for that matter) is one we don't really have much of a clue about. So why does it get spoken about by people in such certain terms either to justify either a false accusation or a rape epidemic?

So I was wondering what people's thoughts on this are? Have I got the wrong end of the stick and is there actually some very good research done out there that I'm simply not aware of that backs up one of these ideas conclusively? Or is something also at play here?

Edit: I've just realised I meant to put this in Society and haven't ... if a mod could move it that would be mighty appreciated.
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llys
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You could estimate the number of rapes and number of false allegations from calls to anonymous helplines (people seeking help anonymously have no reason to lie). But then you couldn't relate that to the official numbers, so it still wouldn't be quite clear. There must be some absolute numbers floating around though, because helplines usually keep some sort of statistics, so it should be possible to find out how many women have been raped in the last year and how many men have been falsely accused or blackmailed with the threat of a false accusation in the same period of time. You would have to do some estimates, e.g. not everyone is going to ask for help, and men are less likely to seek help than women so you would have to take that into account, etc. Gay men also get accused so you may want to keep that separate or put all the cases together.
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Zweihander
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(Original post by limetang)
It would seem that you often find two fairly extreme fairly vocal camps when it comes to the topic of false rape accusations.

You have one side that tells you that false rape accusations are actually astoundingly rare and so aren't really something we should spend any real time or effort thinking about when compared to rape which is a much more common and so more serious issue.

You also have the other extreme that tells you that most rape accusations are probably false, that most women are evil and vindictive and that we should treat every sexual encounter with a woman as false accusation waiting to happen.

I don't know where these two ideas come from because they're both demonstrably false, because the truth about false accusations, at least from what I have read, is much more uncertain than that.

There was a study done (http://www.icdv.idaho.gov/conference...llegations.pdf) and it found that 5.9% of accusations of rape were provably false, which (from my admittedly limited legal knowledge) appears to mean that either the accused had a ironclad alibi refuting the claims outright, the accuser admitted it was all made up or something along those lines. So from this you can understand why people say that false accusations are rare, after all that means that the other 94.1% of cases are genuine right? Not really out of the remaining 94.1% of accusations, 44.9% didn't proceed (meaning that there was either insufficient evidence or something along those lines), 13.9% of the accusations couldn't be characterised as there was insufficient information provided, and 35.3% lead either to charges or discipline/punishment for the accused.

This actually leaves us with a problem when it comes to saying how common false accusations are because as is clear that remaining 94% is still going to contain false accusations in the same way that all the accusations that, for some reason or another, didn't result in convictions are going to contain real, unpunished, rapes.

Now unless someone knows of research that has been done, or a proposed method that gives us a more precise figure for false accusations, I personally can't see how anyone can be as sure as they seem to be about either false accusations being pitifully rare, or being endemic. It seems to me that the true figure of false accusations (and rapes for that matter) is one we don't really have much of a clue about. So why does it get spoken about by people in such certain terms either to justify either a false accusation or a rape epidemic?

So I was wondering what people's thoughts on this are? Have I got the wrong end of the stick and is there actually some very good research done out there that I'm simply not aware of that backs up one of these ideas conclusively? Or is something also at play here?

Edit: I've just realised I meant to put this in Society and haven't ... if a mod could move it that would be mighty appreciated.
So in other words there's a 50% chance a rape accusation is bogus.
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limetang
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(Original post by Zweihander)
So in other words there's a 50% chance a rape accusation is bogus.
Not exactly. There might be a 50% chance it is bogus, the fact is that we don't really know with much precision.
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username1533709
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Too long. Didn't read.
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limetang
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(Original post by Kadak)
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Too long. Didn't read.
tl;dr version

People talk about the occurrence of false rape accusations as though it's a clear cut thing of them either being very common or so rare as to be insignificant. I'm saying that the information on false accusations would in fact seem to imply that the rate of incidence of false accusations is a huge unknown and that these statements are as a result not backed up with evidence.
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Jebedee
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I would like to add to the discussion but the mods are all over me on this topic and are deleting my posts without explanation.
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Underscore__
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(Original post by llys)
You could estimate the number of rapes and number of false allegations from calls to anonymous helplines (people seeking help anonymously have no reason to lie). But then you couldn't relate that to the official numbers, so it still wouldn't be quite clear. There must be some absolute numbers floating around though, because helplines usually keep some sort of statistics, so it should be possible to find out how many women have been raped in the last year and how many men have been falsely accused or blackmailed with the threat of a false accusation in the same period of time. You would have to do some estimates, e.g. not everyone is going to ask for help, and men are less likely to seek help than women so you would have to take that into account, etc. Gay men also get accused so you may want to keep that separate or put all the cases together.
There's s helpline for men falsely accused of rape? Those statistics, for both rape and false accusations, still wouldn't be that reliable because it relies on honesty.

What's amazing on this topic is that despite the fact there are only around a thousand convictions each year for rape feminists will tell you that there are 50,000+ rapes a year yet will only accept an accusation was false when there's a conviction


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Studentus-anonymous
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The problem being that for the outside observer, the vast majority of rape cases are a case of "he-said-she-said".

I think the one thing that we can measure and solve is the fact that all it takes is the mere suggestion of rape against a suspect to cause great disruption and lasting detriment to their lives.

I think anonymity should extend to both parties until the sentencing/clearing.

But that's just my two cents. Yeah the guilty who get away with it deserve punishment, but as always, wrongfully punishing the innocent is the greater moral crime in my mind, even unintended social punishment of lasting suspicion.
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limetang
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(Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
The problem being that for the outside observer, the vast majority of rape cases are a case of "he-said-she-said".

I think the one thing that we can measure and solve is the fact that all it takes is the mere suggestion of rape against a suspect to cause great disruption and lasting detriment to their lives.

I think anonymity should extend to both parties until the sentencing/clearing.

But that's just my two cents. Yeah the guilty who get away with it deserve punishment, but as always, wrongfully punishing the innocent is the greater moral crime in my mind, even unintended social punishment of lasting suspicion.
I have mixed views personally on the whole anonymity thing. The idealist within me thinks that anonymity should exist for nobody when it comes to trials as I think justice should be as open as possible firstly so that we can properly see that it's working properly but also because I think it helps the truth of a case to be more easily discovered if we're not obscuring certain things.

That said there are obviously practical downsides to that significantly in the whole trial by media, destruction of a persons character, thing that goes on.
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caravaggio2
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The idea of naming the accused (they didn't use to be) is so if they have committed more than one rape other victims may come forward when they see them named.
Does anyone have a link to what percentage of rapists have been caught by this.
50% and it is obviously a worth while exercise , 1% and it is rather dubious when compared to destroying possibly innocent men's lives.
BTW the same argument could be put forward for women that are multiple false accusers. There was one woman last year who got to 8 before being punished for it.
As to numbers I have seen feminists refuse to believe even 1% would do it and I have seen MRAs and ex coppers say nearer50%.
Just as with rapes one is too many.😔
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limetang
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(Original post by caravaggio2)
The idea of naming the accused (they didn't use to be) is so if they have committed more than one rape other victims may come forward when they see them named.
Does anyone have a link to what percentage of rapists have been caught by this.
50% and it is obviously a worth while exercise , 1% and it is rather dubious when compared to destroying possibly innocent men's lives.
BTW the same argument could be put forward for women that are multiple false accusers. There was one woman last year who got to 8 before being punished for it.
As to numbers I have seen feminists refuse to believe even 1% would do it and I have seen MRAs and ex coppers say nearer50%.
Just as with rapes one is too many.😔
I was of the impression that the reason was because it meant that the police couldn't give people the identity of somebody who was out on the loose who was accused of a crime but who (obviously) had not been convicted.

There is of course a counter argument here as well though to the point you made in that you could argue that this is encouraging more false accusers to come forward because they know they have some form or another of corroborative evidence.

Although the honest problems comes in that we have no idea how many of the successful convictions that come about as a result of removing anonymity are real or false. Which again is the whole big problem with saying anything meaningful about false accusations and it's prevalence ... we just do not know.
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