There’s a new paper in The Lancet, summarising population-based surveys across the world that asked about non-partner sexual violence. The paper’s conclusion, from the abstract
Sexual violence against women is common worldwide, with endemic levels seen in some areas, although large variations between settings need to be interpreted with caution because of differences in data availability and levels of disclosure.
The story in Stuff has the headline Sexual assaults more than double world average, and starts
The rate of sexual assault in Australia and New Zealand is more than double the world average, according to a new report.
After several highly publicised rapes and murders of young women in India and South Africa, researchers from several countries decided to review and estimate prevalence of sexual violence against women in 56 countries.
The results, published in the UK medical journal The Lancet, found that 7.2 per cent of women aged 15 years or older reported being sexually assaulted by someone other than an intimate partner at least once in their lives.
The study found that Australia and New Zealand has the third-highest rate, more than double the world average, with 16.4 per cent.
If you look at the raw numbers reported in the paper, they showed Australia/NZ at about ten times the rate of the Caribbean or southern Latin America or Eastern Europe, which is really not plausible. Statistical adjustment for differing types of survey reduced that margin, but as the researchers explicitly and carefully point out, a lot of the variation between regions could easily be due to variations in disclosure, and it suggests that rape is being underestimated in some areas.
As usual with extreme international comparisons, the headline is both probably wrong and missing the real point. The real point is that roughly one in six women in Australia & NZ report having experienced sexual violence.