Some brief observations on ‘no crimed’ rapes and prostitution

I don’t usually do ‘drive by’ posts about articles I’m working on but haven’t yet completed but looking at some of the stuff that’s turning up in my Twitter time-line this morning I want to throw out a couple of quick observations that might interest and, in some cases, irritate a few people.

First, in regards to the publication of police rape monitoring data by the HM Inspector of Constabulary and the chatter about a ‘culture of disbelief’ within the police in regards to rape, where I’m current working on pulling the data into shape so I can analyse it properly, one thing that has already shaken loose is that in the figures for the City of London, where the official line is that percentage figures for sanction detections and rape cases being ‘no crimed’ are ‘not included’ because of the extremely small number of rapes reported to the City of London police annually, my own calculations give ‘no crime’ percentages for 2008/9 and 2011/12 of, respectively, 300% and 400%.

So, in both of those years, taking the figures at face value, the City of London force ‘no crimed’ more reported rape cases than were actually reported to them in the same year.

What this is actually us is to tread carefully with these figures because they provide a series of annual snapshots of police activity and not an audit trail or, to put in another way, just because a reported rape was ‘no crimed’ in particular year it doesn’t mean that was also the year in which is was originally reported to the police. It could easily have been sitting on the books for several months or even years with the investigation making no progress whatsoever for any number of reasons that have nothing at all to do with a ‘culture of disbelief’ in the police before it was finally taken off the books by being ‘no crimed’.

I’m also working on an article on sex education and pornography part of which will cover an interesting and, in many respects also deeply frustrating, large scale study which looks at the use of pornography and its possible influence on sexual behaviours and attitudes in Dutch young adults (age 15-25) – the frustration here comes from the way the study has been written up in a manner which pretty much ignores most of the interesting data in its result section because the only thing the researchers were really interested in was whether they could link certain behaviours to porn consumption.

In addition to gathering data on porn consumption the study uses a range of inventories to assess everything from these young people’s perception of their relationship with their parents and the extent to which they do or don’t feel socially isolated to their attitudes towards sexual coercion. This data was then used to perform three sets of multiple regression analyses on specific categories of sexual behaviour, comparing the young people who participated in these behaviour to those that hadn’t with separate sets of result given for males and females. One of these three categories is ‘transactional sex’ – loosely speaking, prostitution – where, of course, one significant difference between male and female study participants is going to the context in which they engage in this kind of behaviour; the young women will have, in the vast majority of cases, been the service providers in these transactions while the young men will mostly, but not exclusively, the customers.

Now here is where it gets interesting because when you look in the analysis at the data for attitudes to sexual coercion amongst young women what the data indicates is that those young women who have engaged in transactional sex have a much healthier attitude towards sexual coercion, i.e. they are much less tolerant of coercive behaviours and attitudes than the women who haven’t engaged in any kind of prostitution related activity, and the difference is statistically significant to a pretty high level (p<0.001). Now that’s maybe to be expected given the nature of the activity and the role that women predominantly play, not to mention that we’re also looking at data from a country where prostitution is legal and regulated.

What’s rather more interesting, and I’m still gathering my thought on exactly how to explain this, is that when you look at the data for young men they exhibit the same difference in attitudes to sexual coercion that we see in the data for young women to much the same degree of difference and the same level of statistical significance.

What this seems to indicate is that amongst young Dutch men, those that have used the services of a prostitute have a much healthier attitude towards sexual coercion and place greater value and emphasis on things like mutual consent, than those whose sexual activity takes place exclusively within the context of dating and conventional relationships.

Now that is interesting, because it rather flies in the face of the stereotypical view of ‘Johns’ as being a rather creepy bunch of losers and misfits with a very negative, if not outright misogynistic, view of women.

Hmm… as I’ve already noted, I’m still over what this data may be telling us but it does at least raise some interesting question of the validity of some of the assumptions made by people who favour prohibitionist approaches to tackling prostitution.

Interesting, eh?