Fellow Jina Moore: “Rape in the DRC: Now Complete with Numbers.”

Jina Moore criticizes recently released statistics on rape in the DRC:

The press release reads a little desperate; you can almost feel it begging for a journalist’s distracted attention by getting as many numbers in front of her as possible.  May but one sound  horrifying enough to merit a few column inches!

  • “More than 400,000 women ages 15 to 49 were raped across all provinces of the DR Congo during a 12-month period in 2006 and 2007, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health.”
  • “The number of women raped at least once in the eastern conflict area of North Kivu—67 per 1,000—is more than double the national average of 29 per 1,000. That means a woman in certain parts of the Congo is 134 times more likely to be raped than a woman in the United States, which has an annual rape rate of 0.5 per 1,000 women.”
  • “In fact, the outlier Equateur province showed rates higher than the conflict-affected South Kivu and Orientale provinces (65 in Equateur to 44 and 38 respectively). This is a new and highly significant finding.”

Let’s be clear: These numbers are horrifying.  It is obviously awful that women have experienced violence at this level, whether it is one or 10 or 26 or 26000 times worse than we thought it was.  There isn’t much continuum of bad here.  It’s just awful.  And I readily concede that journalists are no one’s friend in avoiding sensationalism; we invented the sound bite, after all.

But here we are, on the brink of epistemological disaster: a press release about something incredibly difficult if not impossible to quantify, written by an advocacy group and designed to appeal to journalists.


For more news and updates on Jina’s work, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.

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