More Must Be Done to Prevent Rape

Monday, June 26, 2006

Regarding "Statistics Show Drop in U.S. Rape Cases" [front page, June 19]:

It may be true that the number of rapes has dramatically dropped since the 1970s, which would be reason to celebrate. But it is more likely that the methods used to track rape statistics were unable to take into account all incidences of rape. Our diverse U.S. demographics, for example, include increasing numbers of cultural groups -- Latinos, Middle Easterners and Southeast Asians -- with strong stigmas against reporting rape on a survey or to police.

Regardless of what one believes about the numbers -- and any decrease in occurrences is worth honoring -- they don't change what we do about the problem. If rape rates have gone down, it is because our country has invested in an infrastructure of rape crisis centers nationwide to support survivors and we have begun to take substantial steps in creating a national movement engaging men in preventing sexual violence. Were we to stop or reduce investment in crisis centers and in prevention education, it seems likely that the statistics would move upward again. The time to enhance our investment is when we see that we are making headway in addressing the problem.

If the numbers are underreported, then we need to find even more effective ways to support all survivors of sexual assault and engage men in stopping rape. Whichever statistics are right, there is still work to be done to ensure safer relationships, families and communities.

PATRICK LEMMON

Executive Director

Men Can Stop Rape

Washington


© 2006 The Washington Post Company