Obama Chided For Using Rape Victim Figure That May Be Overstated


The Washington Post Fact Checker gives President Obama a “Pinocchio” for saying in a video on the Grammy Awards this month that, “Right now, nearly one in five women in America has been a victim of rape or attempted rape.” It's a different statistic from one previously examined, that one out of five women will be sexually assaulted while in college. The figure the President noted comes from one of several large surveys that have been conducted about sexual violence in the United States. The survey that formed the basis of Obama's statement was the Center for Disease Control’s 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey estimated that there were about 174,000 victims of rapes and sexual assaults in 2012 (and nearly 350,000 total rapes). Obama cited one government study that came up with a number of females raped or sexually assaulted that was at least five times higher than another government survey. “We were surprised to see how much larger the CDC estimates were than other surveys, but unfortunately given the data we had from them we could not thoroughly explore this,” said Candace Kruttschnitt, a University of Toronto professor who co-chaired a National Research Council panel on the subject. The Post concludes that, “By citing as fact the results of a survey that may be overstated, the president runs the risk of undermining support for his efforts to call attention to sexual violence.”

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