Feeds

How the government uses dirty data to legislate morality

So what's a standard deviation?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Poppycock problem

Is a trend remotely charitable? Possibly – but only by professionals, who are aware of the underlying factors that affect the figures. The debate is not helped by women’s groups who report far higher incidences of unreported "rape" based on self-identification by "victims" and compound this with assertions that only a very small proportion of victims lie about such matters.

The difficulty here is definitional: It is very likely that many if not most of the women making such claims are correctly asserting that they have suffered a traumatic experience. But, as a crime, whether rape takes place or not depends on the perception of the perpetrator - whether or not he had reasonable cause to believe that consent was present.

Whilst the conviction rate for cases that get to court is considerably higher than 5 per cent (hovering around 50 per cent), it is a long way short of the 97 per cent implied by the claim that women rarely lie about such matters. Are 50 per cent of victims therefore lying? Absolutely not.

Courts are, however, acknowledging a difference in perspective between alleged victim and perpetrator that is almost certainly not resolvable in any straightforward fashion.

This issue of self-reporting is also at the heart of numerous studies that purport to demonstrate attitudes on sexual issues.

One study asked respondents whether violence towards a partner "could ever be" justified – and then used the results from this loaded question to proclaim that a high proportion of young men believed it was ok to hit their girlfriend. The best measure of behaviour is not what people say, but what they do – their "revealed preference" as economists term it – and basing policy on how individuals respond to surveys is particularly dangerous.

A furious debate on the measure used is also at the heart of questions raised in respect of proposed legislation on Trafficking. Provisions introduced in the Police Bill 2009 would make it a criminal offence to purchase sex from any individual who had been trafficked.

The rationale for this law is "research" put together by the Poppy project and other anti-prostitution groups that claims that the number of trafficked women in the UK runs into the tens of thousands. One report put the figure as high as 80,000.

On being questioned with regard to the academic credentials of their research, Poppy rather huffily suggested that this was an attempt to silence them, and they had as much right to publish research as anyone else.

Against that, the numbers of trafficked women that the police have actually managed to find are vanishingly small. A six-month investigation involving over 800 brothels turned up just 167 possible victims

High performance access to file storage

Next page: Extreme porn

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.