New Internationalist

The Facts

Issue 187

new internationalist
issue 187 - September 1988

Violence - The FACTS

Treat this factspread with caution. Most violence - especially
the domestic variety - never gets reported. The following statistics may
appear precise but they only give a rough idea of what is going on.

HIGH STAKES Personal violence exacts its toll

[image, unknown]

[image, unknown] In 37 per cent of cases the motives for murder are trivial, a US survey found. ²

[image, unknown] The majority of murders are committed by men - but men are also twice as likely to be the victims.


MEAN MACHINES Lax laws make things worse

[image, unknown] If you are stabbed there is a one in thirty chance that you will die. If you are shot the odds are one in six.

Handgun deaths a year (1980)

US - 11,522
Sweden - 18
Japan - 77
Canada - 8
Switzerland - 24
UK - 8
Israel - 23
Australia - 4

[image, unknown] The Vietnam War (between 1963 and 1973) claimed 46,121 US soldiers' lives. Guns at home were responsible for the deaths of 84,644 civilians in the same period.2

[image, unknown] In the US there is one handgun for every two citizens. In the UK there is one handgun for every 55 people.


BLISS REVISITED Home sweet violent home

[image, unknown] Four out of every ten North American women killed and one out of every ten men killed are murdered by their partner.3 Half of Australian homicides are the result of domestic violence.4

[image, unknown] Children are more likely to suffer violence from their parents than anyone else. Despite the child-battering stepfather stereotype the single largest group of abused British children (40 percent) are living with both their natural parents at the time of the abuse.5

[image, unknown] Parents who have been beaten as children more than twice a year are 50 per cent more likely to beat their children.2

The lethal nest
[image, unknown] Of the women who kill, 80 percent do so in the home - with the kitchen as the most common location, followed by the bedroom. Sixty-four per cent of women use a knife.

[image, unknown] 0f the men who kill 45 percent do it in the home with the bedroom and the living room the most common location - but rarely the kitchen. Public places are the scene of 35 per cent of male murders.2


SEXUAL VIOLENCE Family secrets. not to be kept

Child sexual abuse is far more common than we would like to think. Surveys from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Aotearoa are substantially similar:

[image, unknown] One in four girls and one in ten boys have been sexually abused. 4, 6, 7.

[image, unknown]

[image, unknown] Half to three-quarters of those committing the abuse are fathers or father figures. 4, 8, 5, 9.

[image, unknown] Fewer than 10 per cent are strangers.8

[image, unknown] Nine out of ten abusers are men. 8, 10.

[image, unknown] Most abuse of boys as well as girls is by heterosexual men.11

[image, unknown] More than 40 per cent of female drug abusers in Britain are incest survivors.11

[image, unknown] In Australia 95 per cent of child sex offenders convicted were in possession of child pornography.4

[image, unknown] Child sexual abuse is not concentrated in any particular class or ethnic group.11

Rape. the practice
The following are drawn from UK, Canadian, Australian, Aotearoan and US figures.

[image, unknown] One in six women living in London is raped12 and one in five in the US.13 The Canadian figure is one in 17 according to one survey,3 one in four according to another.9

[image, unknown] One out of two reported rapes involve violence in addition to the rape.14

[image, unknown] In more than half the cases women knew their attackers.14

[image, unknown] More than 30 per cent of rapes occur in the woman's home.15

[image, unknown] Seven to ten per cent of rape survivors are men raped by other men.4,16

[image, unknown] The Federal Bureau of Investigation (not known as a feminist organization) believes that for every rape reported 10 go unreported. Women's networks say the ratio is closer to 1 to 35.3

[image, unknown] The Canadian rate of conviction for rape is half a percent. For aggravated assault it is 64 per cent.9

[image, unknown] One in ten men have raped their wives according to a UK survey.12


CULTS Mindless personal violence is often sustained by cults

More than 300 people were killed during a soccer match riot in Lima, Peru, in 1964. Since 1980 soccer fans have been killed and riots have erupted in [image, unknown] Colombia, Sicily, New York and Bangladesh. A further 37 fans were killed during the notorious Liverpool vs Juventus match played in Brussels in 1985.2

But cults and customs can also provide ways of deflecting violence...

[image, unknown] Eskimos settle conflicts by holding a public contest where each sings abusive songs about the other. The one who sings the best song - and gets most applause - wins the argument.2

[image, unknown] [image, unknown] In Sweden it is illegal for parents to use physical violence against their children.

[image, unknown] The Piaroa jungle people of the Rio Orinoco in Venezuela are appalled by any display of aggression. Children are never physically reprimanded and spouse-beating is unheard of. Instead they deal with their anger supernaturally - by casting spells on each other.17


1. United Nations, Demographic Yearbook, 1985.
2.
J H Goldstein, Aggression and Crimes of Violence, Oxford 1986.
3.
R Morgan, Sisterhood is Global, Anchor Books, 1984.
4.
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, Australia 1985.
5. NSPCC, UK, Research Briefing No. 9, 1987.
6.
H Haines, Mental Health Foundation, Aotearoa.
7.
US National Conference on Child Abuse, 1983.
8.
D Dadelszen, Social Welfare Dept. Studies, 1985, Aotearoa.
9.
B Roberts, No Safe Place, Our Generation Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 4, 1983.
10.
D Finkelhor, Child Sexual Abuse - A Source Book, Collier Macmillan, 1987.
11
. M MacLeod and E Saraga, Challenging the Orthodoxy, Feminist Review No. 28, 1988
12
R E HalI, Ask Any Woman, Falling Wall Press, 1985.
13
E Griswell Johnson, On the Prevalence of Rape in the US, Signs Magazine No.61,1980.
14
S 8rownmiller, Against Our Will, Penguin. 1976.
15
London Rape Crisis Centre, Sexual Violence, The Women's Press, 1984.
16
The Independent, London, 29 June 1988.
17
D Riches (ed.), The Anthropology of Violence, Blackwell, 1986.

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