Free Individual Project Victimology Essay Sample

There are two primary methods in which a government can collect data and monitor criminal activity: the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). These are the methods that rape statistics are generated from. According to Schmalleger (2009), it is useful for consumers of rape statistics, as they consider each of the sources, to ask themselves some relevant questions: Are the statistics based on reported cases or from victimization surveys? What types of rape are being measured and reported? If statistics and estimates are from a victimization survey, how are questions screened and how do they cover the types of rape to be measured? The Uniform Crime Reports are statistical summary published each year. The statistics reflect crimes that are reported to the FBI by local, state or federal law enforcement agencies. The FBI and the United States Department of Justice are usually the main sponsors of these reports. On the other hand, National Crime Surveys are largely a series of interview programs. They are used to establish the degree of the rape and how it affects its victims. However, the National Crime Victimization Surveys collects data and obtains details from the victim's point of view. These two types of data collection have their own strengths and weaknesses. They both show earlier crime rates and allow predictions in trends in crime.

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The Uniform Crime Reports are done by the police. They allow space for more detailed and thorough description of data which goes a long way in helping researchers study crime or criminal behavior. For instance, the following statistics is a publication by the FBI which estimates the number of forcible rape cases issued from 2007. These are the cases that were reported to the police; those that are not reported are assumed to be false and therefore not included. Founded cases of forcible rape reported were 90,427. This translates to 3 cases of forcible rape rate of 3 per 10,000 women (Lynch, 2008). A significant disadvantage of UCR according to Maxfield (1999) is that it takes into account only the reported criminal activities. This minimizes crimes to only the reports being received. As such, this method locks out those crimes that are not reported for various reasons. Of course, victims have their own reasons for not reporting crimes. For example, they might feel embarrassed, may not want to get involved with the judicial process, or they may be distrusting the police. Another disadvantage is that, other states have directed for participation requirements while others haven't. In this case, some data is liable to miss and hence the figures are not a representative of the entire nation.

On the other hand, NCVS is involved with gathering data from different households through surveys. It collects detailed information on the frequency and nature of rape whether they were reported to the police or not. For instance, the following are the findings by 2007: fewer than 10 cases of rape per 100,000 males having twelve years and above were reported the previous year. In women, 18 cases of forced sexual acts per 10,000 were reported. Totally, 248,000 rape cases were estimated to have occurred in 2007(Lynch, 2008). According to Jarvis (1999), what makes NCVS advantageous is that it does not have to rely on crime reports from law enforcement officials. The data gathered include characteristics of the household members and is based on offenders and the criminal offenses. Another advantage of this method is that it gathers information about criminal activities which have not yet been reported to the law enforcement agencies. As such, this allows researchers to gain access to more information which victims did not disclose to the police. This gives them an upper hand in analyzing and calculating criminal activities.

The disadvantage with NVCS program is that data is not compared accurately because when the program was reconstructed in 1992 it involved the use of different methods. Secondly, it only measures crimes that are considered to be personal or house-related. This leaves out crimes that are related to business, commercials or individuals less than 12 years of age. It is also associated with under-reporting or over-stating criminal activities and one cannot measure whether those interviewed are either saying the truth or lying (Jarvis, 1999).

Date rape, also referred to as acquaintance rape, refers to non-consensual sexual activity between people who already know each other as social friends, dating partners or acquaintances. The most important factor is that consent for sexual activity is not given by the victim. It is different from stranger rape because in stranger rape, the perpetrator is someone new; an individual who has never been acquainted with the victim before.  Statutory rape on the other hand is sexual contact with a minor, with or without their consent. It is based on the presumption that people under a certain age cannot give an informed consent. In the US, the age of consent varies from 12 to 21. Sometimes, sex that violates the age-of-consent law and is not violent is also statutory rape. Spousal rape has many names: marital rape, partner rape, wife rape, or intimate partner sexual assault. It is rape between married couples. It is often assumed that spousal rape is less traumatic that that from a stranger, but this is not true. The victims are more traumatized because it is done by someone in their lives (Schmalleger, 2009).

A date rape drug is a drug that can be used to aid the act of a sexual assault such as date rape. It is often added to food or drink without the victim's knowledge. These drugs usually have hypnotic, sedative, dissociative or amnesiac effects. They make sexual assaults easier and more frequent. There are various types of date rape drugs. The three most commonly used ones are alcohol and the two sleep aids: GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) and benzodiazepines. Alcohol is the most commonly used date rape drug due to the fact that it is legal and readily available. Assailants use it because their victims often willingly take the alcohol and can be convinced to drink just enough to lose consciousness. Even when the victim agrees to have sex, it may still be considered rape in some jurisdictions if the victim was impaired or extremely drunk. Benzodiazepines are drugs used to treat conditions like anxiety, insomnia or panic attacks. Some of them contain powerful sedative properties. Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) is popularly believed to be a date rape drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rohypnol is able to incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. It has also amnesiac effects which mean that the victims may not remember the events that occurred while under the influence of the drug. Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) has very similar effects to those of alcohol. According to Drug Enforcement Administration, the victims may not be aware that they have taken any drug at all. It has sedation effects and doses required to have complete effects are higher in most individuals (Schmalleger, 2009).

Perpetrators and the victims of date rape often blame each other. Most males claim that the victims did sexually arouse them so much that they could not stop themselves from having sexual intercourse, despite the fact that their female counterparts resisted or did not give them consent. On the other hand, female victims do not recognize the danger involved in their circumstances soon enough to prevent date rape. When a woman allows his date to surpass his levels of behavior the male expects the female victim to comply with his sexual intent. Many men also think that once their female colleague agrees to take alcohol they should expect anything. The perpetrators take it as a sexual gesture (Lynch, 2008).

There are several problems that face date rape persecutions. For example, some rape victims choose not to report sexual assaults to the law enforcement agencies. On the other hand, some individuals would like the police to clear the reported rapes at a very low level. Members of the public have different stereotypical beliefs about rape, rape victims and those accused of rapes. These beliefs are often flawed and affect the outcome of the cases.  Some police officers are less likely to believe that there is a rape case if the victim was intoxicated. The more an individual becomes intoxicated, the more he/she sees the victim as being interested in sex. This affects most cases since a majority of them are mostly alcohol related (Maxfield, 1999).                                                    

Jurors mostly tend to look at rape as being done by complete strangers. As such, an existence of a former relationship between the two parties decreases jurors' perception that a rape occurred. The perceived physical attractiveness and the manner the victims dress usually affect the outcome of rape cases. Some jurors are more likely to see sex as consensual if the women victims are physically attractive. Some jurors are less likely to believe that there is a rape case if the victim was intoxicated. As aforementioned, the more one was intoxicated the more they saw the victim as being interested in sex and this affects most cases since most are alcohol related. Juror general perceptions of an alleged victim also affect the outcomes of some cases. If they view the victim as someone who would not have consented to having sex, the conviction rate increases. The juror gender also plays a role in determining the case outcome. For example, female jurors are likely to identify with a female rape victim even if the evidence of rape is not that strong (Maxfield, 1999).

The society has divergent views on rape cases. Some researches carried out show that men blame the rape victims more than women do. The responsibility for a date rape always relies on the influence of the victim dress, situational and personal relevance. If the victim was in a short skirt during the incidence then the blame will lie on them. Some researches have suggested that traditional women (mostly housewives) are seen as warm and weak while nontraditional (mostly career women) are seen as lacking warmth but competent. In some specific cases, when the nontraditional woman reacted negatively to an abuse, she was blamed more due to the fact that she lacked warmth. Most societies foster sexual aggressiveness by men against women. So the date rapists have been exposed to social concepts and traditional practices which promote these rape behaviors (Jarvis, 1999).

It is advisable then for both men and women to have the knowledge and possess a number of strategies that can help prevent date rape situations. For most date rape cases to be successful, the physical evidence must be very substantive. The physician's report about the victim and appearance during examination is a very critical factor in deciding the criminal prosecution. The evidence will aid the jurors in making the convictions. As such, there should be physical evidence to support claims of rape. Examples include lacerations, contusion or abrasions and DNA evidence. The notion that date rapists use social concepts and traditional practices as a scapegoat to promote these rape behaviors should stop. This way of thinking must be abandoned if date rape is to be overcome in any way.


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