We start with a DoJ survey, Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2008-09. Now the data does not seem to be structured well as there is a whole lot of sexual assault mentioned and it is not really stated what is going on there, so it makes it hard to compare this with other studies. Some key findings:
An estimated 4.4% of prison inmates and 3.1% of jail inmates reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another inmate or facility staff in the past 12 months or since admission to the facility, if less than 12 months. Nationwide, these percentages suggest that approximately 88,500 adults held in prisons and jails at the time of the survey had been sexually victimized.
About 2.1% of prison inmates and 1.5% of jail inmates reported an incident involving another inmate. An estimated 1.0% of prison inmates and 0.8% of jail inmates said they had nonconsensual sex with another inmate (the most serious type of acts), including unwilling manual stimulation and oral, anal, or vaginal penetration.
About 2.8% of prison inmates and 2.0% of jail inmates reported having had sex or sexual contact with staff. At least half of the inmates who experienced staff sexual misconduct (1.8% in prison and 1.1% in jail) said that they willingly had sex or sexual contact with staff.
This seems rather low to me so it seems we have some kind of crime survey used here which is pretty common as we are speaking about the DoJ who also has the National Crime Victimization Survey.
Female inmates in prison (4.7%) or jail (3.1%) were more than twice as likely as male inmates in prison (1.9%) or jail (1.3%) to report experiencing inmate on inmate sexual victimization.
Sexual activity with facility staff was reported by 2.9% of male prisoners and 2.1% of male jail inmates, compared to 2.1% of female prisoners and 1.5% of female jail inmates.
Most victims of staff sexual misconduct were males; most perpetrators were females. Among male victims of staff
sexual misconduct, 69% of those in prison and 64% of those in jails reported sexual activity with female staff. An
additional 16% of prison inmates and 18% of jail inmates reported sexual activity with both female and male staff
The higher rate of female victims may account for the survey structure as many men do not label their own experience as rape. Anyhow besides the higher rate that would still mean, as more men are imprisoned, that there would still be more male than female victims. Something similar was true with rape in the military but I am diverting here.
The study makes it hard for me to get actual numbers as the tables either do add male and female victims together or add sexual assault and rape together.
Table 1 Inmates reporting sexual victimization, by type of facility and incident National Inmate Survey, 2008-09 Number Percentage Type of incident Prisons Jails Prisons Jails --------------------------------------------------------------- Total 64,500 24,000 4.4% 3.1% Inmate-on-inmate 30,100 11,600 2.1% 1.5% Nonconsensual sexual acts 15,100 6,000 1.0 0.8 Abusive sexual contacts only 15,000 5,600 1.0 0.7 Staff sexual misconduct 41,200 15,800 2.8% 2.0% Unwilling activity 25,400 11,400 1.7% 1.5% Excluding touching 19,000 8,200 1.3 1.1 Touching only 5,800 3,100 0.4 0.4 Willing activity 25,500 8,500 1.8% 1.1% Excluding touching 21,700 7,200 1.5 0.9 Touching only 3,800 1,300 0.3 0.2 Table 6 Prevalence of sexual victimization, by type of incident and inmate demographic characteristic, National Inmate Survey, 2008-09 Male Female Victims % Victims % --------------------------------------------------------- Prison 1,357,100 inmates 100,600 inmates Inmate on inmate 25,785 1.9% 4,728 4.7% Staff sexual misconduct 39,356 2.9% 2,113 2.1% Jail 678,100 inmates 99,100 inmates Inmate on inmate 8,815 1.3% 3,072 3.1% Staff sexual misconduct 14,240 2.1% 1,487 1.5%
In total we could say around 88,196 men and 11,400 women suffer sexual assault in the prison system. Judging by table 6. Remember the beginning where it said "approximately 88,500 adults held in prisons and jails at the time of the survey had been sexually victimized", I have no clue what is counted and what is not counted, see also the total of table 1.
Now I am not the only one who believes that these numbers seem low and apparently the DoJ has different numbers as well:
Washington, DC, April 26, 2011. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, at least 216,600 inmates were sexually abused in prisons, jails, and youth detention facilities in 2008 alone. However, while many prisons across the country are plagued by rape, others are virtually free from sexual victimization.- Source
Today and tomorrow, the Department of Justice Review Panel on Prison Rape is holding public hearings to address the problem of sexual violence in detention -- questioning representatives from federal and state prisons with the highest and the lowest levels of sexual abuse. These hearings are based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics report Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2008-2009.
Or to cite from the n+1 article:
In January, prodded in part by outrage over a series of articles in the New York Review of Books, the Justice Department finally released an estimate of the prevalence of sexual abuse in penitentiaries. The reliance on filed complaints appeared to understate the problem. For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances.
So we take a look at the NY Review of Books article:
How many people are really victimized every year? Recent BJS studies using a “snapshot” technique have found that, of those incarcerated on the days the surveys were administered, about 90,000 had been abused in the previous year, but as we have argued previously,2 those numbers were also misleadingly low. Finally, in January, the Justice Department published its first plausible estimates. In 2008, it now says, more than 216,600 people were sexually abused in prisons and jails and, in the case of at least 17,100 of them, in juvenile detention. Overall, that’s almost six hundred people a day—twenty-five an hour.
The department divides sexual abuse in detention into four categories. Most straightforward, and most common, is rape by force or the threat of force. An estimated 69,800 inmates suffered this in 2008.3 The second category, “nonconsensual sexual acts involving pressure,” includes 36,100 inmates coerced by such means as blackmail, offers of protection, and demanded payment of a jailhouse “debt.” This is still rape by any reasonable standard.
An estimated 65,700 inmates, including 6,800 juveniles, had sex with staff “willingly.” But it is illegal in all fifty states for corrections staff to have any sexual contact with inmates. Since staff can inflict punishments including behavioral reports that may extend the time people serve, solitary confinement, loss of even the most basic privileges such as showering, and (legally or not) violence, it is often impossible for inmates to say no.4 Finally, the department estimates that there were 45,000 victims of “abusive sexual contacts” in 2008: unwanted touching by another inmate “of the inmate’s buttocks, thigh, penis, breasts, or vagina in a sexual way.” Overall, most victims were abused not by other inmates but, like Jan, by corrections staff: agents of our government, paid with our taxes, whose job it is to keep inmates safe.
All the numbers we have cited count people who were abused, not instances of abuse. People raped behind bars cannot escape their attackers, though. They must live in constant fear, their trauma renewed every time they see their assailants. Between half and two thirds of those who claim sexual abuse in adult facilities say it happened more than once; previous BJS studies suggest that victims endure an average of three to five attacks each per year.5
2 - See David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow, " The Rape of American Prisoners ," The New York Review , March 11, 2010; see also David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow, " The Way to Stop Prison Rape ," The New York Review , March 25, 2010. ↩
3 - As a point of comparison, it may be worth noting that the latest National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) by the BJS, which excludes "Armed Forces personnel living in military barracks and institutionalized persons, such as correctional facility inmates," estimates that in 2009 there were 125,910 instances of rape and sexual assault in the US. However, several caveats are necessary here: first, that the definitions of these crimes used in this study are not the same as those used in the surveys of prisoner rape; second, that the 2009 number was down significantly from the 2008 NCVS finding of 203,830 rapes and sexual assaults in the free community; third, as the BJS says in the 2009 NCVS, "The measurement of rape and sexual assault represents one of the most serious challenges in the field of victimization research." The 2009 National Crime Victimization Survey is available at bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv09.pdf . ↩
4 - As the Justice Department acknowledges, "the power imbalance in correctional facilities is such that it is impossible to know if an incarcerated person truly ‘consented' to sexual activity with staff." ↩
5 - Of juvenile detainees reporting sexual abuse by other inmates, 81 percent said it happened more than once. ↩
They still believe this is a low estimate. The article goes on to describe the system and offer solutions, it is a good read. Anyhow if the male female rate from the above survey still translates to the estimated victims the numbers would roughly be 192.240 male and 23.760 female victims. That is a ballpark figure. Now, to get to the meat of the argument it was to cite the headline of the Feministe article which is based on the n+1 article "Is the United States the only country where more men are raped every year than women?". The NYBooks article says something about this, too, from my above quote:
As a point of comparison, it may be worth noting that the latest National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) by the BJS, which excludes "Armed Forces personnel living in military barracks and institutionalized persons, such as correctional facility inmates," estimates that in 2009 there were 125,910 instances of rape and sexual assault in the US.
As 19,820 of those were male victims this could lead us to compare the 192.240 male victims in prisons with the 106.090 female victims in the "free" world (169.370 in 2010). Aha, so this is what this is all about.
Now we can take a look at the feministe article which is a take on the other articles. Well, what Jill does in this article is talking about the caveats which the NYBooks article also does:
However, several caveats are necessary here: first, that the definitions of these crimes used in this study are not the same as those used in the surveys of prisoner rape; second, that the 2009 number was down significantly from the 2008 NCVS finding of 203,830 rapes and sexual assaults in the free community; third, as the BJS says in the 2009 NCVS, "The measurement of rape and sexual assault represents one of the most serious challenges in the field of victimization research."
So, are more men than women raped in the US every year? With the recent CDC data in mind, maybe. Does it matter? Not really. No matter how you think about this, the fact remains that a significant number of men and women, be it in prison or not, are raped and sexually assaulted. The juggling with numbers and the "who has it worse" do not really help the victims. It is an interesting argument to make but then again, I am more interested in society taking male victimization (and female perpetrators) seriously. Let us stop bickering over the numbers. Let us work on helping these men and women.
I close this post with a citation that Jill on feministe made:
And however you cut the statistics, it is clear that men in the United States are sexually assaulted in enormous numbers — they’re just men who we don’t care so much about, or who society has decided deserves it.
Let's change that.
EDIT: Tamen on the NSWATM post said the following:
Contrary to common belief the most common victimization by men in prisons and jails are not inmate-on-inmate victimization, but rather what the BJS calls “staff sexual misconduct”:
Inmate-on-inmate: 33.929 victims
Staff sexual miconduct: 53.455 victims – 64-69% of these reported a female perpetrator. An additional 16-17% reported both female and male perpetrators.
(I operated with a range since BSJ reported one number for prison and the other for jail – I didn’t take the time to calculate the exact percentage, but it is somewhere between the two numbers I’ve quoted).
For female inmates it’s the opposite: the majority of victims were victims of inmate-on-inmate rather than of “staff sexual misconduct”:
7.797 vs. 3.608. Of the 3.608 62-71% reported male perpetrator while the remaining 29-38% were either female perpetrarors or both male and female perpetrators. Given that the majority of institutions are gender segregated – only 4 of the surveyed institutions where women were measured were co-ed institutions and those were not outliers in the rate of inmate-on-inmate victims – it seems likely that the majority of perpetrators of sexual assault, sexual violence and sexual rape of female inmates are women. Yet, when people point out that female inmates are suffering from sexual abuse at a higher rate than male inmates it’s never acknowledged that it’s women who perpetrate the major part of this abuse.
This combined with the finding of NISVS 2010 where 79.2% of the men who reported being made to penetrate someone else reported a female perpetrator paints a totally different picture of the extent women are perpetrators of sexual violence and abuse than most people believe or think. I believe it’s high time that the onus and focus are ALSO put on female perpetrators as a means to try to reduce incidents of sexual violence and abuse inside and outside prisons. There are commonly held gender essential beliefs which enables female perpetrators and two of the major are the disbelief that women are capable of such abuse (both morally and physically) and the disbelief that any man can be coerced/forced into any sexual activity by a woman. We need to stop that enablement.
Pretty good Tamen, thx.