Why Do We Have No Clue How Often Rape Is Happening

My title is from the title of a piece in Mother Jones.

Federal agencies don’t have a uniform definition of sexual assault, and that has led to dramatically different estimates on the frequency of sexual violence in the United States, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Currently, four federal agencies—the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense—manage at least 10 efforts to collect data. The problems begin in how sexual violence is described and categorized. Agencies rarely used the same terminology to describe acts of sexual violence, the report found, and even when they did, there were differences in how they measured each act[.]

  • An additional problem, the GAO noted, is a lack of transparency[.]
  • The report concluded with a series of recommendations[.]