Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Numerate truth

(Image taken from Wikimedia Commons.)

Recently, the National Islamic Students Association of Malaysia (PKPIM) issued a statement which singled out the 'sexy' white blouse uniform worn by schoolgirls as the main temptation for men to visit sexual attacks upon girls in that age group. Not surprisingly, this misogynistic view of rape was roundly hammered by women’s rights groups and other NGOs as well as the public. I will attempt to proffer empirical evidence to buttress the common sense responses of these critics as well as refute the fallacious assumptions that underpin the PKPIM statement.

To break it down logically, the statement makes the following argument: Men only rape women when uncontrollably driven to by the latter's 'immodest' manner of dress (a notion that demeans both women and men alike). Attendant to this is the definition of modest dress. It is not unreasonable to infer that the architects of the statement equate this to clothing which conforms to Islamic standards, given that the notion of modest dress as touted by an Islamic association would most likely originate in Islamic notions of what it proper to wear and what is not. (This last part requires a bit of a logical stretch, but vindication is merely a click away: the website for the women's chapter of PKPIM shows what the group understands as becoming attire.)

If the above argument were true, there should be a clear and direct correlation between the frequency of rape cases and the proportion of women in a given population who wear what has been labelled as 'immodest' by those who would be our moral betters. Based on the following premises—one: 'immodest' clothing drives men to rape, two: modest clothing is that which conforms to Islamic standards, three: Malay women are most likely to dress to conform to the requirements of Islamic decency—we would therefore expect to see the lowest incidence of rape within the Malay community and the lowest number of rape cases, adjusted for parity, in predominantly Malay states.

The numbers, however, do not sync with any of those conclusions.

According to statistics released by the Royal Malaysian Police, from 2002 to 2004 Malays accounted for 67-69 percent of rape victims. (Similarly, although strictly outside the scope of this exercise, the majority of rapists tend to be Malay, as evidenced by a 1997 report released by Othman and Ismail of the Department of Social Welfare in which 64.9 percent of perpetrators are identified as such.) In the 2000-2004 period, a total of 1353 incest cases were recorded, with Malay families accounting for 73.6 percent of this tally (Indians: 6.4 percent, Chinese: 3.8 percent, others: 16 percent). The perpetrators were mainly fathers (29 percent), followed by uncles (18 percent), stepfathers (17.4 percent) and brothers (7.9 percent). As many as 879 cases, or 6.5 in 10, involved victims below the age of 16.

(Chart created using Create-A-Graph.)

Further examination of the statistics show that values for the rape cases per 100,000 population group are remarkably constant
—bearing in mind that numbers in orange are one-tenth of a basis point while numbers in grey are whole percentageseven between states whose populations differ vastly in ethnic composition. If PKPIM's argument were sound, there would be a much greater disparity between the number of rape cases following a negative correlation to increased Malay population ratios, so long as the three premises I inferred from it hold water. It is evident from the percent millages above, however, that immodestly dressed women are not more likely to get raped nor are modestly dressed women less likely to get raped. All this leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the way women dress has nothing to do with what men choose to project upon them.

And therein lies the crux of the issue. It is always easier to blame external sources (women's behaviour or vestures, pornography and, stupidly, locks) for our own weaknesses, an irresponsible attitude made more reprehensible by the fact that such externalization inevitably leads to justification: 'It was her fault for making me want to rape her.' Only when we acknowledge that sexual attacks are the consequence of predatory attitudes stemming from how men see women will we be able to address the issue properly—not by educating women on what to wear but by teaching men not to rape.

All population statistics gleaned from official state or federal government sources whenever possible.

posted by Hong at 3:44 pm | Permalink | 1 comments
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Sign on

My tribute to Bible double entendres. Visit Church Sign Generator for all the fun 26 alphabets and religious advertising can provide. It also has a good photo collection of authentic (and funny) church signs, mostly from around Austin, Texas.

posted by Hong at 8:16 am | Permalink | 2 comments