The widely accepted figure of 1 in 5 female college students being victims of sexual assault has come under fire by a think tank criticizing Democratic intentions to seek legislation to combat a rape epidemic that may not exist.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., intends to offer legislation to combat campus rape and has joined with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to seek $109 million in funding to bolster federal efforts
to enforce the Jeanne Clery Act requiring colleges to get tough on campus crime.
Gillibrand even cited the disputed figure, saying, "The price of a college education should not include a 1-in-5 chance of being sexually assaulted. It is time to take this crisis head on and end the scourge of sexual assault on our college campuses, hold offenders accountable, and keep our students safe."
Christina Hoff Summers of the American Enterprise Institute challenges that figure and warns, "Inflated figures lead to inflated policies and breed panic and over-reach," The Daily Beast
"If sexual intimacy under the influence is by definition assault, sexual relations down through the ages would be classified as an assault. What might be dismissed as a foolish drunken hookup is now a felony rape," she said.
The 1-in-5 number comes from a 2007 web-based study by the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice of just two universities, while Summers cites other studies that indicate the true number is closer to 1 in 40.
McCaskill’s office recently conducted a survey of 440 four-year colleges and universities with 236 responding and discovered that about 40 percent reported not having conducted an investigation of sexual assault in the last five years.
"On first blush, a parent would think that's good, they don't have a problem with sexual assault on their campus, but it's not good, it's very bad because that means they are either in denial or incompetent," McCaskill said, according to the Associated Press.
However, the AEI website
notes eight cases of men accused of rape on campus who have sued the colleges for false accusations, and comments, "Presumed guilty is the new legal principle where sex is concerned. Sexual assault on campus is a genuine problem — but the new rape culture crusade is turning ugly."
"Today’s hysteria is incited by the constantly repeated, equally fictitious '1 in 5 women on campus is a victim of rape' — which even President [Barack] Obama has embraced. One-in-forty is still too many women. But it hardly constitutes a 'rape culture' requiring White House intervention."
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