Harlots Parlour

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The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a re-analysis.

In 2003, an anti sex work research organisation (Lilith Research and Development, a subsidiary project of Eaves Women’s Aid) published research equating the opening of Lap Dancing clubs to an increase in reported rape. The research stated that after lap dancing clubs opened in Camden, reported rape increased by 50%. A few years later the Guardian published an update, there was a mathematical error and the rape rate had only increased by 30%.  As with all research, once the headlines have been released, these headlines will always be quoted by those wanting to win their argument.  The 50% figure is still used in propaganda packs by the anti sex work groups.

Brooke L Magnanti, PhD. (Belle de Jour) has revisited this research with a different finding, looking at a longer time period, and comparing the Camden statistics with other London boroughs and national reported rape statistics. Reported rape has actually decreased. She has written a paper titled  The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden:a re-analysis.

Her comments on looking at a greater set of data, and comparing the Camden data with Lambeth, Islington and nationally is best said in her own words.

If a cause-and-effect relationship between the number of lap dancing clubs and the occurrence of rape existed, we would expect Lambeth to be lowest of the three because it has no clubs. By the same assumption we would expect Islington to be higher because it has a couple, and Camden highest because it has more than those other boroughs. The analysis however shows that Camden is consistently the lowest of the three. The results do not support a causal link between the number of lap dancing clubs in a borough and the risk of rape.

The trend for the three London boroughs shows that Lambeth (with no lap dancing) and Islington (with only 2 clubs) both have rates that are higher than Camden’s. It also demonstrates that all three have decreased over time, while the trend in England and Wales over the same time period has been for a rise. Apart from the early 2000s peak, Camden’s numbers are similar to the overall rate for England and Wales, and are sometimes below it. In the original report it was claimed that Camden’s rapes were “three times the national average,” and this has been reported elsewhere. This new analysis shows that statement is not true at any point within the studied time period.

Studying the figures Brooke supplies, there is a drop in reported rape in Camden, other that for the three years immediatly after 1999.  Overall the London boroughs have a reduction in reported rape, which goes against the National figures which show a rise.

I expect the incorrectly interpreted Lilith research will continue to be used by those who want to close down lap dancing clubs.  The figure of 50% increase in rapes will continue to be published in newspaper reports, and used in publicity by the ant sex work groups.

Brookes interpretation (which is not new, a report  by Bill Martland was sent to parliament in 1998 ) is important, because I expect Lilith’s findings were used to help persuade Hackney council to go for a nil policy for sex work establishments.  Object still publish the discredited 50% increase in reported rapes on their website.    It is important to debunk these figures with real interpretations of actual data.  There have been many reports stating these figures were grossly wrong, but as you can see the anti sex work groups of Eaves, Object and the Fawcett Society are still peddling them.

Where ever they publish these misrepresantaions they must be targeted to withdraw them.


6 comments on “The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a re-analysis.

  1. marybysshe
    19 January, 2011

    I find this study incredibly disturbing.It suggests ideas about rape,that one would hope were not being propounded by organisations that claim to be pro women.

    To even suggest that sexual behaviour on the part of one group of women leads to the rape of other women is just a short step away from the “she was wearing a short skirt”meme.

  2. elrond
    19 January, 2011

    What I find disturbing is how the original discredited research will be quoted for years to come. Brookes article is not the first comment on the incorrect interpretation of the Camden statistics. This was brought to the attention of the UK parliament back in 2008 using up to date figures from police statistics. It though was by the Lap Dancing Association. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmcumeds/492/8112507.htm

    I suppose I should not be surprised, because every fact used by Object is very cherry picked research, or misquoted, or from poor samples.

    If you want to see how the Swedes want to stigmatise women, then read the article http://www.thelocal.se/31388/20110112/ which I commented on earlier.

  3. marybysshe
    20 January, 2011

    The fact is I rather expect statistics to be misused.They are so poorly understood and so easy to manipulate that it is easy for any group to find some statistics to support their view.Challenging the underlying assumptions seems at time harder,but I believe will have a greater long term effect.

  4. Douglas Fox
    22 January, 2011

    I admit that although research statistics are essential they also make me roll my eyes. Stats can so easily be manipulated.

    I don’t think however that explaining that the statistics in this case are wrong would make any difference to boroughs like Hackney. They have taken an ideological stance against sex workers rather than a rational one.

    But this is the problem we face. It is a little like arguing against religious fanatics.

    The overall problem is that the anti sex work lobbyists deliberately choose very carefully their subjects, ideally marginalised groups of sex workers, that then create statistics that give sensationalist headlines but do not reflect the experiences of the majority of sex workers.

    We need more research, like that by Suzanne Jenkins, from Keele, which more fairly reflects the experiences of mainstream sex workers and therefore shines a more rational and positive light upon sex work. And some creative thinking on how to sensationalise that research to create those headlines that will allow us to compete against the anti lobbyists who have become experts at hyper emotionalisation. We have such a lot to learn.

  5. elrond
    25 January, 2011

    This report got me interested, and I saw a newspaper report from Newquay whcih claims that sexual assults in the town decreased after opening lap dancing clubs. As each new one opened, the assults reduced.


    Using the newly collated figures after 2002 the total number of recorded sexual assaults in the Newquay sector (Newquay town, St Columb Minor, St Columb Major, Newquay, Treloggan and Edgcumbe), peaked at 71 in 2005 and then took a sharp dive to 51 the following year, 2006. Sexual assault figures include reports of rape, indecent assault, sexual assault, and other miscellaneous sexual offences.
    2006 was when Newquay’s first lap dance club, Teasers, opened on Tolcarne Road.
    In 2007, when Divas – the town’s second lap dancing venue opened – the total number of recorded sexual assaults fell by another ten to 41, then by 14 more to 27 the following year when Halos opened.
    In 2009, the number rose slightly, but, at a total of 33 offences, the statistics remain at less than half the total before the clubs emerged.

  6. Pingback: The year in perspective « www.harlotsparlour.com

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