To address reporting problems, researchers should consider including culturally appropriate questions about sexual violence in routine large-scale health and demographic surveillance surveys. And although recent U.N. Security Council resolutions have specifically demanded numbers, the international community must reconsider its insistence on statistics. Such an emphasis encourages the proliferation of 'false facts' about sexual violence and does little to aid understanding. It is essential that researchers, journalists, and policymakers cite credible data sources, lest they undermine their own efforts. Most important, policymakers must ensure that a focus on sexual violence does not crowd out other equally vital wartime issues, such as basic health care, displacement, and inequality.
-- Amber Peterman, Gender and Development Specialist and Research Fellow at the D.C.-based International Food Policy Research Institute, University of Minnesota Political Science Professor Dara Kay Cohen, Stony Brook University Preventive Medicine Professor Tia Palermo, and Amelia Hoover Green, a political science doctoral candidate at Yale University and a consultant to U.N. Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict. The quoted passage appears in their excellent article, "Rape Reporting During War: Why the Numbers Don't Mean What You Think They Do," in this month's Foreign Affairs. Read it now!
(hat tip to the ever-amusing and informative wronging rights blog)