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November 24, 2005

Interesting Statistic.


Violence against women is the cause of more deaths and disability around the world in 15- to 44-year-olds than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war.

Really? Any evidence of that?

November 24, 2005 in Idiotarians | Permalink


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» Rape, Responsibility and Bad Statistics from Talk Politics
Lots of ground to cover here so I'll straight down to business. First up Tim Worstall notes an interesting statistical claim from Julie Bindel in today's Grauniad, which he files under the category 'idiotarians': Violence against women is the cau... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 24, 2005 2:00:58 PM


War doesn't count as violence? Interesting.

Posted by: EU Serf | Nov 24, 2005 10:31:45 AM

http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/archives/002078.html covered this in the UK and has links to the figures -
http://www.everywoman.co.uk/refuge/ Quotes:
2 women are killed each week by a current or former partner in England and Wales
Domestic violence kills more 19-44 year old women than anything else - more than cancer, road accidents and muggings.

Wait a moment - that is 104 women killed - an appalling number, far more than I have noticed in the crime reports but let us take it as a given. In 2004 (source http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_population/Table1DeathRegistrations02-04.xls ) 5391 women of that age range died.

Causes of death for females aged 15-44 in 2004: (source http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=8986 )
All traffic accidents=622
Intentional self harm=908

Posted by: Tim | Nov 24, 2005 10:53:52 AM

"Any evidence of that?"

Apparently so. See here: http://www.panos.org.uk/PDF/reports/WomensHealth.PDF

Original source is the 1993 World Development Report. Unless this has been superceded by a more recent stat it seems perfectly reasonable to use it.

Other Tim, looks like the confusion in your post comes from comparing deaths from domestic violence in the UK with the worldwide figure quoted above. As far as I can remember, domestic violence is the biggest cause of *morbidity* (basically ill-health, including injury) but not *mortality* among 15-44 year old (or that general range) adult women in the UK.

Posted by: Jim | Nov 24, 2005 12:47:09 PM


"Original source is the 1993 World Development Report. Unless this has been superceded by a more recent stat it seems perfectly reasonable to use it."

As long as its used correctly - the estimates given in WDR 1993 (and they are only estimates) assess the 'health burden' of domestic violence in terms of healthy years 'lost', which is to 'cause' - especially in medical terms.

One might as well claim that being alive causes more deaths than anything else simply because it has a 100% mortality rate.

It should also be noted that the report make reference only to breast and cervical cancers as individual comparators and too all cancers or even to the combined effect of both.

Yes there is evidence there, as you point out, but that's only half the story. I suspect, if Tim's running true to form, that he's not just querying the assertion itself but the way the evidence is being used as well.

Posted by: Unity | Nov 24, 2005 2:29:38 PM

Shit - should say 'which is different to 'cause' back there.

Posted by: Unity | Nov 24, 2005 2:30:33 PM

Oxfam use the stat:

Posted by: Jo | Nov 24, 2005 3:09:43 PM

Try again as a link!

Oxfam use that stat

Posted by: Jo | Nov 24, 2005 3:12:21 PM

And it was accepted by the US Congress.

Posted by: Jo | Nov 24, 2005 3:18:09 PM


I've updated my own article to point out that while the statistics are fine for what they are - an estimate of healthy years lost due to violence - the way those statistics have been used is pretty poor and overplays their significance.

The impression the article conveys is that the author is talking about deaths and disabilities that are directly caused by violence - i.e. entirely due to physical injury - the vast majority healthy years lost to violence comes from its indirect effects - stress, depression, mental illness, alcohol and drug dependency and whole raft of other things besides.

In that respect the article put make a bad case for women as it fails to put over the full range and extent to which violence impacts on their lives, particularly in terms of the psychological impact which can often be far more damaging in the long-term than any physical effects.

Posted by: Unity | Nov 24, 2005 4:05:14 PM

The numbers may be true, but the comparisons are rather silly. The author has chosen comparators which, in other contexts, are major causes of death but are not for women in that age group. If she was being sensible, she would have shown the leading causes of death for that age group.

By the way, at least as many people died in the UK last year from reading the Guardian than nuclear war, bubonic plague and smallpox combined.

Posted by: james C | Nov 25, 2005 11:32:57 AM

The Congress report that Jo quotes is symptomatic of the domestic violence research industry. A barrage of statistics, all from different sources, adding up to an appalling indictment of men. Unfortunately when researchers try tracking down the origins of some of them there are real problems. John Fekete and Warren Farrell have both done a lot of work trying to track down the origins of some of the more famous statistics used in such reports, and finding many of them are based on very flimsy evidence of flawed research. But that doesn't stop lazy journalists, NGOs and vested interest researchers continuing to quote them.

Julie Bindel is one of the prime movers in the domestic violence research industry in the UK. She gets her funding to do research by 'proving' the huge extent of the problem (not to downplay it, but the greater the problem, the more research is required, and the more people get funding grants to research it, and the cycle continues while no one looks for any solutions)

She worked at Leeds Met University for a long time and spent much of her time persuading the Police to
adopt a policy of complete criminalisation towards men who used prostitutes. Typically this offered no solutions for how the prostitutes were actually to earn money once the men were driven away, but that was neither of interest nor concern to la Bindel.

Personally I treat her articles with a resounding 'well, she would say that wouldn't she?'.

Posted by: Bertie | Nov 25, 2005 7:36:52 PM

And looking at that Congress report again, I particularly liked 'worldwide, women account for 1/2 of all cases of HIV/AIDS'.

Gosh, the evil of men!

Posted by: Bertie | Nov 25, 2005 7:40:27 PM

That last comment (gender breakdown of HIV/AIDS) is not a triviality - I imagine that it might have not been true in various countries, at various time. For obvious reasons. I'm a statistician, and the most embarassing mistakes I make are not starting with those very simple breakdowns.

Posted by: Barry | Nov 28, 2005 3:42:24 AM

I didn't say it was trivial, but that's not why it's on THAT particular document. The US Congress document is meant to show how women suffer at the hands of men. And AIDS is not one of those cases.

Posted by: Bertie | Nov 28, 2005 8:17:40 PM

Following up on Bertie's point about the evils of men (women account for 1/2 of all cases of HIV/AIDS), I am concerned about the terrible state of the education system where fully 50 percent of the children are below average.

Terrible, terrible.

Posted by: Atanu Dey | Nov 30, 2005 8:58:29 AM