In bedrooms and back alleys, at parties, in offices, and within families: rape happens, rape is real. At this very moment, there are approximately twenty million women in the United States who have been raped during their lifetime, and in one year, over one million women are raped in the United States. The numbers are staggering, but not unfamiliar. One in four women are victims of attempted or completed rape in the United States.
Despite the devastating and continuing prevalence of rape in the United States, estimated state rape conviction rates are as low as two to nine percent of total instances of rape (reported and unreported). At the state level, a local robber is thirty percent more likely to be convicted than a rapist, and a rape prosecution is twice as a likely to be dismissed vis-a-vis murder prosecution. Similarly, federal conviction rates for non-rape crimes, such as immigration and narcotics crimes, average as high as ninety-six percent. In effect, the rift between the widespread perpetration of rape and sexual assault and the minimal prosecution and conviction of rapists questions the commitment and priority of law enforcement, lawmakers, courts, and the public in treating rape as seriously before the law as it is treated in name. If rape is serious, why don't we take rape prosecution seriously enough?