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The tongues of tongues

Misuse of statistics causes non-western immigrants to be blamed for two out of three rapes in Norway.

[rape] The notion of the dark-skinned man lurking behind every bush to rape Norwegian women has been well nourished lately. The assault rapes in Oslo have led the police to show phantom drawings of African men and warn women not to go home alone in the dark.

And the politicians have followed up: Rita Sletner (V), the head of the rape committee, has asked the imams to put an end to the rape wave, while "the strangers" have had their passport written in the parliament.

- We must tackle the problem where it is actually greatest, and then it is unfortunately an indisputable fact that the majority of those who rape or abuse women have their origins in Muslim countries in Africa and Asia, said FRP's parliamentary representative Christian Tybring-Gjedde from the Storting's rostrum on 5 March this year.

Tybring-Gjedde's use of numbers fits in with a pattern of statistical use which means that the following picture has taken hold in the public eye: Immigrants – often synonymous with non-Western immigrants – are behind two out of three rapes in Norway.

However, this is based on a dubious use of rape statistics from the Oslo police, which even the police's own experts warn against.

At the same time, statistics and surveys that give a completely different picture are passed over in silence. Who has heard of the survey from Trondheim in 2002 which established that Norwegians were behind at least four out of five rapes? Or about Statistics Norway's figures from the same year which showed that Norwegians accounted for 85 per cent of sexual crime in Norway – including rape and sexual intercourse with children under 16 years of age?

- Generalized far too much

The figures that are now established as truth in the debate about rape and immigrants are taken from the Oslo police, who first published figures on rape and perpetrator's land background in 2000. The corresponding figures were presented for the years 2001 and 2004 in the report "Rape in Oslo 2004 ».

The statistics are based on reported rapes and attempted rapes in the Oslo police district. Based on statistics from 2004, immigrants, who represent 22,3 per cent of Oslo's population, perform very poorly: Of 110 reported rapes, 65 per cent were committed by perpetrators with a country background outside Norway (including...

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