measuring human rights, statistics

Measuring Human Rights (29): When More Means Less, and Vice Versa, Ctd.

less is more

(source)

Take the example of rape measurement: better statistical and reporting methods used by the police, combined with less social stigma and other factors result in statistics showing a rising number of rapes, but this increase is due to the measurement methods and other effects, not to what happened in real life. The actual number of rapes may have gone down.

This is a general problem in human rights measurement: more often means less, and vice versa. The nature of the thing we’re trying to measure – human rights violations – means that the more there is, the more difficult it is to measure; and the more difficult, the more likely that we wrongly conclude that there is less. (See here). When levels of rights violations approach totalitarianism, people won’t report, won’t dare to speak, or won’t be able to speak. It’s not social stigma or shame that prevents them from speaking, as in the case of rape, but fear. Furthermore, totalitarian governments won’t allow monitoring, and will have managed to some extent to indoctrinate their citizens. Finally, the state of the economy won’t allow for easy transport and communication, given the correlation between economic underdevelopment and totalitarian government.

Conversely, higher levels of respect for human rights will yield statistics showing more rights violations, because a certain level of respect for human rights makes monitoring easier.

More on measuring human rights.

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5 thoughts on “Measuring Human Rights (29): When More Means Less, and Vice Versa, Ctd.

  1. James Williams says:

    How can totalitarianism be measured? I have seen on other sites one of the aspects as being equality for women, but this assumes that all women have less rights than all men which is not true. Even in some of the most austere regimes, wealthy women will have more rights and freedom than poor men. .

  2. James Williams says:

    Can an objective measure be developed or is there already one in existence that could be used? One factor of totalitarianism I have seen is the degree that the state intricately controls your life. In Sweden for example, they are trying to get rid of urinals and to get men to sit when taking a pee. Would this be a legitimate example of totalitarianism that could be used as a measure?

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