The REAL Belle de Jour has always been passionate, and the woman behind the famous moniker maintains that tradition, this time penning an important research paper on rape.
Last year, Belle step out from behind her famous pen name and revealed her identity. She is Dr. Brooke L. Magnanti, formerly of Bristol, England, a noted scientist whose specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and has worked at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health as part of a team that researched the potential effects on babies of their mothers' exposure to toxic chemicals.
But, from 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a high-class call girl for a London escort service. She has written an award-winning blog and several bestselling books based on her experiences as a high-end call-girl in the sex industry. Her writing also formed the basis of the TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl on Showtime, starring Billie Piper in the title role of "Belle."
Recently, Brooke moved to Scotland, taking a hiatus from penning new entries for her award-winning blog (where she says simply, "Belle de Jour is the pen name of Brooke Magnanti, a UK-based writer and science researcher. Interests: whiskey, taphonomy, PGP encryption), in favor of concentrating on writing a new book, and a variety of articles.
The latest, presented below in its entirety (or read it directly at the article's website) is an important analysis, called a 'Green Paper,' of the correlation between the impact of public adult entertainment, specifically lap-dancing clubs, in the U.K. and rape statistics, which also has clear implications for the U.S., too.
No stranger to controversy, Brooke's conclusions are sure to raise eyebrows across the pond, as her careful research refutes the so-called "Lilith" study from 2003 that garnered widespread media attention in the U.K., which found a direct cause and effect relationship between the two in Camden Town, London.
"In spite of mathematical corrections to the statistics in the report, its original conclusions are still widely reported in both academic and mass media," Brooke writes.
In fact, Brooke proves in her meticulous analysis that the 2003 conclusions are wrong, writing, "...the original claim made in the Lilith report, that the number of reported rapes is rising due to lap dancing clubs, is not true."
Brooke says much more research into the true causes of rape are needed.
"The causes of rape and violent crime are not well understood, and there is much research and discussion devoted to understanding the causes of this crime so that it may be better controlled. It is possible that repeating limited and erroneous numbers can derail efforts to control violence and deflect attention and funding from alternative causal theories. It is because rape is such a serious crime that researchers must be at least as rigorous in their analysis as they would with other serious life events, and apply the same careful methodology as would be used in other areas of research," she writes.
Whatever Brooke decides to write, her voice is powerful and important, and should be carefully considered.
Without further ado, here is Brooke's research paper (including the British spellings):
The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a reanalysis.
19 January 2011 http://belledejour‐uk.blogspot.com © Brooke Magnanti
The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a re-analysis.
Brooke L Magnanti, PhD.
A 2003 report on the impact of lap-dancing clubs on sexual assault in Camden, London had significant influence on the perception of the contribution of adult entertainment to crime statistics. In spite of mathematical corrections to the statistics in the report, its original conclusions are still widely reported in both academic and mass media. This paper presents a broader analysis of the impact of lap-dancing clubs by calculating accurate rates of incidence, analysing statistics from a longer time period, and comparing the results with crime rates in neighbouring boroughs of London. The rate of rape in Camden is lower than that in comparable boroughs, including ones with no such clubs. The overall trend for London boroughs, while higher than the national average, shows a decrease where national statistics are on the increase.
The question of whether, and to what extent, the presence of adult entertainment businesses affects crime in the surrounding area is a topic of debate in many disciplines, including sexuality studies, urban planning, and criminology. It is also an issue that attracts considerable mass media attention, which in turn can frame the debate as considered by media and government.
In 2003, a report was released by Lilith Research and Development, a subsidiary project of Eaves Women’s Aid, a London women’s housing agency. The report examined the phenomenon of lap-dancing clubs in the north London borough of Camden and its effects on crime rates from the late 1990s onward. One conclusion that received considerable attention was the statement that following the introduction of lap-dancing clubs, rape in Camden rose by 50%. (Eden 2003).
In 2009, corrections to the statistics were reported in the Guardian stating that
the change between 1999 and 2002 was a somewhat lower increase of 33%
(Bell 2008). It still however implies evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship
between lap dancing clubs and rape. The uncorrected claims that rapes rose by 50% after lap dancing clubs opened and that Camden’s incidence of rape is three time the national average are still reported in national and international media (Hunt 2009, Guest 2010).
However, the original paper on which these claims are based suffers from numerous statistical problems in its analysis. The first is that the use of raw numbers rather than rate of occurrence does not accurately reflect the risk per
head of population in Camden. The second is that the paper failed to show a
trend long enough from which to draw meaningful conclusions. The third is that the study did not accurately put the results in context with trends elsewhere in London and in the UK as a whole, in order to test the theory that any change in crime rates was an effect specifically of the existence of lap dancing clubs.
This reanalysis seeks to correct those problems so a more accurate picture of
the effect of lap dancing on Camden may be discussed, and the new figures
enter into the public debate on adult entertainment and urban spaces.
1. Rate calculations
In reporting outcomes in a population over time, it is important to calculate in
incidence rate of outcomes in order to account for changes in the size of the
population and thereby produce statistics that can be sensibly compared. The
original paper, and subsequent corrections, did not do this.
The numbers on reported rapes were obtained directly from the Metropolitan
Police, though at least some of the numbers are freely available on the web. The numbers reported in the original paper have been checked against the
Metropolitan Police numbers to confirm they are correct.
Both the original numbers of rapes in the Lilith report, and the note in the
Guardian correcting an arithmetic error from the paper and subsequent reporting, did not calculate the incidence rate of reported rapes per head of population.
However, London is a rapidly growing city. Without the context of population
change, this renders fluctuations in the results impossible to interpret meaningfully.
The Lilith report focuses on the difference in rapes between 1999 and 2002.
However, in its first paragraph, the report states that lap dancing ‘arrived in
Britain in 1997 with the opening of Secrets in Hammersmith’. The reasoning why the statistics used in that report start 2 years later is unclear. In order to facilitate comparison with the original report, statistics calculated in this paper will also start from 1999.
The number of reported rapes as given by the Metropolitan Police includes rapes against both men and women, and this is the number reported in the original paper. Therefore for the purposes of calculating the rate of reported rapes per 100,000 population, the total male and female population of Camden has been used. The population count is as reported in the National Statistics adjusted midyear estimates. The rates are shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Rates of rapes per 100,000 population, Camden, London, 1999-2002
Year Reported-Rapes/Population Rate per 100,000/Percentage
Using the rate of rapes per 100,000 population, the change from 1999 to 2002 is an increase not of 50% (as originally reported and still repeated) or 33% (as in the later correction) but of 26.9%, or about half of what was in the original paper.
2. Longer-term trend analysis
Unfortunately because of the limited time period covered in the original report,
even with accurately calculated rates it is difficult to tell whether the increase was sustained, and therefore indicative of a trend. We know that between 1999 and 2000 the rate of reported rapes in Camden rose but because it is a relatively rare event, it can be expected that there will be high volatility in the number of reported rapes and that this will affect the rates. Therefore with numbers now available to represent the last decade, a more complete picture can be constructed. The results over a decade show a markedly different trend to what was originally reported – the rate does rise, but then subsequently falls again.
The results are shown in Table 2, and a graph of the rates in Figure 1.
Table 2: Rates of rapes per 100,000 and percentage annual change, Camden, 1999-2008
Year Reported rapes
Population Rate per 100,000
1999-72/195,700 36.8 n/a
2000-88/202,800 43.4 + 17.9%
2001-91/202,600 44.9 + 3.5%
2002-96/205,700 46.7 + 3.9%
2003-71/207,700 34.2 - 26.8%
2004-52/212,800 24.4 - 28.5%
2005-68/218,400 31.1 + 27.4%
2006-67/221,500 30.2 - 2.8%
2007-70/223,900 31.3 + 3.4%
2008-41/226,500 18.1 - 42.1%
Figure 1: Trend of rape rates in Camden, London, 1999-2008
3. Local and national trend comparison
The original report compares Camden’s rape reports to the numbers from the
boroughs of Westminster and Islington. All of these boroughs contain lap dancing clubs. However it does not contain a comparison with a comparable borough with no such clubs.
In order to improve the assessment between boroughs we have retained a
comparison with Islington, but also added a non-lap dancing borough with a
similar demographic profile in order to minimise socioeconomic confounders.
Lambeth has a somewhat larger population than Camden and similar makeup in terms of ethnic origin. It contains no lap dancing clubs at all. Islington has a
somewhat smaller population than the other two boroughs and has two venues
licensed for fully nude lap dancing. Rape reporting statistics are also available for England and Wales as a whole, so these have been included for reference in Table 3, with the rates graphed in Figure 2.
Table 3: Rates of rape in Camden, Lambeth, Islington, and England & Wales (comb), 1999-2008
Year Rapes in Camden
Rate in Camden
Rapes in Lambeth
Rate in Lambeth
Rapes in Islington
Rate in Islington
Rapes England & Wales
Rate England & Wales
1999-72/36.8 128 48.0 75 42.7 7636 14.7
2000-88/43.4 156 57.8 94 52.8 8409 16.1
2001-91/44.9 163 59.6 72 40.1 8593 16.4
2002-96/46.7 172 63.2 109 60.5 9734 18.5
2003-71/34.2 166 61.3 135 74.4 12295 23.3
2004-52/24.4 126 46.3 97 53.4 13272 25.0
2005-68/31.1 146 53.2 93 50.4 14013 26.2
2006-67/30.2 139 50.2 76 41.0 14343 26.7
2007-70/31.3 127 45.5 89 47.6 13774 25.5
2008-41/18.1 99 35.2 68 36.1 12637 23.2
Figure 2: Trend of rape rates in Camden, Lambeth, Islington, and England & Wales (comb), 1999-2008
If a cause-and-effect relationship between the number of lap dancing clubs and the occurrence of rape existed, we would expect Lambeth to be lowest of the three because it has no clubs. By the same assumption we would expect
Islington to be higher because it has a couple, and Camden highest because it
has more than those other boroughs. The analysis however shows that Camden is consistently the lowest of the three. The results do not support a causal link between the number of lap dancing clubs in a borough and the risk of rape.
The trend for the three London boroughs shows that Lambeth (with no lap
dancing) and Islington (with only 2 clubs) both have rates that are higher than
Camden’s. It also demonstrates that all three have decreased over time, while
the trend in England and Wales over the same time period has been for a rise.
Apart from the early 2000s peak, Camden’s numbers are similar to the overall
rate for England and Wales, and are sometimes below it. In the original report it was claimed that Camden’s rapes were “three times the national average,” and this has been reported elsewhere. This new analysis shows that statement is not true at any point within the studied time period.
Rape is widely accepted to be a vastly under-reported crime. The calculations do not reveal whether rapes were under-reported for the area in any particular year, nor what the causes of that might be. What it does demonstrate is that the original claim made in the Lilith report, that the number of reported rapes is rising due to lap dancing clubs, is not true.
The causes of rape and violent crime are not well understood, and there is much research and discussion devoted to understanding the causes of this crime so that it may be better controlled. It is possible that repeating limited and erroneous numbers can derail efforts to control violence and deflect attention and funding from alternative causal theories. It is because rape is such a serious crime that researchers must be at least as rigorous in their analysis as they would with other serious life events, and apply the same careful methodology as would be used in other areas of research.
Other research supports the conclusion of no demonstrable causal link between adult entertainment and rape. A meta-analysis of 110 studies looking at the impact of strip clubs and other adult businesses found that the studies in favour of abolishing exotic dancing suffer from flaws in research methodology. Of the papers that did not contain fatal flaws, there was no correlation between any adult-oriented business and any negative effect (Bryant, Linz and Shafer 2001).
Ethnographic work also supports the conclusion that there is no direct
relationship between adult entertainment and crime (Hanna 2005).
Nevertheless it is a widely held assumption that endemic exposure to adult
images and entertainment makes rape more likely to occur. Even if there was
conclusive evidence for this, why would the rapes necessarily occur in Camden?
The area containing the clubs is a small corner of a much larger borough
bordering other parts of London. It is well-connected with public transport going in and out of the area. In addition, one might expect such a well-known
entertainment venue has customers travelling from elsewhere in the country to
see it. There is no evidence, even if literature supported an exposure aetiology of rape, that the crimes would necessarily be committed in Camden. Such possible confounding factors are not addressed in the original study.
The paper also strongly implies that the rapes are stranger rapes. A Home Office report analysing relationships between victims and offenders notes that for rapes, strangers are the perpetrators in only 17% of UK cases (Walby and Allen 2004). 75% of reported rapes occur either in the victim’s home or in the perpetrator’s (Myhill and Allen 2002). Even if lap dancing businesses were shown to contribute to stranger rape, this alone could not explain large changes in the statistics of reported rapes overall.
In much writing on sexual assault there seems to be a belief that rape stems from an inability of men to understand communication that is indirect; that they are unable to parse any rejection other than a firmly stated 'no'. Not only has this idea led to defendants in rape cases claiming they didn’t know someone said no, it is also not supported by research.
Men and women may weigh the value of verbal and nonverbal cues differently, but show little difference in the end when categorising situations as rape (Lim and Roloff 1999). For all the firmly held stereotypes, men know that no means no. Men who rape don’t do so by accident; ordinary men without tendencies to rape do not do so inadvertently or because they went to a lap dancing club.
Brooke Magnanti is the author of several memoirs, including The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl. She has worked extensively in research of forensic science, population trends and biostatistics.
The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a reanalysis.
19 January 2011 http://belledejour‐uk.blogspot.com © Brooke Magnanti
Bell, R, 2008. I was seen as an object, not a person. The Guardian. 19 March p18.
Bryant, P Linz, D and Shafer, B, 2001. Government regulation of adult
businesses through zoning and anti-nudity ordinances: Debunking the legal myth of negative secondary effects. Communication Law and Policy 6(2): pp 355-91.
Eden, I, 2003. Lilith Report Lap dancing and strip-tease in the borough of
Camden. [online] Available at: http://www.childtrafficking.com/Docs/poppy_03_lap_dancing_0109.pdf [Accessed 28 December 2010].
Guest, K. Lap dancing is seedy – but it's hard to say why. The Independent,
[online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/katyguest-lap-dancing-is-seedy-ndash-but-its-hard-to-say-why-2064794.html [Accessed 28 December 2010].
Hanna, J L, 2005. Exotic Dance Adult Entertainment: A Guide for Planners and Policy Makers. Journal of Planning Literature 20(2): pp 116-134.
Hunt, T, 2009. Betting shops and strip clubs stand as monuments to New Labour morality. The Guardian, [online] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/06/labour-moral-marketgambling-society [Accessed 28 December 2010].
Lim, G Y and Roloff, M E, 1999. Attributing sexual consent. Journal of Applied Communication Research 27(1): pp 1-13.
Myhill, A and J Allen, 2002. Rape and sexual assault of women: findings from the British Crime Survey. London: Home Office Research Study 159.
Walby, S and J Allen, 2004. Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking:
Findings from the British Crime Survey. London: Home Office Research Study 276."
Brooke's books include: Belle de Jour’s Guide to Men, 2009; Belle’s Best Bits, 2009; The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, September 2005; The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl, May 2007; and Playing the Game, June 2009.
Each one is well-worth reading – trust me! You can find all of her books at the U.K.’s largest independent bookseller, Waterstones.
Also check out Brooke's op-ed articles on a variety of topics including reforming libel law in Britain.
— The Curator