Atlanta Saw Eighty Percent Increase in Rape Cases during Pandemic


IMG-PUBLIC-SAFETY-MTG-01(APN) ATLANTA — The number of rape cases reported so far this year stands at 92, an eighty percent increase over 2020, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) revealed in a July 12, 2021 Bi-weekly Report presented to the Public Safety/Legal Administration (PS/LA) Committee of the City Council of Atlanta.


Between May and June 2021, the number of reported rape cases jumped from 48 to 77, a sixty percent increase in a four-week period. 


So far this year, rape cases have outnumbered homicides, of which there were 74 cases.


The eighty percent yearly increase in rape cases in Atlanta exceeds the rate of change for all other violent crime categories.


However, Councilmembers on the PS/LA Committee neglected to ask a single question about this disturbing trend; nor does the City’s plan to address crime appear to include any components to address it.


On June 09, 2021, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant held a press conference to announce APD’s “Summer Plan” to address violent crimes in the City of Atlanta.  The Chief’s plan focused on guns, youth programs, and partnerships with local and national law enforcement agencies.


“The Atlanta Police Department will engage in several initiatives to combat anticipated rise in violent crimes during our summer month beginning Friday June 4 through Saturday, August 28.” 


Noticeably missing from APD’s Summer Plan are strategies to combat sexual violence in Atlanta, or even acknowledgement of the surge in rape cases.


Rape and sexual violence largely go unreported by victims.  Two out of three sexual assaults go unreported, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest Network (RAINN), an organization founded by singer Tori Amos, who was a victim of sexual assault.


Based on RAINN’s estimate, if reported cases of rape in Atlanta have nearly doubled in 2021, then we can predict the actual number of rape cases is two to three times even higher than the official numbers, due to the unreported cases. 


In 2020, physicians and advocates warned the pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions could result in higher incidents of sexual and domestic violence.   


Across Europe and the United States, governments rushed to implement lockdowns without making sufficient provisions for victims of sexual violence,” Taylor Walker, Family Medicine Resident Physician at Cambridge Health Alliance, wrote in a May 2020 blog post of the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care website.


Children living with family or foster care, individuals with disabilities, homeless people (which would include people who are precariously housed), and those suffering from mental illness and substance abuse are at increased risk during the SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 lockdown of sexual violence, Walker wrote. 


The problem does not seem to be specific to Atlanta.  The international medical journal The Lancet reported upon an increase in rape cases in Bangladesh during the  pandemic.


With new SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 restrictions announced by Mayor Bottoms this week, where are the provisions to protect victims of sexual violence?


At no time, between June and July, did APD officers address the surge in rape cases in their reports to the Public Safety Committee.


Likewise, committee members never questioned APD about rising rape cases, despite having crime data presented in virtual meetings and submitted in writing to the committee. 


The PS/LA Cmte is chaired by Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd (District 12), and the members also include Carla Smith (District 1), Amir R. Farokhi (District 2), Cleta Winslow (District 4), Andrea L. Boone (District 10), and Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large).


(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2021) 


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