The four percent increase in rapes reported in FBI crime statistics for last year may be good news because it indicates a higher reporting rate by victims, says Women’s ENews. Victim advocates say that means that more victims trust law enforcers to respond seriously to the charge. More than half of sexual-assault victims are coming forward for the first time since the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics began collecting data 30 years ago. Between 1993 and 1995, only 30.8 percent of rape-and-sexual-assault victims reported attacks, says the annual National Crime Victimization Survey, released last month.
Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the largest anti-sex-assault organization in the country, credited the increase in reporting to tough-on-crime policies, greater public awareness and a generation of women that has grown up on “no means no.”
Between 1993 and last year, the victimization survey estimated a 55.6 percent drop in the number of rapes.
“Although we have some clues about specific issues that lead women to make reports to authorities, we still have much to learn,” said Benjamin E. Saunders of the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center in Charleston, S.C. “It is important to continue to understand those factors that will encourage women to come forward and get the services they need.” Saunders expressed skepticism over the supposed surge in reporting. “I don’t believe it’s 50 percent,” he says, suggesting the actual figure was as low as 25 percent.