Twenty-seven-year-old Army specialist Casey Bogenrief was set to deploy from Fort Wainright inFairbanks, Alaska in a few days when he met a young woman who invited him to her apartment to have a drink and sing karaoke. Shortly after arriving, the soldier is said to have become violent and demanded to have sex with the woman before slamming her head against a door and assaulting her.
While his attorney says that any sexual contact was consensual, Bogenriefstands trial this week for rape, putting him among the hundreds of annual perpetrators of the crime in the city that’s been called a hotbed for sexual violence. For a metro of just over 97,000, an incredibly high rate of rape (more than double the national metropolitan average) lands Fairbanks among the top three cities most dangerous cities for women in the United States at 191 reported rapes per 100,000 residents.
We used the FBI’s numbers for violent crimes including murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault in addition to reported incidences of rape in each metro area. While the FBI warns that reporting can be troubling for ranking purposes (particularly as they only measure cases of “forcible rape” which discounts date-rape, statutory rape and other sexual assaults), and RAINN stresses that reported cases of rape barely scratch the surface of the true magnitude of the crime, the numbers are clear in one thing: for women in Alaska and Michigan, the threat of sexual assault is clear and present.
Only four months into the calendar year there have been 274 rapes in Detroit, Mich. in 2012 including four cases of serial rapists in the city. But surprisingly, the smaller city of Saginaw, some 90 miles from the auto manufacturing capitol suffers even higher incidences of the crime at 76 rapes for every 100,000 people in the metro area of roughly 400,000. Added to a troublingly high rate of nonsexual violent crimes (870 per 100,000), that number makes Saginaw, Mich., the country’s most dangerous city for women.
Meanwhile, according to a 2011 survey, more than 37% of Alaskan women report that they’ve suffered some form of sexual assault in their lives. And Fairbanks isn’t the only Alaskan city to top our ranking. Anchorage suffers the highest violent crime rate in the state, (812 reported for every 100,000 residents) in addition to a staggeringly high incidence of rape. According to numbers from the FBI Uniform Crime Report, more than 85 rapes are committed annually per 100,000 citizens, which makes Anchorage No. 2 on our list.
Scott Berkowitz, the president of RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) says that while data on reported incidences of rape is often unreliable, researchers and advocates have historically seen higher rates of sexual violence in native communities. In Alaska, where nearly 15% of the population is American Indian or Alaskan Indian, Berkowitz says this could be a key factor. Research points to as many as one in three Indian women will be raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime–a rate 3.5 times higher than any other racial groups.
The fourth most dangerous city as ranked by our list is Springfield, Ill., a metro area of 200,000 four hours south of Chicago where the FBI reports 855 violent crimes and 70 rapes each year per 100,000 citizens. Despite its dangerous ranking, the state of llinois has made great strides to respond to violent crimes against women; Illinois currently has more than 33 24-hour rape crisis centers and in 1992 was one of the first states to include rights for victims of violent crime in its state constitution.
At No. 5 on the 2012 list of the most dangerous cities for women is Redding, California, where there were 797 incidences of violent crime and 65 rapes for every 100,000 citizens. For a metro area whose population falls short of that number—with a population of just over 93,000—those statistics grow even grimmer. Redding, a Northern California city located in Shasta County, is also becoming proactive about rape prevention. At a recent Sexual Assault Awareness Month event, spokeswoman Jean King of the Shasta women’s Refuge noted that the county suffers twice as many sexual assaults as the rest of the state of California. ”We don’t want to have that in our community,” she said before continuing that by making the issue a local one she hopes to see a decline.
Detroit’s neighboring suburb of Flint, Michigan, has also seen rape numbers on the rise, and falls at No. 6 on our list of dangerous cities. Kim Hurst with the Wayne County Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners Program, known as SAFE, told local authorities that her Detroit branch has seen 60 girls in April alone and that her metro numbers are in the hundreds. More foreboding: all the attacks are becoming more violent. “I have to say we do recently seem to have seen potentially more physical injury with our victims that are coming in,” she says.