Here’s why Atlanta's reported rape total has doubled in a year

The Atlanta Police Department recently released startling new data stating the number of reported rapes this year has doubled compared to 2016. The jump — from 50 between Jan. 1, 2016 and May 20, 2016 to 101 in the same period this year — is jarring, but the spike appears less to come from an increase in the crime itself and more from a change in how the city defines it.

This year, Atlanta PD changed how it reports rapes, following the FBI's gender-neutral definition and allowing male victims and other people who were previously not counted in the data as part of its crime totals. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta had previously reported rapes, exclusively, as the number of times the assailant was a man and the victim was a woman, which is how the crime is defined under Georgia state rules. Because of the new definition, there's been "a much higher number of cases being classified and reported as rape," Atlanta Police Spokesperson Lisa Bender told the Journal-Constitution.

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The 50 most violent cities in the world

50. Durban, South Africa, had 34.43 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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49. Curitiba, Brazil, had 34.92 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo by Paulo Lisboa/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images)

48. Cucuta, Colombia, had 37 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo credit GEORGE CASTELLANOS/AFP/Getty Images)

47. Vitoria, Brazil, had 37.54 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)

46. Manaus, Brazil, had 38.25 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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45. Macapa, Brazil, had 30.25 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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44. Armenia, Colombia, had 38.54 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Duran)

43. Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, had 39.19 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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42. Goiânia y Aparecida de Goiânia, Brazil, had 39.48 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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41. Ciudad Obregón, Mexico, had 40.95 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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40. Chihuahua, Mexico, had 42.02 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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39. Cuiaba, Brazil, had 42.61 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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38. Teresina, Brazil, had 42.84 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)

37. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, had 43.63 homicides per 100,000.

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(Photo via REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez)

36. Detroit had 44.60 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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35. Fortaleza, Brazil, had 44.98 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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34. New Orleans had 45.17 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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33. São Luís, Brazil, had 45.41 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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32. Kingston, Jamaica, had 45.43 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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31. Palmira, Colombia, had 46.30 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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30. Gran Barcelona, Venezuela, had 46.86 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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29. João Pessoa, Brazil, had 47.57 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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28. Recife, Brazil, had 47.89 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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27. Mazatlan, Mexico, had 48.75 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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26. Baltimore had 51.14 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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25. Maceio, Brazil, had 51.78 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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24. Culiacan, Mexico, had 51.81 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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23. Guatemala City, Guatemala, had 52.73 homicides per 100,000 residents.

Cocaine seizures in Guatemala, a major drug transshipment point, recently hit a 10-year high.

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22. Tijuana, Mexico, had 53.06 homicides per 100,000 residents.

Over the last two years, Tijuana has seen a spike in homicides, as rival cartels compete for control.

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21. Cali, Colombia, had 54 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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20. Salvador, Brazil, had 54.71 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Lunae Parracho)

19. Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil, had 56.45 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Sergio Moraes)

18. Cumana, Venezuela, had 59.31 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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17. Barquisimeto, Venezuela, had 59.38 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

16. Vitória da Conquista, Brazil, had 60.10 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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15. Feira de Santana, Brazil, had 60.23 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)

14. St. Louis had 60.37 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

13. Cape Town, South Africa, had 60.77 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Mark Wessels)

12. Aracaju, Brazil, had 62.76 homicides per 100,000 residents.

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11. Belém, Brazil, had 67.41 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Ney Marcondes)

10. Natal, Brazil, had 69.56 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Nacho Doce)

9. Valencia, Venezuela, had 72.02 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

8. Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela, had 82.84 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo via REUTERS/Comando Venezuela)

7. San Salvador, El Salvador, had 83.39 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo credit MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images)

6. Maturin, Venezuela, had 84.21 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo credit LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

5. Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, had 84.67 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo credit Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

4. Distrito Central, Honduras, had 85.09 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo credit ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

3. San Pedro Sula, Honduras, had 112.09 homicides per 100,000 residents.

(Photo credit JORDAN PERDOMO/AFP/Getty Images)

2. Acapulco, Mexico, had 113.24 homicides per 100,000 residents.

Acapulco, and Guerrero state as a whole, has been shaken by spiraling narco violence for more than a year.

(Photo credit PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Caracas, Venezuela, had 130.35 homicides per 100,000 residents.

Official data, released by the Venezuelan government for the first time in several years, put Venezuela's 2016 homicide rate at at 70.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in the world and up from 58 in 2015. 

Another estimate from a nongovernment organization put the national homicide rate at 91.8 per 100,000 people.

Read more about life in Caracas here.

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The state legislation outlines that if a man is the victim, then the alleged offender would more than likely be charged with aggravated sodomy, which only carries a possibility of parole, according to Russell Dean Covey, a law professor at Georgia State University. And it doesn't hold nearly the same severity in punishment compared to rape — an offense that potentially carries a life sentence without parole.

With Atlanta's numbers on the rise and more states adopting the FBI's definition of rape, there's been a push in the Georgia government to try to alter the language of what constitutes the offense. Though a bill proposed in the state senate was not passed this year, the legislation's sponsor, state Sen. Donzella James, remains hopeful that it'll pass next year.

Even as the nationwide data surrounding men as rape victims remains unclear, those pushing for the change, such as Kaj Gumbs, a recent graduate of Morehouse College, see no reason why the state shouldn't adopt a more gender-neutral definition of the crime.

"This is a women's issue. This is a men's issue. This is an LGBT issue," Gumbs told the Journal-Constitution.

The post Here's Why Atlanta's Reported Rape Total Has Doubled In A Year appeared first on Vocativ.

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