In a concerning development reported on Saturday, October 7th, New York City has witnessed a staggering 41% surge in physical attacks on women over the last four years, according to newly released NYPD data. As of October 1st of this year, 2,830 women have fallen victim to felony assault, excluding domestic violence incidents, compared to 2,006 just four years ago. This alarming rise in attacks, which range from random subway shoves to brutal beatings, marks a 5% increase from the same period last year when 2,699 women were victims of felony assault.
The victims and observers have pointed fingers at various factors contributing to this surge, including the release of individuals from the city’s jails during the pandemic and legislation aimed at reducing the number of people in custody as part of the goal to close Rikers Island. Critics argue that the release of individuals, some of whom may be drug-addicted or mentally ill, without adequate support or rehabilitation has contributed to the spike in violent incidents.
Misdemeanor assaults against women, excluding domestic violence, have also risen by 8% over the same period, from 8,008 in 2019 to 8,668 in 2023. This tally is also up by a troubling 12% compared to last year, when 7,734 women were attacked. Both felony and misdemeanor assaults across all genders have seen a 6% increase citywide this year.
Several victims of these assaults have voiced their concerns and fears, noting that women are more likely to be targeted due to their smaller size and stature. They also blame city and state politicians for “passing legislation that allows more criminals to roam the streets or for failing to provide sufficient services to drug addicts and mentally ill individuals to reduce the chances of them violently acting out.”
Jane Manning, director of Women’s Equal Justice Project, attributed the skyrocketing assault cases to an uptick in “aggressive explicit misogyny” in public, citing influences from both political right and left. Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, pointed out that assailants often prey on the most vulnerable, stating, “Criminals are opportunists, and they’re cowards, and they’re going to seek out the easiest targets available.”
As women band together online to keep others safe and share their experiences and warnings, the city grapples with how to address and curb this alarming trend in violent assaults against women. The situation calls for a comprehensive approach that not only addresses the immediate security concerns but also delves into the root causes and systemic issues that have contributed to this surge in violence.