Number of rapes have increased; FOX23 checks into why

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Reported by: Lynn Casey
Updated: 1/21 10:34 pm Published: 1/21 10:32 pm

FOX23 investigated why the number of rapes reported to Tulsa police went up last year.

We looked into the reason there's more to that statistic than the number shows.

Police have to report crimes with the uniform crime code, made by the FBI. Until last year the FBI hadn't updated its definition of rape since 1927 and as you can imagine that definition was very specific and extremely limiting.

FOX23 spoke with Missy Iski, director of programs and counseling at the Domestic Violence Intervention Services, more commonly known as DVIS.
Iski said, "The historical definition was 'the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will'."

We asked her, what about other kinds of sexual assaults: specifically that happen between people of the same gender?

Iski said, "Those would have been excluded under that very limited definition."

Since the FBI updated that definition to be all-inclusive, the numbers went up as expected.

Advocates believe it's not just because more crimes are classified as rape.

They believe victims are becoming more willing to come forward.

"I think it's being reported more. I think there's more emphasis on comfort and people stepping forward," said Iski.

We already know rape is one of the most underreported crimes out there.

The number of people who report to the police compared with the number of people DVIS helps is a really good example.

Tulsa Police Department's Sex Crime Unit's Sgt. Mark Mears told FOX23, "We've had 333 reported rapes this year."

Iski said, "Last year we had 489."

The Domestic Violence Intervention Services says whether you report or not getting help for yourself is the most important thing.

"They may not choose to report but it's important that they come in and get an exam," said Iski.

Because the gray case was rape by instrumentation, two years ago it wouldn't have been included in the yearly rape statistics by the FBI.

Many other kinds of sexual assault were also left out of their definition.

Advocates say it left us with an inaccurate picture of how bad the rape problem is.

"What we're seeing is the actual numbers being reflected," said Iski.

Now that more kinds of sexual assaults will be classified as rape, the numbers went up.

But police and advocates say it's a small price to pay for a more accurate picture of the rape problem.

"Police departments and women's rights groups lobbied Congress and the FBI change that definition," Mears said.

Rape is still hugely underreported. But the people who work at DVIS say having the numbers we do get, be more accurate, is a huge step.

"Each jurisdiction would have these different definitions of what sexual crimes were. Now we're kind of looking at a more uniformed way of reporting crimes. And that, I think, can help us understand the breadth of the problem," said Iski.

"As far as what this means for people: they can now see a clearer picture of how many sexual assaults there are out there," said Mears.

Domestic Violence Intervention Services is on Harvard Avenue and is built to focus on helping in all kinds of ways if you've become a victim of sexual assault, even if you don't report it to police.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Unwashed Mass - 1/21/2014 11:59 PM
1 Vote
By including consensual sex, the numbers of course are inflated.
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