As part of our efforts to shed light on how security issues differ for different groups of people, we’ve analyzed and identified the most dangerous cities for women in the US based on FBI/National Census statistics.
Find out which US-based cities are among the most dangerous places for women to live. You can learn more about our methodology below.
There’s a few identifiable qualities that link the most dangerous cities for women. Namely, all of them are large cities, in contrast to the safest cities, which all have low populations.
This suggests there is some correlation between population density and crime rate, but only to an extent. New York City, for instance, has a significantly larger population size in a significantly smaller area than all of the cities listed below, yet it isn’t as dangerous. Population density and size cannot be considered, therefore, the deciding factor when it comes to why some places have a higher or lower crime rate.
The types of crimes committed most also reflect certain things about the cities.
Check out the list below.
Top 5 Most Dangerous Cities
1. Detroit, Michigan
- Population: 674,841 (highest)
- Rape: 103.91 per 100,000
- Aggravated assault: 1,519.55 per 100,000 (highest)
- Property crimes: 4,540.60 per 100,000
Detroit, Michigan has struggled with extreme levels of poverty for decades. Nearly a third of all households make less $15,000 a year, putting 30.6% of its population well below the federal poverty line (which is currently defined as a family of three making less than $21,330 a year).
Even more alarming is that more than half of all children in the city are in poverty. Though the poverty rates have improved minimally over the last ten years, the aggravated assault levels reported by the FBI for 2019 are wildly disproportionate to every other city in the country.
2. Anchorage, Alaska
- Population: 293,531 (lowest)
- Rape: 132.01 per 100,000
- Aggravated assault: 799.49 per 100,000
- Property crimes: 5,415.82 per 100,000
Anchorage is the largest city in the state of Alaska, with a population of 291,247. This accounts for 40% of the total population of the state. Though the poverty rate sits below the national average at 9.03%, the biggest demographics living in poverty are females aged 18-24, followed by females ages 25-34.
3. Cleveland, Ohio
- Population: 385,282
- Rape: 128.97 per 100,000
- Aggravated assault: 700.14 per 100,000
- Property crimes: 4916.04 per 100,000
By some estimates, Cleveland currently has the highest poverty rate among large cities in the US, though there is, in reality, very little between Cleveland and Detroit, and like Detroit, about half of all children there live in poverty.
The rape rate is significantly higher than in Detroit, and property crimes were also somewhat higher. Cleveland was recently ranked the worst city for black women in America by City Lab, which is particularly troubling given that almost half the city’s population identifies as African-American (47.6%).
4. Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Population: 402,324
- Rape: 104.48 per 100,000
- Aggravated assault: 680.96 per 100,000
- Property crimes: 5,455.61 per 100,000 (highest)
Tulsa is known as a city with a long and turbulent history of systemic racial oppression that continues to create great rifts in rates of poverty, employment, and incarceration. The black poverty rate is 34% while the white poverty rate is 13%.
Equality issues also extend to gender-based concerns, with the rate of female incarceration in Tulsa being about twice that of the national average. This significantly contributes to the state’s extremely high rate of female incarceration. Unsurprisingly, women of color are disproportionately represented. The rate of property crimes in the city was particularly high.
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
- Population: 390,845
- Rape: 144.67 per 100,000 (highest)
- Aggravated assault: 608.13 per 100,000
- Property crimes: 4,243.84 per 100,000
The confluence of Hurricane Katrina and a unique culture contribute to various issues women face in New Orleans. New Orleans had the highest rate of reported rapes in the country. In 2010, over 800 untested sexual assault kits were found to be in possession of the New Orleans Police Department. As a result of the scandal, there is likely more onus on the city to accurately report rapes, hence it topping the list.
Despite Louisiana ranking as the worst state in Bloomberg’s annual gender-equality ranking in 2017, the city managed to obtain a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index as a result of its efforts to improve the social standing of black trans women, the most marginalized community in the city.
Using the most recent FBI statistics on crime rates, our list emphasizes the crimes that disproportionately affect women—rape and aggravated assault.
For the list ranking the most dangerous cities for women, the crime rates are given as a rate out of 100,000 people (i.e. there were 144.67 rapes per 100,000 people in New Orleans, Louisiana).
We have also included property crime rates among our considerations. This is a much more common type of crime to occur, and it makes a strong impression on how ‘safe’ a person feels in their home, neighborhood, and city at large.
This is, however, not considered in the ranking of the cities because there is no data to suggest any correlation between gender and victims of property crimes.
For the sake of relevance, communities considered are only those with populations above 100,000. Naturally, communities with just a few hundred or a few thousand members have much lower crime rates.
Though the FBI’s statistics are the only crime rate statistics available in the US provided by the government, the only crime that cities are required by law to report is murder. This means the list should not be considered a completely exhaustive report on crime, because cities have great sway in what actually gets reported.
- Violent crime – includes murder, homicide, assault, battery, etc., in addition to all types of sex crimes.
- Property crime – includes burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft, etc. Arson is not considered exclusively a property crime.
- Sex crime – includes statutory rape, sexual assault, prostitution, human trafficking, as well as all relevant offenses against children.
U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2019 1-Year Estimates, Compiled by The Center for Community Solutions, Large U.S. cities with total population above 300,000.