As part of our efforts to shed light on the unique security concerns women face, we’ve analyzed and identified the most dangerous cities for women in the US using FBI/National Census statistics.
Find out which US-based cities are among the 5 most dangerous places for women to live. Learn more about our methodology below.
There’s a few traits shared by all of the most dangerous cities for women.
This suggests there is some correlation between population density and crime rate—but only to an extent.
New York City, for example, has a much 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 are not, therefore, the deciding factor when it comes to crime rate.
The types of crimes committed the most in each city reflect certain aspects of their history.
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 than $15,000 a year, putting 30.6% of its population well below the federal poverty line (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 Detroit are in poverty. Though the poverty rates have improved marginally over the last ten years, aggravated assaults 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 aged 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. Like Detroit, about half of all children in Cleveland 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 poverty, employment, and incarceration rates. Tulsa’s black poverty rate is 34%, while the white poverty rate is 13%.
Equality issues extend to gender-based concerns. The rate of female incarceration in Tulsa is about twice that of the national average, which is a major contribution to Oklahoma’s disproportionately 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
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.
At a glance
Using the most recent FBI statistics on crime rates, our list emphasizes the crimes that disproportionately affect women—rape and aggravated assault.
Crime rates are given per 100,000 people (i.e. there were 144.67 rapes per 100,000 people in New Orleans, Louisiana).
We have included property crime rates among our considerations because it has a strong impact on how ‘safe’ a person feels in their home, neighborhood, and city..
However, this is 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. Population sizes will have changed since the last census (conducted in 2019). 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, but a guideline.
In addition, given the persistence of a rape culture that discourages reporting rape and other sex crimes, the actual number of rapes to occur in any given city is likely significantly higher than what appears on the list.
- Violent crime – includes murder, homicide, assault, battery, in addition to all types of sex crimes.
- Property crime – includes burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft, etc. Arson is not considered 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.