Turns out visibly, loudly calling out sexual predators—and seeing the accused be held accountable—is emboldening others to do the same. Rape reports in New York City have reportedly increased after the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations reached the public in October, causing a phenomenon now being dubbed the “Weinstein Effect.”
In New York City, the number of rape reports rose from 96 in November 2016 to 111 in November 2017. Police noticed that reports increased over the last two months, too, suggesting a wider cultural trend. NYPD Chief Demot Shea doesn’t believe that the city’s sexual assault risk is increasing, but rather he points to media attention on the Weinstein case and the many others that have followed. Thanks to the women who have come out and shared their stories, victims are also going to the police with older rape cases, reporting previous sexual assaults to the NYPD.
“We do see that [the reporting increase is] coinciding at the same time we have a lot of media coverage. We continue to see a lot of [older] rapes that are being reported,” Shea said, the New York Post reports. “It would be difficult to ignore what’s been going on in the media the past couple of months.”
Among those 111 sexual assaults reported for November, 21 cases involved rape from a boyfriend and another 21 involved sex with minors. Only nine incidents were reportedly stranger rape, and another nine were alleged sexual assault from family members. In other words, in the majority of the cases, the victim was raped by someone that they knew, pointing to a larger trend. Shea also thinks human trafficking plays a major role in the reported crimes.
“It is almost on as weekly basis, and it doesn’t always make the news, but on a weekly basis, it seems that we are rescuing a girl out of either a motel, out of an apartment somewhere in New York City,” Shea explained to the Post. “They think they’re going to go meet some friends and have a good time and next thing they know they’re trapped in an apartment.”
However, the “Weinstein Effect” may not be the best name for the phenomenon. George State University Professor Sarah L. Cook blasted the term in Business Insider, encouraging readers to reframe the ongoing sexual harassment and assault discussion in the U.S. through the victims’ lenses.
“Already, the act of making a report of harassment or assault has been termed ‘Weinsteining,’ and the collective action of women who have done the reporting has been termed the ‘Weinstein effect,'” she writes. “The use of these terms removes the women from the stories and maintains a narrow focus on a singular perpetrator. These cutesy terms also diminish the agony women face when deciding whether to make a formal complaint to an authority.”