With spike in rape, Reed announces campaign to end sexual violence

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced a campaign to reduce sexual violence on Thursday, an effort he says was spurred by a spike in rapes across the city.

“I want our message to be clear and unmistakable that sexual assault is an affront to human and personal dignity and it’s a crime no matter where it occurs,” Reed said.

According to the Atlanta Police Department’s most recent crime report, the number of reported rapes has increased 44 percent from this time last year, with 127 rapes reported in 2014.

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said more than 80 percent of those attacks occurred between acquaintances: “People who know each other, or at least they think they know each other.”

He attributes part of that to the rise of social media apps as a way to meet romantic interests.

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Most read

  1. 1 Georgia Election 2018: Outstanding ballots sought before deadline
  2. 2 The Jolt: Behind Brian Kemp’s push for Stacey Abrams to concede
  3. 3 Bobby Petrino, bad guy, is fired for being a bad coach

“From the data that we’ve received, it’s clear to us you have a wide variety of things taking place. People literally order up an individual to participate with sexually or (place) an advertisement on social media that they are available. And then things don’t work out,” he said.

Turner said the campaign is geared toward educating Atlantans on these modern risks and providing them resources to exit precarious situations quickly. “Take a Stand,” for which the mayor’s office commissioned a short film featuring celebrity advocates Gabrielle Union and Tika Sumpter, is especially targeted toward Atlanta’s colleges and universities. Many of those academic institutions are participating in the effort.

Reed’s administration partnered with smartphone app-based companies Uber, a ride-sharing service, and Circle of 6, an app aimed at preventing sexual violence, for the campaign. Circle of 6 allows users to quickly reach select friends with an alert message for help. Smartphone users can order a ride from Uber through an app.

“We thought, because of the extraordinary platform that Uber has, we really could help the women in Atlanta always have the ability to let somebody know that they are in danger and transportation to get out of there,” Reed said.

City Attorney Cathy Hampton’s office, which has lead the efforts, said the city partnered with Uber — and not other transportation companies — because it was among the first to respond to a call for help.

Reed said the campaign is the first in the city government’s history. District 11 Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms said it is an effort that hits close to home.

“Having faced very uncomfortable situations in college, I am very much aware of how devastating (sexual assault) can be,” Bottoms said. For her, the campaign highlights the “need for us all to have a voice and feel empowered and have a friend to reach out to.”

More from AJC