More women are getting shot in Philly; most victims are Black and Latino women of childbearing age, data shows

·3 min read

While the exact number of pregnant women who have been shot or died by gunfire is unknown, an investigation of hospital data identified at least 12 incidents since 2020.

When it comes to crime, women and children used to be off limits, but that is no longer the case — especially in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that there has been a whopping 62% increase in the likelihood that shooting victims will be women from 8% of shootings in 2015 to 13% thus far in 2022.

Since 2020 — when the pandemic and societal upheaval upended historical patterns of violent crime — 659 women have been shot, resulting in the death of more than 100.

Records indicate that the victims in nine out of 10 of these shootings were Black or Latino women between the 12 and 55 and considered childbearing age.

Gun violence x Philadelphia
The city of Philadelphia has seen an increase in gun violence in recent years, especially against Black and Latino women. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Shaliyah Davis was four months pregnant on July 16, 2020 when she was shot in the head, a tragedy that claimed both the life of the 25-year-old and that of her unborn child. It is also a day that still haunts her mother, Habiba “Debbie” Hayes, who had received a text from her daughter 15 minutes earlier.

“They snatched everything from me,” Hayes told The Inquirer.

City officials are calling for accountability. “We need to do everything that’s possible to bring these people to justice who have pulled the trigger, and most importantly, make sure that the family members who have lost someone know justice is being served,” City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said, according to CBS3 News.

Anthony R. Williams, 31, is accused of murdering Davis and her unborn child, as well as numerous other gun-related felonies and is awaiting trial, The Inquirer reports.

While the exact number of pregnant women who have been shot or killed by gunfire is unknown, an investigation by The Inquirer of hospital data and news reports revealed at least 12 incidents since 2020.

As if the odds aren’t already stacked against pregnant Black women, living in fear for your safety in daily life adds an extra layer of stress for many women of childbearing age, Penn Presbyterian Hospital emergency medicine doctor Chidinma Nwakanma observed to The Inquirer.

It’s no secret that Black women have a three times higher risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications than white women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites a number of reasons, including variations in healthcare quality, underlying chronic diseases, institutional racism and implicit bias, are responsible for these disparities.

“Seeing the traditionally vulnerable population of children and women becoming victims tells you the sense of security is just totally lost,” Nwakanma. “That loss of safety and security is debilitating in a community — even the ones among us who are supposed to be protected are not.

According to Scott Charles, the trauma outreach manager at Temple University Hospital, there used to be a “social code” that “women and children are off limits.”

“We removed the people who used to hold that line,” he told the outlet.

Charles said the rise in gun violence is partly attributable to the younger generation’s lack of role models and mentors as a result of the incarceration of the older generation, particularly older Black men.

“What was left behind is the generation of young men who hadn’t any kind of sense of what’s normal … so what you ended up with were young men in particular who were essentially writing their own social codes, their own norms. Guns became a critical feature of that.”

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