It’s been difficult for advocates of human rights over the years trying to raise awareness and provide a voice for the women and children being abused, while all the time knowing that large segments of the U.S. population were going unrepresented – especially in the area of rape. But now, Attorney General Holder has announced a revised definition of rape within the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program that was recommended by the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division’s Advisory Policy Board. The new and broader definition will allow law enforcement agencies to report more complete rape offense data throughout the UCR program to ensure all victims of this crime can be accounted for.
CJIS Assistant Director David Cuthbertson said that the new definition “reflects the vast majority of state rape statutes,” and that the FBI “is confident that the number of victims of this heinous crime will be more accurately reflected in national crime statistics.”
Since 1927, “forcible rape” had been defined as:
“the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” That definition, which has remained unchanged since 1927, has been criticized for years as being outdated and narrow. It only included forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina.
The new definition is:
“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
According to the Department of Justice, the new definition for the first time ever, includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men.
It also recognizes that rape with an object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape. This definition also includes instances in which the victim is unable to give consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
And because many rapes are facilitated by drugs or alcohol, the new definition recognizes that a victim can be incapacitated and thus unable to consent because of ingestion of drugs or alcohol. Similarly, a victim may be legally incapable of consent because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with individual state statutes. Physical resistance is not required on the part of the victim to demonstrate lack of consent.
And some interesting notes from the Associated Press:
Congress approved $592 million this year to address violence against women, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, under the Violence Against Women Act and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. Of that amount, $23 million goes to a sexual assault services program and $39 million to a rape prevention and education program administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Obama administration had sought $777 million to combat violence against women.
The change likely will result in big increases in the number of reported rapes, but it was not immediately clear how big. To take just one example of how the FBI totals will change, Chicago didn’t report any rapes to the FBI for 2010 because its broad definition of the crime didn’t match the FBI’s narrow definition.
The change has been sought by victim’s advocacy organizations for years, and will make it much easier for the individual states to report the actual numbers associated with the actual victims – regardless of gender.
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(sources: AP,DOJ, FBI)