FBI policy group votes to expand definition of ‘rape’

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 10:55 EDT
google plus icon
Female protesters demonstrate against a lenient sex crime verdict on Nov. 11, 2010. Photo: Flickr user WeNews.
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Criminal Justice Advisory Policy Board voted on Tuesday to expand the definition of “rape,” after activists bombarded them with thousands of emails insisting that the original, 1929 definition is too narrow.

The change is not official, however: agency director Robert Mueller still has to approve the new definition, which likely won’t happen until next year.

The agency’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program currently defines rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Rape without force is not included.

An October vote by the Advisory Policy Board’s UCR subcommittee recommended the board at-large change the definition of “rape” to “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.”

Activists said the new definition was needed because the current one does not recognize that men can be raped, women can rape women, inanimate objects can be used to commit rape or that rapes can occur while the victim is unconscious.

Many local law enforcement agencies use a much broader definition of “rape” than the FBI, causing thousands of sex crimes to go unreported in federal statistics.

The FBI had been under pressure by the Feminist Majority Foundation, which launched an email drive urging the agency to update the definition.

Photo: Flickr user WeNews. (H/T: Huffington Post)

With prior reporting by David Edwards.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.