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.
With prior reporting by David Edwards.