FBI Changes Definition of Rape

A rule change by the FBI will soon extend the definition of rape to include male victims. The change comes after calls from victims’ advocates who have long protested the narrow definition of rape that only includes female victims.

Currently, rape as defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and employed by California criminal defense lawyers, refers to the ‘carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.’ The change will modify that definition to define rape as the ‘penetration of another person regardless of the gender of the person, without the person’s consent.’ The new definition of rape will also include penetration of other persons, both males and females, using a variety of objects.

The need for a new definition of rape that takes into consideration crimes against male victims too, has been felt for several years now. In September, a survey that included police chiefs of major cities found that 80% of them believed that the old definition of rape was not adequate in modern times. The FBI director has already approved the new rule change, which is expected to be phased in over the next 3 years.

Victims’ groups have strongly supported the new definition of rape, saying that this will allow for more accurate tracking of sexual assault crimes across the country. Because the current definition of rape does not include male victims and certain types of assault, there has been a discrepancy in the number of sexual assault crimes that are actually committed across the country, and the numbers that are reported to the federal agency.

This difference in the definition of rape has led to discrepancies in federal data. For instance, while the FBI recorded 84,757 rapes in 2010, the National Crime Victimization Survey by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics recorded a total of 188,380 sexual assaults that year. A more inclusive definition will help bring more victims into the fold, delivering more accurate tracking results, and helping prevent such crimes.

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