FBI Changes Rape Definition

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Oct. 21 2011 12:37 PM

FBI Changes Rape Definition 

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Crest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this week, I wrote about the “Rape is Rape: No More Excuses” project’s campaign for the FBI to change the definition of rape in its Uniform Crime Report. The agency uses this document to determine what counts as rape when recording instances of assault across the country, meaning that the definition influences everything from basic statistics to funding for local police departments for sexual violence prevention. Currently, the definition only includes forcible vaginal penetration, which obviously excludes all manner of other rape assaults.

An advisory group called the Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee voted unanimously on Tuesday to expand the definition to the much more inclusive “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.”  The recommendation will now move on to a higher advisory body and then finally to FBI Director Robert Mueller for final approval.

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Congratulations to the activists of “Rape is Rape” and all others who have been pushing for this important change!

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.

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