Barack Obama, President Obama — January 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

Major win for rape victims – Obama admin updates definition of rape


Today the Obama administration announced that it is updating the formal definition of rape. This move will help many rape victims who were previously unaccounted for achieve justice against their perpetrators and will more accurately reflect the extent of the problem of sexual crimes in our country.

Attorney General Eric Holder today announced revisions to the Uniform Crime Report’s (UCR) definition of rape, which will lead to a more comprehensive statistical reporting of rape nationwide. The new definition is more inclusive, better reflects state criminal codes and focuses on the various forms of sexual penetration understood to be rape. The new definition of rape 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.” The definition is used by the FBI to collect information from local law enforcement agencies about reported rapes.

“Rape is a devastating crime and we can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it,” said Vice President Biden, a leader in the effort to end violence against women for over 20 years and author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. “This long-awaited change to the definition of rape is a victory for women and men across the country whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years.”

“These long overdue updates to the definition of rape will help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence and reflect the Department of Justice’s commitment to standing with rape victims,” Attorney General Holder said. “This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes.” […]

“The revised definition of rape sends an important message to the broad range of rape victims that they are supported and to perpetrators that they will be held accountable,” said Justice Department Director of the Office on Violence Against Women Susan B. Carbon. “We are grateful for the dedicated work of all those involved in making and implementing the changes that reflect more accurately the devastating crime of rape.”

A big component of this change is to expand the definition of rape to include any gender, not just women, for both the victim and the perpetrator. The original definition was “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” The new definition includes men and transgendered individuals.

More from Susan B. Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women HERE.

Another step forward by the Obama administration.

UPDATE: For those who are interested in a bit more about my mother, I commend your attention to the piece “Two North” that I wrote about her. It is one of the first chapters of an eventual book I’m writing about her life.