The FBI's Union Crime Report (UCR) definition of rape is "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly against her will." This description, which hasn't been updated since 1929, excludes oral or anal rape, partner rape, rape with an object, statutory rape, rape while the victim is unconscious and rape against men.
Because of this narrow definition, there's a false sense of progress in reducing rape cases and people can tend to think of rape only as vaginal penetration, which is inaccurate. In 2008, the UCR counted 89,000 rapes but the National Center for Victims of Crime, which includes rape cases that aren't officially reported or deemed "forcible enough" counted 203,830.
Tell the FBI and the Attorney General that rape is rape: Their outdated UCR definition of must be updated to include all victims and count every kind of rape.
Dear Director Mueller and Attorney General Holder,
The FBI's archaic definition of rape -- "The carnal knowledge of a female forcible against her will" -- was drafted more than 80 years ago, and is problematic, largely because it excludes victims of forced anal or oral sex, rape with an object, statutory rape, and male rape. This definition is often used by law enforcement to exclude rapes of women who ability to give consent has been diminished by drugs or alcohol.
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This limited definition of rape is also problematic because:
- The definition of of what constitutes "real rape" affects perception of the crime by law enforcement and likely impacts the treatment of rape victims;
- This incomplete definition causes the FBI to undercount rapes by hundreds of thousands of cases, resulting in an inaccurate understanding of the scope of the problem;
- Without accurate rape statistics, allocation of funding to (and within) local law enforcement to combat and investigate crime will be misdirected away from this crime.
For all of these reasons, the FBI must update the definition of rape to reflect the reality of rape in the United States so that it includes all victims.
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