The following post appears courtesy of Susan B. Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women.
In a victory for survivors of rape and their advocates, the Attorney General announced a newly revised definition of rape for nationwide data collection, ensuring that rape will be more accurately reported nationwide.
The change sends an important message to all victims that what happens to them matters, and to perpetrators that they will be held accountable. It was because of the voices of survivors, advocates, law enforcement personnel and many others that FBI Director Robert Mueller was able to make this important change within the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) Summary Reporting System (SRS).
“Forcible rape” had been defined by the UCR SRS as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” That definition, unchanged since 1927, was outdated and narrow. It only included forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina.
The new definition 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.”
For the first time ever, the new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men. It also recognizes that rape with an object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape. This definition also includes instances in which the victim is unable to give consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
Furthermore, because many rapes are facilitated by drugs or alcohol, the new definition recognizes that a victim can be incapacitated and thus unable to consent because of ingestion of drugs or alcohol. Similarly, a victim may be legally incapable of consent because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with individual state statutes. Physical resistance is not required on the part of the victim to demonstrate lack of consent.
Better, but still a quagmire.
Anyone who has ever had any kind of sex is now a rape victim unless he or she gave explicit consent every time? What kind of proof is needed? Signed statement? Approval of the DOJ? An impartial witness? What if you both wanted to at the time but 9 months later someone changes their mind?