Friday, January 06, 2012

FBI's rape definition

USAToday this morning reports that “the FBI is changing its long-standing definition of rape for the first time in 85 years to include sexual assaults on males following persistent calls from victims advocates who claim that the offense, as currently defined in the agency's annual crime report, has been undercounted for decades.”

In actuality, FBI Director Robert Mueller formally approved the recommendation of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division’s Advisory Policy Board (APB) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Subcommittee to revise the definition of rape in the UCR Summary Reporting Program (SRP) last month.

N.Y. Times article last September described part of the observed problem in terms of the FBI’s 2010 Uniform Crime Report ‘s statistic that there were 84,767 sexual assaults in the United States that year, a 5 percent drop from 2009. “That definition,” the article said critics say, “does not take into account sexual-assault cases that involve anal or oral penetration or penetration with an object, cases where the victims were drugged or under the influence of alcohol or cases with male victims. As a result, many sexual assaults are not counted as rapes in the yearly federal accounting.”

Additional background & comment also appeared in The New Republic, which cited and linked to a
2007 study by the Nat’l. Crime Victims Research & Treatment Center (Med. Univ. S. Carolina) for the U.S. Justice Department, which suggested that the then-used definition yielded misleading results.

That definition of rape was the "carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,” according to the USAToday article. The FBI’s
press release lists the revised rape definition as “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.”

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