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Washington broadens definition of rape to include men

January 6, 2012 | 12:27 pm


The government is broadening how it counts rape victims to include men and has adopted a wider definition of the crime, according to an announcement Friday.

The new definition doesn’t change federal or state law, so it will not have an impact in the courtroom. The changes to the Uniform Crime Report’s definition of rape affect only how the federal government keeps statistics on the crime, but officials said it was a needed improvement.

“Rape is a devastating crime and we can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement. “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.”

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder announced the revision, saying: “This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes.”

According to the Justice Department, the long-standing definition of rape was set out in 1927, and is “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.”

The new definition includes the rape of males, the rape of females by females, non-forcible rape and adds oral and anal penetration, according to the DOJ. A more detailed discussion can be found on the department’s news blog.

The Uniform Crime report is based on statistics supplied by local police departments. The federal government collects the data to study crime trends.


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Photo: Atty. Gen. Eric Holder. Credit: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press