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FBI Working Toward Updating the Definition of Rape
By Samuel Knight | October 20, 2021 8:57 am

FBI officials are working toward changing the federal government’s definition of rape..

A subcommittee of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division’s Advisory Policy Board has proposed to define rape in the Uniform Crime Reporting Summary Reporting Program  has agreed to update the 1927 definition, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The old definition, “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will  failed to account for forced anal or oral sex, or sexual violence with a foreign object or another body part. It also failed to account for male rape, date rapes and non-consensual sexual acts with those under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If approved by a full Policy Board committee meeting in early December in Albuquerque, the  definition is expected to increase the number of rapes that local law enforcement officials report to the FBI.

While local and state rape laws already do consider most nonconsensual sexual acts to be rape, critics say that the 1927 definition caused the federal government undercount rapes when gathering statistics, which has led to an insufficient allocation of resources to programs designed to prevent rape and help victims.

“In today’s society, data drives policy. Data drives practice. Data drives how much funding programs get. And so if we have a definition that fails to capture most sex crimes, we’re really not going to address the problem the way we should,” Lisae Jordan, General Council for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, told National Public Radio .

The proposed change has come in the wake of a lobbying campaign by feminist groups and sex crime victims advocacy groups called the “Rape is Rape.” Started by the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine in partnership with, the campaign convinced people to send 140,000 emails to the FBI and the Department of Justice, urging them to change the definition, according to Ms. Magazine.

Last Thursday, the campaign received a boost from Congress when Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) led 41 other members of Congress in urging FBI Director Robert Mueller to lobby the Advisory Policy Board subcommittee to update its rape definition.


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