FBI Expands its Definition of Rape—Will We Take It Seriously Now?

by Rachel Gertz

Good Magazine

It’s about time the FBI updated its definition of rape.

“The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”

The old one above has been floating around since 1929 and is so archaic, it completely discounts the rape of men, anyone under the influence of alcohol, assaults with inanimate objects, or even oral sexual assaults.

Changing this definition could have a serious impact on how many rapes are reported in the US, and consequently how resources are used to help these victims of rape. The only way to drop rape statistics is to address the behaviours and attitudes that perpetuate them.

In Canada, we don’t use the word ‘rape’ to define sexual violence. Penetration really has no bearing on the severity of the crime. Instead, we use the term sexual assault which basically covers any type of unwanted sexual behaviour, touching, or assault of any person.

No matter what you choose call it, however, updating the definition of rape that the FBI uses will finally give a voice to all of the victims living in the United States.

Small victories are still victories.

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