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Category: Feminism, Politics, Girls, Health, Violence against Women

Finally! FBI’s “Forcible Rape” Definition Is Officially History

| January 9, 2012

Annie Shields at Ms. Magazine has written a piece celebrating the official redefinition of rape by the FBI. This is the first time that the FBI has changed its definition of what constitutes rape since 1927.

In part thanks to the numerous advocacy campaigns like Ms. Magazine's "Rape is Rape," FBI Director Roberto Meuller and the Obama administration have made a historic step toward holding perpetrators accountable. The United States Department of Justice states, "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)."

The old definition: "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will."

The new definition: “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.”

The new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator and recognizes that rape with an object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape. This definition also rejects the archaic use of "forcibly" in favor of language that takes into account instances in which the victim is unable to give consent due to temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity. The Women's Media Center joins Ms. Magazine and many other women's organizations and advocates in celebrating this historic achievement of the Obama administration.