Bil Browning

Justice Dept Updates Rape Definition

Filed By Bil Browning | January 06, 2012 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: DOJ, Eric Holder, male rape, rape definition, sexual assault

Good news from the Justice Department this afternoon. The federal government is expanding its definition of "rape" to include more than just "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." ladyjustice.jpegThe new definition is much more inclusive than the narrow one implemented in 1927.

The new definition is the same one recently enacted by the FBI and better reflects the definition used by state law enforcement officers. The new definition of rape according to the Justice Department is: "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."

According to Vice President Biden, "Rape is a devastating crime and we can't solve it unless we know the full extent of it. 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.""

The old standard excluded oral and anal penetration, the rape of males, penetration of the vagina and anus with an object or body part other than the penis, rape of females by females, and non-forcible rape.

I've written before about being raped when I was younger and how the local police refused to file a report because "men can't be raped." Back in 2007, contributor Sean Kosofsky wrote a piece analyzing why authorities used the term "sodomize" instead of "rape" when men are the victim of sexual assault.

"These long overdue updates to the definition of rape will help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence and reflect the Department of Justice's commitment to standing with rape victims," Attorney General Holder said. "This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes."

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