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No More Excuses

We did it! FBI Director Robert Mueller approved the change recommended by several committees of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Service to update the FBI Uniform Crime Report definition of rape!

Rape IS Rape Campaign Outcome

On December 6, 2011, the Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee of the Criminal Justice Information Services and the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board voted unanimously recommending an update to the archaic definition of rape in the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

On January 6, 2012, the White House and the DOJ announced that FBI Director Robert Mueller had approved the change recommended by several committees of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service that the FBI would change the definition of rape in the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

We Did It!

The Rape IS Rape Campaign

Vice President Joe Biden recently addressed Sexual Violence in a speech at the University of New Hampshire. Biden shared the experiences of Jenny (not her real name), a college freshman who was raped last year, New Hampshire Public Radio reported:

[Biden] said she'd been drinking at a party. And when she sought justice through the school, she was asked what she was wearing, how she was dancing, and whether she was sober.

"The student judicial panel said they didn't find Jenny credible because she had been drinking. They decided her rapist was a nice kid and didn't deserve the punishment under the circumstances," Biden said....

But whether someone is drunk or sober doesn't matter. As Biden put it, "Look folks - rape is rape is rape."...

That's one message that Biden hit hard: "Look guys - no matter what a girl does, no matter how she's dressed, no matter how much she's had to drink, it's never, never, never, never OK to touch her without her consent. This doesn't make you a man. It makes you a coward."

CHANGE the definition of rape

  • The FBI’s definition of rape – "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will" -- was written more than 80 years ago and is the basis for their Uniform Crime Report statistics on rape.  That definition excludes victims of forced anal or oral sex, rape with an object, statutory rape and male rape.1

  • Many police departments interpret the definition to exclude victims like Jenny who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, because of the word “forcibly.”2 Having such a limited and archaic definition affects the law enforcement attitudes about what is “real rape”

  • With such an incomplete description, the FBI has undercounted rapes by hundreds of thousands of cases, resulting in an inaccurate understanding of the scope of the problem.3

  • Misclassifying sexual assaults creates “a perception that this is not a real problem and so resources would not be allocated to training and investigation”4

1 - Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, updated 1104, pp 19-20.

2 - Hallett, Stephanie. "Rape is Rape" Ms. Magazine, Spring 2011

3 - The 1107 Uniform Crime Report listed 91, 874 “forcible” rapes and some believe the actual numbers are 24 times higher. (Ms Magazine April 2011 issue)

4 - Aviva Kurash, International Association of Chiefs of Police, quoted in Ms. Magazine, April 2011

5 - David Lisak and Paul M Miller, Brown University School of Medicine, Violence and Victims, Vol 17., No. 1, Springer Publishing Company, Inc., 2010 p. 19

6 - For example, a 1109 investigation by CBS News of just 24 cities and states found that over 20,000 rape kits were never sent to the crime lab, and 6,000 kits from active investigations were waiting months or years for the labs to complete testing.

7 - Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)