Redefining Rape

By Miri Cypers, Senior Policy and Advocacy Specialist

This week, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) advisory board voted to update its definition of rape for the first time since 1929. The old, narrow definition only counted cases of forcible rape of a women or girl by a male and discounted many instances of sexual assault that fell outside this definition like same-sex sexual assault and the assault of male victims.

As CEO of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago Christine Bork notes in a piece in Huffington Post, as a result of this archaic definition “…countless cases of sexual assault are excluded from federal statistics each year. The FBI’s antiquated definition of rape underestimates the impact of sexual assault in our community and, in turn, reduces the amount of resources available for survivors.”

Before adopted, the new definition must be approved by FBI Director Robert Mueller. JWI urges the adoption of this new language and hopes you will join our colleagues at the Feminist Majority Foundation if you wish to do the same.

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