Friday, January 06, 2012

Obama administration improves definition of rape

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“NO means NO!”
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A seemingly small but nonetheless important step for criminal justice today: The Obama administration is expanding its definition of rape to include male victims and to account for non-violent rapes, such as when a victim is incapable of giving valid consent due to drugs or age. CBS News reports:

The government is expanding its definition of rape, including men for the first time when counting the number of victims, the Obama administration announced Friday.


Since 1929, the FBI has defined rape as the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will. The revised definition covers any gender of victim or attacker and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age. Physical resistance is not required.

The new definition will not change federal or state laws and will not alter charges or prosecutions.

Not only will this help ensure that more rape victims are correctly identified as such (rather than having their complaints dismissed due to lack of physical force in their ordeal, as happens too often to count), but it will also correct rape statistics that only account for violent assaults, this giving the populace a false idea of the infrequency of these acts. Knowledge is always power. This is one of those policy updates that make such obvious sense as to make one wonder how the hell it took so long to be implemented in the first place.