Success! FBI Changes Its Definition of Rape

Thanks to the efforts of the community and years of efforts by the women’s rights community, thousands of sexual assault victims may finally see justice.  For the first time in almost a century, the Department of Justice revised the way the FBI defines rape, expanding the definition to include non-forcible assault and attacks on men.

“Rape is a devastating crime and we can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it,” said Vice President Joe Biden, the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. “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 FBI’s Uniform Crime Report had defined rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” The new definition takes out the requirement that an assault be “forcible” and the restriction that the attack must be toward a woman. It also now includes non-vaginal/penile rape and rape by a blood relative.

In announcing the change, Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement. “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,” Holder said. “This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes.”

The change is more than just cosmetic. Police departments all across the country submit data on reported crimes and arrests to the FBI’s UCR. That data is used to measure and analyze crime trends. The old definition caused problems for law enforcement agencies because many states have a broader definition of rape. That means they couldn’t report all of the rapes they prosecuted for inclusion in federal statistics.

This is yet another example of Care2 readers coming together and making a difference.  Thank you for your time and commitment to social justice. Congratulations and great work!

Related Stories:

Success! Frat That Joked About Raping Women Closed

Men Of Strength: Young Men Learn They Can Help Stop Rape

Photo from


Sabine I.
Past Member 6 years ago

Great (;

Julie H.
Julie Hoffman6 years ago

Good new. Lets keep going!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson7 years ago

Great, wonderful news. Better late than never!

Nicole P.
Nicole Sedkowski7 years ago

This is great news! I hope many can now find happier endings.

Stephen M.
Sheldon MacLeod7 years ago

Funny most everyone here is only commenting on how this is a success for women's rights when it for the first time included males in the definition.

A new definition was probably needed; however, this does create problematic vague areas. For example, in situations where both parties are intoxicated and the situation kind of just leads to sex with no one really speaking of it or explicitly stating "yes, let's have sex"-- though both parties may have enjoyed it -- this could in retrospect be misinterpreted as "rape" simply because there was no clear mentioning of consent because it just "kind of happened with two intoxicated parties". This could potentially create problems, whether people here like to hear that or not. Too bad, the world's a sophisticated place and we must take into a account ALL peoples, men and women's, concerns.

However, it is good that the law finally recognizes male rape victims, who before were simply, shamefully invisible. To me, that's the most groundbreaking aspect to this.

Sarah M.
Sarah M7 years ago

Finally! Yes!

Lika S.
Lika P7 years ago

I've always stood by the stance that anytime you force sex, it's rape. Please sign Sean's Voice Petition, to help ensure that abused men get the help they need to persevere. In this bad economy, it's as important as ever.

Aimee Polekoff
Aimee Polekoff7 years ago

I can't believe that the previous definition was specific to women only! As far as I'm concerned, rape is when someone has nonconsensual sex, no matter if it's a man or a woman. I'm just glad that it's fixed now.

Donna H.
Donna Hopkin7 years ago

Good news.... and long over due.

Dawn F.
Dawn F7 years ago

... Long past due. Rape is rape. It doesn't have to be brutal or bloody. If the victim says "No"& is forced or coerced- That's rape. If clothing is torn, or any physical violence- it's rape. The woman doesn't have to beaten to a pulp. If there is a weapon involved-sometimes it is smarter to cooperate & save your life.
... With DNA these days- there isn't much of a doubt who is the attacker. Need stiffer penalties-no pleas-no"good behavior". That makes no sense. They are housed with only men. As soon as they get released into society, they are going to live next door to someones daughter, sister, mother. Mandatory sentences-hard time. The End.