Success: FBI Updates Narrow Definition of Rape

The FBI advisory board has finally made the decision to update the extremely outdated definition of rape, which hasn’t been changed since 1929. Care2 sends a huge thanks to the more than 6,000 members that signed this petition and helped make this happen!

Rape was previously defined as ”carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” This narrow definition posed a frequent problem when attempting to prosecute cases of rape and abuse that involved family members as well as oral and anal assault, as well as male rape. The new definition provides a more encompassing description of what rape is and all that it may entail. Countless numbers of sexual assault cases could not be properly prosecuted because of the inadequate definition.

Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, was more than excited to hear the news. “It’s a great victory. This new definition will mean that, at long last, we will begin to see the full scope of this horrific violence, and that understanding will carry through to increased attention and resources for prevention and action, ” she said.

The new definition states that rape is “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.”  Rape is frequently treated as a problem for the victims, often urging women to do things to protect themselves from the possibility of rape. Seldom do people peer into the issue of rape and violence and how to stop the perpetrators.

Many have high hopes that this new definition will bring justice for those who have been affected by rape and abuse, as well as helping provide a more accurate idea of the prevalence of rape today.

This new revolutionary definition will be presented to FBI Director Robert Mueller for final approval.


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Afghan Woman First Raped, Then Charged With Adultery


Photo credit: iStockphoto


Ruth R.
Ruth R6 years ago

Rape could have the penalty of life in prison with the attempt to retrain the thinking of the person -- if the person will not or cannot change.

Ruth R.
Ruth R6 years ago

How about educating the perpetrators about how not to hurt -- rape other people, and how to get real help -- so that these perpetrators learn to become contributing good deeds to communities, and society -- without hurting and raping people.

Michaela Peters
Michaela Peters6 years ago

WOW even after 82 years, it has changed, finally! So will the others, children & animal abuse, might take a while. Yet every little step helps. Thanks to all who made that happen!

Mandi A.
Amanda A6 years ago


Shalvah Landy
Past Member 6 years ago

How long till the director signs?

Lara Kinast
Lara Kinast6 years ago

Finally! This is great news! Now we just need to have child abuse laws updated so that parents that abuse their children are charged and treated like the criminals they are. (Children are still typically seen as property- beat your child and it's a slap on the wrist but beat up somebody else's child or an adult stranger and you'll do time!) Also, same thing for animal rights. But I am glad we are making progress, and yes, boys and men can be raped. It's great that this has finally been updated. 82 years is a long time to wait for legal justice, but better late than never!

peggy p.
peggy p6 years ago

like so many other things, it is not that it was not believed perhaps, but to speak of it brought the brunt of the rape upon the victim to the point it was not spoken out loud.

Elvina Andersson
Elvina A6 years ago

I'm quite surprised people in 1929 believed men could not get raped?!

Kat E.
Kat E6 years ago

"without the consent of the victim"

anything that isnt a yes is a no
this increases my hope for a civil society

Jutta N.
Past Member 6 years ago

The long-awaited change. Hope it helps many of victims