FBI Urged to Broaden Definition of Rape

Crime stats don't reflect reality, top cops say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2011 2:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – Many more rapes take place in the US than the FBI's figures suggest, say campaigners urging the federal government to broaden its definition of rape. The FBI's definition, written more than 80 years ago, defines rape as "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." Critics—including many police chiefs—say this definition ignores male victims, and means cases in which the victim was drunk or drugged, as well as ones where anal or oral penetration or penetration with an object has taken place, are not classed as rape in federal crime reports.

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Law enforcement officials say the under-reporting of rape not only misleads the public, it results in fewer resources being allocated to catch rapists and help victims. The FBI plans to discuss broadening its definition. A change would cause a sudden increase in reported cases. "You can’t ignore the politics of crime,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey tells the New York Times. “With a new definition, it’s going to dramatically change the numbers." Ramsey is the president of the Police Executive Research Forum, which found that 80% of police departments want the federal definition of rape to be changed. (Read more rape stories.)

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