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The FBI's Uniform Crime Report (UCR) counts American crimes and allocates resources to police departments, so it matters what they define as a misdemeanor and what they don't. The definition of rape in this report is over eight decades old, and thousands of women across America are calling for an amendment.
A petition, currently boasting 75,000 signatures, has been made available by Change.org (opens in new tab) in an effort to update the definition, which currently characterizes forcible rape as "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will." The petition is part of a Ms. magazine campaign called, "Rape is Rape" (opens in new tab) which seeks to deliver justice to rape victims that go unacknowledged under current laws.
There are three main issues with the current definition, according to the Change.org petition. One is the room for interpretation in the phrase "carnal knowledge." Currently, this only includes traditional intercourse, and excludes cases of penetration with an object, and non-consensual anal and oral penetration from being termed rape.
Also at issue is the use of the term "forcibly," since many victims of rape are in no position to put up a fight. Victims ignored under this term include the physically or mentally disabled, unconscious victims, and those under the influence of alcohol or date-rape drugs.
Lastly, the designation of rape as "female" has become limiting as crimes of a sexual nature increasingly affect more than just women. Men, boys, and transgender people are currently ineligible rape victims under FBI statutes.
According to experts, rape in the United States may be reported as few as 1 in 24 times due to the confines of the FBI's operating definition. At stake in this battle for reform is the justice brought against the other 23 rape perpetrators. Should we be letting them get away?
To add your voice to the chorus calling for change, click here (opens in new tab) and sign the petition.
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