Raquel Benson is a Senior Contributor to TDA, a journalism student, humanist, and artist with issues of chronic imagination. She may be brash, but it stems from a deeper concern for the world around her.
Human Rights – After increasing pressure from women’s rights and gay advocacy groups, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has made the first major change to the definition of rape in more than eighty years. U.S. Officials have said the term will now not only acknowledge women, but men, victims who are unable to give consent, and victims who are violated with objects. It’s a small step that will hopefully have a big impact, on the way rape is viewed and reported.
The previous definition, “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will,” did little to protect men who found themselves victims of rape, or other victims who were unable to give consent due to a mental illness or medical condition.
The new wording now says: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or the anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
The FBI is hoping that the new definition, which removes reference to females, “will allow them to give “more accurate information to policymakers, Congress, and researchers about the crime in order to help prevent and prosecute it.”
Vice President Joe Biden, called the change “a victory for those ‘whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years.”
“We can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it,” he added.
Unfortunately, since each state has its own definition of rape, the new expansion on the federal standard won’t have an impact on prosecutions, but advocates are hoping that the new federal standard will sway the states to follow suit.
“This major policy change will lead to more accurate reporting and far more comprehensive understanding of this devastating crime [...] Without an accurate understanding of the magnitude of the problem, how can we effectively solve it? Definitions matter because people matter,” said President Barrack Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.