A proposal to revise the definition of rape on the federal level was created last week in an FBI subcommittee meeting held in Baltimore, Maryland on Tuesday October 18, 2011. Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun wrote the story on the proposal which was published on October 20, 2011. The subcommittee assessed that the current definition of rape needs to be upgraded due to specific cases and situations that may happen to a rape victim in today’s society. The definition has not changed since 1927.
Here is the definition of forcible rape as outlined by the FBI –Forcible rape, as defined in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, is the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Attempts or assaults to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included; however, statutory rape (without force) and other sex offenses are excluded.
The new definition would expand to include drugs, alcohol, “penetration no matter how slight” by a body part or object without the victim’s consent, and contain males as victims of rape. The proposal was sent to Congress on Wednesday, October 19th; resulting in 41 Congressional members sending a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller to approve and sign off the changes. The changes then go to an advisory board for a vote in December. The revised definition would also cut down reporting irregularities, reduce misleading conclusions on incidences of rape, and improve more understanding of the complexities of sexual assault. For instance, Chicago does not report rape cases to the FBI at all, while New York City reported 1,036 of a total of 1,369 rape cases last year.
Here are totals of forcible rapes reported in Washington, DC from 2006 – 2010 (information from FBI’s UCR at www.disastercenter.com). The data was collected starting from 1960 – 2010.
Year Population Forcible Rape
2006 581,530 185
2007 588,292 192
2008 590,074 186
2009 599,657 150
2010 601,723 187
The highest number of rape cases occurred in the District was in 1969 –
1969 798, 000 776
The lowest number occurred in 1962 –
1962 784,000 82
The revised rape definition will be a positive change in setting specific rules from the federal level that will be a required guideline for state and local jurisdictions; and to assist prosecutors, women advocates, rape clinics and centers and law enforcement. Fenton’s article quoted Carol Tracy, director of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia, who was pleased with the proposal. “The new definition is what I wanted – for sure”, she said. Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said that 80% of police chiefs supported a revision and that changes were a “huge step forward in accurately reflecting the number of rapes that are occurring in our society”.
While the FBI‘s subcommittee was holding their meeting in Baltimore, Vice President Joe Biden was advocating the need for more police officers using Flint, Michigan as an example. Biden was criticized on his approach. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has the following quotes below of what Biden said in its article “Biden’s absurd claims about rising rape and murder rates”.
“Let’s look at the facts: in 2008, when Flint had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city. In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65 and rapes–just to pick two categories–climbed to 229. In 2011, you now only have 125 shields.”
–Vice President Biden, October 18, 2011 (see article)
“In Flint, Michigan, they cut their force in half; murder rates have doubled in the last year…Police departments, as I said, in some cases literally cut in half, like Camden, New Jersey, and Flint, Michigan. In many cities, the result has been — and it’s not unique — murder rates are up, robberies are up, rapes are up…I said rape was up, three times in Flint. There are the numbers. Go look at the numbers.”
–Biden, October 19, 2011, on Capitol Hill
No matter what one thinks of what the Vice President said, his main emphasis is supporting more funding for police officers that unfortunately did not pass in the first phase of President Obama’s Jobs Bill. Rapes, sexual assaults and murders must be controlled with help from law enforcement.
Recently in the Dallas, Texas area four women alumnae in their 50’s and 60’s of the black sorority Delta Sigma Theta were sexually assaulted. “We believe it’s more than just accidental,” said Coppell police Deputy Chief Matthew Kosec. Law enforcement officials say that during the assaults in the victims’ homes, the suspect indicated he knew information about them.
“Since receiving news of these incidents, our primary concern has been the safety of our members,” Cynthia M. A. Butler McIntyre, national president of the sorority, said in a statement. She also advised members to keep their doors locked and to remove all sorority paraphernalia from cars and other places that may draw the rapist’s attention.
The suspect is described as a black male in his late 30s to mid-40s, 5’7” to 6’ who weighs between 250 and 300 pounds.
NBC’s popular crime drama “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU), now in its 13th season, deals with sexual abuse cases. Movies on Lifetime and its movie network (LMN) present stories on date rape and sexual assaults.