An update on FBI’s definition of rape

A while back I wrote about a spokesperson clarifying that FBI’s new definition of rape would include male victims being made to penetrate the perpetrator. /u/Femmecheng (a feminist and at that time a regular at /r/Femradebates) and I have tried to see if FBI at some point did carry out the suggested changes to the guidelines for the reporting agencies. We didn’t have much luck.

Yesterday someone linked to my blogpost from a thread on Reddit and that thread also included a link to a Frequently Asked Questions document about the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) definition of rape. That FAQ is dated December 11 2014 and it does sort of state that the FBI’s new definition of rape for UCR indeed does include male victims made to penetrate. The relevant section is this:

Q: Has the definition of Rape changed for the NIBRS?
A: The definition of Rape for agencies reporting via the NIBRS has changed only slightly, since
the NIBRS already allows for all factors relevant to the collection of data under the new definition of Rape. Under the new rape definition, the FBI UCR Program will aggregate three sex offenses in the NIBRS into Rape in Summary for publication in Crime in the United States.
The definitions of the offenses are:
11A Rape (except Statutory Rape)
The carnal knowledge of a person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is  incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity
11B Sodomy
Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity
11C Sexual Assault With An Object
To use an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity
The 11A section is the one to look at. Note how it uses the term “carnal knowledge” and uses “his/her” about the victim. Carnal knowledge is a legal term and it means a penetration (however slight) of the vagina by a penis. If the victim of this can be a man then it follows that it is rape for a woman to make him penetrate her without his consent.
The handbook for the NIBR (page 29) goes a bit more into details.
This does look very promising. However, my original post unfortunately still stands. The definitions above are used by the NIBRS (National Incident-Based Reporting System) and indeed has been used by the NIBRS since well before the FBI changed their UCR definition of rape. Unfortunately all UCR data is not collected through the NIBRS: 15 states report via the NIBRS as well as individual Law Enforcing Agencies (LEAs) in another 18 states – in total 38.4% of LEAs reported via the NIBRS in 2013 (see footnote 1 in this document).The remaining states and LEAs report through so-called summary reports. And it was the guidelines for the summary reports which I suggested to the FBI that they changed to make the inclusion of male victims of being made to penetrate more clear and explicit.
Here is the latest revised edition of the guidelines for reporting rape through the summary report system that I could find. The change description summary only lists one change: Remove references to SRS Rape as oral penetration by a sex object
That change came as a direct result of the mail femmecheng and I sent the FBI although I didn’t suggest that change – I just noted that this wasn’t explicilty covered by the new definition. They made that change in a half-assed way, but they didn’t see a need to include an example of a male victim and female perpetrator where the male victim was made to penetrate. I say half-assed way because that particular example was mentioned twice in the original document and they have only removed one of them. The remaining one can be seen on page 10:
Two women had been dating for a few months. After an argument, one woman became violent, held the other woman down, grabbed her breasts, and forcibly penetrated her mouth with a sex object. Two of the victim’s teeth were knocked out. (1 female rape victim, 1 revised rape)
The FBI also have other means than the guidelines to get information on how and what to report to the reporting agencies. They also publish quarterly newsletters which they distributed to the LEAs. One example is the one for January 2015 where they field one specific question about whether this situation should be reported as rape:
A victim reported that she was sexually assaulted by her stepbrother who forced her to perform fellatio and engage in vaginal intercourse. She indicated that her stepbrother did not physically threaten her or use physical force to make her engage in these acts. However, the victim said that he threatened to tell their parents about highly personal secrets she previously shared with him. Does this type of incident meet the new SRS definition of rape?
After going through all the available newsletters I see no references to male victims of being made to penetrate.
The conclusion I am left with is that the situation was better than I thought – 38.4% of LEAs report UCR data through the NIBRS which explicitly allows for male victims of being made to penetrate. The situation doesn’t seem to be improving though as  the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services apparently see no need to explicitly inform the remaining 61.6% of LEAs that rape includes male victims made to penetrate their rapist.

6 thoughts on “An update on FBI’s definition of rape

  1. I too am very interested in the FBIs response to male victims being made to penetrate, or “envelopment” in general. (i.e. be vagina, oral, or with hands/objects)

    As it is, this definition seems to very pointedly exlude that part. So this means that a woman can force a man to penetrate her, but it won’t be counted as rape, only sexual assault. In the interest of equality, this needs to be changed.
    Hope we can hear something. I might have to send some emails myself.

  2. According to FBI rape by envelopment is included, but the wording of the definition is ambiguous on this point. Unfortunately rape by envelopment isn’t mentioned explicitly to be included in the guidelines for the reporting law enforcement agencies.

  3. So it would appear that although it is something they consider to be rape, they aren’t going to include it in the definition, nor include it for reporting guidlines.
    The question though, is “Why?”
    I’m not going to put on my tinfoil hat and speculate as to why that is the case. But as it is now, it almost dismisses male victims.

    I have sent an email as well, and have recieved a rather vague response, that does nothing to clarfiy this matter. I will post the results when I get more information.

  4. Jonas’ link is to a newspaper article detailing how the number of men seeking help from a DV shelter in a large Norwegian city has increased every year for the past few years. This increase isn’t just happening in this city, but also on a national level. All publicly funded shelters are required to provide statistics about their clients to the government which compiled yearly reports. These reports show an steady increase every year (with one exception) in the number of men staying at shelters since the shelters were obligated by law to also provide services to men and children as well.

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