FBI Clarifies Definition Of Rape

This post was also blogged on Feminist Critics.

 

In 2011, the FBI approved a new definition of rape which was effective beginning in January 2013. Here it is:

Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

There was a bit of discussion when it was published as to whether it covered rape by envelopment. It’s written pretty ambiguously and the use of the word ‘penetration’ made many think that it didn’t include rape by envelopment. I have earlier argued for assuming in discussions that it includes rape by envelopment, but I quickly became disillusioned when it became clear that other governmental agencies like the CDC and the National Research Council excluded rape by envelopment from their definitions of rape.

I am happy to tell that Ms. Mary P. Reese, from the FBI’s CJIS Division’s Crime Statistics Management Unit confirms in an email that they consider rape by envelopment to be rape under the current FBI definition of rape, and that they’ll consider my suggestion in modifying documentation for the reporting agencies to reflect that more clearly.

Here’s the story on how this came about as well as screenshots of the email communication with Ms. Reese at the FBI.

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