DOJ Redefines Rape To Include ‘Any Gender,’ Any Penetration

By Penny Starr | January 6, 2012 | 4:56 PM EST

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( – Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama administration officials released a revision of the Uniform Crime Report’s definition of rape on Friday to “better reflect” criminal codes and “victim experiences,” and to include male-on-male rape, female-on-female rape, as well as non-forcible rape.

The press release states the “longstanding, narrow definition of forcible rape, first established in 1927, is ‘the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.’”

“It thus included only forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina and excluded oral and anal penetration; rape of males; penetration of the vagina and anus with an object or body part other than the penis; rape of females by females; and, non-forcible rape,” the press release states.

“These long overdue updates to the definition of rape will help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence and reflect the Department of Justice’s commitment to standing with rape victims,” Holder said. “This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes.”

Vice President Joe Biden, who authored the Violence Against Women Act, weighed in too.

“Rape is a devastating crime and we can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it,” Biden said. “This long-awaited change to the definition of rape is a victory for women and men across the country whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years.”

Vice President Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

In a blog on the DOJ Web site, Susan B. Carbon, director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the agency, called it a “victory for survivors of rape and their advocates.”

The blog also states “the new definition is: ‘The 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.’

“For the first time ever, the new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men,” Carbon said in her blog.

Carbon’s blog said that the National Sheriffs Association, National Association of Police Organizations, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major City Chiefs, Major County Sheriffs, and the Police Executive Research Forum have expressed support for the change.

The DOJ said that, initially, the broader definition of rape could make it seem that the number of rapes have increased around the country but, in the long run, it will provide more accurate data about the crime.