New Revision to Rape Definition Is a Win for Humankind

new rape definitonThis may not be the sunniest way to send you off on your weekend, but there is some important and uplifting news out of the Justice Department today -- they've announced that the 85-year-old definition of rape has finally been updated. Dating as far back as 1927, the law stated, up until today, that rape was "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." Obviously, there are some pretty major details that were left out of this so-called clarification of the term. But today, a wrong has been righted.


The new definition is much more involved, as it should be. Rape isn't just vaginal and rape victims aren't just women. The revised edict is broader and encompasses many more scenarios of the horrific act.

Just think, under the unrevised definition, Jerry Sandusky's alleged actions couldn't have been considered rape. That makes me cringe. Clearly, the change in the definition is welcome for so many reasons. Here's the new and improved version:

Rape 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.

it feels odd to go around cheering for these words -- words that represent and describe something so horrifying and painful -- but this modern update to the outdated definition is indeed something to cheer for.

Think about how many rapes went unreported because the victims were told that what they suffered wasn't that terrible crime. It will be interesting to see if the number or rapes goes up dramatically due to the new, wider definition. And it's not like 2012 is so different from 2005 or whenever, it's just that this year victims, officials, and courtrooms will have the power to declare the heinous sexual act that innocent men, women, and children have endured was, in fact, rape. Hopefully, that will help victims heal and feel accounted for.

What do you think of the revised definition?


Photo via Dan4th/Flickr

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