Critics: FBI Definition Of Rape Too Narrow


The Rape Crisis Center, a Bexar County, Tx., agency that tracks the number of sexual assault victims shows about twice as many reported rapes in 2008 as figures the FBI released for the area, says the San Antonio Express-News. The center said the community isn’t getting an accurate accounting of sexual assaults if only the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report is used. The UCR definition for forcible rape – the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will – was adopted in 1930. Victim advocates say the 80-year-old description fails to give an accurate accounting of sexual assault.

In 2008, the crisis center reported 1,024 sexual assaults that required a medical forensic exam, or rape kit, while the San Antonio Police Department reported 424 cases that met the UCR rape definition. Lynn Blanco of the Rape Crisis Center, said the agency’s statistics are from cases in which a victim requested a rape kit. “We work with men, children, seniors, individuals who are gang-raped or individuals who are raped by an object that wouldn’t (necessarily) be counted in UCR,” Blanco said. Avy Skolnik of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs said, “The definition of forcible rape used by the FBI for purposes of the UCR is extremely problematic. Definitions of sexual violence should focus on acts, not on the gender of the victim, nor the gender of the perpetrator.”

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