PROBLEM

Gov't Uses Archaic Definition of Rape

Thanks to the federal government’s definition of rape, written 80 years ago, the prevalence of the crime may be underestimated. Hundreds of sexual assaults reported in cities like Chicago and New York each year are not classified as rape because of the narrow—and vague—scope of the current definition, which is “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcible and against her will.” Critics say that definition leaves out oral and anal penetration, and all cases where the woman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. “We prosecute by one criteria, but we report by another criteria,” said Nashville’s police chief of the FBI definition. “The only people who have a true picture of what’s going on are the people in the sex-crimes unit.”