Some hopeful news from The New York Times.
Thousands of sexual assaults that occur in the United States every year are not reflected in the federal government’s yearly crime report because the report uses an archaic definition of rape that is far narrower than the definitions used by most police departments. [...]
“The public has the right to know about the prevalence of crime and violent crime in our communities, and we know that data drives practices, resources, policies and programs,” said Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia, whose office has campaigned to get the F.B.I. to change its definition of sexual assault. “It’s critical that we strive to have accurate information about this.” [...]
The definition of rape used by the F.B.I. — “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” — was written more than 80 years ago. The yearly report on violent crime, which uses data provided voluntarily by the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies, is widely cited as an indicator of national crime trends.
But that definition, critics say, does not take into account sexual-assault cases that involve anal or oral penetration or penetration with an object, cases where the victims were drugged or under the influence of alcohol or cases with male victims. As a result, many sexual assaults are not counted as rapes in the yearly federal accounting. [...]
Greg Scarbro, the F.B.I.’s unit chief for the Uniformed Crime Report, said that the agency agreed that the definition should be revised and that an F.B.I. subcommittee would take up the issue at a meeting on Oct. 18.
“Our goal will be to leave that meeting with a definition and a mechanism,” Mr. Scarbro said. But he noted that law enforcement agencies would have to support any change.
Slate has more on the activists, both from feminists and police departments, who have been lobbying the FBI for this change. And the Feminist Majority Foundation has an email form letter you can use to help keep the pressure on. (Hat tip.)