In a recent speech at the University of New Hampshire, Vice President Joe Biden recounted the story of a college freshman he called Jenny.
Jenny was raped after a party on campus. She tried to pursue a case against her rapist only to be asked if she had been drinking, what she was wearing, and whether she was dancing. The university never took action against her assailant.
As Biden said, "Rape is rape is rape."
Yet each year the FBI omits hundreds of thousands of rapes from its Uniform Crime Report (UCR) because it’s using an 80-year-old definition of rape.
The FBI’s outdated definition of rape is limited to "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will."
The FBI’s flawed definition of rape excludes any form of sexual assault that falls outside of the narrowest understanding of heterosexual sex, including the rape of men and boys as well as transgender people.
The emphasis on "forcible" rape also means that the rape or assault of women with physical or mental disabilities and those who were unconscious or under the influence of drugs and alcohol – like Jenny — are often excluded.
The FBI’s 2007 Uniform Crime Report listed 91,874 "forcible rapes," but some estimates suggest the actual number may be 24 times higher.
The FBI’s underreporting of rapes translates to less federal funding for police departments nationwide to test rape kits — and fewer investigators bringing rapists to justice.
Sign here to tell the FBI to update its definition of rape to address and end sexual assault: