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New definition of rape included in FBI crime figures for 2014

Today’s release of FBI data includes a new definition of rape that indicates decreases in violent and property crime in 2013 so far as compared to this time last year.

Last year, a new definition of forcible rape was established to be reported for the first time within the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report.

The term “forcible” was eliminated, and the description changed to “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.”

While the new FBI numbers show the number of forcible rapes declined 10.6 percent, many experts agree the rape category will begin rising under the new definition.

For 80 years prior to this definition change, law enforcement authorities reported only rape by force in the vagina. But many law enforcement experts and authorities, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), argued that the reporting should include non-force and cases of anal and oral penetration.

FBI crime statistics reported about 85, 000 forcible rapes, by the old definition, in 2012, but CDC said it should have been 1.3 million.

Though stranger rape is reported more, most of the rape that occurs happens with people who know each other.

Scott Berkowitz, president of Rape Abuse and Incest National Network indicates the violent crime is heavily underreported to the police.

Some states have changed their definitions of the crime to include rape that did not harm a woman physically.

Armed rapists who leave their victims severely bruised account for 14 percent of rape cases, said the Centers for Disease Control study.

Officials predict the number of reported rapes will rise because of the new definition. With this change “the FBI is confident that the number of victims of this heinous crime will be more accurately reflected in national crime statistics,” said David Cuthbertson, FBI Assistant Director of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division.