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 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.
“We don’t know what we don’t know. But what we do know is that women who lie on asylum applications can still be rape victims. Women who have shady drug-dealer boyfriends can still be rape victims. Women who themselves deal drugs, or who work in as prostitutes, or who commit fraud can still be rape victims. Yes, in a court setting, a pattern of dishonesty on the part of the accuser will undercut a prosecution’s case. But we need to push back against the developing narrative that only a “perfect victim” (virginal, middle-class, impeccably honest) deserves the protection of the legal system. Women shouldn’t have to be flawless — or even all that “good” — to get justice.”—