FBI Director Rober Mueller told a Senate panel Wednesday that the FBI National Crime Information Center Advisory Board recommended to update the current Uniform Crime Report definition of rape that many say is too narrow. He also said his "expectation is it will go into effect sometime this spring." Currently, the FBI defines rape as "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will."
"This is a very positive development," says Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "I'm excited to hear that the next steps are being taken toward a new definition, and I'm looking forward to hearing the details. We believe that updating and broadening this archaic definition to count the vast majority of rapes will result in more resources to curb what has been an intolerable level of violence, especially against women."
The new definition, adopted by various committees of the FBI, no longer includes the requirement that the victim must be a woman and takes out the the word "forcible." The new definition says that "rape is 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."
Following a massive grassroots feminist activism campaign, Senate hearings, and many meetings with various levels of the FBI, as well as over 160,000 emails to the Department of Justice and FBI, the FBI's Criminal Justice Advisory Policy Board voted to recommend that the FBI update its 82-year-old definition.
The "Rape is Rape" campaign, launched by the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. magazine, went viral on the petition website Change.org, generating tens of thousands emails to the FBI and the Department of Justice urging this change. The update to the definition comes after years of urging by feminist organizations, spearheaded for more than a decade by the Pennsylvania-based Women's Law Project. "Ultimately, accurate data is a fundamental starting point to improving police response to sex crimes and improved practice should led to increased victim confidence in police and reporting," said Carol E. Tracy, Executive Director of the Women's Law Project.
Media Resources: Baltimore Sun 12/15/11; Huffington Post 12/15/11; ABC News 12/14/11; Feminist News 12/7/11
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .