FBI's UCR Subcommittee votes unanimously to recommend change on rape definition
Yesterday, the Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) voted unanimously to recommend a new, more inclusive definition of Rape in the UCR Report. The recommendation will be considered at a public meeting of the CJIS Advisory Policy Board in December. If approved, it will be forwarded to FBI Director Robert Mueller who will make the final decision.
The vote came after years of urging by feminist organizations, spearheaded for more than a decade by the Pennsylvania-based Women's Law Project and reinforced by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Center for Women and Policing and Ms. magazine. This past year, the Rape is Rape campaign, launched by the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine and picked up by petition website Change.org resulted in nearly 140,000 emails to the FBI and the Department of Justice urging the change.
"Although long overdue, we are pleased that the FBI has vetted this extensively with their local and national law enforcement advisors and a clear consensus is emerging that a more accurate definition will better inform the public about the prevalence of serious sex crimes and will ultimately drive more resources to apprehend sexual offenders," said Carol Tracy, Executive Director of the Women's Law Project.
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, stated, "This will ensure the crime of rape is measured in a way that it includes all rape, and it will become a crime to which more resources are allocated. It's intolerable the amount of violence against women, and we feel this will have a significant impact."
The current definition from the 1920s, which has been criticized for underreporting rape and omitting a significant number of rape cases, defined "forcible rape" only as "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." In response to a recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), eighty percent of responding police departments agreed that the definition should be changed.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .