By Carol E. Tracy
Friday, November 25, 2011
When Vice President Joe Biden recently argued that more police will help prevent rapes he said nothing amiss. And a change to the FBI's definition of rape is hardly trivial. For one thing, if affects the allocation of federal money.
(WOMENSENEWS)-- I beg to disagree with Wendy Murphy's analysis that more cops won't make a difference in rape arrests and prosecutions or that changing the FBI's definition of rape will have little impact.
The Women's Law Project has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the chronic and systemic failure of police in many major cities to adequately investigate sex crimes.
We have also testified about the inadequacies of the FBI's Uniform Crime Report's outdated definition of rape because it does not reflect states' criminal codes, which categorize as felonies those sexual assaults that people view as rape, and misleads the public about the number of felonious sex crimes handled by police. The Uniform Crime Report is also used to allocate federal dollars. The understatement of the statistics has huge public safety and financial implications.
We began the campaign to change the definition of rape over 10 years ago on behalf of 90 organizations, including state-based sexual assault coalitions. The campaign was bolstered this year when Ms. Magazine and Feminist Majority orchestrated an initiative that resulted in over 140,000 emails to the FBI pushing for a change in the definition.
The campaign is not over. Further impetus was given when Susan Carbon, director of the Department of Justice's Office of Violence Against Women, testified in support of needed change before two advisory bodies to the FBI, composed of local police chiefs and other high-ranking law enforcement officials. These bodies supported the recommendation.
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