thumb pointing up

The Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services voted on Oct. 18 to expand its definition of rape, reported Ms. Oct. 19. The vote to update the definition came after many years of lobbying by groups such as the Women’s Law Project and the recent viral "Rape is Rape" campaign started by the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. in partnership with Change.org.

The previous definition (unchanged since 1929) defined "forcible rape" as "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will," excluding victims of forced anal or oral sex, rape with an object, statutory rape and male rape. The new definition–of "rape," no longer "forcible rape"–defines the crime as "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." The FBI will maintain data on "forcible rape" only for research and comparison.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • A coalition of activists has taken the Ugandan government to court in a landmark lawsuit regarding the cases of two women who bled to death unattended while giving birth in hospitals, reported Al Jazeera Oct. 21.
  • Radiation therapy after a lumpectomy reduces the risk of cancer recurrence and improves survival in women with early stage breast cancer, according to a study published in the Lancet, reported ABC Oct. 20. This research helps validate the belief that women in the early stages of the disease don’t have to lose their breasts.
  • A study found that a vaginal gel that sharply reduces a woman’s risk of infection with the AIDS virus is even more effective against genital herpes, a much more common risk for young American women, reported The New York Times Oct. 21.
  • On Oct. 19 an Oklahoma judge temporarily blocked a new law designed to reduce the number of abortions performed in the state by restricting the ways in which doctors can treat women with abortion-inducing drugs, Associated Press reported Oct. 19.
  • On Oct. 18 Nobel Laureate Tawakkul Karman joined a rally in front of the United Nations in New York where she urged the U.N to stop the bloodshed in Yemen, reported WeNews correspondent, Hajer Naili. The Nobel Laureate said that she will not return to her country until Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh‘s file is transferred to the International Criminal Court and his regime’s assets are frozen. On Oct. 17 thousands of women demonstrated in front of Yemen’s foreign ministry, demanding U.N. intervention in the ongoing unrest in the Persian Gulf nation, CNN reported.
  • The Somali national women’s basketball team captain, Suweys Ali Jama, said she would continue to play basketball despite death threats by Al-Shabaab militants, IPS reported Oct. 18.
  • Malaysian police busted a sex slave ring and rescued 21 Ugandan women who were forced into prostitution after being lured to Malaysia with promises of jobs as maids, Time Magazine reported Oct. 18.
  • On Oct. 17 U.S Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., announced a statewide mentorship program to help young women succeed in their careers.
  • Germany’s 30 top public companies presented the government with a plan aimed at increasing the number of women in the highest levels of management as politicians consider legislating gender equality, The Washington Post reported Oct. 17.
  • At a conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, last weekend Fiza Gilani, the daughter of the Pakistani prime minister, called for an end of the country’s mindset of male dominance, The Pakistan Today reported Oct. 15.


thumb pointing down

The American Civil Liberties Union released government documents Oct. 19 showing 185 allegations of sexual abuse against female immigration detainees in federal detention centers since 2007, The Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 18. However, the assaults described in the documents do not represent the full scope of the problem because sexual assault is "notoriously underreported," the ACLU said.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • A for-profit tabloid, The Koala, which has circulated on the Cal State San Marcos campus since January 2011, promotes violence against women and girls, rape, pedophilia, homophobia and bias against people of color and those with disabilities and illness, according Change.org. The group launched a petition Oct. 21 asking the university administration to speak out against The Koala and impose distribution regulations.
  • In Latin America, only about half of women are affiliated with any political party reported The Miami Herald Oct. 20. A recent study shows that when women do run for office, they’re less likely to be elected than men and they still hold relatively few key positions in political parties.
  • In Wisconsin, Senate Bill 92, which continues the state’s prohibition on taxpayer dollars for funding abortions, moved through the state Senate on Oct. 20, reported The Ashland Current.
  • The state of Indiana asked a federal appeals court to allow Planned Parenthood funding cuts to go forward, reported The Washington Post Oct. 20.
  • GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum pledged to repeal all federal funding for contraception arguing that birth control devalues the act of procreation, ThinkProgress.com reported Oct. 19.
  • Feminist author Naomi Wolf was arrested on Oct. 18 when she joined protesters at the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, The Daily Beast reported.
  • A new law in North Carolina may require that the women who consider an abortion see the fetus prior to terminating their pregnancy, even if they do not wish to see the image, The A&T Register reported Oct. 19.
  • An advisor to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Robert Bork, said that women "aren’t discriminated against anymore," and that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment should not apply to women, reported The Daily Beast Oct. 17.
  • A study says that New Hampshire’s treatment of female inmates raises constitutional concerns because it is so inadequate compared to that of male inmates, reported Boston.com Oct. 17.
  • Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said on Oct. 16 that he didn’t agree with abortion under any circumstance during his first TV appearance on NBC’s "Meet the Press." He promised to work to overturn the Roe v. Wadedecision that legalized abortion since 1973. He has since backtracked and his position remains unclear.
  • A U.S. Catholic priest who supports ordination for women has been detained by police after marching to the Vatican to press the Holy See to lift its ban on female priests, The Washington Post reported Oct. 17.
  • In a national effort to put abortion bans into state constitutions, Mississippi voters are being asked to approve an amendment declaring that life begins when a human egg is fertilized, reported The News Tribune Oct. 17.
  • Increasingly, states are pursuing laws that target the supply-side of abortion: the doctors. This is a shift away from more traditional attempts to limit demand (laws that target patients), reported The Washington Post Oct. 20.


  • Operators of the B110 bus in Brooklyn, N.Y., decreed that women should sit in the back and men should sit in the front to avoid contact between members of the opposite sex, the website Jezebel reported Oct. 19. The New York City Department of Transportation says that if the bus line doesn’t start complying with the city’s nondiscrimination laws, its contract could be terminated, reported NBC Oct. 20.


  • At a campaign event in Iowa on Oct. 20, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney gave ambiguous answers to questions about his views on abortion policy and contraceptives. He said that despite his support for so-called "person" laws — which would define life as beginning at conception, effectively outlawing common forms of birth control — he does not oppose contraceptives, reported ThinkProgress Oct. 20.
  • The role of Tunisian women is a key issue in the Oct. 23 elections — the first vote of the Arab spring, reported The Guardian Oct. 20.

In Memoriam:

Native American activist, Elouise Cobell, died Oct. 16 at the age of 65, reported The Los Angeles Times. Cobell, a Women’s eNews 21 Leader 2002, was the driving force that guided a lawsuit that accused the federal government of cheating Native Americans out of more than a century’s worth of royalties, resulting in a record $3.4-billion settlement.

Would you like to Comment but not sure how? Visit our help page at https://womensenews.org/help-making-comments-womens-enews-stories.