Rape is considered a type of sexual assault, which is initiated by one or more people against another person without that persons consent. The act may have been forced, under threat, or with a person who is incapable to give a valid consent(1). The definition of rape has changed throughout history and is different in different parts of the world. According to the American Medical Association, sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime(2). There have been significant changes to improve the treatment of sexual assault victims in the last two decades.
The rate of reporting, prosecution and convictions for rape varies in different jurisdictions. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that 91% of U.S. rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male(3). In one survey of women, only two percent of respondents who stated they were sexually assaulted said that the assault was perpetrated by a stranger(3). Several studies argue that male-male and female-female prison rape are common and may be the least reported forms of rape. Rape is also recognized as an element of the crime of genocide when committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a targeted ethnic group(3). Rape is defined in many jurisdictions as sexual intercourse, or other forms of sexual penetration, of one person by another person without the consent of the victim. The World Health Organization defined rape in 2002 as "physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration even if slight of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object. Some countries such as Germany are now, however, using more broad definitions which do not require penetration(4).
During the 1970’s the anti-rape movement was created in the United States. Rape crisis centers were created in San Francisco, California and Washington D. C. in 1972. The people involved in these centers realized that rape is more common than they thought, and it impacts the lives of women negatively on their health and freedom. The point of these centers was to educate the society about rape and prevention, and to help rape victims(2). There were several goals that they wanted to achieve which were, improvements in the way criminal justice officials treat rape victims, a more clear understanding of the impact of rape, improved medical and mental health services, and better funding for rape crisis centers and others who assist victims.(2) These goals have all been met. Before the 1960’s, the definition of rape was “A carnal knowledge of a woman not ones wife by force or against her will.”(3) In 1962 the United States Model Penal Code was created and made an updated definition which was “A man who has sexual intercourse with a woman not his wife is guilty of rape if he compels her to submit by force or threat of force or threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, extreme pain, or kidnapping.” This definition was known to be a bit narrow because it does not have anything about rape within marriage or couples who live together; it focused more on the consent of the victim and not the force of the attacker. The Model Penal Code created a grading system for rape and other similar offenses of that nature(1). It was basically saying that rape by a voluntary social companion was not as serious as rape by a complete stranger. Also rape done to men was considered a lesser felony then if it was to a woman.
During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the legal definition of rape changed. Michigan’s Criminal Sexual Conduct Statute became the national model for an expanded definition. They define it as, gender neutrality, broadening earlier definitions to include men, acts of sexual penetration other than vaginal penetration by a penis, distinguishing sexual abuse by the degree of force or threat of force used, threats as well as overt force, are recognized as means of overpowering victims, and taking...
Bibliography: 1. 1. Criminal Law Today Frank Schmalleger, Daniel E. Hall, pages 253-257
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