FBI Redefines "Rape," Locals Voice Opinions

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- Since the 1920s, the FBI has gone by a very short definition of "rape." It was defined as "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly against her will." For years, activists have been fighting that definition, saying it needs to be broader.

The White House has listened. The newly unveiled definition now includes any kind of penetration of another person, woman or man, without the victim's consent. It includes attackers who use objects to penetrate their victims, and physical resistance is not required.

From here on out, when you look at the statistics on the FBI's website, those numbers will include victims of the newly defined version of rape.

It doesn't change the way local law enforcement takes in reports from victims.

Sherrie Carruth with the Odessa Police Department says, "Changing that definition doesn't have anything to do with the penal code of the state of Texas that defines sexual assault."

"The state of Texas doesn't even use the term "rape." "When you come in and say someone violated you against your will, it's not called 'rape'. It's not written up as 'rape'. It's written up as 'sexual assault'," Carruth said.

Texas' definition of 'sexual assault' already includes the key updates you see in the new FBI "rape" definition.

The FBI will take these agencies reports and update their statistical information using their new definition of rape.

It means you'll likely see a jump in numbers online.

Carruth said, "If they're including males that at one point had not been included in that then you're going to see that number increase but that doesn't mean there's more crimes."

Locals NewsWest 9 talked to are pleased with the FBI's change, especially with the decision to add men into the definition.

"I mean rape is rape [no matter] if it's a man or a woman. It should get filed just like if it were a woman getting raped or a girl getting raped," local, Jesse Alanis, said.

Karen Burkhart from Odessa says, "I think there are young boys that are being violated and, you know, no one hears about it because they're afraid to come forward. So, I think it's time for people to realize that boys, girls, men and women can all be violated."

"When people go onto the website and they see that the number has increased of the incidents, then they'll be more aware of what's going on in the community so I feel like it's a good idea," Stephanie Quisinberry from Odessa, said.