FBI: Forcible Rape Reports Down 2.5 Percent in 2011

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According to a new report from the FBI, the number of forcible rapes reported to law enforcement declined 2.5% in 2011 from the prior year. The FBI says that 83,425 forcible rapes were reported to police last year. Under the FBI’s current definition of the crime, only “forcible” rapes are included, and only attacks against women are counted.

Earlier this year, after decades of stasis, the FBI announced that it will change the way it defines rape in the future.  In addition to counting crimes against men, the new definition will include rapes in which the attacker uses threats of violence, as well as all rapes in which the victim is a child and thus unable to consent.

In an interview with NPR, Scott Berkowitz, RAINN's president and founder, said, "The FBI's new definition of rape comes much closer to reflecting the reality of the crime. It happens to men and women, young and old, but in every case, it's an incredibly violent crime and we owe it to victims to acknowledge and count every one, as the FBI is now going to do." The revised definition will not go into effect until at least 2013.

The FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reports counts only crimes that are reported to police.  According to the Justice Department’s annul National Crime Victimization Survey, about 43% of sexual assaults in the last five years were reported to police. The DOJ report estimates that there were about 218,000 total sexual assaults each year in that span. That figure excludes assaults on children under 12, who are not included in the DOJ survey.

The rape kit backlog is currently one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence.

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Out of every 1000 sexual assaults, 344 are reported to the police.

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