To the FBI, Lara Logan Wasn’t Raped

Less than three months ago, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was brutally gang-raped in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. She was covering the Egyptian uprising on Feb. 11 when a group of 200 to 300 men suddenly snatched her away from her team. Then, “For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands,” she says.

For the vast majority of us, what Logan survived would no doubt be considered a rape. But the FBI disagrees. To them, a rape only counts if a vagina is penetrated by a penis. So for the FBI, Lara Logan wasn’t raped.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), which is the nation’s go-to statistical record on violent crime, defines “forcible rape” [PDF] as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Each year, U.S. law enforcement agencies tally up their violent crime records, including homicides, robberies, thefts, aggravated assaults and “forcible” rapes, and submit them to the UCR, but only rapes that fit that narrow definition can be included. The FBI then releases a national report of all violent crimes, which the mainstream media dutifully reports.

But the definition of “forcible” rape excludes most rapes: It leaves out oral, anal and statutory rape; rape with an object, finger or fist; incest; and, for many police departments that misinterpret the definition, women raped while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol are excluded, as well as unconscious women and those with physical or mental disabilities. That means our national dialogue on rape is diluted; it’s based on bad numbers and faulty reporting–and that leaves women like Logan to be ignored.

Case in point: Logan immediately spoke out about her sexual assault while recovering in Egypt. Though she didn’t disclose many details at first, she described the attack as a “brutal and sustained sexual assault.” On 60 Minutes last night, Logan confirmed that she had been raped. But back in February, the mainstream media, using a narrow definition of “sexual assault,” quickly reported that Logan had not been raped, quoting only anonymous sources.

However, as legal experts explained to the LA Weekly,

“Sexual assault” is generally used as an umbrella term for all sexual crimes, of which the most extreme case is rape … CBS’ description of the assault on Logan implied that the attack upon her had been of the most extreme nature.

Given that news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, which was among the first to say Logan had not been raped, frequently report the findings of the UCR, it’s not unlikely that their claims were guided by the FBI’s narrow definition of “forcible rape.”

And that’s why, to truly support women like Logan, the FBI’s definition of rape must change. Join Ms. and the Feminist Majority Foundation in urging the FBI and the Dept. of Justice to update the definition of rape in the Uniform Crime Report. All rapes matter–it’s time they were counted.

Photo of Lara Logan from Wikimedia Commons.


  1. yoteech2002 says:

    Castration is the only appropriate punishment for men convicted of rape. any rape!

    • Gardoglee says:

      Unfortunately castration does not stop a rapist from raping. The rape is about anger, control and degredation, not about sex. A rapist who has been castrated just substitutes some other object for a penis. The FBI might not consider that rape, but it still is rape.

    • men dont understand what what its like to be raped and the trauma, even if its just a finger. no wonder they are clueless and anything else that involves the female body.

      since cops dont care women must. im learning self defense, all women should and carry pepper spray or a taser

  2. Wait what about guns and bottles and other items that are used to rape…opps I mean sexually assault women with?

  3. Dawnita May says:

    Since rape is more about the “power” gained by the perpetrator over the victim, castration would not end the perp’s ability to rape. I think we should bring back the full frontal lobe lobotomy for sexual offenders. Then they would no longer find Joy in the act. Whether penile penetration happens or not…ANY unwanted sexual molestation IS Rape!! It carries the same potential for long term damage to the victim…a violation, is a violation!

    • Sharon says:

      The lobotomy wouldn’t work either, as they do not find “joy” in the act to begin with, but a sense of power and control. It is often used as a tool to make a victim comply in other ways, as a scare tactic, as a show of force. “If you people do not do as I and my people say, this will happen to all your young women” was a common tactic in in wars. Remember the term “rape and pillage”? It was not about gratification, but about the complete domination of the other village. How emasculating to not even be able to protect your women? Even if they lived, even if you lived, every time you were with her, you would be reminded that she had been conquered in the most intimate way. Rape is not about pleaseure, joy or sex. It’s about control and domination.

  4. Jenna Brooke O'Neil says:

    I agree the definition should be changed and the word “male” added as well so that men & boys who are raped would have legal recourse under this law, and the incidents involving male victims would make it into the stats as well.

  5. Blake Griffin says:

    After reading this article, I just can’t imaginge how anybody can say what happened to Lara Logan (hands groping and entering) is not considered carnal knowledge of a woman. If I were making the definition, I would consider any form of sexual assault that involves groping or subduing a woman for forcible acts of human contact are rape. It does not really matter if there is penetration of the penis, assualt is still of a sexual nature when the woman is violated in any gratuitous manner. When a mob of men completely strips a woman of every stitch of clothing, there is no doubt that the intent was rape.

  6. Wouldn’t it make more sense to slowly retire the word ‘rape’ and instead move to a more inclusive ‘sexual assault’?

  7. harleyblueswoman says:

    Bet if it happened to some man ….and a bunch of people forcibly stuck their fingers up his butt….he’d be yelling rape!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Why so much hatred towards men? Is this what feminism is about?

      • How is this hatred against men? The article highlights a woman who was basically told she wasn’t raped…when she was.

        • Kirsten says:

          I have to agree, harleyblueswoman’s comment seemed particularly angry toward men. Perhaps it’s just the way I’m reading it, but ‘some man’ surely seems to be full of anger toward men. Not particularly conducive to a healthy discussion about a serious issue.

        • The definition of rape is forcing someone to have sexual intercourse against their will. Although what happened to Lara was horrible and disgusting, the word ‘rape’ is not the correct word to use. That’s why they use sexually assaulted. If someone things being sexually assaulted is better than being raped, well, they are sorely mistaken. Being sexually assaulted is just as horrible as being raped; You are being physically violated against your rights. The only difference is there are greater ramifications (ie pregnancy, disease) of being raped, that cause the laws to be applied slightly different. That is how I understand it.

  8. There is almost no way to say this without accidentally sounding like I am supporting something horrid, but I honestly just want to clear up a couple of points.

    1) The FBI and the DOJ are not really the ones to address this issue. Congress is the lawmaking entity in the USA. They would be the ones to add or change definitions to the UCR (just like they did when they added arson to the UCR back in the 1980s)

    2) The FBI is getting blamed, right in the title, for how this crime was handled … a crime that happened in Egypt. Yes, I know that the FBI publish the UCR, and the UCR’s definition is what guided the media’s definition, but the title reads as if the FBI was ignoring her case or something. They have no connection here at all other than collecting & publishing data about crimes in the USA that Congress defines.

    3) The UCR covers eight crimes with extremely narrow definitions purely for the purposes of uniform data collection. The UCR is not in any way a guideline of what is and is not a crime; it’s sole purpose is to get sort of a baseline statistical picture of general crime rates. The FBI has other reports that address broader details of crimes, including hate crimes, property crimes, human trafficing and so on. They are statistics reports, and are not meant to be anything more than statistics reports.

    4) Rape in the USA is almost always a state crime, not a federal one. For perspective, murder is also almost always a state crime rather than a federal one. Both become federal pretty much only if they happen across state lines, on federal land or other such things. I have not read every state’s laws on it, but have read a few. Some are terrible, others are pretty complete. It would be more appropriate to check various state definitions and take action where needed.

    5) In the cases it is a federal rather than state matter, the DOJ defines rape as “Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal or oral penetration by the offender (s). This category also includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object such as a bottle. Includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and homosexual rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.”

    6) Satisfying as many people may find the thoughts of surgical punishment, a frontal lobotomy may actually make a sex offender worse as it can change people’s perception of others (in other words, they may actually not be physically able to understand the concept of “no” once that chunk of their brain is missing). Castration (physical or chemical) has a pretty rotten success rate too. This article talks specifically about a woman who was raped by things other than penises, and the anger at the perception that a penisless rape doesn’t count. So removing a penis as a punishment/rehabilitation method kind of misses the entire point.

    I truly do mean all these comments as constructive. Change needs to happen; I am just trying to help everyone advocate for change through the right channels. There is no point in harassing the FBI to do something they can’t when you could be demanding your state and federal representatives do it. Congress and your state legislature actually can change these laws, the FBI can’t. And almost everyone reading this article has literally thousands more police officers than FBI agents nearby, and any crimes they may fall victim of are vastly more likely to be prosecuted by the state, not the federal government.

    Hope that helps.

    • Stephanie Hallett says:

      Thanks for your feedback! I deal with the FBI and its problematic definition of rape–and all of the ways it impacts policing, community perception and policy–in a longer piece in the new issue of Ms. Please check it out for more on this important topic, I think you’ll find a lot of your comments are addressed.

    • Garrett Boak says:

      =) That does help.

  9. Well according to the FBI men can’t be raped AT all…and for those who say women can’t rape men, tell it to this man.

    “Three women abduct, rape man in Karachi”

    • “Well according to the FBI men can’t be raped AT all”

      Nope. You are not in any way correct in that statement.

    • Jamie Riehl says:

      Dave wrote a great post above, but I just want to reiterate. If this happened in the US, and was for some reason a federal case, the FBI would absolutely treat it as a rape in terms of investigation and prosecution. They just wouldn’t count it as a rape in the Uniform Crime Report. The problem here is one of how rape is recorded and percieved in the statistics – which is a real and important problem – and undercounting impacts the resources dedicated to law enforcement at a macro level. But it’s not a direct problem of how specific cases are treated by the FBI.

  10. I am so sorry that happend to you. You look like a beautiful person. I hate this world, its so evil

  11. JohnnyE says:

    >CBS’ description of the assault on Logan implied that the attack upon her had been of the most extreme nature.

    Well 300 guys ripping her clothes off, pulling her hair out, and trying to pull her limbs apart while sexually assaulting her with their hands sounds even more extreme than the FBI definition of rape.

  12. DJ Willsohn says:

    So a man cannot be raped?

  13. Luis Rodriguez says:

    I do not fully trust anybody involved in black operations for the US government or any government. It is a business filled with treachery. I do not work for any government or with any government. Lara Logan said they raped her with their hands. There is a picture of her here displaying her TEETH! I certainly do not trust the Feebies (FBI) on anything. Bob Woodward once said that hundreds of journalists were on Langley, Virginia’s payrolls. The words “hands” and “rape” along with Lara Logan’s “TEETH” means she was indeed raped and sodomized. I am a man who only thinks of money and business deals. I only think in terms of how much for services rendered and I do not trust or believe in EITHER SIDE OR ANY SIDE of the law. Andres Segovia died at a ripe old age peacefully in his sleep. Lara Logan should know that I would always be willing to BEG HER pardon if I have ever done anything to offend her regarding my business deals.

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