|FEATURE | SPRING 2011
By Eleanor Smeal
Feminists helped defeat the Republican attempt to
narrow the definition of rape to "forcible rape" in their
recent efforts to put new restrictions on abortion.
But as Ms. writer Stephanie Hallett reported in the Spring issue of Ms., the FBI—in its Uniform Crime
Report—still uses an impossibly narrow and outmoded
definition of "forcible" rape to gather its statistics.
The FBI needs a modern definition of rape that reflects
a popular understanding of the crime and doesn't
exclude the vast majority of rapes. Rape is rape. Period.
Without an accurate definition we won't have
accurate statistics about rape, and without accurate
statistics we will never have adequate funding for law
enforcement to solve these crimes and stop violence
What's more, as revealed in her follow-up piece in the Summer issue, 'How To Stop a Serial Rapist,' 91%-95% of all rapes are committed by serial rapists, and a nationwide epidemic backlog of untested rape kits is standing in the way of justice.
We also need to make sure that police departments
swiftly test rape-evidence kits. The backlog of untested
kits around the country is outrageous, as it leaves serial
rapists—and the vast majority of rapes are committed
by serial rapists—free to rape again.
So we need your help. Join the No More Excuses! campaign of the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. magazine and demand that:
1. The FBI must change its outmoded
definition of rape.
2. City police departments must test every rape
kit in their backlog and make sure untested
kits don't accumulate again.
Go to our online campaign headquarters where you'll be directed to letters you can send to U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder. You can also order a local take-action package
that includes a dramatic video about the rape-kit
backlog by Lorraine Sheinberg and Susan Rubin and
ideas for making a difference in your community on this
vital issue. Together, we can make our communities a
safer place for all women!
Comments on this piece? We want to hear them! Send to email@example.com. To have your letter considered for publication, please include your city and state.
For more hard-hitting feminist news and commentary, join the Ms. community.