For the first time ever, the FBI's definition of rape now includes male rape. The change could affect the prosecution of sexual assaults nationwide.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced the expanded FBI rape definition Friday, The Washington Post reports. It's expected to cause a rise in reported rapes across the country.
While most state laws already define rape in broad terms, the FBI's rape definition hadn't been changed since 1929, the Post reports. The FBI's old definition of rape was "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will."
The new FBI rape definition states that rape is:
"Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim."
The wording is broad enough to include male and female rape. It also drops the term "forcible" in favor of "without consent."
An FBI advisory board recommended the change, and FBI Director Robert Mueller approved it last month, the Post reports. It's hoped the updated definition will lead to "more accurate reporting and a far more complete understanding" of rape and its effects, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett told the Post.
The new FBI rape definition could change the way sexual assaults are prosecuted. For example, the alleged victims of ex-Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky would not be considered rape victims under the old FBI definition, the New York Daily News points out.
Law enforcement agencies reported more than 84,000 rapes nationwide in 2010, the Post reports. The effects of the new FBI rape definition that now includes male rape won't be fully realized until after 2012.