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Nearly 90,000 people reported being raped in the United States in 2008. There is an arrest rate of 25%.[1]

The United States Justice Department defines rape as[2]

"Rape - 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."

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of U.S. rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male.[3]

Rape statistics

Rape prevalence among women in the U.S. (the percentage of women who experienced rape at least once in their lifetime so far) is in the range of 15%-20%, with different studies agreeing with each other. (National Violence against Women survey, 1995, found 17.6% prevalence rate[4]; a 2007 national study for the Department of Justice on rape found 18% prevalence rate[5].)

In the United States the use of drugs, especially alcohol, frequently plays a part in rape. In 47% of rapes, both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking. In 17%, only the perpetrator had been. 7% of the time, only the victim had been drinking. Rapes where neither the victim nor the perpetrator had been drinking account for 29% of all rapes.[6]

Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone's home. 30.9% occur in the perpetrators' homes, 26.6% in the victims' homes and 10.1% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7.2% occur at parties, 7.2% in vehicles, 3.6% outdoors and 2.2% in bars.[6]

Most rape research and reporting to date has concentrated on male-female forms of rape. Research on male-male and female-male has commenced. However, almost no research has been done on female-female rape, though women can be charged with rape.
According to United States Department of Justice document Criminal Victimization in the United States, there were overall 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005.[7] When polled, 1 in 6 U.S. women reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape.[8] The U.S. Department of Justice compiles statistics on crime by race, but only between and among people categorized as black or white. There were 194,270 white and 17,920 black victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2006.

Some types of rape are excluded from official reports altogether, (the FBI's definition, for example, excludes all rapes except forcible rapes of females), because a significant number of rapes go unreported even when they are included as reportable rapes, and also because a significant number of rapes reported to the police do not advance to prosecution.[9]

U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male.[3] Denov (2004) states that societal responses to the issue of female perpetrators of sexual assault "point to a widespread denial of women as potential sexual aggressors that could work to obscure the true dimensions of the problem."[10]

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the adjusted per-capita victimization rate of rape has declined from about 2.4 per 1000 people (age 12 and above) in 1980 (that is, 2.4 persons from each 1000 people 12 and older were raped during that year) to about 0.4 per 1000 people, a decline of about 85%. There are several possible explanations for this, including stricter laws, education on security for women, and a correlation with the rise in Internet pornography.[11] But other government surveys, such as the Sexual Victimization of College Women study, critique the NCVS on the basis it includes only those acts perceived as crimes by the victim, and report a much higher victimization rate.[12]

Rapes are very rarely reported to law enforcement. The 2007 report for the Department of Justice shows only 18% cases of forcible rape reported in the general population sample (even less so for drug-facilitated rape, 10%; numbers for the sample of college women are yet lower, with 16% reporting for forcible rape.)[13] One factor relating to this under reporting may be the misconception that most rapes are committed by strangers.[14] In reality, studies indicate the following, widely variable, numbers:

Relationship of victim to rapist

Source: Current or Former Intimate Partner Another Relative Friend or Acquaintance Stranger
US Bureau of Justice Statistics 26% 7% 38% 26%
BeShears, Clinton-Sherrod and McAuslan[6] 60.1% 0% 37.9% 2%

About four out of ten sexual assaults take place at the victim's own home.[15]

Criminal punishment

In the United States of America, the principle of dual sovereignty applies to rape, as to other crimes. If the rape is committed within the borders of a state, that state has jurisdiction. If the victim is a federal official, an ambassador, consul or other foreign official under the protection of the United States, or if the crime took place on federal property or involved crossing state borders, or in a manner that substantially affects interstate commerce or national security, then the Federal Government also has jurisdiction. If a crime is not committed within any state, then Federal jurisdiction is exclusive: examples include the District of Columbia, or a naval or U.S.-flagged merchant vessels in international waters. In cases where the rape involves both state and federal jurisdiction, the offender can be tried and punished separately for each crime without raising issues of double jeopardy.

Because there are 51 jurisdictions in the United States of America, each with its own criminal code, this section treats only the crime of rape in the federal courts and does not deal with state-by-state specifics. Federal law does not use the term "rape". Rape is grouped with all forms of non consensual sexual acts under chapter 109a of the United States Code (Template:Usc).

Under federal law the punishment for rape can range from a fine to Life imprisonment. The severity of the punishment is based on the use of violence, the age of the victim and whether drugs or intoxicants were used to override consent. If the perpetrator is a repeat offender the law prescribes automatically doubling the maximum sentence.

Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. ___ (2008) was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that held that the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause did not permit a state to punish the crime of rape with the death penalty if the victim does not die and death was not intended , therefore if a person is convicted of rape he or she is not eligible for the death penalty according to the US supreme courts Ruling Kennedy v. Louisiana 554 U.S. ___ (2008

Different categorizations and maximum punishments for rape under federal law[16][17]

Description Fine Imprisonment (years) Life imprisonment
Rape using violence or the threat of violence to override consent unlimited 0 - unlimited yes
Rape by causing fear in the victim for themselves or for another person to override consent unlimited 0 - unlimited yes
Rape by giving a drug or intoxicant to a person that renders them unable to give consent unlimited 0 - 15 no
Statutory rape involving an adult perpetrator unlimited 0 - 15 no
Statutory rape involving an adult perpetrator with a previous conviction unlimited 0 - unlimited yes
Statutory rape involving a perpetrator who is a minor unlimited 0 - 15 no
When a person causes the rape by a third person unlimited 0 - 10 no
When a person causes the rape of a child under 12 by a third person unlimited 0 - unlimited 0 - 20

Rape investigations

Medical personnel in the United States of America collect evidence for potential rape cases by using rape kits. In some parts of the United States of America, the rape kits are not always sent off for testing.

The reasons rape kits don't get tested is[1]

  1. The rape kits cost up to $1,500 a kit.
  2. A decision not to prosecute
  3. Victims who recant or are unwilling to move forward with a case

Treatment of rape victims

Medical community

Insurance companies have denied coverage for rape victims, claiming a variety of bases for their actions.

In one case, after a victim mentioned she had previously been raped 17 years before, an insurance company refused to pay for her rape exam and also refused to pay for therapy or medication for trauma, because she "had been raped before" - indicating a preexisting condition.[18]

Some insurance companies have allegedly denied sexual-assault victims mental-health treatment,[19] stating that the service is not medically necessary.[20]

VAWA 2005 requires states to ensure that a victim receives access to a forensic examination free of charge regardless of whether the victim chooses to report a sexual assault (for any reason) to law enforcement or cooperate with the criminal-justice system. All states must comply with the VAWA 2005 requirement regarding forensic examination in order to receive STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program (STOP Program) funds. Under 42 U.S.C. § 3796gg-4, a State is not entitled to funds under the STOP Program unless the State or another governmental entity "incurs the full out-of- pocket cost of forensic medical exams . . . for victims of sexual assault." This means that, if no other governmental entity or insurance carrier pays for the exam, states are required to pay for forensic exams if they wish to receive STOP Program funds. The goal of this provision is to ensure that the victim is not required to pay for the exam. The effect of the VAWA 2005 forensic examination requirement is to allow victims time to decide whether to pursue their case. A sexual assault is a traumatic event. Some victims are unable to decide whether they want to cooperate with law enforcement in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault. Because forensic evidence can be lost as time progresses, such victims should be encouraged to have the evidence collected as soon as possible without deciding to initiate a report. This provision ensures victims receive timely medical treatment.[21]

Due to bureaucratic mismanagement in some areas, and various loopholes, the victim is sometimes sent a bill anyway, and has difficulty in getting it fixed.[22][23]

Legal community


Historical context


Collins notes the Ku Klux Klan's deliberate use of sexual assault (including rape) as a means of intimidating the African-American population in the Reconstruction period in the United States of America.[24] And as a means of justifying/encouraging segregation, the meme of the "black beast rapist" spread and shaped habits and attitudes.[25][26]

Feminism politicized and publicized rape as an institution in the late 20th-century. "New York Radical Feminists held a Rape Speak Out, where women discussed rape as an expression of male violence against women, and organized women to establish rape crisis centers and work towards reforming existing rape laws. This was the first attempt to focus political attention on the issue of rape."[27]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Exclusive: Rape in America: Justice Denied". CBS News. 2009-11-09.;contentBody.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "UCSC Rape Prevention Education: Rape Statistics". Retrieved 2008-01-01. The study was conducted in Detroit, USA.
  4. Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey
  5. Drug-facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study, 2007
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Abbey, A., BeShears, R., Clinton-Sherrod, A. M., & McAuslan, P. (2004). Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 323-332."Similarities and differences in women's sexual assault experiences based on tactics used by the perpetrator". Accessed 10 December 2007.
  7. United States Department of Justice document, (table 26)
  8. Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault: Statistics
  9. Dick Haws, "The Elusive Numbers on False Rape," Columbian Journalism Review (November/December 1997).[1]
  10. Myriam S. Denov, Perspectives on Female Sex Offending: A Culture of Denial (Ashgate Publishing 2004) - ISBN.
  11. Anthony D'Amato. Porn Up, Rape Down. Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No.
  12. Bonnie S. Fisher, Francis T. Cullen, Michael G. Turner. Sexual Victimization of College Women
  13. Drug-facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study, 2007
  15. Bureau of Justice Statistics Home page
  16. [ United States Code
  17. Harvard university US Rape Law
  19. Ivory, Danielle (November 2009). "Rape Victim's Choice: Risk AIDS or Health Insurance?". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-12-02. "Other patients and therapists wrote in with allegations that insurers are routinely denying long-term mental health care to women who have been sexually assaulted."
  24. Collins, Gail (2003). America's Women. New York: William Morrow. p. 206. ISBN 0-06-018510-4. "Part of the Klan's strategy for terrorizing the black population was sexual assault. In Georgia, Rhoda Ann Childs was taken from her home and beaten by eight white men. [...] An ex-soldier then raped her."
  25. Hale, Grace Elizabeth (1998). Making whiteness: the culture of segregation in the South, 1890-1940. New York: Vintage. p. 113. ISBN 0-679-77620-6. "[...] the image of the 'black beast rapist' hemmed white women in, as the historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall has argued, with 'fear of a nameless horror' [...]"
  26. Wiener, Jonathan M. (June 1985). "The 'Black beast rapist': white racial attitudes in the postwar South". Reviews in American History (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 13 (2): 222–226. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  27. Klein, Ethel (1984). Gender Politics: from consciousness to mass politics. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-674-34197-X.

Further reading

External links

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