AskDefine | Define raped

Dictionary Definition

raped adj
1 having been robbed and destroyed by force and violence; "the raped countryside" [syn: despoiled, pillaged, ravaged, sacked]
2 sexually abused [syn: assaulted, molested]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. past of rape

Extensive Definition

This article is about a form of sexual assault. For other uses, see Rape (disambiguation).
Rape, sometimes called sexual assault, is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or sexual penetration of another person without their consent. Rape is generally considered a serious sex crime as well as a civil assault.
The rate of reporting, prosecution and convictions for rape varies considerably in different jurisdictions.
The rape of women by men is by far the most frequent form of the assault, with an estimated 91% of rape victims being female and 9% being male while 99% of offenders are male. Also, studies have found that most rapes are committed by persons known to the victim, and that only 2% are committed by strangers.
The systematic rape of a civilian population by an occupying army is considered a war crime.


In most jurisdictions, the crime of rape is defined to occur when sexual intercourse or other form of sexual penetration takes place (or is attempted) without the consent of one of the parties involved.
There is no universally accepted distinction between rape and other forms of assault involving one or both participant's sexual organs. When the term "rape" is used, some criminal codes explicitly consider all kinds of forced sexual activity to be rape, whereas in others only acts involving penis penetration of the vagina. In recent years, women have been convicted of raping men; this is classed as either rape or sexual assault, or some other legal terminology. In some jurisdictions, rape may also be committed by assailants using objects, rather than their own body parts, against the sexual organs of their target. Some places, such as the U.S. state of Michigan, do not use the term "rape" at all in criminal codes. Michigan uses the term "criminal sexual conduct" for acts which colloquially would be referred to as "rape" or "sexual assault".
Rape is frequently defined in terms of sexual penetration. In some jurisdictions, the penetration need not be by a penis but can be by another body part (e.g. one or more fingers, i.e. digital penetration) or by an object (e.g. a bottle), or may involve the forcing of a vagina or anus onto a penis by a female assailant.
Other jurisdictions expand the definition of rape to include other acts committed using the sexual organs of one or both of the parties, such as oral copulation and masturbation, for example, again without valid consent.
In Scotland, rape is a gender-specific crime, meaning it can only be committed by males upon females. Oral, anal and male rape do not constitute rape, nor is digital penetration sufficient.
In Brazil, the definition of rape is even more restrictive. It is defined as non-consensual vaginal sex. Therefore, unlike most of Europe and the Americas, male rape, anal rape, and oral rape are not considered to be rape. Instead, such an act is called a "violent attempt against someone's modesty" ("Atentado violento ao pudor"). The penalty, however, is the same.


In any allegation of rape, the absence of consent to sexual intercourse on the part of the victim is critical. Consent need not be express, and may be implied from the context and from the relationship of the parties, but the absence of objection does not of itself constitute consent.
Duress, in which the victim may be subject to or threatened by overwhelming force or violence, and which may result in absence of objection to intercourse, leads to the presumption of lack of consent. Duress may be actual or threatened force or violence. Even blackmail may constitute duress. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in its landmark 1998 judgment used a definition of rape which did not use the word consent. It defined rape as: "a physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive."
Valid consent is also lacking if the victim lacks an actual capacity to give consent, as in the case of a victim with a mental impairment or developmental disability, or is judgmentally impaired or incapacitated by alcohol or drugs (legal or otherwise).
Consent can always be withdrawn before the actual sexual intercourse takes place.
The law would invalidate consent in the case of sexual intercourse with a person below the age at which they can legally consent to such relations. (See age of consent.) Such cases are sometimes called statutory rape or "unlawful sexual intercourse", regardless of whether it was consensual or not.
In times gone by and in many countries still today marriage is said to constitute at least an implied consent to sexual intercourse. However, marriage in many countries today is no longer a defence to rape or assault. In some jurisdictions, a person cannot be found guilty of the rape of a spouse, either on the basis of "implied consent" or (in the case of former British colonies) because of a statutory requirement that the intercourse must have been "unlawful" (which is legal nomenclature for outside of wedlock). However, in many of those jurisdictions it is still possible to bring prosecutions for what is effectively rape by characterizing it as an assault.


The word rape originates from the Latin verb rapere: to seize or take by force. The word originally had no sexual connotation and is still used generically in English. The history of rape, and the alterations of its meaning, is quite complex. In Roman law, rape was classified as a form of crimen vis, "crime of assault." Unlike theft or robbery, rape was termed a "public wrong" iniuria publica as opposed to a "private wrong" iniuria privita. Augustus Caesar enacted reforms for the crime of rape under the assault statute Lex Iulia de vi publica, which bears his family name, Iulia. It was under this statute rather than the adultery statute of Lex Iulia de adulteriis that Rome prosecuted this crime. Emperor Justinian confirmed the continued use of the statute to prosecute rape during the 6th century in the Eastern Roman Empire. By late antiquity, the general term raptus had referred to abduction, elopement, robbery, or rape in its modern meaning. Confusion over the term led ecclesial commentators on the law to differentiate it into raptus seductionis (elopement without parental consent) and raptus violentiae (ravishment). Both of these forms of raptus had a civil penalty and possible excommunication for the family and village receiving the abducted woman, although raptus violentiae also incurred punishments of mutilation or death.
Throughout parts of ancient history, the crime of rape was viewed less as a variety of assault on a female's autonomy, but rather a serious property crime against the man to whom she "belonged." This was especially true in the case of betrothed virgins, as the loss of chastity was perceived as severely depreciating her value to her husband. The law, in such cases, would void the betrothal and demand financial compensation from the rapist, payable to the woman's household, whose "goods" were "damaged". Under biblical law, the rapist might be married to the unmarried woman instead of receiving the civil penalty if her father agreed. This was especially prevalent in laws where the crime of rape did not include, as a necessary element, the violation of the woman's will, thus dividing the crime in the current meaning of rape and a means for a man and woman to force their families to permit marriage.
From the classical antiquity of Greece and Rome into the Colonial period, rape along with arson, treason and murder was a capital offense. "Those committing rape were subject to a wide range of capital punishments that were seemingly brutal, frequently bloody, and at times spectacular." In the 12th century, kinsmen of the victim were given the option of executing the punishment themselves. "In England in the early fourteenth century, a victim of rape might be expected to gouge out the eyes and/or sever the offender's testicles herself."
The English common law defined rape as "the carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will." The common law defined carnal knowledge as the penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ (it covered all other acts under the crime of sodomy). The crime of rape was unique in the respect that it focused on the victim's state of mind and actions in addition to that of the defendant. The victim was required to prove a continued state of physical resistance, and consent was conclusively presumed when a man had intercourse with his wife. "One of the most oft-quoted passages in our jurisprudence" on the subject of rape is by Lord Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale from the 17th century, " an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, tho never so innocent."
Many additional developments in law with regard to rape took place during the twentieth century. These included landmark decisions by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that defined rape as an institutionalized weapon of war and a crime of genocide.
The modern criminal justice system is widely known for being unfair to sexual assault victims. (Macdonalds, 2001) Both sexist stereotypes and common law combined to make rape a "criminal proceeding on which the victim and her behavior were tried rather than the defendant". (Howard & Francis, 2000) Since the 1970s many changes have occurred in the perception of sexual assault due in large part to the feminist movement and its public characterization of rape as a crime of power and control rather than purely of sex. However, a victim is still put on trial in most rape cases.Rape and Prosecution In some countries the women's liberation movement of the 1970s created the first rape crisis centers. This movement was led by the National Organization for Women (NOW) ( One of the first two rape crisis centers, the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, opened in 1972. It was created to promote sensitivity and understanding of rape and its effects on the victim. In 1960 law enforcement cited false reporting rates at 20%. By 1973 the statistics had dropped to 15%. After 1973 the New York City Police Department used female officers to investigate sexual assault cases and the rate dropped to 2% according to the FBI. (DiCanio, 1993). False reporting rates are difficult to interpret, as it varies by location what constitutes "false". Whether that means the police or the DA did not feel their was enough evidence for an arrest or to take it to trial. Whether the case was dropped, or if a court rule not-guilty. Or whether a victim recanted. And all of these possibilities do not necessarily mean that a report is false, as they are often made as reactions to victim blaming.
An important part of the history of rape is the foundation of RAINN in 1994 by Tori Amos and Scott Berkowitz. RAINN is central to the modern history of the rape crisis movement as it founded the national sexual assault hotline and provides statistics and information to the media.
Male-male rape has historically been shrouded in secrecy due to the stigma men associate with being raped by other men. According to psychologist Dr Sarah Crome fewer than one in ten male-male rapes are reported. As a group, male rape victims reported a lack of services and support, and legal systems are often ill equipped to deal with this type of crime.
Most cultures worldwide have not considered the possibility that women can commit rape against men and women. Most legal codes on rape do not legislate for this as a crime, as rape is generally defined to include the act of penetration on behalf of the rapist. As of 2007, in South Africa a gang of women has reportedly been raping young men. However, the relevance of this issue has been overshadowed by more prominent instantiations of rape, and it is widely regarded, particularly by feminists and academics interested in feminist issues and sexual matters of intellectual interest, that until the more prominent issues of rape are addressed first, not much will come of the former, less common instances of rape, as addressed here.

In war

Rape, in the course of war, also dates back to antiquity, ancient enough to have been mentioned in the Bible. The Israelite, Greek, Persian and Roman troops would routinely rape women and boys in the conquered towns. In the modern era, rape is considered to be a war crime when committed by soldiers in combat.
As many as 80,000 women were raped by the Japanese soldiers during the six weeks of the Nanking Massacre. The term "Comfort women" is a euphemism for the estimated 200,000 Korean and Chinese women who were forced into prostitution in Japanese military brothels during World War II. At the end of World War II, Red Army soldiers are estimated to have raped around 2,000,000 German women and girls. French Moroccan troops known as Goumiers, committed rapes and other war crimes after the Battle of Monte Cassino. (See Marocchinate.)
It has been alleged that an estimated 200,000 women were raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War by the Pakistani army, though this has been disputed by many including the Indian academic Sarmila Bose and at that at least 20,000 Bosnian Muslim women were raped by Serb forces during the Bosnian War. Wartime propaganda often alleges mistreatment of the civilian population by enemy forces and allegations of rape figure prominently in this, as a result it is often very difficult both practically and politically to an accurate view of what really happened.



There are several types of rape, generally categorized by reference to the situation in which it occurs, the sex or characteristics of the victim, and/or the sex or characteristics of the perpetrator. Different types of rape include but are not limited to: date rape, gang rape, marital rape, prison rape, acquaintance rape, and wartime rape.UCSB's SexInfo.
Though people tend to assume otherwise, rape by a stranger is by far the least common form of rape.
Rape by perpetrator

False accusation

There have been many widely reported examples of false accusations of rape, including Mabel Hallam, Agnes Loebeck, Kristie Brown, Tawana Brawley and Crystal Gail Mangum, but the actual extent of false reporting is unknown. A.W. Burgess and R.R. Hazelwood observe that "little is published which addresses the issue and concept of false allegation." The classification of "false reporting" makes no distinction between women who wilfully misreport and women who mistakenly identify innocent men. Figures on false reporting used by journalists have ranged from 2% to 50% depending on their sources: "... one explanation for such a wide range in the statistics might simply be that they come from different studies of different populations... But there's also a strong political tilt to the debate. A low number would undercut a belief about rape as being as old as the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife: that some women, out of shame or vengeance ... claim that their consensual encounters or rebuffed advances were rapes. If the number is high, on the other hand, advocates for women who have been raped worry it may also taint the credibility of the genuine victims of sexual assault." In her work, "The Legacy of the Prompt Complaint Requirement, Corroboration Requirement, and Cautionary Instructions on Campus Sexual Assault", Michelle J. Anderson of the Villanova University School of Law states: "As a scientific matter, the frequency of false rape complaints to police or other legal authorities remains unknown." The FBI's 1996 Uniform Crime Report states that 8% of reports of forcible rape were determined to be unfounded upon investigation, but that percentage does not include cases where an accuser fails or refuses to cooperate in an investigation or drops the charges. A British study using a similar methodology that does not include the accusers who drop out of the justice process found a false reporting rate of 8% as well.
In 1994, Dr. Eugene J. Kanin of Purdue University investigated the incidences, in one small urban community, of false rape allegations made to the police between 1978 and 1987. Unlike those in many larger jurisdictions, this police department had the resources to "seriously record and pursue to closure all rape complaints, regardless of their merits". The falseness of the allegations was not decided by the police, or by Dr. Kanin; they were "... declared false only because the complainant admitted they are false." The number of false rape allegations in the studied period was 45; this was 41% of the 109 total complaints filed in this period.
A 2006 paper by N.S. Rumney in the Cambridge Law Journal provided an exhaustive account of studies of false reporting in the USA, New Zealand and the UK. A tabulated list of studies on false reporting published between 1968 and 2005 placed the percentage of false reports between a minimum on 1.5% (Theilade and Thomsen, 1986) and a maximum of 90% (Stewart, 1981). Rumney notes that early researchers tended to accept uncritically Freudian theories which purported to explain the prevalence of false allegations, while in more recent literature there has been "a lack of critical analysis of those who claim a low false reporting rate and the uncritical adoption of unreliable research findings" (p.157) Rumney concludes that "as a consequence of such deficiencies within legal scholarship, factual claims have been repeatedly made that have only limited empirical support. This suggests widespead analytical failure on the part of legal scholarship and requires an acknowledgement of the weakness of assumptions that have been constructed on unreliable research evidence".


A United Nations report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries.
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. Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992). 1 of 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape.
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.
In addition, rape by women is a barely understood phenomenon that is widely denied in most societies and one that usually causes surprise, shock, or utter revulsion.
In the United States, 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 to about 0.4 per 1000 people, a decline of about 85%. 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 higher victimization rate.
While researchers and prosecutors do not agree on the exact percentage of false allegations, they generally agree on a range of 2% - 8%. The belief that false allegations of rape are a problem is common. Unfortunately, that belief can discourage victims from reporting for fear of being put on trial themselves:
According to a report of the Defense Department Inspector General released in 2005, approximately 73% of women and 72% of men at the military service academies believe that false accusations of sexual assault are a problem.
Cundiff (2004) argued that the inavailability of another outlet for male sexual desires, such as prostitution, may contribute to the prevalence of rape.
The research on convicted rapists has found several important motivational factors in the sexual aggression of males. In one study, it was found that rapists had less empathy toward women that had been sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant and more hostility toward women than nonsex offenders and nonoffender males. Most rapists do not have a preference for rape over consensual sex. Around 90% of rapists who participated in a 1986 study by Baxter et al. were more aroused by depictions of mutually enjoyable sex than violent rape. There are not significant differences between the arousal patterns of rapists and nonrapists.
From 2000-2005, 59% of rapes were not reported to law enforcement. One factor relating to this is misconception that most rapes are committed by strangers. In reality, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 38% of victims were raped by a friend or acquaintance, 28% by "an intimate" and 7% by another relative, and 26% were committed by a stranger to the victim. About four out of ten sexual assaults take place at the victim's own home.
More than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children were reported in 2000 in South Africa. Child welfare groups believe that the number of unreported incidents could be up to 10 times that number. A belief common to South Africa holds that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or Aids. South Africa has the highest number of HIV-positive citizens in the world. According to official figures, one in eight South Africans are infected with the virus. Edith Kriel, a social worker who helps child victims in the Eastern Cape, said: “Child abusers are often relatives of their victims - even their fathers and providers.”
According to University of Durban-Westville anthropology lecturer and researcher Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala, the myth that sex with a virgin is a cure for AIDS is not confined to South Africa. “Fellow AIDS researchers in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria have told me that the myth also exists in these countries and that it is being blamed for the high rate of sexual abuse against young children.”


details Effects of rape and aftermath After being raped it is common for the victim to experience intense, and sometimes unpredictable, emotions, and they may find it hard to deal with their memories of the event. Victims can be severely traumatized by the assault and may have difficulty functioning as well as they had been used to prior to the assault, with disruption of concentration, sleeping patterns and eating habits, for example. They may feel jumpy or be on edge. In the month(s) immediately following the assault these problems may be severe and very upsetting and may prevent the victim from revealing their ordeal to friends or family, or seeking police or medical assistance. This may result in Acute Stress Disorder. Symptoms of this are:
  • feeling numb and detached, like being in a daze or a dream, or feeling that the world is strange and unreal
  • difficulty remembering important parts of the assault
  • reliving the assault through repeated thoughts, memories, or nightmares
  • avoidance of things, places, thoughts, and/or feelings that remind the victim of the assault
  • anxiety or increased arousal (difficulty sleeping, concentrating, etc.)
  • avoidance of social life or place of rape
It can also cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However while the effects of rape can be truly horrible, and can impact some survivors' ability to function, it is important to remember that a survivor's response to rape is as unique and different as every person is. In fact a survivor may not have any of these responses to the rape, or they may have them, but not immediately following the assault. It's important to remember that there is no one correct way for a survivor of assault to respond to it.

Victim blame

"Victim blaming" is holding the victim of a crime to be in whole or in part responsible for what has happened to them. In the context of rape, this concept refers to the Just World Theory and popular attitudes that certain victim behaviours (such as flirting, or wearing sexually-provocative clothing) may encourage rape. In extreme cases, victims are said to have "asked for it", simply by not behaving demurely. In most Western countries, the defense of provocation is not accepted as a mitigation for rape. A global survey of attitudes toward sexual violence by the Global Forum for Health Research shows that victim-blaming concepts are at least partially accepted in many countries. In some countries, victim-blaming is more common, and women who have been raped are sometimes deemed to have behaved improperly. Often, these are countries where there is a significant social divide between the freedoms and status afforded to men and women. Despite longstanding feminist campaigns of activism and agitprop dedicated to the elimination of harmful rape myths (attitudes and beliefs conducive to sexual violence), virulent memes persist; many members of the public still contend that at least some women are prone to masochism and deception.

Sociobiological perspectives

Some argue that rape, as a reproductive strategy, is encountered in many instances in the animal kingdom (i.e: ducks, geese, and certain dolphin species). It is difficult to determine what constitutes rape among animals, as the lack of informed consent defines rape among humans. See also Non-human animal sexuality.
Some sociobiologists argue that our ability to understand rape, and thereby prevent it, is severely compromised because its basis in human evolution has been ignored. Some studies indicate that it is an evolutionary strategy for certain males who lack the ability to persuade the female by non-violent means to pass on their genes.
American social critic Camille Paglia, and some sociobiologists, have argued that the victim-blaming intuition may have a non-psychological component in some cases. Some sociobiological models suggest that it may be genetically-ingrained for certain men and women to allow themselves to be more vulnerable to rape, and that this may be a biological feature of members of the species.

Loss of control and privacy

Rape has been regarded as "a crime of violence and control" since the 1970s. Psychological analysis literature identifies control as a key component in most definitions of privacy:
  • "Privacy is not the absence of other people from one's presence, but the control over the contact one has with them." (Pedersen, D. 1997).
  • "Selective control of access to the self." (Margulis, 2003)
Control is important in providing:
  • what is needed need for normal psychological functioning;
  • stable interpersonal relationships; and
  • personal development. (Pedersen, D. 1997)
Violation of privacy or "control" comes in many forms, with sexual assault and the resulting psychological traumas being one of the most explicit forms. Many victims of sexual assault suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, which also center around control issues. Therefore, some argue that it makes more sense to look at the issue of sexual assault as an invasion of privacy (Mclean, D. 1995):
The more comfortable a person is with talking about invasion of privacy and in insisting that he or she has privacy that deserves respect, the clearer that person’s understanding of rape will be…
Approaching rape through the concept of privacy helps bypass certain social stigmas.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kansas v. Hendricks that a predatory sex offender can be civilly committed upon release from prison.

Criminal punishment in the United States

In the United States, 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, naval or U.S.-flagged merchant vessels in international waters, or a U.S. military base. 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, 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. The term rape is not used in federal law. Rape is grouped with all forms of non consensual sexual acts under chapter 109a of the United States Code.
Under federal law the punishment for rape can range from a fine to the death penalty. The severity of the punishment is based on the use of violence, the age of the victim and whether drugs or intoxicants were used in the to override consent. If the perpetrator is a repeat offender the maximum sentence is automatically doubled.


Further reading

  • Encyclopedia of rape
  • Male victims of sexual assault
  • The Causes Of Rape: Understanding Individual Differences In Male Propensity For Sexual Aggression (The Law and Public Policy.)
  • A natural history of rape biological bases of sexual coercion
  • Perspectives on female sex offending: a culture of denial
  • Wife rape: understanding the response of survivors and service providers
  • Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender
  • 'The Face of the Rapist
  • Theories of Rape: Inquiries Into the Causes of Rape
raped in Arabic: اغتصاب
raped in Bosnian: Silovanje
raped in Bulgarian: Изнасилване
raped in Catalan: Violació
raped in Czech: Znásilnění
raped in Danish: Voldtægt
raped in German: Vergewaltigung
raped in Spanish: Violación
raped in Esperanto: Seksatenco
raped in French: Viol
raped in Korean: 강간
raped in Croatian: Silovanje
raped in Ido: Violaco
raped in Indonesian: Pemerkosaan
raped in Icelandic: Nauðgun
raped in Italian: Stupro
raped in Hebrew: אונס
raped in Lithuanian: Išprievartavimas
raped in Hungarian: Erőszakos közösülés
raped in Malay (macrolanguage): Rogol
raped in Dutch: Verkrachting
raped in Japanese: 強姦
raped in Norwegian: Voldtekt
raped in Polish: Zgwałcenie
raped in Portuguese: Estupro
raped in Russian: Изнасилование
raped in Simple English: Rape
raped in Slovak: Znásilnenie
raped in Serbian: Силовање
raped in Serbo-Croatian: Silovanje
raped in Finnish: Raiskaus
raped in Swedish: Våldtäkt
raped in Tamil: வன்கலவி
raped in Thai: การข่มขืน
raped in Vietnamese: Hiếp dâm
raped in Turkish: Irza geçme
raped in Yiddish: פארגעוואלדיגונג
raped in Contenese: 強姦
raped in Chinese: 强奸
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