The FBI's change in the definition of rape is long overdue and will give the public more accurate insight into the number of these heinous offenses being committed.
For the first time, the FBI will count sexual assaults against males as forcible rape when compiling crime statistics, and they will remove requirements that the victim had to physically resist the attack and have the ability to refuse consent.
The previous definition of rape only included forcible penetration of a vagina by a penis, The New York Times reported, noting that standard had been in place since the 1920s.
That meant if a female was sexually attacked in any other manner, didn't fight her attacker, wasn't conscious or wasn't able to refuse consent or if the victim was a man or boy, the crime wasn't recorded as a forcible rape in FBI Uniform Crime Reporting statistics.
That would significantly undercount the number of these crimes.
That matters because it can affect the amount of funding available to address these crimes.
While sexual attacks against females might be more common, Americans have come to realize that males, particularly boys, also can be victims. There also have been cases in which females were unconscious while they were sexually attacked or whose attacks failed to fit the previous narrow definition.
On Monday, a Wilkes-Barre man was arrested on a charge of rape of an unconscious victim and statutory sexual assault after he allegedly attacked a 14-year-old girl as she slept. Previously this case would not have been counted in FBI statistics.
Neither would the allegations of child sexual abuse against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky because they involved boys.
For the FBI to not count these assaults as rapes is ridiculous.
Rape is a horrible crime regardless of gender or whether the victim physically resists the attacker, is unconscious or is unable to give consent.
Changing the definition of rape won't do anything to lessen the harm committed against the victim, but it will provide more accurate details on the number of these cases and raise public awareness.
It's a sensible, logical change. Our question: Why did it take so long?