Crime of Rape

January 19, 1972

Report Outline
Rising Awareness of Rape in America
Sexual Aggression and Aggressors
Legal Dealings with Sexual Offenses
Special Focus

Rising Awareness of Rape in America

Big Statistical Increase During the Past Decade

Rape, the crime most feared by women, appears to be on the increase and no one is quite sure what to do about it. Apprehending the rapist is difficult, and convicting him even more difficult. The rapist apparently comes in many guises: he may be a deranged sadist, an alienated youth who casually assaults a woman as an adjunct to petty theft, a mild-mannered family man driven periodically to rape and kill, or just an ardent fellow who mistook his petting partner's “no” for “yes.”

Women's liberationists complain that the police do not take rape charges as seriously as they should unless the woman can show bruises, cuts or other unmistakable evidence of physical abuse. The police, on the other hand, are in a dilemma as they try to separate valid complaints from the false. For if rape is the hardest crime to prove, it is also the easiest to fake.

Rape is unique among the crimes of violence. It is the only one in which the criminal factor is not the act itself—but whether the victim was forced to participate. If the act is performed without her consent, it is rape; if it is with her consent—and she is an adult—there is no offense. A man may be the innocent victim of a false rape charge, just as a woman may be the innocent victim of a rapist who claims she was a willing participant in the sexual act. Since witnesses are rarely present, the case becomes a matter of balancing the credibility of the complainant with the credibility of the alleged attacker.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jan. 19, 1972  Crime of Rape
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BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence