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Definitions of rape

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 5 months ago

Definitions of rape



Rape (Broad Definition)


Rape is the crime of forcing somebody into sexual activity against his or her will through use of physical force, threat of injury, or other duress. It is also considered rape if the victim is unable to say "no" to intercourse, due to the effects of drugs or alcohol or is under the legal age of consent. The word originates from the Latin verb rapere: to seize or take by force. The Latin term for the act of rape itself is raptus. Further definitions are available. See also: survivor


Rape (Unabridged)


'Rape' is, in most jurisdictions, a crime defined as sexual intercourse or penetration without valid consent by both parties. Some of the essential elements of the crime are sexual penetration, force, and lack of consent. Criteria used to determine sexual assault are if the victim is being forced, threatened, is unconscious, has been drugged, is a minor, developmentally disabled, chronically mentally ill, or believes they are undergoing a medical procedure.


There is no universally accepted distinction between rape and other forms of assault involving one or both participant's sexual organs. Some criminal codes explicitly consider all kinds of forced sexual activity to be rape, whereas in others only acts involving penile penetration of the vagina. Many restrict rape to instances where a woman is forced by a man. In recent years some women have been convicted of raping men; this is classed as either rape or sexual assault. 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.


In many jurisdictions, the penetration of a bodily orifice (vaginal, anal or oral) can be considered rape (although most jurisdictions require the penetration of a female orifice, such as a vagina, by a male penis), and in many jurisdictions male-male and female-female sexual relations can also constitute rape. Some jurisdictions expand the definition of rape further to include other sexual acts without valid consent, including oral sex and masturbation. The lack of valid consent does not necessarily mean that the victim explicitly refused to give consent; generally, where consent was obtained by physical force, threat of injury, or other duress, or where consent was given by a person whose age was below the age of consent, a person who was intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, or a person who was mentally impaired by illness or developmental disability, the consent is considered invalid. (When the sexual activity involved a person whose age was below the age of consent, the crime defined is often known as "statutory rape," although a number of jurisdictions use terms such as "unlawful sexual intercourse" to avoid the forcible connotation of the word "rape." The age of consent varies in different states of the U.S. from 14 to 18 years.)

Some examples of sexual assault are:


  • Putting a finger, tongue, mouth, penis or an object in or on your vagina, penis or anus when you don’t want them to.
  • Touching, fondling, kissing or making any unwanted contact.
  • Forcing the performance of oral sex or forcing you to receive oral sex.
  • Forcing someone to masturbate, forcing you to masturbate them, or fondling and touching you.
  • Forcing someone to look at sexually explicit material or forcing you to pose for sexually explicit pictures.
  • A doctor, nurse, or other health care professional giving you an unnecessary internal examination or touching your sexual organs in an inappropriate manner. (NCVC)




Further definitions can be found here.



Non-sexual usage of term

English rape was in use since the 14th century in the general sense of "seize prey, take by force," from raper, an Old French legal term for "to seize", in turn from Latin rapere "seize, carry off by force, abduct". The Latin term was also used for sexual violation, but only very rarely. The legendary event known as the "Rape of the Sabine Women", while ultimately motivated sexually, did not entail sexual violation of the Sabine women on the spot, who were rather abducted, and then implored by the Romans to marry them (as opposed to striking a deal with their fathers or brothers first, as would have been required by law).


Though the sexual connotation is today dominant, the word "rape" can be used in non-sexual context in literary English. In "the rape of the Silmarils" in J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Silmarillion", the word "rape" is used with its old meaning of "seizing and taking away".

In Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock, the word "rape" is used hyperbolically, exaggerating a trivial violation against a person. Compare also the adjective rapacious which retains the generic meaning.


Sometimes, the word rape is used colloquially to dysphemistically describe forms of non-sexual unwelcome conduct ("My team got raped on the field yesterday"), or metaphorically as in "the rape of the Earth" referring to environmental destruction, possibly implying a female gender of the Earth (Gaia). Other than in literary usage discussed above, this use of the term is unrelated to the original sense of "abduction" or "carrying off" and implies a comparison with sexual violation. In "The Rape of Nanking" actual mass rape and mass murder is summarized by naming the city as the object of the rape.




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Inspired by the former wiki rape page deleted June 2006. Return to the table of contents/home.



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