Stop Prisoner Rape Calls on FBI to Stop Ignoring Male Rape in its Violent Crime Statistics

October 23, 2003

LOS ANGELES - The nonprofit human rights group Stop Prisoner Rape today called on the FBI to stop excluding the rape of men from the statistics on violent crime in its annual Uniform Crime Report.

Lara Stemple, executive director of the Los Angeles-based group, said the statistical exclusion of male rape victims from the numbers on violent crime works to conceal and trivialize the ongoing rape and sexual assault of men in jails and prisons.

Studies of sexual assault in prison show that as many as one in ten men have been raped in some facilities. If the FBI's new crime report - due to be published Monday, October 27 - follows the same statistical approach as in years past, these rapes will be not be included in the reported rate of violent crime.

"The FBI is the agency we rely on to give us accurate, objective data on crime," Stemple said. "Unfortunately, when it comes to rape, the Uniform Crime Report gives us a picture of reality that is neither accurate nor objective. It's a report that is distorted by gender bias, and unfortunately out of touch with reality."

Unlike many state penal codes that use a gender-neutral approach to rape, the national crime report has defined forcible rape as, "(t)he carnal knowledge of a female forcibly against her will." The categories of the FBI's Uniform Crime Report were created in 1929, according to the report. And though the report compiles a wealth of data from 17,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the country, that analysis of that data is skewed because the FBI "has traditionally defined rape victims as female," according to the 2002 UCR report.

"The rape of men in prison is a serious human rights abuse that is dehumanizing and sometimes deadly. Victims have been left beaten and bloodied, they have suffered long-term psychological harm, and they have contracted HIV. When we look at violent crime as a nation, we cannot ignore these victims," said Stemple.

Stemple noted that the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which was signed by President Bush in September, will begin to uncover the extent of the problem by creating a commission to study sexual violence behind bars. "The federal government has finally made an effort to acknowledge and address rape in prison," Stemple said.  "It's time for the FBI's crime report to reflect that evolution in awareness."