New York to pass bill expanding definition of rape
As anti-choice politicians seek to narrow the definition of sexual assault to “forcible rape” or “legitimate rape,” lawmakers in New York State are taking the opposite approach — and actually may be prepared to advance a bill that would expand the definition of rape to encompass additional acts of sexual violence.
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D) first introduced the legislation last year after Lydia Cuomo, a Bronx schoolteacher who was raped by a city cop, discovered that her assaulter wasn’t going to be charged with “rape.” Since Cuomo’s rapist didn’t vaginally penetrate her, his crimes fell outside of New York’s current definition of rape — but Simotas’ bill seeks to change that by widening the state’s rape statues to officially include forced oral and anal sex. Cuomo traveled to Albany on Tuesday to use her own personal experience to help advocate for the proposed legislation, urging state lawmakers to make sure an outdated legal definition won’t continue to deny survivors the justice they deserve:
Cuomo wants to use what happened to her to spur lawmakers to act this year. The legislative push is also part of her healing process. [...]
Last week, she recounted how she sat nervously with her family in the 15th-floor office of the district attorney that day last March when she found out the 12-person jury couldn’t agree that she had been raped — an option she said never once entered her mind as a possibility.
“When we found out the reason why, it just seemed so ludicrous to me,” Cuomo now says. “I think, quite frankly, it’s insulting.”
“Ultimately I was being told, ‘Oh, you were anally raped and orally raped, but we don’t believe you were raped; you were sexually assaulted.‘”