Rape Reform Law Law & Legal Definition


As the Rape laws for the states were found lacking there has been move for reforming the rape laws since 1970’s. The goal of the rape reform movement was to treat rape as any other crime by sifting the focus from the behavior or reputation of the victim to the unlawful acts of the offender. Rape law reform was sought as a method to encourage the victims to report rapes and to co-operate with criminal justice officials in prosecuting rapists. By the middle of 1980’s most of the states in US enacted rape reform legislations. Reform statutes enacted by the states were varied and sought a wide range of reforms. The most common changes that were sought were:

  • Redefining rape
  • Replacing the single crime of rape with a series of graded offenses defined by the presence or absence of aggravating conditions
  • Changing the standard for consent by eliminating the requirement that the victim should physically resist her attacker
  • Eliminating the requirement for corroboration of the victim’s testimony
  • Restricting evidence regarding the victim's prior sexual conduct

It was hoped that ultimately these reforms will lead to an increase in the number of rape cases which are reported and would make arrest, prosecution, and conviction for rape more likely. However various studies conducted on the effectiveness of rape-law reform reveal that the reforms have been mostly ineffective.