Rape Is and Isn’t Rape, According to New York State Law

July 10, 2013 | Marie Calloway

After being brutally raped by an off-duty cop, 27-year-old Bronx teacher Lydia Cuomo advocated for a law that would make all forced penetration — including oral and anal — classified as “rape” under law in New York. When Cuomo’s rapist was tried in court, legally speaking, only forced vagina penetration was considered “rape,” and all other forced penetration was referred to as “sexual assault.”  Cuomo believed that this distinction made forced oral and anal penetration seem less serious and perpetuated a myth that rape is about sexual activity rather than violence and power.

In June, the senate passed a law that distinguished between “rape” (forced vaginal penetration), “oral rape” and “anal rape.”  Cuomo isn’t happy with the law, saying that, “The Senate bill defeats the entire purpose… They’re saying, for some reason, vaginal rape is different than oral and anal rape when the point should be it’s all the same crime. Their bill didn’t speak to what I wanted at all.”

According to the latest update at the Gothamist, Senator Catherine Young, who proposed the bill differentiating types of rape as “vaginal,” “anal” or “oral,” claimed that that  making a distinction between the three acts is useful in terms of making sure that rapists are effectively sentenced. Calling all of the acts “rape,” according to Young, could obscure the accounts of the attack and make juries believe that only one act occurred, thereby potentially reducing the charges.