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Dean Anderson in NY Times on the Evolving Definition of Rape

August 28, 2012

Dean Michelle J. Anderson is quoted in the New York Times on how the definition of rape has changed over time. Anderson states marriage used to be “a transfer of property from father to husband and if someone deflowered the virgin, that removed the property rights of the father.  Rape was about stealing his property.” Anderson continues, “Later, when the issue was not so specifically property, the determination of rape took on the need for force to be proven.  Evidence of struggle was required, as was prompt complaint, neither of which was needed for other kinds of crime like robbery or murder.”  Over the years, many states have removed the evidence of force requirement, and the federal government no longer refers to rape, but, rather, degrees of sexual assault, in its legal code.

Dean Anderson is a leading scholar on rape law. Her articles have been published in the Boston University Law Review, George Washington Law Review, Hastings Law Journal, Rutgers Law Review, Southern California Law Review, and University of Illinois Law Review, among others. Her article redefining what rape should be legally, “Negotiating Sex,” was selected as the core text on rape law in Criminal Law Conversations, published by Oxford University Press in 2009.

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