Is the use of the term “rape” in the case of an 11-year-old delivering “severe vaginal trauma” (no other details were given) to a 14-month old appropriate?


An update in response to Rachel’s question explaining a little why I bothered to ask this question:

I’m not suggesting anything, necessarily — I don’t know enough about the case, really, since very few details were given, but that’s why I thought it was interesting that the word “rape” was used without much detail. I just wanted to throw the question out there to see what sort of responses I got. What I find interesting is that everyone focused on the violence and horrificness of the act to justify it as rape, and not questioning whether or not there was an element of sexuality. I.e. — was there sexual intent on behalf of the 11 year old? Was it mimicry? Was she a sexual abuse victim herself (probably, as noted above)? Would it still be rape if her violent act had been one of bodily mutilation in general (perhaps or perhaps not including the vagina). Does inflicting injury to a sexual organ alone make it rape?

This is purely an academic discussion, of course — one of semantics, but.. I think semantics are important with a word as powerful as rape — do we dilute its meaning as a word that has come to represent an endemic form of sexual violence that represents a real social problem if we apply it everywhere there are sex organs involved, regardless of intent? Probably not, but it’s worth thinking about.