Any non-consensual vaginal, anal or oral penetration of the body of another person where the penetration is of a sexual nature, with any bodily part or with an object, as well as any other non-consensual acts of a sexual nature by the use of coercion, violence, threats, duress, ruse, surprise or other means, regardless of the perpetrator’s relationship to the victim. Causing another person to engage in non-consensual acts of a sexual nature with a third person is also considered as rape.
Consent refers to voluntary agreement as the result of a person’s free will. When the victim is a child below the age defined in national law as the age of consent, sexual intercourse with her or him constitutes rape.
In international legal regimes rape, is conceptualised as a violation of women’s human rights (UN General Assembly Resolution 48/104 based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights); as a form of torture (practice of the European Court of Human Rights, based on the European Convention on Human Rights); as a war crime (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court); and as a form of gender-based discrimination against women (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW Committee’s General Recommendation No 19).
See also: victim; survivor
(1) European Commission (2010). Feasibility report to assess the possibilities, opportunities and needs to standardise national legislation on violence against women, violence against children and sexual orientation violence; (2) European Parliament, Policy Department C: Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs (2013). Overview of the Worldwide Best Practices for Rape Prevention and for Assisting Women Victims of Rape; (3) Council of Europe (2011). Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and its Explanatory Memorandum. Council of Europe Treaty Series No 210.