General definition

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.

Note: 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).

Statistical definition

Sexual penetration, whether vaginal, anal or oral, through the use of object or body parts, without consent, using force, coercion or by taking advantage of the vulnerability of the victim.


Propose an update


General definition

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;

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;

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.

Statistical definition

European Institute for Gender Equality (2017). Glossary of definitions of rape, femicide and intimate partner violence. See a list of Member State definitions here.

URI: http://eige.europa.eu/taxonomy/term/1339