General definition

Engaging in non-consensual vaginal, anal or oral penetration of a sexual nature of the body of another person with any bodily part or object.

Consent must be given voluntarily as the result of the person’s free will, as assessed in the context of the surrounding circumstances.

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.

Additional notes and information

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).

The purpose of a separate statistical definition is to aid the EU Member States in collecting comparable administrative data on violence against women.


General definition

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.