Rape (law French, rapt; law Latin, raptus), the violation or carnal knowledge of a woman, forcibly and against her will. Early English statutes, which have perhaps in some of the United States the force of common law, extend this to the case of a woman child under the age of 10 years carnally known either with or against her will. Every civilized nation, ancient and modern, has declared by its criminal code its abhorrence of this offence, and affixed to its commission the severest punishments. By the Mosaic law, to ravish a damsel who was betrothed to another was a crime punishable with death; and in case of one not betrothed the offender was compelled to take the damsel to wife and pay her father a fine of 50 shekels. By the civil law rape was punishable with death and confiscation of goods. Unlike our law, however, the civilians made no distinction between rape as defined by us, of which force is the characteristic element, and seduction without force, of which the common law takes no cognizance; and by the civil law the unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman with her consent was subject to the same severity of punishment as if obtained forcibly and against her will.
This, we are told, was because the Roman law entertained so high an opinion of the virtue and chastity of woman, that it would not presume her to be capable of a violation of those qualities, unless induced thereto by the evil, arts and solicitations of man; and in order to secure her the more effectually from the danger of these, it made such a violation of chastity, however consummated, equally a crime in him, and visited its penalties upon him alone. By the Saxons rape was also esteemed a felony and punished with death, though the woman ravished (if single) might redeem the offender from execution if she were willing to accept him as her husband, and he were willing to be so redeemed. But "William the Conqueror, probably deeming the punishment of death too severe, altered it to castration and loss of the eyes. In the reign of Edward I. the law was still further modified, and rape was declared to be, and was punished as, a misdemeanor only; but the consequences of this amelioration proving disastrous and inducing a fearful increase of the crime, 10 years afterward, during the same reign, it was restored to the rank of felony and punished as before with death.
By 9 George IV. it was made a non-capital felony, and is now punishable by imprisonment with hard labor for not less than two years. In the United States, although by statute the punishment varies somewhat in different states, it is by all treated as felony and punished with imprisonment for life or for a term of years. - It was for a long time an unsettled question what was requisite to constitute this offence, and proof of the full accomplishment of the act was once considered indispensable in order to secure a conviction. As far as the wrong and outrage to the individual is concerned, the crime is perhaps equally entire where the offence is imperfectly committed. But the physical completion of the offence is not now necessary, in law, to complete the guilt of the offender; for it is not the degree of gratification to the lust of the ravisher which gauges the degree of criminality, but the injury done to the person and feelings of the victim, and the dastardly violation of that modesty and sense of delicacy which nature has implanted in the female heart. Force is a necessary element, and the offence must be perpetrated against the will of the party ravished.
Though the woman at first consent, yet if she is afterward forced, or if her consent is obtained through duress or fear of death, it is equally a rape; and so careful is our law of the rights and safety of all classes and persons, that even a common prostitute may be the subject of a rape, though by the civil law she could not be. But fraud is not equivalent to force, and in the case of Jackson, who accomplished his purpose by personating the woman's husband during his absence, it was held, after careful consideration by the judges, that he could not be convicted of rape, but simply of an assault. It has been made a question whether sexual intercourse with a female non compos mentis should not be held to be rape, on the ground of her inability to give consent; but the authorities are to the contrary where no force is employed and such consent as she is capable of is given. A husband cannot commit a rape upon his wife, for by the marriage contract she yields herself to him, and she cannot afterward retract her assent; but if he is present, and aids in prostituting her to another against her will, he becomes thereby equally guilty with the principal, and is liable to the same punishment as the actual perpetrator of the outrage.
An infant under 14 years of age is presumed in law, on the ground of a supposed imbecility of body if not of mind, to be incapable of committing a rape; and though as to other felonies the maxim malitia supplet oetatem holds, it is not so as regards this offence. An infant may, however, where the mischievous intention and capacity are evident, become a principal in the second degree, or suffer conviction for an assault with intent. - The party ravished is a competent witness against the accused; but her credibility is a matter for the consideration of the jury. If unsupported by other direct testimony, it must depend on concurrent circumstances for confirmation; as "for instance," says Sir Matthew Hale, "if the witness be of good fame, if she presently discovered the offence, made pursuit after the offender, showed circumstances and signs of the injury, whereof many are of that nature that only women are the most proper examiners and inspectors, if the place where the fact was done was remote from people, inhabitants, or passengers, if the offender fled for it; these and the like are concurring evidences to give greater probability to her testimony, when proved by others as well as herself." In charges of this nature the courts are compelled to proceed with the utmost caution and care and to require convincing evidence of guilt before convicting the accused; for, as Sir Matthew Hale further remarks: "It is true rape is a most detestable crime, and therefore ought severely and impartially to be punished with death; but it must be remembered that it is an accusation easily made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, though never so innocent;" and he then proceeds to state several singular cases which came under his own judicial observation, and in which innocent men falsely and maliciously accused of this crime narrowly escaped conviction.
The defendant may impeach the character of the prosecutrix by general evidence, but particular acts of misconduct or immorality are inadmissible. As regards the testimony of children under 10 years of age, upon whom this offence has been committed, it is admissible where the witness is old enough and has sufficient instruction and intelligence to understand the relations of good and evil, and the nature of an oath; but, like that of older complainants, its credibility depends upon similar supporting circumstances. - As in other felonies, there may be accessories before and after the fact; but all persons actually present, aiding and abetting its commission, are principals, and are liable to the same punishment as that awarded to the actual perpetrator of the outrage. An attempt to commit a rape, which is usually indicted as "an assault with an attempt," etc, is a high misdemeanor, and is severely punished by the laws of the various United States.
Rape (Lat. rapum), a cruciferous plant cultivated from very early times for the oil contained in its seeds, and as a forage plant. It belongs in the genus brassica, sufficiently described under Mustard; some botanists place the turnip and rape as distinct species (B. na-pus and B. rapa), but the best authors now regard both as varieties of B. campestris, a variable plant found throughout Europe and Russian Asia, and differing from others of the genus in having its stem leaves sessile and au-ricled, or produced at base into two rounded lobes; the lower leaves pinnately divided, slightly glaucous, and usually rough with stiff hairs; flowers bright yellow. Though not botanically distinct from the turnip, the two are quite unlike in their uses; the turnip having been cultivated for centuries with a view to the development of the root to the neglect of all other parts, while in the rape, the greatest amount of seeds being desirable, no regard has been had to the root, which remains small and in its natural condition. The plant is an annual, but some of the forms of it are treated like biennials, being sown in autumn to perfect itself the following summer.
It is an important plant in English agriculture, where it is cultivated for its herbage, of which on rich land it yields an enormous amount, the plant standing 4 ft. high; domestic animals generally are fond of it, and it is especially useful for sheep, which are allowed to feed it off, and thus enrich the land; it is sometimes ploughed under as a green fertilizer. In this country rape has been but little cultivated; the winters in the northern states are too severe for the fall-planted kinds, but the early or German rape, sown in May, has been satisfactorily tried by some sheep raisers. In Europe it is grown in gardens as a salad plant and pot herb, being eaten young in the same manner as mustard. As a forage plant it is sown broadcast, the stems being more succulent if the plants are crowded; but when grown for its seeds, the young plants are raised in a seed bed, and when large enough are set in the field in rows the same as cabbages; the yield of seed varies from 20 to 40 bushels to the acre.
The seeds closely resemble those of the turnip, but are somewhat larger; they yield about 33 per cent. of oil, which, when freed from the mucilage it contains, is used as a lubricator, for illumination, for dressing leather, in the manufacture of woollen cloths, for soap making, and for other purposes; it is also called colza oil, a name more especially given to that derived from a sub-variety called B. campestris oleifera. The mass left after the expression of the oil, known as rape cake, is a considerable article of commerce in Europe; its composition is, in 100 parts, water 15, ash 7.4, albuminoids 18.3, carbohydrates 33.5, crude fibre 15.8, fat, etc, 10; it is a powerful manure, which acts promptly, and is used either in compost, or ground fine and drilled in with the seed; it is especially valuable for turnips and wheat.
Rape (Brassica campestris, var. rapa).