The NY Daily News reports that New York is finally rectifying a grave injustice in its penal code as it prepares to pass a bill to broaden the definition of rape:
ALBANY — State legislative leaders said they are prepared to pass a bill to strengthen the state’s rape laws.
The “rape is rape” bill has been championed by Lydia Cuomo, a Bronx schoolteacher who was viciously raped by a gun-wielding city cop in 2011. She broke her silence about the assault in an exclusive interview that the Daily News published on Monday.
The proposed law would add forced anal and oral sex to the state’s rape statutes, toughening current laws that classify the vile attacks as criminal sex acts, not rape.
Since Cuomo “only” suffered oral and anal penetration as opposed to vaginal, her rapist was not convicted of rape at all but rather “criminal and predatory sex charges.” This led Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas to introduce a bill in 2012 expanding the definition of rape to cover the full spectrum. It languished for a year but has picked up momentum and appears to be heading for passage.
According to ThinkProgress:
Twenty five states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have eliminated the word “rape” from their codes in order to use the more inclusive terms “sexual assault” or “sexual abuse” — but in the remaining states, including New York, the official definition of what’s considered to be rape can vary widely.
But not for much longer.
This move stands in stark contrast to the GOP’s ongoing efforts to narrow the definition of rape. The last couple of years has seen a disturbing movement to redefine “rape” as “legitimate,” “forcible” or “a gift from God.” The reasoning behind this is twofold: first, the very concept of rape runs counter to the deeply misogynistic right-wing belief that men cannot be guilty of nonconsensual sex. Either she asked for it (by dressing wrong or having the nerve to drink alcohol) or she secretly enjoyed it. Second, the GOP’s absolutist stance against abortion forces them to deny exceptions for pregnancy by rape. This, in turn, makes Republican politicians look like heartless monsters (if the shoe fits…). To weasel out of the corner they have painted themselves into, Republicans come up with all kinds of nonsensical excuses for why rape isn’t really rape. Or that rape can’t really end in a pregnancy unless she wanted it. Or that if the vagina isn’t shredded, it couldn’t have been rape.
That New York lagged behind in regards to this common sense definition is something of an embarrassment. Lydia Cuomo may not have received the justice she deserved but now she has a chance to make sure others do.