Imagine you’ve been raped. Given 1 our of 5 women experience rape in their lifetime, this is not a far reach. If you have the courage, you report the rape, and may undergo an uncomfortable physical and verbal examination. You are greatly admired for taking the step. Soon, you discover you are pregnant. Most states will aid a rape victim who seeks adoption or abortion, but the majority of states have no aid or laws to help the women who choose to keep the child of a rape. Even without help, you opt to have the baby. You find that some shame you for this decision, “Why would you want to keep it? Who does that? Wouldn’t the child remind you of the rape everyday?” You ignore them and move on with your life, only to find yourself in court of law, eight years later, fighting for the custody of your child with —your rapist.
Hard to believe? It happened to Shauna Prewitt, who wrote about her personal experiences in a Georgetown University paper, called, “Giving Birth To A ‘Rapist’s Baby.'” Now an attorney, Prewitt lets us know there are 31 states that allow a rapist to enjoy the same parental rights as any father, which can lead to a horrible re-victimization for the mother and child. In her CNN interview (below), last year, Prewitt said most of the problem is ignorance, and how society views rape victims. Some people still show sympathy for the rapists when rape cases are brought to court. We saw that in the Steubenville rape trial.
CNN aired their interview with Prewitt’s during the shockwaves of senatorial candidate Todd Akin‘s statement that in a ‘legitimate rape,’ a women’s body would reject a pregnancy. He was supported by Republican voters to end. It added to the barrage of demeaning statements being hurled at women via politicians, as were the misogynist laws being introduced. Rape victims/survivors found themselves again being scrutinized by society and by law. Shauna Prewitt’s story was one of the many, and it and did not get the attention it deserved. Perhaps because there was an information overload, or because Shauna’s plight was just ‘too much’ to take in.
Thankfully, Prewitt continued her appeal throughout the country, and Colorado lawmakers took action. Republican House Rep. Lois Landgraf, introduced Bill SB13-227, which protects rape victims from having to maintain relationships/contact with their rapists. The bill was supported in the House and Senate, and the law does not relieve the rapist father from paying child support. A downside to the bill, – it doesn’t go into effect until July 1, 2013 and only covers rape convictions subsequent to that date, leaving too many women who’ve been raped in the last decade, to fight archaic laws. Also, once effective, women will still have to file a petition in juvenile court to prevent contact — but it’s a start. And we must celebrate the bi-partisanship that occurred. It’s refreshing. There is also a bi-partisan worldwide campaign growing called, Unite Against Rape, that not only supports rape victims/survivors, it seeks to bring rape culture to the forefront of media discussion. There are some very good women’s rights organizations that fight to protect the rights of rape victims. Here are five you can visit/support:
Five American Women’s Reproductive Rights Organizations
If You’ve Been Raped/Sexually Assaulted Please Call: National Rape, Abuse, & Incest Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE
Here is Shauna Prewitt’s interview on CNN:
The author, Leslie Salzillo, is a political commentator, activist, diarist and a visual artist. She writes diaries at The Daily Kos and began contributing to AddictingInfo.org in March 2013.