Rapists Have Visitation and Custody Rights??
By Gaetana Drake
We’ve all heard the recent comment by Representative Todd Akin (R-Missouri) who believes that women don’t get pregnant as a result of rape, because “the female body has a way of shutting down that function.” In case you needed more proof that that statement is incredibly ignorant, consider this – 31 states allow rapists to sue for visitation and custody rights concerning the child they fathered during a rape!
Can you imagine the terror a woman feels while she is being raped? If she goes to the hospital for a rape exam, she is violated again. The actual collection of evidence (swabs from every orifice) and a close inspection of her body for bruising and other injuries, takes several hours. During this exam a law enforcement officer is in the exam room to observe the collection of evidence. Imagine how humiliating this is. Then there is the stigma attached to being raped. I grew up during a time when it was believed that “good girls don’t get raped”, or “she was asking for it, look at the clothes she was wearing.” And after the exam, she has to wait to see if she became pregnant. Many hospitals won’t provide her with the emergency contraception pill, due to their “religious” beliefs, and the official party platform of the GOP states that there will be no exception for abortions due to rape or incest.
So after going through all that, imagine this victim finding out that she is, in fact, pregnant. Now comes the turmoil every woman faces when she has an unwanted pregnancy. Do I abort? Do I have the child of my rapist? Many women choose to continue the pregnancy to term and keep the child. Now….she finds out that her rapist can take her to court to win custody and/or visitation rights!
After going through such a horrible experience, but rising above it and deciding to raise her child, she can now be tethered to her rapist for the next 18 years, until the child is an adult. He will come to her house to pick up the child. He will come to her house to drop the child off. He will be involved in holiday and school activities. He will be a constant presence in her life that reminds her of the worst thing that ever happened to her. It must be like being raped over and over for 18 years.
We all know that rape isn’t about sex. It’s about power and control. After fathering a child through rape, the rapist is now able to exert power and control over his victim for another 18 years.
Who in their right mind can possibly believe that it is healthy for a child to spend time with a rapist? I can only believe that some of these “rights” for rapists were decided by the same kind of men who have no compassion for rape victims, like many of the Republican elected officials.
It’s estimated that 54% of rapes in this country go unreported. Now I understand why. Studies have shown that women who live in the states listed below, often choose not to press charges against their rapist, in order to avoid the possibility of the man suing for custody or visition:
Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, maryland, Massachussetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Can you believe that in America, rapists have such rights?