Do Rapists Have Rights?

This morning I had one of those moments when you read a sentence that surprises you so much that you have to pause and then read it again. Here it is:

In the vast majority of [US] states, a rapist has the same custody and visitation rights to a child born through his crime as other fathers enjoy.

Wow. I honestly don’t know what to make of that. Maybe there are other elements of US law not mentioned that protect and support the raped woman and her child? Or maybe the law has a harsh face but is applied compassionately? Whatever the full story may be, the facts are discomforting.

The quote comes from this article by Shauna Prewitt, which is an open letter to Rep. Todd Akin following his ridiculous and offensive comments about “legitimate rape”. Shauna’s article is an emotional tale of someone coming to terms with being raped and getting pregnant from it. The letter also reminds us about how difficult it is to make meaningful changes to legislation when our law-makers are so out of touch. Shauna sums up this point nicely:

I believe that the way we as a society, and especially legislators, speak about rape — often wrongly and without a sound, reasoned basis — restricts our ability to pass laws offering meaningful protections.

On the same subject, Louise Mensch has this excellent article in today’s Telegraph that looks at the recent comments and actions of Todd Akin, Julian Assange, and George Galloway. Well worth reading.

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