Do Rapists Have Parental Rights in Your State?
by Lesley Eischen
The issue of rape has become a lightening rod during this political season. The topic is uncomfortable and messy and definitely painful for those who have been a victim. Nonetheless, the dialogue is long overdue.
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. ~ Isaiah 1:17
Do you know that rape is considered the most under-reported violent crime in our country? Perhaps it doesn’t seem that way because of the coverage of cases like the Duke Lacrosse team with the conclusion that the team members were falsely accused. Could part of the reason be that rape is under-reported is because of women crying wolf?
Further back in history, there was a landmark US Supreme Court case that was based on a claim of rape and not just any rape, but gang rape. Although we would learn that it too was a false claim, its implications continue to this very day. That case was Roe vs. Wade.
‘Jane Roe’ of that case, is Norma McCorvey, who during her testimony on January 21st, 1998, before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights of the Senate Judiciary Committee testified, “My name is Norma McCorvey. I’m sorry to admit that I’m the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade. The affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court didn’t happen the way I said it did, pure and simple. I lied! Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffey needed an extreme case to make their client look pitiable. Rape seemed to be the ticket. What made rape even worse? A gang rape! It all started out as a little lie, but my little lie grew and became more horrible with each telling.”
True victims are struggling to be heard and their justice is being thwarted because of women who cried wolf set forth in cases like these that perpetuated the skepticism and deceit when it comes to cases of rape.
The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. ~ Proverbs 11:3
At the high end of the documented statistics, approximately eight percent of reported cases of rape are false allegations. It is these false reports and court cases that are debilitating the other ninety two percent of women assaulted from receiving justice.
The true victim has now become the focus of scrutiny. We blame and shame the victim. They become the guilty criminal and have to prove their innocence. Understanding that innocent people sitting in prisons are as much an injustice as those who are guilty and roaming free. However, when it comes to rape, the numbers are staggering. Victims are paralyzed by the scrutiny they will face so they remain quiet.
Statistics show that out of every one hundred sexual assaults only forty-six are reported to law enforcement. Of those forty-six, only twelve will lead to an arrest. Of those twelve, only nine will be prosecuted. Of those nine, only five will become a felony conviction. Of those five, only three will spend a day in prison. The other ninety seven will walk away and likely reoffend.
This has created a culture of silence when it comes to sexual assault. Add to this the humility of going through the invasive examination to collect evidence only to have the assault kit sit dormant with others backlogged on the shelves of law enforcement storage facilities waiting to be tested and submitted into the criminal database. Some reports indicate that these kits have remained untested for decades. It is allowing for possible serial rapist to assault again and again because of failed policies and resources in processing the evidence timely and delayed justice for the victims.
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the rights of the afflicted and the destitute. ~ Psalm 82:3
As a result of the large number of rapes that remain not only unreported but unprosecuted is that it has uncovered a barely known repercussion. Less than half the states in the country have laws in place to protect the mother’s of rape conceived children. These children and their mother’s are not protected from the rapist obtaining parental rights. Currently, thirty one states allow parental rights to some degree for rapists.
As it stands, only seventeen states allow for termination of parental rights and each of these states requires a conviction of rape. If there is a conviction then at the very least there ought to be protocol in place for a victim to protect herself and her child from the rapist.
According to the US Supreme Court the minimal standard of proof in the termination of parental rights is “by clear and convincing evidence,” and not the higher criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that rape victims are under a greater burden of proof than in any other case of termination of parental rights.
With over twenty five thousand women who conceive through rape each year, many assume that these women would not desire to parent. Yet, over half of them choose to parent. One might assume further that a rapist would not seek parental rights. We now have court cases that prove otherwise. This has revealed some glaring loopholes in our legal system that need to be rectified to protect women and children from any further victimization at the hands of rapists.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ~ Micah 6:8
If you believe that life begins at conception and regardless of how that life was conceived that the life is to be protected, then the natural outcome of those beliefs would be to eliminate the possibility that a woman might choose to end the life of her child out of fear of her rapist obtaining parental rights. There are questions to be answered and solutions to be found, but this is a start.
Please contact your representatives and urge them to protect women and children.
If you have been the victim of rape and need assistance, please contact law enforcement or your local rape crisis center. If you aren’t comfortable with law enforcement please confide in someone you trust like a parent, pastor, or counselor who will be able to assist in the care you need. Please seek medical attention for STD testing, pregnancy testing and to address any physical injuries.
If you are a rape victim mother and need support please contact, Hope After Rape Conception at http://hopeafterrapeconception.org/index.html
- Know that it can happen to you.
- The majority of rapes are perpetuated by someone the victim knows.
- Avoid being led into places where you are alone or isolated. Staying with a group means staying safe.
- Remain sober. No drinking, no drugs.
- Do not drink from a glass you did not pour or purchase, even if it is coffee or water.
- Set physical boundaries. If someone violates personal space or is overt in their physical displays, speak up and be firm. Make your ‘no’ stand. If they continue to manipulate the situation seek help from a trusted person, immediately. Don’t worry about being, ‘nice or non-offensive’. If you don’t it could lead to being raped or worse.
- Listen to your instincts. If something seems wrong, it probably is, don’t wait. Leave, call someone, etc. It is best to have your own vehicle but always carry cash for a taxi. Carry a phone.
- Stay out of areas that lack adequate lighting or people. Try to avoid being in places like parking lots, walking trails or parks alone and/or after dark. Try to avoid walking, running or bicycling alone and/or after dark.
- Purchase and learn how to use alarm key chains, alarm wrist bands, alarm backpacks, pepper spray, whistles, or any other device that is a tool for your safety.
- Use your body if necessary. Learn self defense strategies. If you are being attacked, there are vulnerable points on the attacker that can cause him to be immobilized long enough for you to escape.