A group of bi-partisan lawmakers are currently working to push legislation forward that would give female survivors of forced sex that resulted in a child the right to terminate the parental rights of their attackers. At present, more than half of the U.S. does not have laws that protect the custodial rights of victims of forced sex that resulted in children.
via Think Progress
On Thursday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) held a press conference to explain their recently-introduced legislation designed to help “forced sex” survivors maintain full custody rights over their children. The lawmakers were joined by Shauna Prewitt, a “forced sex”survivor and victims’ rights advocate who was forced to endure the type of custody battle with her r*pist that the bill seeks to prevent.
The R*pe Survivor Child Custody Act would provide funding incentives to states that have laws allowing mothers of children conceived through forced sex to “seek court-ordered termination of the parental rights of her rapist.” These states would receive federal grant funding for programs authorized under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Currently, 31 states have no custodial rights protections for mothers of children conceived in forced sex. Of the 19 states that do have some protections, only six reach the standard advocated by the proposed bill. At the press conference, Prewitt explained that victims in this situation can often face a dynamic where their r*pist threatens to pursue custodial rights over the child unless they drop their criminal charges.
The bill also encourages states to pass laws allowing survivors to petition for the termination of their r*pists’ custodial rights as long as they can show that [it happened] under a “clear and convincing evidence” standard.
Only six states currently have such laws, whereas thirteen others require criminal convictions for the r*pist. That requires a stronger standard of evidence and can place survivors in long legal battles that may prove traumatizing.
Do you think men who impregnate women through forced sex should be given the chance to be in the child’s life? Obviously, most people can agree that attackers who force sex on women would likely not be fit for fatherhood, but what about cases where a husband or significant other is accused or convicted of raping his partner and she gets pregnant? Should the mothers in those situations have the option to legally terminate his parental rights also?