Get Rid of the Term ‘Forcible Rape’ in New Mexico’s Policy Changes

Target: New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez

Goal: Strike down proposed policy changes that would require women to demonstrate ‘forcible rape’

In the wake of Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” gaff, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez is attempting to further narrow the definition of rape. Martinez has (multiple times) used the term “forcible rape,” as if to discredit or invalidate other forms of rape or the situations in which rape occurred. Governor Martinez’s proposed change would require all women who gave birth to children conceived by rape to prove that a “forcible rape” occurred when applying for childcare assistance.

These women did not ask to get pregnant. They did not intend on having a child or being a mother. They were raped, and that should not be a point of contention. It is not something that should be challenged by the state. Rape is rape every time. It is a violent and inexcusable crime that should not be qualified or broken down into different levels. Whether or not these women were raped “forcibly” simply should not be a matter of discussion. They have been thrown into a situation far outside of their control and if they seek out help the state should give it.

Though Martinez has made the move away from the “forcible rape” phrase, the meaning is clear; raped women must validate their experience. It just simply is not right for New Mexico to identify such a narrow and strict definition on rape. Moreover, it is wrong that the state would force women who have borne the children of rape to be given such a stiff interrogation. New Mexico must drop the term “forcible rape” and not begrudge mothers for needing the help that they require.


Dear Governor Martinez,

Recently, you proposed a new piece of policy that would drastically narrow the definition of rape in New Mexico. Essentially, for a rape to be valid it would need to be, in your words, “forcible.” This discounts myriad other kinds of rape, situations that lead to nonconsensual sex, and all of the complications therein.

Your policy, should it be passed, would require women who have given birth as the result of a rape, and are seeking childcare assistance to prove that they were the victim of a “forcible rape.” Simply put Governor, this policy must not be allowed to stand.

Firstly, the term you have coined just simplifies the crime of rape too much. Rape is an inherently complicated crime, mired in shades of grey; to put such a limiting definition on it can only be a detriment to rape victims. Secondly, we do not ask victims of other crimes to prove that they were victimized. To do so to rape victims is both hypocritical and cruel.

Finally, the women who are seeking childcare assistance for children of rape need help as much or more than anyone. Their pregnancies were the opposite of planned, they did not ask for a child or want to be pregnant—they were raped. They were brutally victimized and for one reason or another opted to keep the child.

Now, when they come the state asking for help, you want to force them to prove that they were the victim of a crime, you want to make them relive what is in all likelihood the worst moment of their lives? There is simply no reason for that. Governor, you must understand that rape is rape, no matter if it is forcible or otherwise.

Governor Martinez, it is imperative that you abandon this policy. Though I am sure you went into it with the best of intentions it is simply too dangerous to be allowed to stand. To so strictly and simply define such a broad and complex crime does a great disservice to women and New Mexico. The women coming to you for help have already been victimized once at the hands of their attackers; don’t let it happen again at the hands of the state.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Robotclaw666 via flickr

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One Comment

  1. Rape is rape in any form and is not consistent with our society.

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