Target: U.S. Congress
Goal: Prevent rapists from claiming child custody
Recently a bipartisan group of policymakers introduced a bill called the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act that will ensure that rape survivors will maintain full custody rights over their children. This bill gives federal funding incentives to states with laws in place that allow women who conceive children because they were raped to have sole custody rights over their children. It must be passed in order to alleviate the pain raped women feel after such a traumatic experience, as many victims face a situation where the rapist threatens to pursue custody over the conceived child unless the rape victim drops the criminal charges against them. Women must be protected from such devious tactics.
Currently, thirty-one states do not protect the custodial rights of mothers impregnated through rape. The nineteen states that do offer some protection do not reach the standard set in the proposed measure. An estimated 32,000 rape-related pregnancies occur annually, and in almost a third of those pregnancies the woman opts to raise the child. These statistics debunk the myth that all rape victims who become impregnated immediately choose to have an abortion because their child would be a constant reminder of the traumatic experience of rape. In light of the physical and emotion toll rapes take on women, they should not have to deal with the long legal battles if rapists intervene in the victim’s parental rights.
The proposed bill gives the incentive of five million dollars a year of grant funding in order to boost state funds for the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant. This grant would aid law enforcement and state courts to systematically combat violence directed towards women. Furthermore, the legislation promotes the passage of state laws that allow rape victims to terminate any custodial rights that rapists try to claim as long as the victims can clearly prove that they were raped. Only six states have that provision in their laws while the other thirteen states require that the rapist is criminally convicted before the termination of their custodial rights. The legal battles the rape victims must endure would exacerbate the trauma the victim has already endured. As a result, many victims may give in to the rapists’ stipulation to drop criminal charges in exchange for the mother to have sole custody. Please sign this petition to urge Congress to pass this bill in order to protect women’s rights when they have been the victims of violence. Do not let rapists go unpunished.
Dear U.S. Congress,
We urge you to pass the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act to ensure that rape victims maintain sole custody over any child conceived as a result of the traumatic event. Approximately 32,000 rape-related pregnancies occur every year, and in a third of those women decide to keep their child. Many of those women who keep their children face a situation where the rapist files for custodial rights over the child in order to convince the mother to drop criminal charges against them. This legislation is needed to protect women against any further violence and to alleviate the trauma they endure during and after rape occurs.
Victim’s rights advocate and rape survivor Shauna Prewitt endured a long custody battle with her rapist that this bill would prevent from occurring. It was long and expensive and only exacerbated the trauma she endured from her rape. Do not let other women suffer as physically, emotionally and financially as she did. The proposed legislation would provide monetary incentives for states to pass bills that would not permit rapists to get custody over their children if the rape victim can clearly prove that he or she was raped. We urge you to pass this legislation to protect women like Prewitt from violence.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Henderson images via flickr.com