Rapists Get Child Custody?
I would learn firsthand that in the vast majority of states — 31 — men who father through rape are able to assert the same custody and visitation rights to their children that other fathers enjoy.
That’s Shauna Prewitt. In her final year of college she became the victim of a horrifying rape. Nine months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She chose to keep and raise her because her daughter was,
so much more than her beginnings. I blissfully believed that after I finally had decided to give birth to and to raise my daughter, life would be all roses and endless days at the playground.
I was wrong again.
Nearly 1/3 of women who conceive by rape choose to keep and raise their children. Like Shauna, they probably don’t realize that their rapist will be given visitation rights and end up in their lives forever.
As if the violent rape weren’t bad enough now she must be constantly reminded of it as she is forced into contact with the child’s father.
That may be just why the men seek custody. Rapists enjoy power and intimidation and can now create dread and fear through a lifetime. Or, as Shauna sees it:
It is not surprising that a man who cruelly degrades a woman would also seek to torture her in an even more agonizing way, by seeking access to her child.
A rape victim may, alternatively, sacrifice her need for justice by dropping the charges in a bargain to gain sole custody of the child.
Apparently, the court’s concern is that the man may not have raped the woman. But in this “he said/she said,” why does he win? Especially since rapists tend to have a controlling nature and a violent streak, risking child endangerment.
When I look at which causes greater harm, a man denied custody or a woman forever tormented and a child at risk for abuse, I wonder why the man’s rights trump the woman’s and the child’s.
Probably because every society is ruled from the perspective of the powerful. In this case, men. Those making the law are looking at things more from the man’s perspective than from the perspective of where the greater harm occurs.
It’s all reminiscent of a newly proposed bill “aimed at throwing rape victims in jail if they refuse to honor their rapist’s right to control their body by carrying his child,” as Amanda Marcotte put it.
That’s right. Rep. Cathrynn Brown of New Mexico wants a bill banning abortion for rape victims because it “tampers with evidence.” Sounds phony since pregnancies may occur without rape and rape can occur without pregnancy. Wonder how much money one of her constituents contributed to get that bill proposed?
At best this ban sees through the eyes of the powerful instead of the powerless.
At worst it is misogynistic, an excuse to hurt a woman even more than she has already been harmed by rape.
When it comes to justice sometimes it’s a world turned upside-down.
Posted on January 30, 2013, in feminism, gender, psychology, rape, reproductive rights, sexism, women and tagged feminism, gender, psychology, rape, reproductive rights, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.