Facts I learned today:
- 12% of US women “have experienced at least one rape in their lifetime.”
- 25,000-32,000 rape-related pregnancies occur in the US each year.
- In 31 US states “men who father through rape are able to assert the same custody and visitation rights to their children that other fathers enjoy.”
I was–I am–shocked.
I learned these facts as a result of the recent comments by Representative Todd Akin of Missouri about, what he called, “legitimate rape.” You can learn more about his ignorant, stupid, and offensive statements here.
Red Shutters is not typically a place where I talk politics. I don’t care very much for it, though I do care very much about leadership, wisdom, and collaboration, but those qualities aren’t necessarily synonymous with politics. However, this situation, and the incredible and unacceptable problems it calls attention to, call for action, especially for those of us who like to stay out of the fray.
Akin’s blunder highlights so many issues: the abortion dilemma, the Republican’s troubling political agenda, the polarization of our country on issues like health care, and so much more. I don’t want to get into all of that. Here, in my little corner of the Internet I want to say this: we need leaders who are respectful, we need laws that are logical and just, and we need to look beyond rhetoric and stand up for victims, not victimize them over and over.
All of the media attention to Akin doesn’t mean that our society’s lack of sensitivity to victims and lack of appropriate laws protecting those victims are fixed. That demands action, and here are three things we can do:
- Educate yourself: does your state give rapists custody of or visitation with the child that was conceived from his crime?
- Contact your congressperson and ask for his or her leadership to fix the laws.
- Learn more about sexual assault.
I have a friend who is a rape survivor. She is a remarkable person: brave, strong, open-minded, and big-hearted. I’ve been thinking of her so much these past few days. She inspires me to push through whenever I think something is too tough, too much. I hope, for her, that someday all the energy we spend fighting against one another can go toward working together for the positive change this situation needs.