60 percent of sexual assault cases will never be reported to the police, and only eight out of a hundred people who are reported get prosecuted. About 3 percent of rapists will serve any time in jail. But these are extremely low numbers when about every 2 minutes an American is being sexually assaulted.
Each year there are approximately 32,000 pregnancies resulting from rape. While many of these pregnancies are for the most part terminated, at least one third of the victims do give birth to their children. Reasoning for the victims actions can stem from their religious beliefs, to the comfort they received from their unborn child during a difficult pregnancy. But due to the “legal door that is left wide open” the victims of sexual violence are sometimes still victimized by their rapist. How is this possible you may ask? It may sound unfathomable, but in some states rapists have the ability to assert their parental rights and fight for custody of the child they fathered through sexual violence.
Lets go back to the Ariel Castro Ohio kidnapping trial last year that shook America as a whole. Ariel Castro had held three women hostage for over 8 years and fathered one child from one of his victims. Before he was convicted Castro asked to be granted parental rights of the child that he shared with one of his victims. But due to the severity of his crimes and the double life sentencing the judge denied his request. Although Ariel Castro’s actions sound out there and wild, Ohio and some states alike have no laws on the books preventing convicted or alleged rapists from trying to seize custody of the children they conceived during their acts of violence. According to MotherJones.com at least 24 states now have laws addressing the custody of children conceived through rape. Why does it have to take such a controversial trial for lawmakers to finally decide to protect the parental rights of victims of sexual violence? Maybe because it is not so prevalent to hear of convicted or alleged rapists asking for custody of the children they fathered. But victims of date rape could also fall prey to these potholes.
The startling fact is that 31 states still allow these convicted rapists to sue for child custody and visitation rights. States assume that because the child was conceived through rape the felon would not want anything to do with the child, but that is questionable. Arizona is one of the states that allows these rapist to sue for rights, but is it really a right they should be allotted too? Even a child that is born due to incest, the rapist can still ask for parental rights of these children. But for the most part rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, like an abusive husband or an acquaintance. Regardless of the connection these women should be protected by the law, and it shouldn’t take a controversial case to do it.