New US Law: Rape Survivor Custody Act
Rape is easily among the most controversial topics you can talk about, and even though it’s a serious issue that is very deserving of discussion, even acknowledging its existence makes many people uncomfortable.
Well, fortunately, there’s been a legal development involving the issue of rape that should have everybody cheering, despite its taboo status. The great news came out of Florida, and specifically involves rape-related child custody.
President Obama recently signed a US law increasing funding for states that enact laws allowing female victims of rape to terminate parental rights of the rapist. Florida is one of those states, just recently allowing for all parental rights to be terminated as long as there is solid evidence of a rape taking place. There doesn’t even have to be a conviction, just “clear and convincing evidence.”
It seems strange to say, but several years ago, many states refused to treat child custody cases differently when rape was involved. It was entirely possible for a male rapist to fight for years in court either trying to specifically win custody of the child, or just simply to heap further injury onto the woman. There are no definite numbers on how often that is the case, but as the act of rape is said to mostly be about power, it’s not hard to imagine that it is a decent percentage of the time.
Many rape cases go unreported (or under-reported), so it’s understandable that courts would be hesitant to make sweeping declarations based on a rape accusation, but when there’s evidence to back up a claim, one would expect there to be a law in place to deal with it. Now there is, and family rights groups are singing its praises.
According to studies, between 25,000 and 32,000 US pregnancies are caused by rape, and at least 1/3 of women choose to keep and raise the child. With such a large number of potential child custody cases involving rape, it is a good thing that Florida is taking action to help the victims.