No longer a Victim

Posted: April 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

Margo Edge

 

As Edgewood tries to start up new programming for violence intervention and prevention services, some representatives in Congress, both on federal and state levels, are taking a huge step backward and targeting victims of sexual assault.

On January 20th, 2011, the “No Taxpayer for Funding Abortion Act or H.R. 3” was introduced to the house.  This new act comes with atrocious new language regarding victims of sexual assault.  Rep.  Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) introduced this act.  Under Section 309, Treatment of Abortions Related to Rape, Incest, or Preserving the Life of the Mother, the use of “forcible rape” is included.  This term of forcible rape was also introduced in an amendment entitled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA).

This bill in many ways was derived from the Hyde Amendment, which was passed in 1976.  Hyde, which has to be renewed every year, was the stepping stone for H.R. 3.  The only differences are that H.R. 3 will not need to be renewed every year and the term “forcible rape” has been introduced.  Apparently, Congress in ’76 knew that while drafting legislation one should never attack victims of sexual assault.  Today, we have people in office that don’t put forth the effort to think about the victims of heinous crimes before introducing bills that lawfully exclude certain victims if they aren’t forcibly raped.  Smith excluded the definition of “forcible rape” in H.R. 3.

Rep Smith says, “Abortion is acceptable bigotry-prejudice against the child in the womb.”  But isn’t writing legislation that reads “forcible rape” an acceptable bigotry-prejudice against the sexual assault victim, Rep. Smith?  The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network estimates that in 2004-2005 there were at least 3,204 pregnancies that were caused by a non-consenting act of intercourse.

South Dakota benched a bill that would legalize the killing of doctors under the term “justifiable homicide”.  On the other hand, a bill which would essentially make women jump through firey hoops to get an abortion, is being considered now.    This bill would ensure that a woman would not have accessibility to a hasty abortion except in the event of an emergency.  This new legislation includes pre-abortion counseling by not only a physician, but also a pregnancy help center advocate.  Females do need to get educated about their options, however, only during a medical emergency when a woman’s physical life is in danger would an abortion be able to be used without counseling.  What about the psychological ramifications of not being able to procure an abortion after a woman has been raped?  The trauma could catapult some women into a deep spiraling mental crisis.  Some could even turn to suicide to stop the continued victimization that the law is forcing them to live through.

In Georgia, state Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta), has presented an amendment to Titles 16 and 17 changing the term rape victim to rape accuser.  This means that in order for the state of Georgia to consider someone a victim of rape, the accused has to be convicted of this crime, someone will be considered a victim of rape.  Georgia law doesn’t even acknowledge that men can be raped.  One in ten men are raped in their lifetime with one in seven of those men being raped before they turned the age of 18 according to Crisis Connection.  It seems Georgia is leaving out a lot of victims in their law making, but what would happen if it happened to one of the high ranking officials or a close loved one was victimized?  What laws would be amended or introduced then?

The American Medical Association estimated that in 2000 as few as 10% of victims reported being sexually assaulted to the proper authorities.  Every victim that doesn’t report the rape does not report any number of various reasons and forcing them to confront what happened to them can be just as traumatizing.   The conviction rate of these sex offenders is only 2% as reported by US Senate Judiciary Committee: Conviction and Imprisonment Statistics.

If an amendment such as this were to be passed there would not be any need for the word accuser because there wouldn’t be anyone that would do the accusing.  People who are sexually assaulted are victims of heinous crimes, but will likely not seek out justice because the justice system has already failed them long before the perpetrator ever had the thought to perform sex without consent.

These are just a few examples of state and federals laws that are trying to be passed right now.  This very minute, senator and representative conservatives are introducing many more bills of this nature to be voted into law.  The bill that was taken off of the docket in South Dakota would have made murder, other than self-defense, justifiable.

I was raped four years ago.  I have been through hell and back.  Some people cannot say that they have made it back from that hell.  When I finally sought out help I realized that there was so much help out there for people that have been through what I have been through.  After it happened to me I was worried about all of these things from pregnancy to medical screenings for transmitted diseases to mental health counseling to help me overcome my new fear of living life at all.

I was 18 when this happened to me.  I was young and didn’t think that anything of that nature could happen to me.  Women and men alike need to realize that this problem isn’t as small as these numbers are showing.  The numbers belong to people who are the most courageous of all of us, who spoke out.  I was not one of these strong and courageous people.  I was lonely, scared, and I felt like I was all alone.  Don’t traumatize the victims anymore than they already are!  Don’t stomp on us because we can still be extremely functioning and effective member of society!

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