Saturday, 22 September 2012

Rape is never legitimate

The big buzz on women’s rights in the United States has lately focused on the comments of one congressman, Todd Akin of Missouri representing the Republican or GOP party. When asked if women who become pregnant due to rape should have the choice of abortion, he stated that: 

“Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.” –Todd Akin 

Basically, Akin is saying that there are two kinds of rape—“legitimate” and “illegitimate.” How can rape be “legitimate”? As a student graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology, I have never encountered any evidence that a woman’s body is able to somehow magically reject sperm entering their bodies with or without force. There are studies to support that rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency and the chance of pregnancy is ultimately the same as with rape and consensual sex. Is the body supposed to also magically recognize that the women is being raped legitimately and let the sperm enter? Rape is never legitimate. There is only one kind of rape—illegitimate, cruel, and torturous. How is this even a discussion in one of the most powerful and supposedly civilized countries in the world? This also portrays the thoughts of the GOP party in the US, which is one of the largest parties to lead the US politically forming policies in regards to its citizens. After Akin made this statement, leaders of the GOP party and several others called for him to drop out of the senate race in Missouri. Despite this, Akin did not drop out and stays in the race.  
President Obama released a statement in response to Akin’s disturbing thoughts:
Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me. So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women." –President Barack Obama 

I could not agree more. How can Akin, a 65 year old white male, who has never experienced the hardships of women make a statement such as this? He is not one of the hundreds of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo where rape is a constant threat by armed gangs. He is not a woman whose body will be used and disposed of because of a war for minerals. He is not one of the hundred thousands of women that will sometime in their lives experience rape.
A great article written by Eve Ensler can be found here:
-Surya Singh

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