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This Heartbreaking Scenario For Rape Victims Is Happening All Over The U.S.

NOVEMBER 22, 2016  —  By Sarah Jewel  
Sarah Jewel

Sarah Jewel

Animal and pizza lover with an Internet addiction. Nerd to the max. Currently residing in the land of beautiful winters.

Rape is an incredible violation of a woman's autonomy.

We still have a long way to go, but as a society, we're getting better at supporting victims of sexual assault. In the abortion debate, survivors of rape who become pregnant are often used as bartering chips by both sides, but despite the significant numbers of women who experience pregnancy after rape, we rarely hear their stories.

Even rarer is hearing the stories of women who are forced to parent with their rapists, creating an environment of fear and re-traumatization.

Somewhere between 32 and 50 percent of people impregnated during sexual assault decide to keep their babies, which means 5,000 to 16,000 women each year birth children who are the products of rape.

Many current laws require a rape conviction in order to terminate parental rights of a rapist. These laws vary according to state, so the consequences are also different depending on where the attack happened. Complicating things further is the fact that rape is notoriously underreported and unpunished as a crime.

Read More: You Want Your Daughters To Feel Safe In College, But Here's Why They Often Can't

For instance, CNN spoke with a woman named Noemi whose rapist was convicted of third-degree sexual assault. She became pregnant and kept the child, a baby girl.

Because it wasn't first-degree sexual assault, the rapist is allowed to keep his parental rights. When her daughter needed medical help from the state, she had to report the father's name. He was then able to ask for visitation rights.

Noemi must text her rapist and talk to him about her child's progress regularly, and he was granted unsupervised visits with the little girl. Noemi worries her daughter will "get hurt or something bad will happen to her." She told Lisa Ling, "I can't tell what he will do to my daughter."

Some states have laws that allow family court judges to terminate parental rights if there is "clear and convincing evidence" of rape, which does not require a conviction.

CNN has a helpful page that details rape survivors' options in each state should they become pregnant.

Read More: Former Teacher Claims She Was Seduced By Teen, Which Is Still Statutory Rape BTW

Hopefully, progress continues to be made so women can feel safer if they are raising a child conceived by rape. The good news is that this is a problem the courts are trying to solve, with many laws passed in 2016 alone.

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