When Rape Brings Babies

Conceived in violence, raised in neglect and shame, children born of rape in other countries have become a lost generation

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Jeff Roberson / AP

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., announces his candidacy for U.S. Senate, in Creve Coeur, Mo., on May 17, 2011.

If the outrageous comments by Missouri Congressman Todd Akin this week had any salutary effect, it is this: We can no longer deny that, when it comes to basic reproductive rights, concern for women’s health and, overall, respect for human dignity, the United States is at risk for absolute disaster.

Indeed, it is no exaggeration now to say that, when it comes to the issue of violence against women and its longterm fallout, we are poised to find ourselves in such otherwise unimaginable company as Bosnia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Why? Because if Republicans like the now-infamous Akin, the lesser-known GOP delegates who wrote this year’s party platform calling for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion without specific exceptions for rape or incest, and, yes, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, all have their way, we too will soon have in our midst tens of thousands of rape victims forced to carry their trauma-caused pregnancies to term, and as many American children born under the curse of the worst sort of physical and emotional violation.

(MORE: Todd Akin Fallout: Rape, Abortion and the Dark History of Qualifying Violence Against Women)

This nightmare scenario has long been playing out in regions of the world where rape has been used as a weapon of war — distant theaters of horror we consider far from our own realm of experience. During the Balkans conflict, an estimated 20,000 Bosnian Muslim women were raped; their babies were later found to be subject to lives of stigma, isolation, and even out and out abandonment. Babies born from the thousands of rapes that accompanied the worst atrocities of the Rwandan genocide have been shunned as “children of bad memories,” even “devil’s children.” Similarly, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which, along with UNICEF, Amnesty International, and other aid groups has repeatedly studied sexual violence and its consequences in war zones, the babies born to the tens of thousands of women (at least) who have been raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo have suffered systematic rejection by their families and communities, and now amount to a new lost generation, despised at birth, and, very often, re-victimized throughout their young lives.

Playwright Eve Ensler, herself a rape victim, who is currently in the DRC working with female survivors of wartime sexual violence, was moved this week, in the wake of Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks, to write an open letter to the U.S. Senate candidate in the Huffington Post in which she bore graphic witness to the experiences of the women in her midst, including those with no choice but to bring babies conceived in violence to term. She wrote eloquently of their struggles with their sense of being continually re-violated, “wrestling with their hate and anger, trying not to project that onto their child.”

Is this the sort of human rights disaster we want to replicate — indeed, to normalize — in our own country?

(MORE: Why Akin Matters)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 32,000 pregnancies occur each year in the United States as a result of rape. Fortunately, for now, American women can choose whether or not to give birth to those violently conceived babies — although, depending on where those women live, finding a provider for an abortion can be all but impossible.

The battle for abortion rights in America has become, in recent years, a losing war of attrition, and in its long-term, dispiriting course, many in the pro-choice camp have more or less averted their gaze as Republican lawmakers have steadily chipped away at women’s rights and women’s dignity. We’ve allowed our peace of mind to rest upon a vague sense that, no matter what madness goes on in distant state houses or outside isolated abortion clinics, when it comes to matters of national law, cooler, rational minds will prevail. Akin’s words this week were offensive enough to disturb that avoidant slumber, waking us all up to the fact that, for all practical purposes, there is no meaningful difference between his ignorant and extremist views and the more polished pronouncements of those speaking on behalf of the mainstream Republican party.

Just imagine: Tens of thousands of American rape victims a year forced to give birth. Tens of thousands of American babies brought to term in a wash of extreme maternal stress, fear and despair. The total picture sounds like the basis for a Young Adult dystopian novel. Let’s not allow it to become part of our nation’s history.

MORE: “Legitimate Rape?” Todd Akin and Other Republicans Who Confuse Science 

84 comments
TahniDanielle
TahniDanielle

Rape babies are only good at 350* at five minutes a pound. Consumption is their one and only use.

TahniDanielle
TahniDanielle

@TahniDanielle Oh wow that's an old comment, I do regret it. However, as long as there are people who value rapists and their children more than the women and little girls forced to have them, things while be said.

marylocks92
marylocks92

Legitimate rape??? Ridiculous! On the other hand, using Congo or Rwanada as an example, she's twisted the story around. For some women, the birth of their child is a sense of hope for them. For others, it's their sense of morality, that it's only right to carry a child to term and deliver because the "children should not be blamed in their innocence." Different situations, different reactions and the statistics of children born to rape in Congo is very high and considering the state of development and education there, a country like America shouldn't even be compared to areas like these. If a child were to be concieved from rape in America would society cast him/her out as a "demon" child? It's a difficult conversation but rape is the worst violation against human dignity and instead of talking about abortion, let's talk about rape and ending rape. The amount of trauma and emotions a woman could be experiencing after being raped, I don't think anyone could comprehend the amount pain, hatred or anger or any feeling they might be having but we could all agree that the stability of their emotions for decision-making will be affected. Abortion is another added emotional weight,  just the same as giving birth to the child. You'd need counselling coming to terms with both decisions. In both decisions, another life hangs in the balance of what' decided.

AnaVelez
AnaVelez

" Is this the sort of human rights disaster we want to replicate — indeed, to normalize" This sounds oxymoron to me that you can put this 2 in a sentence..Human Rights to abort..Human a flesh body with a soul that has a breathing concept!!! ...Violent baby? this is very sick!!! no one was ask to be born but things happens...did your parents made the decision to conceive you despite of anything..is like saying well the economy is bad and I just happen to be pregnant ..let me abort it...nothing like a Humane way than give away the baby!!! and the repercussions after an abortion are crazy!!! I was born out of a rape and I can thank God for the breath I take everyday!! no one stop you from breathing right?.... insensitive SMH

Shams Aci
Shams Aci

There should be another popular political party in USA to supersede  both Democrats and Republicans by damn defeating them and win in the next election with the aim of not war mongering around the world anymore because after effect  of any war has been found cursive .  To avoid bitter cursive things to happen the party and its leadership mean all for the nation and world. 

The countries that kept on war mongering in the past are now almost getting to hand to mouth.

Hope for the best.

  - A.R.Shams's Reflection  -  Press / Online Publications.

    http://arshamssreflection.blog...

harvey_conn
harvey_conn

If the unthinkable becomes thinkable, a rape becomes a pregancy (correction: I meant "legitimate" rape, you know, the real ones..) and if the woman is forced to have the child that she does not want, it should automatically become an official ward of the republican party in the state that she resides.  Don't worry, the plethora of social programs that the GOP funds and supports for child heath care, early education and godly upbringing will provide, and maybe guys like Akin can actually go down and mentor a few of the kids.  

Guest
Guest

I am a 23 year old female and it insults me that so many people think that a woman's top concern should be birth control/abortion.  In my generation women are more concerned with the economy, and finding a job.  Oh, I'm sorry, is the economy not a "woman's issue?"

SteveLott
SteveLott

Well nothing could be more just than forcing a woman to bear unwanted children. They are less human than the possible male offspring and under Shariapubuclican law and she should be jailed just after complaining of rape. That should sound vile or ludicrous and very inhumane. Yet it is more than Freudian slip of how true conservative republicans feel about your individual rights, they are still lusting for first rites and a world only the privileged nobility of wealth have any say.

So how many rape babies have Akin,Gingrich,Romney or Ryan adopted and raised fro their own so as not to punish the mother, money's running their mouth, but they dont put their money where there mouth is.

Crazy a thing for the Social Darwinism party, so close to eugenics that they are, that they would want a violent rapists DNA polluting the gene pool, and the very private chalice of women's wombs. As long they consider women a cattle like property to produce children as heads of livestock the powers that profit dare not be denied in the heard count. Consider that the womb is at least the woman's property as she does posses it, and possession is the greater part of the law of ownership for thousands of years. A women should always be free to purge what is hers from anything unwanted, it is her right.

Now get those shoes off, get in that kitchen, and remember your place of making babies for the war GOP machine, and vote ShariaPublican or you are godless whore. Better yet just vote the Grand Oppression Party out of Congress.

stone
stone

Before Ryan and Akin take away our birth control and access to abortions, I would like to see the Republican plan for feeding these children, and their plans to provide for a college education. 

Or is this part of the Republican plan to build the military? http://goo.gl/fZWj3

Naomi1946
Naomi1946

To Amsanvel:  I don't believe in God. And this is the very question that made me know it. Why are men so obsessed with what is between a woman's legs. What's between my legs is nobody's business but mine. Paul Ryan would force women to have babies they do not want and then, he would deny those self-same children a lunch at school. This proves to me that you are NOT concerned with the unborn and are really only concerned about controlling a woman's body.  Men get ALL their power from stealing from women's power. Almost all of the good things in life come from females!!!! All eggs come from female chickens. All our delicious dairy products come from females. All fruits come from the ripened OVARIES of plants. The man who can control our prodigious output is very rich indeed!!! But we females should be in COMPLETE control of our largess.

Drew Hadz
Drew Hadz

Abortion is the choice of the woman or couple that it is happening to regardless if it is rape or not... That there are such malignant caveman types around here who wish to outlaw abortion even if the pregnancy was the result of rape is a true indicator of how far others are willing to push their backwards faith upon everyone.

It is disgusting that anybody thinks it is morally correct to subjugate others to their faith's point of view and adopt a definition of personhood that includes a brainless mass of cells as being more important than the life of the mother.

Trajan Saldana
Trajan Saldana

let's be clear when talking about "rights" -- there are NO rights -- rights cannot be taken from you -- if it can be taken from you it is NOT a right, it is nothing more than a privilege.  And in the USA, it is ALL about privilege; usually the lack thereof.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

I sincerely hope none of you or the females in your life experience the violence and horror of rape and one of the 32,000 resulting pregnancies in the United States each year.  However, if you do and view it as a gift from God, go for it.

On the other hand, what others do in the same situation is really none of your business.  Stay out of it.

Drew Hadz
Drew Hadz

What exactly gives a cave-person like szore the right to force a raped woman to give birth? Szore are you saying you truly wish to force your baloney religion upon raped women? Do you really have the right to do such madness? If you are raped then by all means practice your 1500 year out of date religion upon your own body.

You might consider a brainless mass of cells a person but obviously many of us do not; so instead you wish to enforce subjugation to your will correct?

How about you instead worry about yourself and let those whom are raped actually have a choice because under your tyranny a raped and beaten woman wouldnt even have to CHOICE to have a child or not... you will respond with the same crap about murdering children but you can simply cram it because until the third trimester that thing isnt a human being yet.

What you believe to be a child created with God's will may be false. Instead a perhaps mythical creator intended free will and if free will exists then He cant really have much to say about when conception occurs... you will disagree and that is just fine... but just stop and think about how evil it is to force a woman to have a child because of your faith... Because that woman also has the right to either believe in that faith or spit upon it. You feel fine and dandy about subjugation but what if i subjugated you into adopting Atheism or Islam?

I may not believe Christ was the son of God but i do believe he was a decent person whom would be disgusted by the idea of forcing a raped woman into birth at gunpoint or instead driving her to suicide or use of a rusty coat-hanger.

Talendria
Talendria

While I don't disagree with anything you said, it's important to note that only 1% of women seeking an abortion are rape victims.  A further 12% choose abortion due to a health problem.  That means roughly 87% of abortions are a matter of convenience, and I think that's why the religious right is pursuing this issue so aggressively.  We could dramatically reduce the number of abortions in this country if women and men were smarter and more responsible about their reproductive capabilities.

szore
szore

OK, so rather than "raise the child in shame" we murder the child.

Good.

Reaallll good....

Dawn9476
Dawn9476

Let us not forget that hundreds of teenage girls in other countries who are victims of rape by their 40 year old "husbands" or terrorists, who have invaded their village or refugee camp, die given birth to their  babies. That could start  happening here because not only will the GOP force  low income  girls to give birth to the children of their rapists, they won't loosen any purse strings to help these girls have those babies safely.

bean cube
bean cube

Oh my god! Taliban here is rich and is hacking to win this election.

Naomi1946
Naomi1946

At 19 I made the mistake of marrying a violent, brutal, conscienceless man. Not only did I suffer tremendously, but both of our sons, even tho full-term, were extremely low weight at birth. I believe it was due to the extreme stress I was under.  These below-norm development problems persisted for many years.

Ronald
Ronald

Thank you, Judith, for your compassion and common sense.

akpat
akpat

Why would any woman vote for these people. Are republican women really that poorly educated themselves ? Reminds me of dumb barefoot and pregnant.

ChapinTico
ChapinTico

If you don't see the American Talibans in the GOP, the problem is not in your eyes but in your head.

RoyShastid
RoyShastid

   Everyone knows that if she got pregnant "she must have enjoyed it " . Male insecurity and rage at women is rarely made more plain than in the Republican party, with it's coded words and phrases. The American Taliban party, yet they cannot see it.

bob3905
bob3905

What, no indignant rebuttal from the right? 

What's happened in the countries mentioned may not happen on the same scale here but it can and will happen to some American women if access to legal abortion is obliterated. I don't see how you could argue against this point because, in our American past, this has already happened. Unwed mothers were vilified, shamed and often their children given up to orphanages. If we go back to those days who will pay for this unwanted children? How will we handle more of the unwanted, more than we have already? How does the Ryan budget figure to cover these costs? Will it fall to our churches and temples? Will there be enough charity to care for them if the government refuses? 

If you don't have answers to these questions then answer this, why would you vote for those who would make this happen?

LoudRambler
LoudRambler

 Why don't we make an experiment: rape Akin and force him to raise a foster baby alone? It can even be a black baby, to get under his skin a bit deeper.

 Every life matters, even that of foster babies, right?