These men have at least started a dialogue on the issue which has had some positive effects - read this excellent post by George Potter to see how the furore has made him stand up and be counted as a feminist.
Rape in itself is a horrible, traumatic crime which leaves those who suffer it with a life sentence in which they have to learn to deal with the effects of this violation. Some men, though, choose to torture the women they rape even further by trying to gain access to children born as a result of that rape. Apparently that is acceptable in 31 US states.
You can imagine that no woman would want to hand over a vulnerable child to someone capable of such violence and they may not have the resources to fight the claim in court. The men often don't even want access to the child - but they use it as a bargaining chip to avoid criminal proceedings for the rape.
Shauna Prewitt writes on CNN's website about how this happened to her and how it motivated her to become a lawyer and help other women in the same situation.She also talked about how comments like those made by Akin (and presumably Galloway, too) make her feel like she's back on trial.
You would hope that in this country a rapist wouldn't get contact with the child conceived as a result. Sadly,though, I can see situations where this might happen. We've seen that attitudes like those of Akin - let's just remind ourselves -
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.And here is Galloway talking about how the Swedish women's allegations do not constitute rape because "not everyone needs to be asked prior to each insertion" because "you're already in the sex game with them." "It might be bad sexual etiquette but it's not rape."
I suspect that there may be cases, particularly where the rapist knows his victim, where he can manipulate the legal system to his own advantage, who would happily trash the reputation of the woman to gain the sympathy of the court and who would be granted contact.Can you just imagine the trauma that would cause?
One of the things on my FFS list (that small but important list of things that the Government has done that I really can't live with) is the withdrawal of Legal Aid for family proceedings which disproportionately impacts on women who have been abused in some way by their partners. I shall be looking out for accounts of how this affects people, because I still think it needs to be reversed.
Going back to the original topic, though, I was glad to see Obama come out very quickly and denounce Todd Akin's comments, saying "rape is rape."
Obama has been great on things like birth control and women's rights in a domestic setting and he's chosen a Secretary of State who's committed to improving the quality of life for women and girls across the world. You don't often hear, though, any world leaders, including Clegg and Cameron, talking about women's rights across the world. I want to see that change.