Over the last few days everyone has been talking about Rape.  This time, however, it’s not just anti-rape advocates.  This time it’s a national dialogue.  In response to Congressman Akin’s comment regarding “legitimate rape” intended to address his anti-abortion stance, the whole nation has begun to look at the issue of rape as something that it finds compelling, and many who have rarely addressed the issue of rape and its impact at all, are now finding it a conversation they must engage in.  At CALCASA, we continue to be part of the discussion and what to lead policy makers and community leaders to a better understanding of the significance of Congressman Akin’s comment, but also of the current national dialogue.
First, it is important to address the use of the word “legitimate”.  In fact, all rape is legitimately wrong. Rape in every situation is a legitimate violation of the spirit, mind and body of the survivor.  When we distinguish between particular “types” of rape, it shifts the blame for assaults to victims and lets perpetrators off the hook.  As a nation, we know better.  Instead we should be looking at ways to prevent all degrees of sexual violence and to hold perpetrators accountable for their behavior rather than determining if one victimization is “more valid” than another.
Second, in this time when everyone is talking about Rape, political leaders should emphasize that all rape is a violation that results in untold consequences and should instead focus the discussion on its prevention and services to victims. We are at a critical time in our country, when we are making important decisions about how and where to spend our limited dollars, and as we continue to try to make up a deficit here and there, programs serving victims of all degrees of rape are closing their doors. CALCASA believes that right now, while everyone is talking about Rape, instead of focusing on the legitimacy of rape, the national dialogue regarding rape should focus on investing resources into programs that respond to and prevent sexual violence.
Third, in this time of our leaders talking about what issues they find important, we believe that if political leaders are genuinely concerned about the reverence of human life, they should demonstrate that concern by making resources available for the prevention of rape, and services to victims.  What we know is this; Rape results in diminished quality of life for countless victims: reduced wages, psychological disorders, substance abuse, and yes, unwanted pregnancies are frequent consequences for victims. In some instances, pregnancy can result in a lifetime of contact between a woman and her rapist.  If political officials really care about human life, then they should work to prevent the occurrence of rape in the first place: foster social norms that don’t tolerate rape, and hold perpetrators accountable for their criminal acts.
Finally, we have an opportunity, right now, to address the issue of rape in a very significant and long term way and can make a national statement to all rapevictims that they deserve our national support.  Our political leaders, through support for the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, can show that they believe that victims of sexual violence deserve the support of an entire nation.  At this time, when everyone is talking about Rape, we call on Congress to do more than just talk, but to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, thereby reaffirming a national commitment to ending Violence Against Women.
Everyone is talking about Rape.  Some are angry, some are hurt, some are sorry and some are not surprised.  Let’s take this opportunity to do more than just talk.  Let’s take this opportunity to take action.