Following public outrage and media coverage regarding the term “forcible rape” appearing in the state’s proposed changes to its official applications for childcare assistance, New Mexico’s governor asked her administration to remove this language from a new state policy yesterday. The revised language sought to amend the existing child care assistance policy to exempt victims of “forcible rape” from having to file child support claims against the absent parent, a practice which is required in all other child care assistance claims within the state. The proposed new policy has raised many questions and concerns about the implcations of such a revision.

While the revised policy seeks to exempt women from the requirement to contact the other parent (rapist) if her child “was conceived as a result of incest or forcible rape”, many fear that the inclusion of the term may actually harm those whose assault may not fall within the legal definition of “forcible”, cases such as statutory or intimate partner rape. Reaction to the amendment includes: 1) Concerns  regarding a revictimization of survivors who become pregnant as a result of a rape, and 2) Contributes to the continued perception that one form of rape is more legitimate than another, and 3) Relegates policy to administrative practice in which individuals are given the authority to determine who qualifies for such an exemption.
Additionally, the Governor was criticized for the same term being included in the annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month Proclomation. Many of us secure similar proclomations on a yearly basis from local city and county government officials. May be a good time to go in and review the language being used. To see  Proclamation click here.