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Letter to representatives, regarding the imposition of child support liability on rape victims

As I mentioned before the new year, one of the things I wanted to begin doing at the beginning of 2013 was writing letters on issues of discrimination against men, and sending them to federal and state representatives. This letter is the first in that effort. It highlights an issue which is not widespread, but which represents a serious civil rights violation against those it affects. It's an issue which I think both parties should be able to agree on - the state, at the request of a criminal, holding her male victim financially liable for a circumstance which she has chosen to accept, and which he did not choose to cause, and did not have the power to prevent.

To that end, I've sent the message to both Ohio Senators, and five different Ohio representatives in the House, and I'm asking anyone who is willing to please send a message on this topic to your representatives as well. For those who would like to send a message, but do not know how, you can use the following links to find contact information for your representatives:
Find Your Representative in the House
Find Your Senator

To fax to one congressman to whom I could not send mail online due to system restrictions, I used FaxZero, and sent the letter as a fax.
The message:

I'm writing to draw your attention to a loophole in U.S. law that allows female sexual predators to repeatedly traumatize an intended victim for a period of years, potentially beginning as early as the start of adolescence, and continuing well beyond a decade of time.

This traumatic abuse, when perpetrated against a minor or a family man, may not only be inflicted upon the intended victim, but also against supporting members of his family. Not only does such abuse exist, occur for long time spans, and visit itself upon the victim's supporting family, all under the sanction of state and federal law; it is actually enforced by the law.

Under current legal standard, a victim of such abuse is offered no remedy, nor recourse, should he seek assistance in ending his torment. In fact, should he refuse to submit to his abuser's demands, the law carries harsh penalty, including possible incarceration. These penalties may be imposed even if the victim is physically or legally unable to comply.

How could such a situation exist? What group of representatives would have created such a terrible imposition upon innocent citizens?

Well, it was an accident of omission; a manner in which a law ordinarily expected to see to the provision for the needs of children was left open to exploitation by female sexual predators who assault or abuse men and boys.

Once all is said and done, when a female rapist has been stopped - arrested, tried, convicted, penalized - she has lost access to her victim, and is no longer able to do him any harm.

That is, unless she has become pregnant.

Being female, the rapist then has a plethora of options aside from custodial parenthood: She can terminate or carry to term and give birth. She can relinquish custody to the victim - the baby's father. Barring that, she can relinquish custody to family, either the victim's, or her own. She can allow the baby to be placed in foster care, or put up for adoption. She can leave the baby with a safe-haven abandonment center. At no point, and under no logic, can the rapist who becomes pregnant in any way be reasonably considered a victim. Parenthood is not inflicted on her. It is her privilege, and her choice.

Being male, the victim has zero options. Given that he is a rape victim, he was not even permitted the option to refuse sexual intercourse. He cannot abort. He must fight in court if he wants custody, and he has to prove the mother an unfit parent to obtain that. If he is too young to raise a baby, he won't be given that opportunity. If he did not want to become a father, he has no option to sever his parental responsibilities along with his rights, as the mother can do with hers. Under current law, if a male rape victim fathers a child during the act, he is out of luck, and on the hook.

Due to these circumstances and the way child support laws are written and enforced, the situation exists wherein a female rapist may enforce a child support debt upon her victim (S.F. v. Alabama ex rel. T.M., 695 So. 2d 1186 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996)), even if he is underage... even if he is too young to legally work. (County of San Luis Obispo v. Nathaniel J., 57 Cal. Rptr. 2d 843, 843 (Ct. App. 1996)), State ex rel. Hermesmann v. Seyer , 252 Kan. 646, 847 P.2d 1273, 1279 (1993).

Think about that; a boy victimized by a rapist may be too young to work, because he's considered too young to consent to an adult contract - too young to be held to an agreement - but he can have financial liability forced upon him against his will. This means that he will either have to obtain a waiver, and seek employment at an age when he should be focused on his studies and his personal development, or he will have to depend on someone in his family to pay his debt and keep him from being penalized as a deadbeat parent. By the time his financial obligation has ended, his childhood will be long gone, as will his best opportunity for an education and the development of a career. By making this demand of an underage victim, the court essentially sells him, or his supporting family, into a status of indentured servitude, making him buy his freedom back from the state, and robbing him of life experiences and opportunities which he can never revisit or regain.

This, in the supposed best interest of a child which the state has left in the custody of an admitted or convicted rapist.

This is a particularly grievous rights violation when considered in comparison to the way in which female victims who become pregnant are viewed by society. If she bears a child, but chooses to reject custodial parenthood, nobody has suggested that a female rape victim must pay child support to her rapist - anyone advocating such an idea would be shouted down in protest by people regardless of political affiliation.

Why, then, is it acceptable that U.S. courts should force financial liability on rape victims who happen to be male?

Writing two specifications into law would remedy this appalling perversion of justice. First, in the event that a child is conceived during an act of sexual assault for which the perpetrator is convicted, the conviction should carry with it the stipulation that upon the birth of the baby, custody will be awarded to the victim unless the victim chooses otherwise, is incapable, or is deemed unfit. In the event that the victim rejects custodial parenthood, regardless of who else raises the baby, the victim must be exempt from all laws mandating child support payments.

Making these two changes to existing law would protect male victims of rape and sexual assault from being repeatedly re-victimized by perpetrators using family law as a weapon.

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