Rape victims in some states forced to share custody of children

August 4, 2022
Rape victims in some states forced to share custody of children

While there are men who have been victimized as well, sex crimes most commonly involve women and girls. To add to this, women bring a unique complexity to the table. Unlike men, their bodies are capable of bearing a child after the assault takes place. Whether the mother chooses to keep her baby or is forced to do so by state laws, she may encounter a new obstacle. 

Depending on where she lives, she may share custody of her child with her attacker. In 2016, CNN reported on seven states that had no current laws in place to prevent this from happening. These included the following: 

  • New Mexico 
  • Wyoming 
  • North Dakota 
  • Minnesota 
  • Mississipi 
  • Alabama 
  • Maryland 

There were also several states that only recently put laws in place to prevent this. Among these were Georgia, Arizona, Indiana and Maine. In all other states, there are some existing laws in place to offer varying degrees of protection to women. Several of these states require a conviction to block parental rights. 

Note that the state of Missouri might not explicitly require a conviction as proof that a child was the result of a forcible sexual encounter before terminating parental rights. This may present problems for men who are falsely accused of fathering their children through rape, even without a conviction. 

However, states find their hands tied when trying to protect women and children. Washington Post estimates that the number of rape-related pregnancies in America is as high as 32,000 per year. The article did not provide data on how many women see the pregnancy through to the end and how many keep the children after birth. 


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