OPINION: Stop giving potential rapists parental rights in New Jersey.

ABOVE: Cropped from surdumihail on Pixabay (license)

A letter to the editor by Lisa Cenneno of Mount Holly, New Jersey

Rape is already violent and yet most men do not receive the consequences they deserve for violating a woman’s body and mind. When a rape survivor suddenly finds herself pregnant she has decisions to make. Should I have an abortion, should I carry to term and put the child up for adoption? Should I carry to term and keep the child? The women who choose to carry to term and raise the children in many states get repeatedly raped. First by the the rapist, then by the courts and legislators, and then by the rapist again when he files for visitation or to share custody.

New Jersey has an outdated law that the only way that a rapist would lose parental custody of a child conceived from rape was if he was convicted. The statistics of rape are that only 15% of rapes are even reported of that only 5% go to trial and of that 5% only 3% are convicted. Now you are probably saying to yourself that the amount of women who choose to carry the child conceived is even a lower percent than that well you would be correct.

So in early 2018 I contacted a legislator about lowering standard for conviction to Clear and Convincing Evidence for the parental rights of a rapist to be eliminated. By lowering the need for the preponderance of evidence women who never made it to trial but could show that the man who assaulted them had done so, and have his rights revoked. The bill is A-3465 and sits in the Assembly waiting to be heard in the Judicial Committee!

The Bill that would help these woman sits there not going anywhere, just hanging out waiting for people to care and will call their legislators to tell them to support it. Why in 2019 are we still waiting for legislators to protect women from being assaulted repeatedly?? Why in 2019, in such a progressive state as New Jersey, does the law require a rapist to be convicted to eliminate his rights, when Judges still don’t hold men accountable for their actions??? Women of New Jersey, stand up and tell your Assembly people that you want women to stop being assaulted and demand that they champion bill A-3465!


Editor’s note: The opinions in this letter are the author’s only.

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