For better or worse, Todd Akin became a household name by kick-starting the most recent national conversation on women’s rights with his controversial “legitimate rape” comments. Consider the situation in New Mexico the “worse” as Governor Susana Martinez proposes new changes that require women seeking childcare assistance to provide proof that they were forcibly raped.
Martinez referred to “forcible rape” in an announcement marking the month of April as New Mexico’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, stirring some controversy, and now that same language is appearing in state legislation, reports RH Reality Check. The state’s proposed changes to its official applications for childcare assistance will require New Mexico women to prove that their sexual assault qualified as “forcible rape” if they’re seeking childcare assistance for a child born of rape.
The new legislation would “force women who have left violent domestic partnerships, who were date-raped, who were impregnated as a result of incest, or through other “non-forcible” but nonetheless equally violent and denigrating means of sexual violation to first re-engage with their abusers to seek child support, putting control of their lives back into the hands of someone by whom they were violated in the most profound sense of the term,” reported ThinkProgress.
Martinez’s attempt to narrow the definition of rape is not exclusive to New Mexico. The concept has popped up a lot in Republican circles lately, though it is frequently hushed or removed from the conversation following massive public outcry.
Strong Families, a group that works to advance women and immigrant’s rights, released a statement expressing their disappointment in Martinez’s “attempt to qualify differing levels of rape,” and called the move “especially egregious” following Martinez’s prominent spot at the Republican National Convention last month.