This past week, Representative Todd Akin (R-MO) appallingly remarked that women who are raped rarely become pregnant from the attack:
"It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Akin is now trivializing both the issue and import of what he said, and is refusing to step down from his Senate campaign. This inexcusable nonsense in defining rape and the response of rape victims is the type of myth Legal Momentum has worked extensively to confront through its National Judicial Education Program (NJEP). That a member of Congress holds such an absurd belief demonstrates how much work still needs to be done, and that Congress should finish its work and pass a strong Violence Against Women Act bill which contains the provisions for realigning the key funding program (STOP) to better respond to the needs of sexual assault survivors.
As outraged responses to Akin’s statements have grown nationwide, President Obama also made a point of saying in a press conference: "Rape is rape” and that we shouldn’t be "parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about…"
Legal Momentum has pioneered education for judges, the courts and many others in the U.S. and around the world about the myriad ways gender bias and myths surrounding sexual violence can undermine fairness in the way these cases are adjudicated. NJEP’s well-respected publication, Judges Tell: What I Wish I Had Known Before I Presided in an Adult Victim Sexual Assault Case, directly breaks down and defeats the myths and stereotypes. For this publication, NJEP canvassed judges who had attended previous NJEP programs and asked what they wished they had known before presiding in an adult victim sexual assault case or cases involving co-perpetrated domestic violence and sexual abuse. The results led to this 25 point compendium with commentary and extensive resources, including these facts:
Legal Momentum applauds the efforts to support victims of sexual violence and will continue its work counteracting myths with real information.