August 23rd, 2012
09:52 AM ET

Opinion: Raped, pregnant and ordeal not over

Editor's note: Shauna R. Prewitt is a lawyer in Chicago. She is the author of "Giving Birth to a 'Rapist's Child': A Discussion and Analysis of the Limited Legal Protections Afforded to Women Who Become Mothers Through Rape," written for the Georgetown Law Journal.

By Shauna Prewitt, Special to CNN

Chicago, Illinois (CNN) - When I was in law school, my criminal law professor introduced us to the crime of rape by reading us a quote from Lord Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale, a 17th-century English jurist: "In a rape case it is the victim, not the defendant, who is on trial."

It was not merely a history lesson. I had lived it.

While a student in my final year of college, at age 21, I was raped. I have dissected that moment - the horrifying moment that I became a "victim" - from every possible angle. I have poked and prodded, examined and re-examined. Regrettably, I have even suspected myself in a desperate, ultimately futile attempt to understand how I became a victim.

But blaming myself was neither my idea nor my first inclination. I thought such 17th-century notions were long dead. I was wrong. People who did not even know me were quick to comment or speculate on my rape. What were you wearing? Did you scream loudly? Did this occur in public?

'Legitimate rape' reaction, from the Congo to black crickets

As my history lesson said, I found myself on trial, facing the most fierce judge and jury: ignorance.

Eight years after my rape, I find myself on trial against ignorance again. Rep. Todd Akin's recent comments that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy not only flout scientific fact but, for me, cut deeper. Akin has de-legitimized my rape.

Read Shauna R. Prewitt's full column

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Filed under: Gender • Health • What we think • Women
soundoff (One Response)
  1. ProHakcer

    that my culture cordisens the existence of a free media to be an abomination, does that de facto make CNN's broadcasts torture? I think not.Torture vs. Interrogation is a murky topic, but the opponents of the war (most of the media and the democrat/liberal pary) have described a ludicrously limited field of acceptable behavior, and they are primarily doing this for political gain. I've no doubt that some honestly feel this way, and I can respect that, but your example of CNN changing its stand when it suits them is a clear indication that their current thinking regarding torture is opportunistic.When an opponent (and I'm lumping CNN into this camp since they have an obvious bias against the current administration) gets to define the terms of the argument, they have a huge advantage. After all, they've succeded in defining the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan as "insurgents" when they're nothing close to the accepted definition of the word. They even have defenders of the war referring to "the insurgency". I, for one, would like to see the administration permanently change its syntax and start calling them "the terrorists". Words matter.Jason

    September 14, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |