Tag Archive: rape victim


Rape victims can’t get pregnant?

The long-discredited notion that rape victims cannot become pregnant—a claim that pushed Republicans to repudiate one of their own US Senate candidates—dates back centuries to when human reproduction was hardly understood.

But the medieval theory has surfaced in 21st century political discourse as a result of the US abortion wars. Writers from the Middle Ages and modern politicians alike have based their arguments on the idea that a trauma of the magnitude of rape can shut down the body’s reproductive system.

The combination of misunderstanding and cherry-picked science even led some to conclude that a woman who says she was raped yet becomes pregnant must have been lying about the attack. Modern proponents of the claim repeat it despite empirical research showing that rape victims are at least as likely to become pregnant as women who have consensual sex, and possibly more likely.

Representative Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for the US Senate in Missouri, spurred new outrage on the subject when he told a St Louis TV station he does not support abortion for rape victims because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin, a member of the House science committee, apologised for his statement, calling it “ill conceived” and “wrong”. Senior Republicans scrambled to distance themselves from the comments a week before the party holds its presidential nominating convention in Florida.

The claim that rape is unlikely to lead to a pregnancy has “no biological plausibility”, said Dr Barbara Levy, vice president for health policy at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The claim is “not grounded in any physiology or scientifically valid data”.

Akin is not alone in his view about rape and pregnancy, however. It dates at least to medieval times, when a 13th century English legal tome called Fleta asserted that pregnancy was prima facie evidence against a charge of rape, “for without a woman’s consent she could not conceive”.

A 19th century book, Elements Of Medical Jurisprudence by Samuel Farr, said that conception is unlikely “without an excitation of lust, or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act”. That reflected the common notion that pregnancy requires a woman, like a man, to reach orgasm during intercourse.

Both early references were noted by The Guardian newspaper in a blog post. In fact, “human … female orgasm is not necessary for conception”, explained a 1995 paper in the journal Animal Behaviour, one of many studies reaching the same conclusion.

In more modern times, the rape-pregnancy claim seems to have been linked to the fact that stress can decrease fertility. “Mental stress can temporarily alter the functioning of your hypothalamus—an area of your brain that controls the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle,” explains the Mayo Clinic in a publication about infertility. “Ovulation and menstruation may stop as a result.”

But the stress that reduces fertility is the chronic kind that occurs over months or years, not the acute trauma of a rape.

“A woman who is raped at a vulnerable time in her menstrual cycle is as likely to conceive and retain a pregnancy as a woman who was voluntarily attempting pregnancy,” said ACOG’s Levy. “There’s absolutely no validity to any sort of theory that the trauma related to rape—or to any thing else for that matter—would shut down ovulation that has already begun.”

Physicians and researchers had long thought that conception occurs when sperm encounter an already-waiting egg. Recent research has shown that in fact sperm do the waiting, remaining in the woman’s uterus or fallopian tubes until an egg is released from the ovaries.

Although the trauma of rape might impair a woman’s fertility months or years later, said Levy, “you’re not going to interrupt something (like the release of an egg) that’s already started.”

Numerous studies support that. In a 1996 study in the American Journal Of Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers surveyed 4,008 American women for three years. Among women in their prime reproductive years, 12 to 45, five percent of rapes resulted in pregnancy, mostly among adolescents.

One-third “did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester”, the researchers found, concluding that “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency”.

It may occur with greater frequency than after consensual sex. Indeed, evolutionary psychologists—who seek to explain human behaviour by imagining what actions might have helped our ancient ancestors survive and reproduce—say the reason rape has been so endemic throughout history is precisely because it often leads to pregnancy: men who commit that crime, goes the argument, were more likely to have progeny, passing along their “rape genes” to the next generation.

While the explanation for rape has been discredited, the fact that rape often leads to pregnancy has not been.

In a 2003 study in the journal Human Nature, researchers found that 6.4% of rapes in the hundreds of women they surveyed caused pregnancy; that compares to a rate roughly half that with consensual intercourse. In Mexico, rape crisis centers have reported that some 15% of rapes cause pregnancy.

The rate may be high because rape victims are less likely to be using contraception at the time of the crime than are women in a relationship, who can also choose to forego sex during fertile periods in their reproductive cycle if they do not want to conceive.

Source: Reuters

Teen Sex On The Rise

More and more teens are experimenting with sex, and starting earlier too.

NEVER mind that they know little about the birds and the bees, teenage girls in Singapore are still going ahead with the deed – and in larger numbers as well.

s665448667_6190The latest police figures show that 310 girls below the age of 16 were caught engaging in underage consensual sex last year – nearly 45% more than the year before.

Put against the number from five years ago – 163 – the jump is even more stark.

Most of the time, their parents or teachers report them to the police; police officers on patrol have also caught them in the act.

How can a young couple differentiate between love and infatuation?
How can a young couple differentiate between love and infatuation?

The police say that most of the time, these girls are with men known to them, usually their boyfriends or friends.

In most cases, these boys are also teenagers, though they are sometimes in their 20s or even 30s.

In the eyes of the law, girls aged between 12 and 14 are considered victims73017bc564ccedb6 of statutory rape. Cases involving girls below the age of 12 are investigated as rape. Offenders can be jailed for up to 20 years, and fined or caned.

Under the Women’s Charter, sex with a girl aged above 14 but below 16 is termed “carnal connection”.

If found guilty, offenders can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to S$10,000 (RM23,800) for this crime.

While females are the majority of victims in underage sex cases here, the law has been amended to protect males as well.

Last October, a 32-year-old former teacher became the first woman here to be charged with having sex with a minor, a 15-year-old boy.

Not only are the rising numbers worrying, youth counsellors say it also appears that teenagers are being initiated into sex earlier.

s1465982963_5667A jump in the number of statutory rape cases – from nine in 2003 to 63 last year – hints at this. Youth counsellors are also seeing more cases of young teens at “sexual or moral risk”: Of 721 children screened by counsellors after their parents had sought beyond parental control orders last year, nearly a quarter, or 171, were found to have already experienced sex in one form or another.

And these are only the cases that have come to the attention of the authorities, said counsellors.

The rising statistics indicate that teenagers here are less conservative thans1343242400_9380 their predecessors, they added.

In the past, drugs and cigarettes were the stuff of youthful experimentation, but today, it is sex.

As clinical psychologist Carol Balhetchet put it: “Sex is the new cigarette.”

And while girls are typically cast as “victims” under the law, not all of them are as innocent as they seem.

cheryl-anne-gohCounsellors have reported an increasing proportion of girls who are sexually aggressive initiators of sex.

Dr Balhetchet said a 15-year-old girl wrote to her about two years ago wanting to know how she could ask her boyfriend to have sex with her because all her friends were already doing it with their boyfriends.

Young people may be unaware of the consequences of unprotected sex – an unwanted pregnancy or disease.
Young people may be unaware of the consequences of unprotected sex – an unwanted pregnancy or disease.

Chong Cheh Hoon, senior vice-president of Focus on the Family Singapore, a group dedicated to the strengthening of families, said popular culture in the form of hit television programmes such as Gossip Girl are also giving young people a template on dating and casual sex.

She said: “Kids today thrive on popular culture and fashion fads, and if something looks cool and gets them the popular vote, they will gravitate to that source in order to get that attention.”

britanny-smithIt is this race to be “with it” that “blurs the line between right and wrong”.

A 16-year-old who first had sex when she was 15 said that nearly all her friends were doing it, with most of them having started at 14 or 15, like herself.

She said she views sex as “personal” and only for two people who love each other, but her friends have told her that “once they lose their virginity, sex doesn’t really mean much to them anymore”.

A survey carried out last year by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) among 500 girls under 16 indicated that a majority of these girls were seeking emotional fulfilment rather than a physical connection; some felt compelled to give in to the demands of their partners to prove their love.

s1359455533_7768The survey revealed that the two main reasons for having sex were a desire for a closer connection with their boyfriend and being pressured by their boyfriend into giving themselves.

“Girls who want emotional support might feel trapped because they feel sex is the only way they can keep the boy,” said Yusof Ismail, chief executive of the Ain Society, which deals with troubled youth.

Teens may be unaware of the consequences – unwanted babies or disease – or are turning a blind eye to them.

veronica-hadad1A study on young people’s awareness and usage of contraception commissioned last July by drug company Bayer Schering Pharma found that about three in 10 of the 240 respondents had had sex, but only 54% had used contraceptives.

One in six believed that urinating or exercising after sex would prevent pregnancy.

Noel Tan, who co-founded Sanctuary House, an organisation which helps mothers who cannot or may not want to keep their babies, said: “Most kids – and even adults – have no clue what it takes to have a baby.

“A lot of the time, pregnancies happen because these kids don’t know how to say ‘No’. How do they know the difference between love and infatuation?”

Source:http://thestar.com.my/youth2/story.asp?file=/2009/2/18/youth2/3282327&sec=youth2