60,000 Demand Ohio Block Rapists’ Ability to Sue Survivors for Child Custody

** See Photos of the delivery here: http://bit.ly/PQ8jhn **

Columbus, OH– At 11am this morning, women from Ohio State University delivered over 60,0000 signatures to State Senator John Eklund, Chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, calling on him to advance a bill that would end rapists’ parental rights over children conceived through their crimes. The issue came to light in Ohio when Ariel Castro filed for visitation rights over a child conceived after he kidnapped, held hostage, and repeatedly raped 3 women for nearly 15 years. Now, advocates from national women’s group UltraViolet and local students from the OSU chapter of reproductive justice group Choice USA have teamed up to demand action, as a bill that could fix the loophole languishes in committee.

See the petition from UltraViolet: http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/ohio_rapist_custody/

See the letter from UltraViolet to Sen. Eklund delivered today: http://bit.ly/1l4i3BE

Specifically, the groups want the end of rights of rapists to sue rape survivors for custody and visitation rights of children conceived from their crime. The bill in question is SB83, or the Protect Rape Survivors Act.

“The last thing a woman should have to consider after rape is whether she will be legally tied to her rapist for life,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet. “It’s time for State Sen. John Eklund to close this legal loophole once and for all and advance SB83 to protect rape survivors across Ohio.”

Alongside the petition delivery, hundreds of UltraViolet members have also called Sen. Eklund’s office today to demand action.

“The lack of effort by Sen. John Eklund to advance this bill is hugely frustrating to students like me,” said Diana Senchery, a member of the Ohio State University chapter of Choice USA who delivered the petitions today. “The fact that even a common-sense protection like blocking parental rights for rapists is so hard to pass exemplifies just how bad rape culture in Ohio is.”

Ohio is 1 of 31 that allow convicted rapists to sue survivors of the crime for custody and visitation rights of children conceived by rape.

Approx 32,000 women in America become pregnant from rape every year, and about a third of those women go on to raise children conceived from the crime of rape. In 31 states including Ohio, those women can be legally tethered to their rapists for life. To advocates, this is a key avenue for survivors to be able to protect themselves from rapists. Half of all rapes go unreported, and only 3% of rapists spend a day in jail– making alternative avenues for women to protect themselves extremely important.

Contact the office of John Eklund at (614) 644-7718.

For more information, or for interviews with the local students, Choice USA, or UltraViolet, please contact Molly Haigh at 907.750.1999 or molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com.