Spousal Rape Needs More Attention

Spousal rape is a rape that is less talked about in conversations about rape and rape culture because the power dynamic is more than just that of the perpetrator and the victim.

It is a rape that occurs between a husband and wife (or husband-husband or wife-wife).

In the state of Ohio, a person can be charged with rape if they impair another person’s judgment or self-control to prevent their resistance. This could be done through giving the victim drugs, controlled substances or any other intoxicant through force, intimidation or lying.

Spousal rape wasn’t included into Ohio law until 1986, but it was only if there was “force” or a “threat of force.” Situations where one spouse drugs another without their knowledge and rapes do not qualify as spousal rape under the law.

This is a loophole that victim advocates and state representatives are trying to close with House Bill 97, but only 17 lawmakers—all of them Democrats—have signed to co-sponsor this bill.

H.B. 97 would eliminate spousal exceptions for rape, sexual bettery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition and public indecency. Currently, spouses can only be charged with these crimes if the victim is either not their spouse or is their spouse but they live separately.

First, we have to establish that regardless if it is between two people who are married, rape is still rape and it can occur in marriages. Being married to someone does not stop human beings from being able to consent to sex on their own terms.

Second, the state government has to know (or should know by this point through H.B. 97) the spousal exemption of force or threat of force is hard to prove in the court of law. A victim spouse could have physical injury done to them due to the crime, but it would be disputed by courts as to whether or not the injury happened because of the rape or because of something else. A threat of force can easily be seen in courts as “he said/she said.” Both of these exemptions already make it hard for spouses to report cases of rape because not only are these two statutes going to be hard to prove in court, but the lack of presence could prevent spouses from getting rape kits in hospitals.

If we eliminate these exemptions from spousal rape, we may be able to see a start in spouses reporting their rapes and justice being served for these people, regardless if the perpetrator was their partner. Marital status and living situations should not be issues that are exempted from rape cases.

Last, I find it to be unsurprisingly disgusting that there is not a single Republican in the General Assembly who has co-sponsored this bill. While we have heard and seen our fair share of Republicans say horrid things about rape, abortion and Planned Parenthood, anyone– regardless of political party–should be able to see the importance of eliminating this loophole.

Rape is horrid and traumatic the United Nations considers it a war crime. It is unfair to believe rape cannot happen between two people just because they have their names on a marriage license together. Rape does not discriminate; rape is illegal and a crime. No one, not even spouses, should be exempt from being tried for that crime.

This column has been formatted for the internet and edited by the original author.
This column first appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.


Policing women and religion out of hand

Photo taken from The Guardian website; from vantagenews.com

The policing of women’s bodies and what they decide to wear is getting out of hand in both the United States and around the world.

In the United States, we as a society are constantly criticizing what women wear, from asking in court systems what women are wearing at the time of their sexual assaults to creating sexist dress codes in our public code that prevent young girls from wearing menial articles of clothing such as spaghetti strapped tank tops in fear of “distracting” male students from receiving their education.

In France earlier this week, a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice was cited with a ticket by the police for not “wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to French news agency, Agence French-Presse.

She wore leggings, a tunic and a headscarf while on the beach with her children. In three photos that were posted by The Guardian, the woman is seen laying on the beach, four police officers on their way to approach her.

Photo taken from The Guardian Website; by Vantagenews.com
The woman who only gave her her first name, Siam, is seen laying on the beach in a tunic, leggings, and headscarf.

In the second photograph, the Muslim woman can be seen with her tunic partially removed and all four police officers watching her do so; and in a third photo, she’s holding the tunic out to the police officers while one officer is knelt down inspecting it.

Photo taken from The Guardian's website; from Vantagenews.com
Siam, holding out her tunic to an officer to inspect.

Nice and other various French cities have banned “burkinis,” a type of swimwear for Muslim women that correlates with Islamic dress code and other clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks,” which refers to the attack that occurred this past summer on Bastille Day where a cargo truck drove into crowds, killing 86 people and injuring more than 300 others. The ban is said to be “necessary to protect the population,” but I do not buy this at all.

The wording of the Muslim woman’s ticket also indicates that her outfit was not respectful of good morals and feeds into the idea that Islam is an immoral religion, which it is not. Are nuns in France being asked to not wear their habits because their outfits do not “respect good morals and secularism?” Doubtful.

While I agree there are terrible people out there who use Islam to push radical ideologies (see the Syrian Civil War for more details), I disagree with France that this woman deserved to have her clothes taken off and inspected to ensure she was not a threat. This woman was at the beach with her children, not bothering anyone.

What is worse, according to The Guardian, a witness to the scene said she heard other people around the situation saying things such as “Go home,” and applauding the police for making this woman remove her clothing.

While I understand that all of this is supposed to help protect the people, it is more harmful to average citizens than anything. These rules are meant to target people who identify or “look” Muslim, and this leads to more profiling by law enforcement and stereotyping in our society. If policies like this are going to be set in place, I hope and want them to be set in place for all people and religions.In order to make sure this rule and ban is fair, nuns should not be wearing their habits and priests should not be wearing their collars.

If you are going to police one gender’s or one religion’s right to clothing, all of them should be policed.

CORRECTION: The original poster of the photos was not The Guardian. The photos were taken from vantagenews.com and were used on The Guardian’s website.
This article has been edited and updated by the original author.

This article was originally published by BG Falcon Media’s independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

The UK, Northern Ireland and Reproductive Rights

In the center of the picture, a woman holds a piece of cardboard that says, "I have this pill I am taking now!" Behind her, other protestors hold similar signs with prochoice words and slogans.

The topic of abortion is often touchy in the United States, as we talked about in my Ethnicity and Social Movements class last week. In my recitation on Friday, my teaching assistant shared a story about a woman in Indiana who was sentenced to 20 years in feticide.

According to NBC News, she “is the first woman in the U.S. to be charged, convicted, and sentenced on a feticide charge.”

Earlier in the week, I heard something similar that I thought my teaching assistant has been referring to but instead it took place in Northern Ireland.

According to the BBC, a woman in Belfast bought drugs online to terminate her pregnancy. In Northern Ireland, as there is absolutely no abortion access for women.

At the time the Belfast woman terminated her pregnancy, she was 19 years old. Now almost twy years later at 21, she has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Some people who read this at first might be confused. In public education in the United States, I was taught Ireland was part of the U.K. Some other students who were in American public education may also tell you that.

However, some students who were educated in the U.S., may be able to tell you that the land we know is Ireland is split into two separate locations: the Republic of Ireland, which is the sovereign nation mainstream American might be most exposed to; and Norther Ireland, which could potentially be less heard of outside of history or geography classes, is part of the U.K.

In 1967, the U.K. legalized abortions and registered practicioners and regulated the practice through the National Health Service.

So why does Northern Ireland not follow this law the same way England, Scotland, and Wales do?

It’s because the law never applied to the country to begin with. In Northern Ireland, abortion is illegal unless it is “to save the life of the mother” or carrying the pregnancy to term would put the women in danger either physically or mentally.

Even though this law is in place, the woman is still guilty of her miscarriage under The Offences against the Person Act 1981, which is a list of crimes that can be considered offenses of violence on a person.

Another story by the BBC about this situation says that women who live in Northern Ireland travel to other countries in the United Kingdom in order to receive legal and safe abortions.

In England, Scotland and Wales, women can legally have an abortion up to 24 weeks (168 days). After that, abortion can be legal beyond that limit in cases where the mother’s health is  being threatened or if there is a substantial risk the baby will have serious disabilities.

It is interesting that two similar situations are happening in what are supposed to be two of the most developed countries in the world are still fighting over what women should do about their own bodies.

The difference in these two stories is that the procedure was available to the woman in Belfast, but since she personally did have the resources to access it on her own, she had to use other resources that are otherwise seen as taboo to other societies.

The woman in Indiana claims to have given birth to a stillborn, but prosecutors are insisting the baby was alive when she gave birth and she neglected to get help. But activists are on her side, saying the conviction is “punishment for having a miscarraige and then seeking medical care…something that no woman should worry would lead to jail time.

Reproductive rights are more than just wanting to terminate pregnancies and wanting contraception. It is also about giving medical and psychological support to women whose pregnancies are physically tolling or traumatic experiences.

I’m curious as to see how these to stories, which is are opposite sides of a body of water play out. I hope to keep you updated.


Why I decided to get the Nexplanon implant

The morning the Ohio House cleared a state bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, I called my university’s health center to schedule an appointment to receive the Nexplanon birth control implant.

But before I can talk about why I decided to make this decision, it’s important to know how I came across this to start. So let’s go back to my time in public education.

Fondly referred to as “Jenn the Sex Lady” by our school district, she originally started off as a sexual education teacher at the middle school level. She talked to my sister’s Work and Family class about the basics of puberty and about sex when she was in middle school from 2004-2006.

I, however, did not meet and encounter Jenn the Sex Lady until it was too late.

The sexual education she normally gave students in middle school, I did not receive until my sophomore year in high school. For some reason, between the time my sister left the seventh grade and I went in, the school district decided to take sex ed away from Work and Family classes. Which I think was a big mistake on the part of the school district. Sex education should start at the time of puberty, not well after.

I took oral contraceptives nightly from 16 until the age of 21 when I got sick with cellulitis, a common but sometimes serious bacterial skin infection. I stopped taking them while I was taking the antibiotics.

Why didn’t I go back to birth control after taking the antibiotics, you ask? Well, after getting off the antibiotics, my eight year battle with depression worsened and I decided to get treatment after an emotional and mental break. But that is another column for another day.

Fast forward to Spring 2015, when I took Human Sexuality for my minor at the time.

Along with learning about how sex affects the brain and the psychology and science behind sexual behaviors, we also learned about birth control and the women’s rights campaign for the right to have birth control.

We discussed common methods of birth control first–oral contraceptives, condoms, spermicide, etc. But there was something new I was unfamiliar with: an intrauterine device, otherwise known as an IUD.

An IUD is a small “T”-shaped contraceptive device that’s inserted into a uterus. IUDs can be effective anywhere between five and 12 years. After that class, I decided to make it a mission to figure out if I was eligible for one of these.

Fast forward again to last semester.

While visiting a friend who was selling her artwork in the Student Union, I noticed a relatively large bruise on her bicep. Hoping she didn’t hurt herself while doing artwork, I asked her if she was okay. She told me she recently received the Nexplanon implant. It was a type of birth control covered by quite a few insurances, including Ohio State Medicaid and mostly covered by the Affordable Healthcare Act (otherwise known as “Obamacare”).

So this semester as a part of my personal project, Self Love 2016, I decided to make an appointment with the women’s health doctor at my school.

At the appointment, my doctor was very help. She told me implant was four centimeters (1.57 inches) and is rod shaped (instead of “T”-shaped) and is inserted into the bicep.

She told me I should be able to feel the implant in my bicep and she even gave me a dummy bicep to feel on.

She also told me that like with all birth control, there’s the risk that it may be more harmful than helpful, but it could always be removed if that happened.

So I accepted the process and she perscribed me progesterone pills to help me jump start a menstrual cycle.

But I chose to get the Nexplanon implant for a number of reasons.

I wanted it because it had a higher chance of being covered by my health insurance than any of the uterine implants. I’m also sick of taking oral contraceptives that I often forget about.

Being sick of oral contraceptives sounds contradictory since I take antidepressants daily.

But the difference was this: I willingly decided to take antidepressants. I was pressured into the decision to take birth control. I was 16 and wanting to appease and repent for a mistake I made and the best way to do so was by taking oral contraceptives like everyone wanted.

By getting the Nexplanon implant, I’m taking charge of my own body and making sure no surprises get in the way of achieving both my academic and professional goals.

By the time my audience reads this (unless you picked up the print and condensed version of this story in The BG News), I will be in procedure process, as my appointment is scheduled for 11 a.m. today.

I look forward to documenting my progess with you and seeing where this goes.