Rape victims speak out against Republicans on eve of Ryan’s speech

By Kay Steiger
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:21 EDT
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UltraViolet ad with rape victims speaking out against the GOP
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In advance of vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan taking the stage at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, rape survivors released a video calling for Republicans to “[stand] up for the dignity of women who have been raped.”

The video, released by the group UltraViolet, which works to fight sexism in the public sector, complies the voices of three women rape victims and calls on Republicans to take rape seriously in the wake of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s remarks about how victims of “legitimate rape” cannot get pregnant.

The remarks inspired a backlash, even from many Republicans (though there are still some female Republicans who defend Akin), and increasing attention to Republicans’ positions on rape and abortion.

Though presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney has joined calls for Akin to resign from the Senate race, his running mate Rep. Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Akin that would have redefined rape as “forcible rape” and even mentioned that he believed rape was “just another form of conception.” The Republican Party platform, which will be voted on at the convention this week, endorses “personhood” language — which would also outlaw many forms of contraception — and an abortion ban that does not include an exception for rape.

“The GOP is ingraining the shaming of survivors of rape in their party platform and in their messaging and that is unacceptable,” one of the women in the video, Cindy Harding, said. She is a mother a child that resulted from a sexual assault she faced over 20 years ago. “I chose to keep my daughter, and she has brought me great joy. I chose, and as a survivor, I will never condemn the choice of any survivor to choose differently—but I do condemn Mitt Romney and the GOP for trying to take that choice away.”

Chicago-based rape survivor and activist Jessica Skolnik said in the video, “Gov. Romney should consider how he would feel if he had been in my shoes, isolated after a violent attack, still a child in many ways, faced with carrying my rapist’s child to term instead of starting the young adult life I hoped for. The GOP needs to stop promoting reckless language that further isolates young women who are already in one of the hardest situations a person can face.”

The video calls on Republicans to reject the language in the platform. “The GOP should be standing up for the dignity of women who have been raped. Every woman who experiences rape is already devastated. We do not deserve the added degradation of hateful speech,” said Sherry Davis, a former announcer for the San Francisco Giants. “I have lived in shame and silence for over 40 years, but the statements last week from men who would presume to lead our country have moved me to speak out so that no other women will takes their lies to heart.”

UltraViolet released a poll on Tuesday that showed 55 percent of women in Virginia and 56 percent of women in Ohio say that the Republican party platform should at least include an exception for rape, according to a press release.

Watch the video, uploaded to YouTube on Aug. 28 by UltravioletAction.

Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
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