Human Rights

Refugee adjudicator doubts rape survivor’s story because she chose life for her child

abortions, hospital, baby, poverty

A refugee adjudicator in Canada is under fire for saying she did not believe a woman’s report of rape because she chose not to abort the child who was conceived as a result. The adjudicator, a female, Sarwanjit Randhawa, repeatedly asked the woman, “If you’re raped, why would you keep a child of rape?”

According to an article in Global News, the survivor said “it was her first child and she is against abortion. She also said she knows what it’s like to grow up without parents and that it isn’t the baby’s fault how she was conceived.”

This was not good enough for Randhawa, who wrote, “(I am) sensitive to the subject of rape, but the claimant’s explanation does not make sense as to why she would keep a child who would remind her of being raped, unless that is not the case.”

It is likely that the common pro-abortion narrative which presents abortion as the only natural ‘solution’ to a pregnancy resulting from sexual assault contributed to Randhawa’s decision. Pro-abortion advocates have frequently argued that a child born from rape will be a constant reminder of the trauma to the mother, and many in the public have come to believe that narrative.

The adjudicator’s decision stirred protest and was reversed on appeal, but it is uncertain how many similar determinations have been made in the past.

The Global News cited a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology which found that 32% of pregnant rape survivors chose life and raised their children. Half of those in the study had abortions; the remainder, subtracting miscarriages, made adoption plans for their children.

READ: Studies show most pregnant rape survivors choose life with no regrets


Three other studies showed much higher numbers of women choosing life after rape. David Reardon, Amy Sobie, and Julie Makimaa found that 73% of pregnant survivors chose life and 64% of them raised their children. In Sandra Mahkorn’s two studies, up to 75% of rape survivors chose against abortion. These studies found that the women who carried to term did not regret their decisions.

Some women who gave birth to their children conceived in rape felt that choosing life “empowered” them and helped them heal.

Kaitlin Bardswich, communications and development manager at Women’s Shelters Canada, spoke out against the adjudicator’s decision and advocated for the victim. She pointed to the 1994 Rwandan genocide during which nearly 20,000 children were conceived in rape. Many of these women, she says, kept and raised their children:

Bardswich says Randhawa’s decision suggests she is ignorant of the lived experiences of sexual assault survivors, many of whom choose to keep children conceived by rape….

For a refugee judge to say a woman’s explanation for keeping a baby does not make sense is “horrifying,” Bardswich said.

“If that can happen in a genocidal situation, it can happen anywhere,” she said.

Harmful stereotypes about rape victims and their children, which are perpetuated by abortion supporters, lead to women not being believed when they make the heroic choice to give birth. In this case, a judge denied a woman’s claim of rape based on these stereotypes. Fortunately, the decision has been reversed. But the case makes it clear how much pro-abortion advocates harm women when they disregard the experiences of those who raise children conceived in rape and push the narrative that all pregnant rape survivors want and need abortions.

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