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52 Abuse of Women News Articles
for April 2018
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4-30-18 Human trafficking: 350 victims rescued in Caribbean and Latin America
Nearly 350 victims of human trafficking have been rescued by police in 13 Caribbean and Latin American countries. The Interpol-coordinated Operation Libertad saved men, women and children trafficked abroad and forced into work. Victims were found working in night clubs, factories, markets, farms and mines. Some worked in spaces "no bigger than coffins," said Cem Kolcu of Interpol's human trafficking unit. Officers arrested 22 people and seized cash, mobile phones and computers. The co-ordinated raids were the result of a two-and-a-half year project funded by the Canadian government, which also trained specialist officers for the team. Police throughout the Caribbean were involved, including on the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curacao and the UK's Turks and Caicos islands, as well as in Brazil and Venezuela. Operations were directed from Barbados and supported by Interpol command centres in Lyon, France and Argentina's capital Buenos Aires. Tim Morris, Interpol's executive director of police services, told the BBC conditions in Guyana were "particularly horrific". There, investigators rescued young women who were forced to work as prostitutes near remote gold mines - locations from which they cannot escape and which are hard for investigators to find. "Isolated locations make it difficult for officers to avoid detection," said Diana O'Brien, Guyana's assistant director of public prosecutions, explaining that often, by the time they can act on intelligence, traffickers have moved their victims. Meanwhile, bosses at a factory in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines stripped Asian trafficking victims of their passports and forced them into total dependence, taking all their money and means of transport from them. "To all intents and purposes, you enslave the person," Mr Morris said.
4-30-18 Ostracised and fetishised: The perils of travelling as a young black woman
Ashley Butterfield, 31, has been around the world - but a visit to India brought home the particular challenges of being a lone black female tourist. "Are blacks better in bed because of genetics or diet?" the middle-aged Indian restaurant owner asked me earnestly as I finished the dinner he had prepared. Although not a question that one typically expects when requesting the bill, I was not unsettled. Having worked in international development for the past seven years and having travelled in 30 countries, mostly alone, I have grown accustomed to hearing things that most people would find jarring. However, I didn't feel defiant, upset or even threatened by him. This was not the first time I'd experienced this sort of thing. Once I fell asleep on a bus in north India and woke up to a man, inches away from me, videoing me on his phone. "What are you doing?" I asked, alarmed. He simply replied: "Instagram." In Udaipur, a man approached me in a restaurant and kept telling me how much he loved black people. Then he started making comments that were sexual. The attention I received was not always extreme, but sometimes the energy changed when I was with other travellers. There was a clear difference in the type of attention that I received when walking with fellow white or Asian travellers, versus when walking alone or with another black person. When with the former, people still noticed me, but their reactions were more indifferent than negative, as if the other travellers validated my being there. When alone or with another black person, however, a large majority of the reactions toward us were decidedly negative - expressed through frowning faces, laughter, pointing, staring, making jokes or hurrying away from us.
4-28-18 Pamplona rape case: Protests over sentence go in to third day
Thousands of people turned out on the streets of the Spanish city Pamplona on Saturday for the third day of protests after five men were cleared of rape. The men, who called themselves the Wolf Pack, were found guilty of sexual abuse, which many consider too lenient. The case has caused a national outcry, with protests also taking place in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia since Thursday's verdict. The victim, then 18, was assaulted at the city's bull-running festival. The Spanish hashtag #cuéntalo, meaning "tell it", has been widely tweeted in recent days, as people shared their own stories of abuse in solidarity with her. The five men - José Ángel Prenda, Alfonso Cabezuelo, Antonio Manuel Guerrero, Jesús Escudero and Ángel Boza - were each sentenced to nine years in prison. Prosecutors had asked for sentences of more than 20 years. Under Spanish law, the charge of sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation. The Spanish government has said it will review the classification of sexual offences. More than 30,000 people protested on Saturday, according to police. The demonstrators strode down the roads where the bulls run during the annual festival, known locally as San Fermín. Many said they were motivated not only by this case, but they also wanted to take a stand against the whole legal system, which they said was stacked against women. "Justice is still patriarchal, it puts the blame on us and we are unprotected," said one of the female protesters to local radio station RTVE, according to Reuters news agency.
4-28-18 #MeToo: Why sexual harassment is a reality in Bollywood
Every year thousands of young men and women head to the western city of Mumbai, India's film capital, in search of their own Bollywood dream. But for many the experience becomes a nightmare. The BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan and Pratiksha Ghilidial spoke to several actresses who say they have been sexually harassed by directors and casting agents. Six years ago, Sujatha (not her real name) persuaded her conservative parents to let her leave her home in a small village in rural India so she could seek her fame and fortune as a Bollywood actress in Mumbai. She was just 19 at the time, with little acting experience and no contacts. But it didn't take her long to meet people who were willing to give her advice on how to break into the industry. One of her first offers came from a casting agent who asked Sujatha to meet him at his apartment. She didn't think anything of it because she was told it is common for such meetings to happen at home. Her account of what happened next is distressing. "He touched me wherever he wanted. He put his hand all over inside my dress. When he started removing it, I froze," Sujatha told the BBC. When she told him to stop, Sujatha says he told her that she didn't have the "right attitude" for the industry. The BBC has no way of independently verifying Sujatha's claims but she told us she has faced unwanted sexual advances on a number of different occasions while seeking acting work. She says that she went to the police on one occasion but her complaint was dismissed by officers who said "filmy people" can do what they want. Sujatha asked us to conceal her identity because she is terrified of speaking out. She believes any actress who does so is accused of being hungry for publicity or after money and, as a consequence, has her reputation trashed.
4-27-18 The lessons of Bill Cosby's dizzying downfall
Bill Cosby is finished. But real change has only just begun. After all, the 80-year-old comedian has survived those allegations so many times that his Twitter profile even thematizes it — as does his new special, Far From Finished. Cosby was so relaxed about his prospects that he did his Fat Albert impression as he was leaving the courtroom last year as the jury failed yet again to reach a decision. He felt untouchable. With good reason. That this jury did reach a decision means it's time to take stock of exactly how far we've come. What exactly changed since 2006, when Robert Huber wrote this account of the allegations against Cosby that absolutely failed to stick — despite the fact that Cosby himself admitted, in a 2005 deposition, to using Quaaludes three decades ago "when it was fashionable to do so with consenting women"? Bill Cosby's biographer Mark Whitaker didn't even mention the dozens of allegations for which the comedian was finally convicted yesterday in his book about the comic. But he did have this to say about Cosby in 2014: "He's paid a big price. … The show [a planned NBC sitcom] has been yanked. The reruns of The Cosby Show have been taken off the air. He's routinely called a rapist everywhere. That's a big price." That's a remarkable thing to say. Whitaker admits — in that very interview — that not addressing the allegations was a mistake. But a mere four years ago, it was acceptable for a journalist who failed to address one of the biggest celebrity stories of the decade to seriously suggest that losing a sitcom deal was a "big price" to pay for drugging and raping dozens of women. If there's any doubt about the foul swamp America has been for women, that statement provides accidental proof. (Webmaster's comment: But millions of abusers of women are still out there and abusing them without consequence. Turn them all in!)
4-27-18 Patrick Meehan resigns from House over harassment case
Republican congressman Patrick Meehan has said he will resign immediately over sexual harassment allegations. The Pennsylvania representative was to be investigated by the ethics committee over accusations that he sexually harassed a female ex-staffer and used taxpayers' money to settle with her. Mr Meehan, 62, also said he planned to pay back the full $39,000 (£28,000) of the settlement money. Earlier this year, he stated that he would not seek re-election. Mr Meehan maintained in a press release that he had not acted unethically. "While I do believe I would be exonerated of any wrongdoing, I also did not want to put my staff through the rigors of an Ethics Committee investigation and believed it was best for them to have a head start on new employment rather than being caught up in an inquiry," Mr Meehan said. "Since I have chosen to resign, the inquiry will not become a burden to taxpayers and committee staff." The four-term congressman was under pressure to resign since allegations emerged in January that he had harassed an aide three decades his junior. The aide had said Mr Meehan, who is married with three children, became hostile when she did not return his romantic interest.
4-27-18 Viewpoint: Spain rape case highlights enduring machismo
There has been widespread anger in Spain at a court's decision to convict five men accused of rape on a lesser charge of sexual abuse. The case - over an attack against an 18-year-old woman during the Pamplona bull-running festival two years ago - caused a national outcry. Barcelona-based Spanish journalist and writer Eva Millet looks at the symbolism of the verdict and the fight for women's rights in the country. Recently, I was in Andalusia for a talk. Until not long ago, this southern region was one of the poorest and more macho-oriented in my country. Today it is prosperous and modern and a woman leads its regional government. But a macho culture is hard to eradicate. At the hotel where I was supposed to stay I encountered a true macho, Manolo. I hadn't seen one for a while. He smelled of alcohol, was rude and condescending and would not give me a room. Instead, he went to the bar, next door. I followed him and travelled back in time: the place was full of men, drinking and watching a bullfight on TV. They stared at me. The mood was hostile. I went outside. And then, the women arrived to my rescue. Three. In a Mini Cooper, looking fabulous, welcoming and warm. They dealt with Manolo smoothly. I got my room and we went for supper. They were bright, fun and powerful. All had university degrees and good jobs. They were living proof that Spain has changed massively in the last few decades. Despite all the problems, it is a modern country, and women have played a fundamental role in this transformation. On Women's Day in March, millions here joined the global strike, with a strength not seen anywhere else. Spanish woman have boomed and bloomed and made this country different.
4-26-18 Bill Cosby found guilty of sexual assault in retrial
US comedian Bill Cosby has been found guilty of three counts of sexual assault, each of which carries a potential 10 years in prison. The actor, 80, has been on trial for drugging and assaulting ex-basketball player Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby, the first major black actor on primetime TV, will remain out of jail until he is sentenced, the judge ruled. He lost his temper after the verdict, as prosecutors argued he should be denied bail. The prosecutor argued that he should be held because he is "somebody who has unlimited wealth" and could flee on a private plane. "He doesn't have a plane," Cosby then erupted, adding a vulgarity which he directed at the prosecutor. It was the second time the actor had stood trial for the allegations, after an earlier jury failed to reach a verdict in June 2017. At the start of the retrial in Pennsylvania it was revealed that Cosby had paid Ms Constand almost $3.4m (£2.4m) in a civil settlement in 2006. Cosby is best known for starring in the 1980s TV series The Cosby Show. Around 60 women over five decades have publicly accused the Emmy award-winning actor of being a sexual predator. But statute of limitation laws mean that only one charge has been brought to trial. Some of his accusers were present in court, and cried as the guilty verdict was returned.
4-26-18 Gloria Allred on Bill Cosby: 'Finally women are believed'
Gloria Allred, the lawyer representing dozens of accusers, spoke after the comedian was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault on a woman.
4-26-18 Greitens accused
Calls intensified this week for Republican Gov. Eric Greitens to resign, after an investigation into an affair he had with his hairdresser in 2015 detailed lurid claims of physical violence and blackmail. The unnamed woman testified to a Missouri House committee that her sexual encounters with Greitens weren’t always consensual and were occasionally violent. She said the first time they were together he took a photo of her blindfolded and tied to exercise equipment, then threatened to release the picture if she exposed their relationship. Greitens, who has admitted to the affair, denied the allegations and attacked the investigation as a “political witch hunt.” But all the state’s Republican leaders called on him to stand down. His legal woes increased this week, when Missouri’s attorney general said he had evidence Greitens used his charity’s donor list for political fundraising—a possible felony.
4-26-18 Runaway princess
A Dubai princess who tried to flee the emirate by sea last month was allegedly recaptured at gunpoint and forcibly returned to her home. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 32, announced in a YouTube video that her escape would be “the start of me claiming my life, my freedom.” French ex-spy Hervé Jaubert, who worked on luxury projects in Dubai but fled the emirate himself in 2009, said he helped organize her escape attempt but that military commandos boarded her sailboat in the Arabian Sea, dragged her away, and beat Jaubert and his crew. Latifa’s father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the ruler of Dubai and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. His government said the princess is safe, and it blamed rival Qatar for starting rumors.
4-26-18 Spain 'wolf pack' gang jailed for San Fermin sex attack
A Spanish court has jailed five men for sexually abusing a young woman during the famous San Fermin bull-running festival but acquitted them of rape. All five were sentenced to nine years in prison for their part in the attack, which they filmed, during the festival in Pamplona in July 2016. The 18-year-old victim's ordeal caused a national outcry, and protests continued outside the court. Both the woman and the defendants say they will appeal against the verdict. "It's rape, not abuse," demonstrators said outside the court. Rallies have been called in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Alicante and more than a dozen other cities across Spain against the verdict and in support of the victim. The five, in their late 20s and originally from Seville, and the victim, from Madrid, were not present when the judgement was read out after a five-month trial, which was held behind closed doors to protect the woman's identity. Under Spanish law, the charge of sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation. The men, who have been in custody since 2016, have also been ordered to pay the woman €50,000 ($61,000; £43,500) in compensation. Prosecutors had asked for sentences of more than 20 years. (Webmaster's comment: Since she didn't fight back against the five men in order to hopefully save herself from more damage it's not considered rape. What a travesty! Protect the man's right have sex anytime with anyone with any excuse.)
4-25-18 Rose McGowan: 'Weinstein tried to contact me'
Actress Rose McGowan has told the BBC Harvey Weinstein has tried to contact her since she went public with her allegations that he raped her. She said she had received "texts, things like that", adding: "I've got no idea how he got my number." Ms McGowan also said the alleged assault by Mr Weinstein had been "worse than I wrote about". She is one of several women to accuse Mr Weinstein of rape. He denies all allegations of non-consensual sex. When asked whether she had been approached directly by the Hollywood producer, she told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme: "Texts, things like that - I've got no idea how he got my number, but he also had former [Israeli intelligence agency] Mossad agents involved in my life so getting my personal phone number wasn't that hard." Asked what the purpose of the message had been, she said it had been suggesting that Mr Weinstein had wanted to get in touch or to talk to her. She said: "It could have been some random person, but that would be a long shot." Ms McGowan also said the response had been "nothing short of cataclysmic" since she had become one of the most prominent figures in the #MeToo movement after sharing her allegations. "In some ways I feel it's an honour to almost be a receptacle for so many people's pain and voices, people who want to identify and reach out and say, 'Me too,'" she said. "I had hoped that by showing people that if you can cut off the head of power, that you can achieve an awful lot."
4-25-18 #MeToo Japan: What happened when women broke their silence
In the space of a fortnight in Japan, a model accused a renowned photographer of exploitation and two top officials resigned over sex scandals. This has re-ignited the #MeToo debate in a country which has been reluctant to acknowledge it as a hard reality for women, as the BBC's Sakiko Shiraishi reports. In Japan, where the spectre of public censure looms large, it is unsurprising that women are often discouraged from speaking out. A US state department human rights report notes that sexual harassment in the workplace remains "widespread". But in the space of just a few weeks a spate of allegations has led to public figures being shamed, top officials resigning and also a backlash against the women behind the claims. By far the biggest scalp claimed was that of Junichi Fukuda, the top bureaucrat in Japan's finance ministry who is accused of sexually harassing a female journalist by making suggestive comments to her. Mr Fukuda resigned last week but denies the allegations and has said he will sue the magazine that made the revelations for defamation. Following his resignation, TV Asahi said one of its reporters had been the victim of harassment by Mr Fukuda and said it would lodge a protest with the finance ministry. The finance ministry called on female reporters to step forward to co-operate with fact-finding, a gesture widely criticised, including by Seiko Noda, Japan's minister in charge of female empowerment, as tantamount to pressuring victims to stand up in front of those who allegedly harassed them. "Female reporters have had to suffer silently, despite being subjected to humiliating and mortifying treatment… When a reporter accuses an interviewee of sexual harassment, the media company must respond immediately and adamantly to protect the human rights of the reporter as well as protect the safety of their working environment."
4-25-18 How can businesses tackle sexual harassment?
"I've just moved house, do you want to come over and test my mattress?" Charlotte reads from a list of #MeToo moments - the times in her career where she has experienced some kind of unwanted sexual attention. As a solicitor working in property, this text message from one of her clients is just the tip of the jaw-dropping iceberg. "The worst one was by a married senior colleague. We had been at an event with lots of alcohol and he was brushing my hair with his wedding ring hand and saying I was very pretty. "He's a very senior, well-respected person and known to be a family man. So it was very difficult for me to feel that I could report him because he had a real stature in the firm." Cases such as Charlotte's (she asked us not to use her surname) dog every industry. Following the revelations of Harvey Weinstein's behaviour and the outpouring of testimony on social media about under the hashtag #MeToo, sexual harassment is being scrutinised like never before. And businesses are struggling to work out how to deal with it. According to a recent BBC survey, almost half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work. Parliament is so worried about it that MPs are conducting an inquiry into what can be done. Company shareholders are also piling on the pressure, worried about the cost and reputational damage of sexual harassment cases. Marija Kramer, from one of the world's most influential shareholder advisory companies ISS, says investors "are viewing sexual harassment as by-product of weak corporate policies, procedures, and controls". But sexual harassment is often carried out by powerful individuals, away from company premises and potential witnesses, and like Charlotte many victims are reluctant to report it. So what can firms do? (Webmaster's comment: Fire the harassers and blacklist them!)
4-25-18 Asaram Bapu: Indian guru sentenced to life for raping girl
A self-styled Indian spiritual guru who claims millions of followers worldwide has been given a life sentence for raping a 16-year-old girl. Asaram Bapu was convicted of the 2013 attack on the girl, a devotee at his ashram in Jodhpur, by a court in the city's jail. He is expected to appeal. The guru, who is 77, has 400 ashrams around the world where he teaches meditation and yoga. He is also on trial in another rape case in western Gujarat state. Jodhpur is on high alert because of concerns there could be violence from the guru's supporters, reports BBC Hindi's Priyanka Dubey who is in the city. The judge delivered his verdict from the city's jail because of concerns that it could provoke riots. "Nothing can compensate for the trauma that the victim and the family have gone through," Utsav Bains, the victim's lawyer, told NDTV ahead of sentencing. The security measures come after followers of another guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, ran amok after he was found guilty of rape last year. The resulting violence killed 23 people. (Webmaster's comment: Riots in support of rape. Unbelievable!) Police say that the couple, who had sent the girl to one of his ashrams for spiritual lessons, were summoned to see her as she was "under the influence of some supernatural ghostly powers". They were then told to take their daughter to Jodhpur to meet the guru. The family reached the Jodhpur ashram on 14 August. The following night, Asaram called the victim to his room on the pretext of "curing" her. He then raped the victim while her parents waited outside chanting his prayers, police say. Police say the guru forced the victim to perform sexual acts on him and threatened to murder her family if she spoke about the incident.
4-25-18 Iraqi women election candidates targeted for abuse gain UN support
The UN has condemned "defamation and violence" against women candidates in Iraq's elections, after one candidate resigned over an alleged sex tape. Dr Intidhar Ahmed Jassim withdrew from the race after the video - which she says is a fake - was released online. Other women candidates have also reportedly faced online harassment. The UN statement said the targeting of women not only "brings anguish" to the candidates, but "is a threat to the integrity of the electoral process". In Iraq, one quarter of the seats in parliament must be occupied by women. But women running for office in the May polls are being subjected to "vulgar acts" on their election posters, as well as "attacks against [their] reputation and honour", the special representative of the UN secretary general for Iraq, Jan Kubis, said. Mr Kubis said he had met with some of the women candidates over the "alarming situation". "Those behind defamation, cyber bullying and harassment are trying to scare you off, afraid of educated, dynamic, qualified, courageous and open-minded women candidates that rightfully claim their space and meaningful role in political life of Iraq," he said. Dr Jassim, a university professor running on the electoral list of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, dropped out of the race after a short video clip purported to be a sex tape was distributed on social media last week. After many social media users saw similarities between the appearance of the woman in the video and that of Dr Jassim, she issued a statement saying the video had been fabricated and that it was not her. She dropped out of the race shortly afterwards. (Webmaster's comment: She has every right to have as much sex as she wants without fear of exposure!)
4-25-18 Alek Minassian Toronto van attack suspect praised 'incel' killer
A van driver accused of killing 10 people in Toronto posted to Facebook minutes before the attack to praise a woman-hating mass shooter. Alek Minassian - charged on Tuesday with 10 counts of murder and 13 counts of attempted murder - also referred to the misogynistic "incel" Reddit group. Police say the 25-year-old intentionally drove a rental van into pedestrians on a busy pavement. The suspect was arrested several streets away after a tense standoff with police. The 10 dead and 14 wounded are "predominantly" women, ranging in age from their 20s to their 80s, police say. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was a "senseless attack and a horrific tragedy". The suspect's Facebook post, which the social network has confirmed as real, praised Elliott Rodger, a 22-year-old from California who killed six people in a 2014 shooting rampage through Isla Vista, California, before turning the gun on himself. It read: "The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!" The term "incel" refers to a now-banned group on the message site Reddit, used by Rodger, where young men discussed their lack of sexual activity, blaming women for the problem. "Chads and Stacys" refers to attractive men and women who are perceived as better than or unavailable to "incels", which is short for "involuntary celibate". (Webmaster's comment: Not only do they sexually assault women, they kill them for not having sex with them!)
4-24-18 Toronto van attack: What is an 'incel'?
Reports from Canada say the suspect in the Toronto van attack made a reference to "Incel Rebellion" on Facebook. But what exactly is an "incel"? Alek Minassian, 25, appeared in court on Tuesday, a day after a rental van struck pedestrians in the city, killing 10 and injuring 15. Facebook confirmed to the BBC that Minassian was the author of a post which read in part: "The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!" The post also contained a reference to the message board 4chan. "Incel" is short for "involuntarily celibate" and in particular refers to online groups of men who feel that they can't enter into sexual relationships. The attitudes of men who visit the boards vary widely, but online they frequently vent anger against sexually prolific men ("Chads") and women ("Stacys"). More generally, incel forums often include rants aimed at feminism and women. In November, Reddit banned a section or subreddit of its site devoted to incels for hosting violent content. On Tuesday, another subreddit dedicated to incels, r/Malecel, was banned. However, other similar boards remain active on Reddit, and many other sites play host to incel discussions. Incel forums also - albeit sometimes ironically - include praise for Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in the rampage through Isla Vista, California in 2014 before turning the gun on himself. Rodger left a rambling manifesto detailing his sexual frustration and his hatred of women and minorities. (Webmaster's comment: People have to earn the right to have sex! These men are incapable of inspiring a women to have sex with them. They are truly inferior that's why women don't want them!)
4-21-18 Allison Mack, Smallville actress, charged over Nxivm sex trafficking
Allison Mack, a US actress known for the TV show Smallville, has appeared in court on charges of aiding a sex trafficking operation disguised as a mentoring group. Keith Raniere, the leader of the so-called self-help group, was arrested by the FBI in Mexico in March. Ms Mack is accused of helping him to recruit women who were then exploited "both sexually and for their labour", the New York prosecuting attorney said. She pleaded not guilty to all charges. At a brief hearing on Friday evening in a Brooklyn federal court, the judge ordered Ms Mack, 35, to be held in custody. She will appear in court again on Monday. The society was supposed to empower and strengthen the women who joined it, according to prosecutors. But they allege Mr Raniere oversaw a "slave and master" system in his group called Nxivm, where female members were expected to have sex with him and were branded with his initials. "Allison Mack recruited women to join what was purported to be a female mentorship group that was, in fact, created and led by Keith Raniere," Richard Donoghue, US attorney for the Eastern District in New York, said in a statement. Prosecutors allege that Nxivm has the features of a pyramid scheme, in which members pay "thousands of dollars" for courses to rise within its ranks. "Mack directly or implicitly required her slaves... to engage in sexual activity with Raniere," the statement from the attorney's office claims. "In exchange for this, Mack received financial and other benefits." If found guilty, both Ms Mack and Mr Raniere, who has been charged with sex trafficking and is being held without bail, face at least 15 years in prison.
4-20-18 India rape crisis: Twitter users rally round hunger striker
As India's rape crisis continues, a hashtag has emerged expressing support for a hunger striker demanding tougher penalties for rapists. "#BetiKhatreMeinHai" which translates to "daughter in danger" is being used to rally support and draw attention to Swati Maliwal's protest. Ms Maliwal is the chairperson of the Dehli Commission for Women, a government body that promotes women's rights in the city. She began her hunger strike on Friday 13 April. One of her demands is that anyone convicted of raping a young girl should be hanged within six months. A week on from the start of Ms Maliwal's protest, the hashtag has over 41,000 mentions on Twitter. Ms Maliwal tweeted she would not end her fast until Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, accepts her demands. Two long-running rape cases continue to be the focus of emotionally charged conversations on social media in India. Outrage has spread in the country after the brutal gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl from Kathua in Indian-administered Kashmir came to public attention. There is also uproar after a 16-year-old girl in Unnao in northern Uttar Pradesh state accused a lawmaker from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of raping her. Since Maliwal began her hunger strike, the rape and murder of two other young girls in Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have also been widely reported in the country. "Daughter in danger" has been used to express anger about not enough being done to help stop violence against women in India.
4-20-18 Meesha Shafi: Pakistan actress says pop star Ali Zafar harassed her
A leading Pakistani actress has accused a popular singer of sexual harassment, in what is thought to be the first #MeToo moment in conservative Pakistan. Meesha Shafi, who has acted in films such as The Reluctant Fundamentalist, says music star Ali Zafar subjected her to "harassment of a physical nature". Mr Zafar says he "categorically" denies the claims and will take legal action. The allegations have caused a stir on social media, with many other women sharing their views about harassment. The #MeToo movement, sparked by Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein scandal, has led to a wider push against sexual harassment in many countries around the world. Pakistan's society is deeply patriarchal, and non-governmental organisations say large numbers of women face violence or sexual harassment. Ms Shafi made the allegations on Thursday, writing on Twitter that there were "some issues that are very difficult to speak about as a woman, especially sexual harassment". "My conscience does not allow me to be silent anymore," she said. "If this can happen to someone like me, an established artist, then it can happen to any young woman and that concerns me gravely." She said she had suffered sexual harassment from Mr Zafar "on more than one occasion", describing it as "an extremely traumatic experience". "Ali is someone I have known for many years and someone who I have shared the stage with," she said. "I feel betrayed by his behaviour and his attitude."
4-19-18 How many children born of rape?
The mass rape of women during the Balkan wars of the 1990s has tragic fallout to this day, said Charlotte Dobson. Militants, mostly Serbs, raped some 20,000 women, mostly Bosnian Muslims, during years of civil war. Thousands of women were kept in rape camps, where soldiers attacked them night after night; many others were raped in their homes, in front of husbands and children, as a terror tactic. It’s unknown how many babies were born of these rapes, because some were killed at birth and many others were abandoned in orphanages. A few, like Lejla Damon, were adopted abroad. Damon was brought to the U.K. as a toddler by journalists covering the war. Her birth mother was “so traumatized” that she couldn’t bear to look at the child. A few years ago, Damon, now 25, began writing to her birth mother through the Bosnian Embassy, and finally met her last year. She found a woman living in poverty, like most Bosnian rape victims, because the government requires proof of rape before awarding compensation, and most women can’t or won’t reveal their painful history. “Obviously I’m proof of that for my mum,” Damon said. “She has received her [compensation] now. I hope it can give just a little bit of comfort in her life.”
4-19-18 Nobel scandal
The secretive Swedish committee that selects the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature has been rocked by resignations over sexual-assault allegations. Some members of the Swedish Academy tried to oust Katarina Frostenson, a celebrated poet, from the literature body after her husband, Jean-Claude Arnault, was accused of assaulting 18 women, including other female academy members and members’ wives and daughters. When Frostenson survived the vote last week, three of the committee’s 18 members quit. Arnault is the director of a Stockholm arts venue, and the allegations against him surfaced last November as part of the #MeToo movement outing sexual harassers. He denies any wrongdoing.
4-18-18 The origins of sexism: How men came to rule 12,000 years ago
Human societies weren’t always male-dominated. The switch came when we became farmers – and that suggests ways to roll back towards a more equal system. THE vast majority of cultures are patriarchies, where men are more likely than women to hold positions of social, economic and political power. So it is tempting to assume that this is the natural state of affairs, perhaps because men are, on average, stronger than women. But a study of humanity’s roots suggests this answer is too simple. Chimpanzees are not a proxy for our ancestors – they have been evolving since our two family trees split between 7 and 10 million years ago – but their social structures can tell us something about the conditions that male dominance thrives in. Common chimpanzee groups are manifestly patriarchal. Males are vicious towards females, they take their food, forcibly copulate with females that are ovulating and even kill them merely for spending time away from the group. Males also spend their lives in the group they were born into, whereas females leave at adolescence. As a result, males in a group are more closely related to each other than the females. And because relatives tend to help one another, they have an advantage. The same is true in human societies: in places where women move to live with their husband’s family, men tend to have more power and privilege. Patrilocal residence, as it is called, is associated with patriarchy, says anthropologist and primatologist Sarah Hrdy at the University of California at Davis. For most of our history, we have been hunter-gatherers, and patrilocal residence is not the norm among modern hunter-gatherer societies. Instead, either partner may move to live with the “in-laws”, or a couple may relocate away from both their families. According to Hrdy, a degree of egalitarianism is built into these systems. If they reflect what prehistoric hunter-gatherers did, women in those early societies would have had the choice of support from the group they grew up with, or the option to move away from oppression.
4-18-18 The hidden reasons why societies are violent towards women
30 per cent of women experience sexual violence in their lifetimes – bad parenting, low respect and the glorification of male competition are to blame. MORE than 600 million women live in countries where sexual violence is not a crime, according to the United Nations. Shocking as that is, it does mean that 3 billion women do have legal protection against the most extreme forms of sexual harassment. Despite this, figures for sexual abuse are alarmingly high. In the US, 15 per cent of women report having been raped in their lifetime. Worldwide, 30 per cent have experienced sexual violence in their relationships, ranging from 16 per cent in east Asia to 65 per cent in central sub-Saharan Africa (see diagram). Even the UN, whose stated mission is to defend fundamental human rights and promote social progress, has been plagued by allegations of rape, sexual exploitation and abuse. Can looking at how different societies compare give us more insight into the foundations of sexual violence? In its World report on violence and health, the World Health Organization cautions that we have only patchy data. Nevertheless, a measured analysis of what we do have reveals a few surprises. Sexual violence is not more prevalent in societies where men outnumber women, neither is it associated with more sexually liberal attitudes, or repressed sexuality in men. As for the factors that do underpin it, anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday of the University of Pennsylvania and her team shed some light by looking at tribal societies. They classed 18 per cent of 156 societies as “rape prone”. The salient features they shared were high levels of violence in general, lack of parenting by fathers, ideologies of male toughness, dominance and competition, and low respect for women, including treating them as property and excluding them from public, economic and political life.
4-18-18 How protective parents exacerbate gender differences
Yes, men’s and women’s brains are wired differently – but the science shows that outside influences can also shape our gender identity. WHEN James Damore’s internal memo on gender imbalance at Google was leaked in 2017, it caused a furore. In it, he wrote that one reason there are more men than women in the tech sector is because men and women are biologically different. Men’s higher drive for status made them take on stressful tech jobs, he said, while women’s greater anxiety and lower tolerance for stress made the industry less appealing to them. He cited the influence of prenatal testosterone on developing brains as one possible cause. Unfortunately for Damore, the science is not so clear-cut. On the one hand, there are structural and anatomical differences between male and female brains. One meta-analysis found, for example, that male brains are about 12 per cent larger in volume than those of females, and that male brains have higher tissue densities in the left amygdala and the hippocampus than female brains. But it is unclear whether differences are due to nature or nurture. For some, like Larry Cahill, a neurobiologist at the University of California at Irvine, the evidence leans towards nature being dominant. “There are biologically based sex differences at all levels of mammalian brain function,” he says. On the other hand, a study of 1400 human brains found that they can’t be simply classified into male and female: each brain was a unique mosaic of features with no gender specificity. And culture undoubtedly plays a role in shaping our brains and behaviour. To illustrate how childhood events can mould us, Shannon Davis of George Mason University in Virginia and Barbara Risman at the University of Illinois at Chicago analysed 50 years of data collected by the Child Health and Development Studies in California. This comprised information from nearly 15,000 families, on everything from mothers’ hormone levels during pregnancy to childhood memories and the children’s behaviour as adults. The analysis showed that prenatal hormone levels, including testosterone, had some influence on whether people regarded themselves as masculine or feminine as adults. But childhood experiences – having to physically defend themselves, being asked to wear dresses, playing with dolls – were the strongest predictors of gender identity. Davis and Risman say early testosterone levels may shape bodies so that women are more or less easily shoehorned into female stereotypes. “Bodies themselves may trigger socialisation that sticks,” they wrote.
4-18-18 I experienced the patriarchy from both sides of the gender gap
Paula Williams transitioned from male to female six years ago. She talks about learning about her white male privilege the hard way. There is no way a well-educated white male can understand how much the culture is tilted in his favour, because it’s all he’s ever known and all he will know. And there’s no way a woman can understand the full import of that because being a female is all she’s ever known. I have seen both sides. I was a tall, well-educated, affluent white male. From an American perspective, my privilege was complete. I had a cognisance of that, but no visceral sense of it. All that went away when I transitioned. The loss of this privilege was immediate and disturbing. Initially, in not getting contracts that I previously would have gotten. In some of those cases, it was because I was transgender. In other cases, people had no idea. I was just a female. There was a very strong financial reality too, in that I was just not earning any money. Also, when I now talk about my knowledge in areas that are typically seen as male, it’s not well received. We are more inclined to listen to information presented to us by males than by females. I’m generally taken less seriously than a male speaking on the same subject. I hear from a lot of transgender people around the world whose experience is similar to mine. The males find that suddenly they are seen as people with knowledge, and the females no longer receive the respect that they received previously as males. The answer is not in females behaving like alpha males. If you take a fortune 500 company, remove an alpha male and replace him with an alpha female, have you really made a change? We are making progress on equality, but not on equity. I may have as fair a shot at a position as someone else, but if it’s a ministry position, I’ll make 76 per cent of what a man would in that same position. We have to make sure that women are elevated to positions of equality, so that they can begin working for equity from a higher place. Often we don’t begin at the same starting line as males, so we have a lot more catching up to do.
4-18-18 Why the patriarchy isn’t good for men and how to fix it
Societies can be taught to be less misogynistic, but the first step is understanding how gender norms have backfired on men as well as women. YOU might think that patriarchy is at least beneficial to men. Not so, says political scientist Cynthia Enloe of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. To fully tip the system, she believes we need to appreciate that. “Patriarchy isn’t good for anybody. It fools those who are privileged into imagining that they have a good life,” she says. According to the World Health Organization, Western men are three to four times as likely to kill themselves as women. A recent study of suicide prevention in Ireland illustrates this. Men who were deemed to be at high risk of suicide reported that seeking help could be construed as a threat to masculinity, including “a loss of power, control and autonomy”. The obvious losers, however, are women. “If you have an extremely oppressive society, women have no control over their reproduction, so they are giving birth to child after child,” says Sarah Hrdy at the University of California at Davis. As a result, children are also, on average, worse off than if they were born into more egalitarian societies. Extreme patriarchies, says Hrdy, have higher maternal and infant mortality and worse child health. The complex and pervasive nature of patriarchy, underpinning all aspects of society, makes it difficult to overthrow. One complicating factor is that men are not the only ones invested in the system. “Patriarchy wouldn’t last if at least some women didn’t find it rewarding. That’s its insidious quality,” says Enloe. It instils in girls as well as boys the behaviours that help them get ahead. For some, this may mean adopting characteristically “male” behaviours in order to get ahead in male-dominated work environments. For others, charm and submission can represent a kind of power. Even if we are not consciously playing the system, subconscious biases run deep. Lise Eliot studies differences between male and female brains at the Rosalind Franklin University in Chicago. It was years before she became aware that she was directing more attention to her male students, at the expense of female ones. “It’s only by being painfully aware that we can hope to change our behaviour,” she says. That means changing entrenched notions of what it means to be male or female, which is going to take an effort from both men and women. “If we can produce men with more child-centred values and women with more career-oriented values, we will move towards a society with equal opportunities,” says Hrdy.
4-18-18 India journalist threatened over anti-rape cartoon
An Indian journalist and cartoonist who has received online threats over a cartoon that refers to recent incidents of rape says she will not back down. Swathi Vadlamudi's cartoon depicts a conversation between Hindu god Ram and his wife, Sita, to criticise right-wing support for the accused. In the cartoon, Sita tells Ram she is "glad" she was kidnapped by demon king Ravan and not her husband's followers. Ms Vadlamudi said the threats have only made her "stronger". The illustration has been shared by thousands on social media, but her use of the characters from the Hindu epic Ramayana in the cartoon has sparked controversy. Ms Vadlamudi told BBC Telugu's Prithvi Raj that drawing satirical cartoons was a hobby of hers. She said the illustration was meant to condemn two gruesome incidents of rape which made national headlines last week. An eight-year-old Muslim girl from Kathua district in Indian-administered Kashmir was brutally gang raped and murdered - outrage grew after two ministers from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attended a rally in support of the accused men, who are Hindu. In another case, a 16-year-old girl attempted suicide outside a BJP lawmaker's house after alleging that he raped her.
4-18-18 German mass raids target forced prostitution gang
More than 100 people have been detained across Germany in raids against an organised crime gang involved in people trafficking and forced prostitution. Germans and Thais were among those held as police commandos targeted dozens of brothels and flats in 12 states. Women and transsexual victims were smuggled in on fake visas, police say. "Hundreds of women and men fell prey for years and across borders to the traffickers' inhuman, boundless greed," said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. Seventeen suspects were believed to be at the heart of the crime gang. One house in the university town of Siegen was raided, where police detained a Thai woman, described in some German reports as the head of the traffickers. Once the victims had reached Germany from Thailand, they were put to work, moving around a network of brothels, police said. They were forced to pay back all the money they earned, ostensibly to pay back up to €36,000 (£31,000; £44,000) for their fraudulent visa into Europe's border-free Schengen zone.
4-17-18 Why India's rape crisis shows no signs of abating
The police in India are looking for the rapists of a girl who has no face, name, home or number. She was possibly between nine and 11 years old, and her mutilated corpse was found in a bush recently near a playground in western Gujarat state's bustling Surat city, known the world over for its diamond polishing industry. Her battered body bore 86 injury marks. The autopsy surgeon believes that the injuries "seem to have been caused over a period ranging from one week to a day prior to the recovery of the body". The police believe she was held captive, tortured and ravaged. More than 10 days after they found her body, they are clueless about her identity: they have trawled the list of some 8,000 missing children in the state and come up with nothing. "There was no sign of struggle at the spot where the body was found," the local police chief says. Putting up a struggle seems to be futile when rape is increasingly used as an instrument to assert power and intimidate the powerless in India. This is not surprising, many believe, in a hierarchical, patriarchal and increasingly polarised society, where hate is being used to divide people and harvest votes. An awful sex ratio imbalance - largely because of illegal sex-selection abortions - means it is a country full of men. The country sees 112 boys born for every 100 girls, which is against the natural sex ratio of 105 boys for every 100 girls. A preference for boys has meant that more than 63 million women are statistically "missing". Many believe such skewed ratios can contribute to increased crimes against women. The northern state of Haryana, which records the highest number of gang rapes in India, has the worst sex ratio in the country. In January alone, a 50-year-old man was held for mutilating a 10-year-old girl, a 15-year-old boy allegedly raped a three-and-a-half-year-old girl, a 20-year-old married women was raped by two men, a 24-year-old man was held for kidnapping and abducting a student and a minor's girl's brutalised body was found in the fields. And these were only the reported cases. In Indian-administered Kashmir, a poisonous cocktail of biology and bigotry led to the macabre rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim nomadic girl in January. She was kidnapped, kept captive in a Hindu temple, raped repeatedly and dumped in a forest. It was a warning to the minority Muslim nomads in the area to stop grazing their animals on Hindu owned land, in a restive part of the region, which is simmering with religious tensions.
4-17-18 India parents 'paid to sabotage daughter's rape trial'
An Indian teenager who was kidnapped and gang raped last year has accused her parents of accepting money from her alleged assailants in return for pressing her to change her statement. Delhi police said they had arrested her mother and are searching for her father, who they say is on the run. The news emerged after the girl went to a police station with 500,000 rupees (about $7,600; £5,300) that she said her parents accepted from the accused. She is now being cared for in a refuge. "We believe the accused made efforts to negotiate with the victim's parents by offering them money," Deputy Commissioner of Police MN Tiwari told the BBC. He said the girl had been aware of the negotiations and knew where her parents had hidden the money. "We will find out more only after we arrest the father." Police have registered a new case against the girl's parents and her alleged rapists. The original case was registered in September. Scrutiny of sexual violence has grown in India since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a bus in the capital. The crime sparked days of protests and forced the government to introduce tougher anti-rape laws. However, reporting of sexual attacks against women and children across the country continues to rise. Last week there was fresh outrage after the rape, torture and murder of an eight-year-old girl near Kathua city in Indian-administered Kashmir.
4-17-18 R Kelly faces fresh sexual misconduct allegation
R Kelly is facing a fresh allegation of sexual misconduct, from a former partner who claims he "intentionally" infected her with an STD in Dallas. According to her lawyer, the unnamed woman was the victim of "unlawful restraint" during her 11-month relationship with the R&B singer. It is claimed that Kelly, 51, attempted to make the woman a member of the "sex cult" he is alleged to have run. The Dallas Police Department has said it is looking into the allegation. In a statement issued in advance of a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, lawyer Lee Merritt claims his client was 19 when she and Kelly began a sexual relationship. Mr Merritt goes on to accuse the singer of "predatory, controlling and abusive behaviour" and "furnishing alcohol and illegal drugs to a minor". Kelly, best known in the UK for hits including I Believe I Can Fly, has faced numerous accusations of sexual misconduct, making indecent images of children and other offences. Last year the singer - whose full name is Robert Kelly - denied allegations he was holding a number of young women in a so-called cult.
4-16-18 NYT and New Yorker win joint Pulitzer for Weinstein exposé
The New York Times and New Yorker magazine have won a joint Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on sexual harassment allegations in Hollywood. The reports brought down film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct and rape. He says all sexual encounters were consensual. The investigations sparked the #MeToo movement, a broad pushback against sexual harassment in many industries. Pulitzers are the most prestigious honour in American journalism. The Pulitzer Prize Board also awards prizes in other literary and artistic categories. This year, rapper Kendrick Lamar becomes the first non-classical or jazz artist to be given the prize for music. The Washington Post won the investigative reporting prize for revealing decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct against Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. The Republican former judge denied the accusations, but they factored heavily in the special election that the Democratic candidate Doug Jones went on to win. The New York Times also shared a second prize with The Washington Post for coverage of Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The biggest prize winners revealed on Monday reflected a recent reckoning in the US - and beyond - over the treatment of women by powerful men in the highest ranks of showbusiness, politics, technology and media.
4-14-18 Miami cheerleader 'bullied for being a virgin', complaint claims
A former cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins has filed a formal complaint against the team, claiming she was bullied due to her faith and virginity. Kristan Ann Ware, 27, says she quit the dance squad after a 2016 interview with the team director during which her sexual history was discussed. She is not the first cheerleader to complain of a hostile work environment. A former New Orleans Saints cheerleader claims that she was fired for a social media post of herself wearing lingerie. Ms Ware told the BBC her complaint, which was submitted to the Florida Commission on Human Relations on Wednesday, should not be misconstrued as an attack on the American football team. "I am not against them. I just want to make it a better place for the cheerleaders," she said in a telephone interview on Friday. Ms Ware quit the team after three years, claiming that an incident on a coach bus in London led to ongoing harassment. When her team played the New York Jets at Wembley Stadium in the fall of 2015, the dancers talked about their "sex playlist", Ms Ware says in her complaint. Ms Ware "was pushed to give her playlist," she claims, which prompted her to admit she was a virgin. "Kristan told her teammates that she was waiting until she was married because of her personal relationship with God," her lawyer Sara Blackwell states in the complaint. Later, during a yearly performance review in which dancers must reapply for their jobs, Ms Ware says the team director, Dorie Grogan, confronted her about the claim. "Let's talk about the fact that you're a virgin", she claims the director said. (Webmaster's comment: Whether or not a woman is a virgin and for what reason she is or is not is entirely her own business. Period!)
4-14-18 Why did India wake up so late to a child rape and murder?
A bright looking eight-year old girl belonging to a Muslim nomadic tribe in Indian-administered Kashmir goes missing in the new year. On 17 January, her battered body is recovered from a forest in Kathua district. Through February, police arrest eight men, including a retired government official, four policemen and a juvenile, in connection with the gang rape and murder of the girl. There are protests in the summer capital, Srinagar, demanding a special probe into the incident. The crime exposed the fault lines between the Hindu-majority Jammu and the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley in a sharply divided state. The incident is covered promptly and prominently by the local media in the Muslim-dominated valley. So why does this story from Kathua make it to national news networks only in mid-April? Why does it evoke delayed outrage and anger? Why does this happen only after Hindu right-wing groups protest the arrest of the accused, who also belong to a Hindu community? Why are the eventual protests in Delhi - including a midnight march by chief opposition leader Rahul Gandhi - milder than the ones after a similarly brutal gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi in 2012? The responses tell us something about modern India. The media in Delhi, many believe, exerts a disproportionate and undeserved influence over shaping the "national narrative". And large sections of this media have been partisan and selective when it comes to reporting on Kashmir, one of the world's most heavily militarised regions.
4-13-18 Hotel auditions should be banned, acting union says
Acting auditions should no longer take place in hotel rooms or homes, the leading US actors' union has said. Sag-Aftra, which organises the Screen Actors Guild Awards, has called for an end to the practice "to help protect members from potential harassment". Such auditions have "allowed predators to exploit performers behind closed doors", Sag's Gabrielle Carteris said. The announcement comes in the wake of a slew of sexual harassment allegations against high-profile Hollywood figures. Disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein has been accused of harassing and abusing dozens of young actresses, models and employees. Many of the alleged incidents are said to have taken place in hotel rooms. Weinstein has denied all allegations of "non-consensual sexual conduct". Sag-Aftra's new Guideline No 1 forms part of a "Four Pillars of Change initiative" to tackle harassment in the workplace. UK actors' union Equity released its own report into sexual harassment last month.
4-13-18 Thai women reject Songkran advice with 'don't tell me how to dress' campaign
When a Thai government official told women to dress carefully to prevent harassment at the Songkran festival, it brought back painful memories for model Cindy Sirinya Bishop. The Thai-American was just 17 when she was sexually harassed at the New Year celebrations. Dressed in a loose black t-shirt and three-quarter shorts, Ms Bishop found herself cornered by five men after she was separated from her friends. "They surrounded me and tried touching me. I just ran and managed to get away from them. I haven't been to Songkran since," Ms Bishop told the BBC. The three-day festival, which begins on Friday, is marked by the pouring of water to symbolise washing away misfortune from the previous year. Last month Sutthipong Chulcharoen, Thailand's director general of the department of local administration, encouraged women to dress appropriately to prevent sex crimes during the water festival. In response, Ms Bishop posted some clips on Instagram - along with the hashtags #DontTellMeHowToDress and #TellMenToRespect - and found plenty of people shared her dismay. The 39-year-old said the hashtags were "targeting the idea that women are to blame for sexual harassment".
4-13-18 India outrage spreads over rape of eight-year-old girl
The brutal gang rape and murder of an eight-year old girl has sparked outrage and anger across India. The body of Asifa Bano, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was found in a forest on 17 January near Kathua city of Indian-administered Kashmir. The story made headlines this week when Hindu right-wing groups protested over the arrest of eight Hindu men. The case has become a religious flashpoint in an already polarised Indian region. The men the police have arrested include a retired government official, four police officers and a minor - all of them belong to a local Hindu community that has been involved in a land dispute with the Muslim nomads. Outrage grew after two ministers from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attended a rally in support of the accused men. Anger not only over the grisly murder but also the support for the accused quickly gathered momentum on Twitter with the hashtags #Kathua and #justiceforAsifa trending since Thursday. Some people on Twitter have also compared Asifa's death with the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi, which led to huge protests and changes in India's rape laws.
4-12-18 US model 'wanted to punch' Bill Cosby after alleged rape
Former US model Janice Dickinson has confronted comedian Bill Cosby in court, alleging he drugged and raped her in a hotel room in 1982. She "wanted to punch him in the face" after the alleged attack and was left in physical pain, she told the court. Mr Cosby is facing a second trial on allegations he drugged and sexually assaulted a former colleague, and has been accused by more than 50 women. The judge has allowed five women to take the stand during the retrial. Mr Cosby, 80, is only criminally accused of assaulting one woman - former Temple university employee Andrea Constand - due to statute of limitation laws. But Judge Steven O'Neill has ruled that five other accusers can serve as "prior bad acts" witnesses, which the prosecution says will establish a pattern of misconduct. "I wanted to hit him, wanted to punch him in the face," Ms Dickinson, 63, told the courtroom in Norristown, Pennsylvania. "I felt anger, was humiliated, disgusted, ashamed." Ms Dickinson, who was 27 at the time, said she had flown from Bali to meet the famous comedian at a hotel room in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, after he promised to help with her acting and singing aspirations. The former reality television star testified Mr Cosby offered her a blue pill that he said would help with discomfort from menstrual cramps. "He smelled like cigars and espresso and his body odour," she said. "I couldn't move, I felt like I was rendered motionless." "Here was America's dad on top of me, happily married man with five children and how very, very wrong it was," she said. She said she confronted the comedian the next day about the incident and asked him why he did it. He allegedly responded: "You're crazy," she said. Ms Dickinson said she did not go to police because she thought it would destroy her career.
4-12-18 Missouri governor accused of sexually abusing woman
A woman who had an affair with Missouri governor Eric Greitens says he "coerced" her into sex, according to a state committee report. The bipartisan report, released on Wednesday, details graphic allegations against the governor. Mr Greitens called the investigation a "political witch hunt" and refused to testify to the committee. Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley, a fellow Republican, has joined calls for him to resign. Mr Greitens is separately charged with invasion of privacy and is scheduled to stand trial in May. The governor allegedly tried to blackmail the woman with nude photos of her to prevent word of the affair spreading. He denies the allegation. The report was published in full by the Associated Press, with a warning of graphic content on the front page. It was compiled by the state legislature after a cross-party investigation. In the report, the unnamed woman testifies she had multiple sexual encounters with Mr Greitens in 2015, before his election. Some, she says, were not consensual. She repeats her earlier allegation that, during their first encounter, the governor took a photo of her bound and blindfolded in his basement without her permission and threatened to release it if she ever mentioned his name. The woman then says she felt "coerced" into giving the governor oral sex. As she lay on the floor "uncontrollably crying", the governor allegedly pulled out his penis and put it near her face. "I felt as though that would allow me to leave," she testified. The woman says that after this incident, the governor apologised for his behaviour and deleted the photo. She then entered into a consensual affair with him.
4-12-18 Kevin Spacey: LA prosecutors consider sexual assault charge
Prosecutors in Los Angeles are reviewing a historical sexual assault accusation against actor Kevin Spacey, officials have confirmed. Police have filed evidence about an allegation involving an incident with a man in West Hollywood in 1992. More than 30 men have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the Oscar-winning actor in recent months. A spokeswoman for Mr Spacey, 58, has declined to comment. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said on Wednesday it began investigating the case in December, and presented it to the Los Angeles District Attorney office for review earlier this month. No details of the allegation have been released. It is unclear if California's statute of limitations on prosecuting criminal sexual assault, which is normally 10 years, would apply. Kevin Spacey first became embroiled in controversy last November when actor Anthony Rapp accused him of a sexual advance in 1986 when he was 14 and Mr Spacey was 26. Mr Spacey claimed to have no memory of the events, but publicly apologised. He has since issued an "absolute" denial of the other allegations that later emerged. Police in London are investigating three criminal cases against him. The Old Vic theatre in London, where he was artistic director, has said it's received 20 complaints of inappropriate behaviour against him.
4-10-18 Domestic violence: How photos are helping victims love themselves again
Confident, relaxed and hopeful women smile happily for the camera. At first glance, the portraits could be depicting ordinary women from anywhere around the world. But Dasha Buben's photographs tell a different story. The subjects of the photos are the survivors of domestic abuse in Belarus, where according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), three out of four Belarusians - both men and women - have experienced some form of violence at home. Alina was one of them. "I felt like I was a sexless body, that only exists to be beaten," says the 22-year-old. In the past, she was forced to spend hours roaming the streets near her home to escape attacks by her younger brother. "As a child, I had a traumatic brain injury and my brother used to repeat: 'what a shame you didn't die then'," says Alina. "My mother would always stand up for my him. I was afraid he would hurt or kill me... Eventually I started hurting myself with a blade." But one night in January last year, Alina did not return home. Instead she sought refuge at Radislava - a non-government organisation that provides temporary shelter to the victims of domestic abuse. It was there that she got involved with the photo project I Survived. The programme was set up by photographer Dasha Buben, who worked with a hairdresser and a make-up artist to try to help the victims of domestic abuse regain their self-confidence and feel stronger through a series of portraits. "I wanted to show that there is a solution," says Dasha, a former editor of photography at a local magazine. "To make women love themselves by looking at photographs, but also making them look as natural as possible."
4-9-18 Backpage.com sex advert website seized by FBI
The US authorities have taken control of a classified adverts website accused of involvement in sex trafficking. A notice was posted on Backpage.com's various international front pages late last week to inform visitors. The site had previously shut down the adult section of its US site, but critics had alleged that prostitution ads had simply moved to other pages. The UK edition had carried dozens of sex service ads at the time of its closure, according to Reuters. An investigation by the news agency's philanthropic foundation had suggested that as many as one in 20 of the relevant posts on Backpage.co.uk could have involved slavery victims. One charity said the move only partially addressed the problem. "Whilst efforts to close websites such as Backpage are welcome, they are a small part of a wider, complex system of sexual exploitation operating in the UK and beyond," Josephine Knowles, co-director of Beyond the Streets, told the BBC. "A strategic approach which tackles prevention of demand and support for those wanting to exit and find genuine alternatives is desperately needed for long-term change." The US media has also reported that Backpage's co-founder Michael Lacey was arrested last week and his home raided. Details of the charges against him have been sealed by an Arizona court, his lawyer was quoted as saying. No-one else at Backpage has provided comment. The Californian authorities had previously attempted to close Dallas-based Backpage.com in 2016, when the state prosecuted the business's chief executive and two ex-owners - including Mr Lacey - over claims they had committed pimping offences and generated millions of dollars by hosting sex trade ads.
4-5-18 US tax agent 'raped intern at gunpoint'
A Boston tax agent accused of handcuffing a young intern in his car, putting a gun in her mouth and raping her last summer has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors claim James Clarke invited a 21-year-old woman for drinks and bought her "enough drinks to intoxicate her" before the alleged assault. The 44-year-old's lawyer told the court during his arraignment on Thursday that the incident was consensual. He was released without a bail payment pending his next court appearance. Mr Clarke, an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent in the criminal investigations office in Boston, pleaded not guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to aggravated rape, rape, indecent assault and battery, strangulation, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The tax agent allegedly went for drinks after work with the young woman on 26 July, 2017 before taking her to his government-issued car, prosecutors say. He then allegedly "handcuffed the 21-year-old victim while parked in his IRS-owned vehicle in the Government Center garage, assaulted her with his service firearm, and subjected her to sexual acts against her will", said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the district attorney's office. "One additional assaultive act occurred in the car outside South Station after Clarke had driven the victim there," Mr Wark's statement said. The woman was left at South Station, where she called police and was taken to hospital.
4-5-18 Rape victim dies in childbirth
A 14-year-old Paraguayan girl who had become pregnant as a result of being raped died giving birth last week, in a case that has highlighted the country’s high levels of sexual violence and fueled debate about its strict abortion laws. Abortions are illegal in Paraguay unless the pregnancy poses a threat to the mother’s life. The girl had been hospitalized for 20 days before she went into labor because of pregnancy complications. She suffered an embolism and three cardiac arrests during an emergency caesarean section; the baby boy survived. “The body of a minor is not prepared for a pregnancy,” said the hospital director, Dr. Hernan Martinez. A 37-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the rape.
4-5-18 Bribery attempt?
Days after a woman accused then–Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, two of Moore’s supporters offered $10,000 to her attorney if he agreed to discredit her claims, The Washington Post reported last week. Last November, in the middle of Moore’s special election campaign, Leigh Corfman accused the Republican candidate of touching her sexually when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Soon after, Gary Lantrip and Bert Davi, business partners who had recently attended a private fundraiser for Moore, approached Corfman’s lawyer and offered him money as well as a potential meeting with Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon to say he didn’t believe her allegations. “All they want to do is cloud something,” Lantrip was recorded saying during one phone call, referring to Bannon and Moore. Davi said Bannon had no knowledge of any offer; Lantrip declined to comment.
4-5-18 Nassar’s boss arrested
. A former Michigan State University dean who was the boss of disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was arrested this week on his own charges of criminal sexual conduct. William Strampel, 70, who as dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine oversaw the clinic where Nassar worked, is accused of groping two students’ buttocks, of soliciting nude photos from at least one other, and of using his office to “harass…and sexually assault female students.” About 50 photos of female genitalia and “selfies” of MSU students were found on his work computer, as well as a video of Nassar performing a pelvic “treatment” on a student. Strampel also faces two misdemeanor charges for failing to enforce exam-room restrictions on Nassar that were imposed after a patient in 2014 accused the now-imprisoned doctor of molesting her. Strampel has been released on $25,000 bail.
4-5-18 Stormy’s claim that she was threatened
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford told her story about her alleged affair with President Trump this week, telling CBS’s 60 Minutes that she was once threatened with harm if she ever spoke out about the relationship. Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, told Anderson Cooper that she had unprotected sex with Trump once, after meeting him at a 2006 golf tournament. Five years later, shortly after giving an unprinted interview to Bauer Publishing about the alleged affair, the porn star was in a Las Vegas parking lot with her infant daughter when “a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,’” said Clifford, 39. “Then [he] looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be shame if something happened to her mom.’” When interest in her story resumed during the 2016 presidential campaign, Clifford said, she felt pressured into signing a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for a $130,000 payment from Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen said he paid Clifford out of his own pocket, and both he and the White House deny her allegations of an affair. Clifford declined to tell 60 Minutes whether she had evidence of a relationship with Trump, but her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, suggested she did, tweeting a photo of a CD or DVD with the caption, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is this worth?” Avenatti has welcomed a legal battle with Trump, filing a motion in federal court to question the president and Cohen under oath about the alleged affair.
4-5-18 The ‘Mistress Whisperer’
Herman Weisberg is the guy who married rich men call after they end an affair, said Barbara McMahon in The Times (U.K.). The former New York detective, known as “the Mistress Whisperer,” steps in when the spurned women threaten to expose, humiliate, or blackmail their former lovers. “The men who come to me are like ticking time bombs,” Weisberg says. “They think their world’s about to crash down around their shoulders.” He’s often amazed at how reckless his clients have been and how much evidence they’ve left. Some of their mistresses have explicit photos, videos, and texts; others will “say, ‘I know where you work, I know where your wife works. How bad it is going to be when I tell your wife we’ve had sex in her house, or we’ve had sex in the car and the baby seat was in the back?’” Weisberg says he doesn’t use threats other than to warn, “You’re about to commit a crime.” Blackmail, he says, is a felony punishable by jail time. His secret, he says, is that he speaks sympathetically to the women—and sometimes, the men—who want revenge and convinces them that a war will only deepen the pain. “When affairs go bad they go really bad, and my job is to make sure everyone walks away intact.”
4-5-18 Family sues doctor who 'used his sperm' to impregnate patient
A US woman is suing her parents' former fertility doctor after claiming her DNA test results showed he secretly used his own sperm to help conceive her. Kelli Rowlette sent a DNA sample to genealogy website Ancestry.com, and was surprised to receive results that did not match her to her father. The 36-year-old thought the test was flawed before discovering the match was the doctor who delivered her. Her parents consulted the Idaho fertility doctor before her birth. Ms Rowlette's lawsuit accuses now-retired obstetrician gynaecologist Gerald Mortimer of fraud, medical negligence, battery, emotional distress and breach of contract. According to the lawsuit, Ms Rowlette was never told that her now-divorced parents ever had trouble conceiving her until she confronted them with the results of her DNA exam. In the early 1980s Ms Rowlette's parents - Sally Ashby and Howard Fowler - had been married and living in Idaho Falls near the Wyoming border. Due to her father's low sperm count and her mother's uterine condition, Ms Rowlette's parents elected to undergo a medical procedure in which her mother would be artificially inseminated with both sperm from her husband and a donor. The couple had specified to Dr Mortimer that the donor be a current university student who was taller than 6ft (1.8m) with brown hair and blue eyes. But for about three months, the reproductive specialist allegedly inseminated her mother with his own semen, according to court documents.