2-15-19 COSTA RICA Where #MeToo confronts macho culture
To the world, Óscar Arias Sánchez is a gentle hero, said Ana Marcela Montanaro Mena, a two-time Costa Rican president whose bold vision of peace brought an end to Central America’s bloody civil wars of the 1980s. For that feat, he won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize. But to Costa Ricans, the now 78-year-old Arias is “a feudal lord, with the power to decide over lives, bodies, and territories.” Strongly allied with “internal oligarchies” and the interests of international business, he embodies the “corruption and patriarchal power” that rule this country. That’s why it was so brave of his first accuser to step forward. Alexandra Arce Von Herold, 34, a psychiatrist and activist, said Arias assaulted her four years ago at the end of a meeting on nuclear disarmament in his home, grabbing her and penetrating her with his fingers. Since Arce’s accusation, three more women, all journalists, have come forward with similar claims of unwanted sexual advances. Now we will see whether justice can prevail in a country “loaded with machismo and violence.” Arias, who denies all the claims, has resigned from the National Liberation Party while Arce’s criminal complaint against him is litigated. It is time for Costa Rica to join “the feminist wave sweeping the world.”
2-15-19 Vatican envoy Luigi Ventura faces sexual assault claim
The Vatican's ambassador to France is under investigation for sexual assault. Luigi Ventura, 74, allegedly molested a junior official at a mayoral address to diplomats at Paris town hall on 17 January. The city mayor's office filed a complaint on 24 January and a judicial investigation opened the next day. Archbishop Ventura has served as ambassador for 10 years. The allegations come amid a wave of sexual abuse accusations in the clergy. It is traditional for ambassadors to attend the Paris mayor's New Year address to diplomats, religious leaders and civil society figures. A City Hall official told Reuters that Archbishop Ventura "caressed in an insistent and repeated manner" the buttocks of the young man who welcomed him to the event. Last week, Pope Francis acknowledged sexual abuse of nuns by priests and in December two cardinals were demoted following abuse allegations. Mr Ventura's representatives have declined to comment on the allegations.
2-15-19 The Lorena Bobbitt case was a blueprint for how men would dismiss #MeToo
From gaslighting to crude jokes. "For this show, we're not dismissing Christine Ford as a liar," Fox News host Tucker Carlson began one evening last September. "It doesn't seem like she is. It seems like she sincerely believes everything she is saying. But that does not mean she is right." Having just finished watching Lorena, Amazon's new four-hour docuseries on Lorena Bobbitt, I revisited Carlson's dismissal of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's rape accuser and found it particularly chilling. In the 25 years since Bobbitt allegedly endured brutal violence at the hands of her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, before famously committing "the one act every man fears most," one would have hoped that we'd be better at examining such incidents from the woman's perspective. Instead, Lorena sheds light on how the Bobbitt case proved to be a blueprint for the next two decades of male backlash against women accusers. Lorena Bobbitt (who now uses her maiden name, Gallo) and John Wayne Bobbitt became worldwide tabloid sensations when Lorena cut off Bobbitt's penis with a knife after he allegedly raped her in 1993. Bobbitt's organ was recovered by police and surgically reattached; Gallo herself was found not guilty of wounding Bobbitt due to an "irresistible impulse" plea. In her trial, which is documented extensively in Lorena, out Friday, Gallo described being physically beaten by her husband as well as repeatedly raped over the course of their marriage — allegations that the documentary takes care to back up, although Bobbitt maintains his innocence to this day. In 1993, much like now, many men had little empathy for the female accuser. In the Bobbitt case, part of that lack of understanding was due to the unique nature of Gallo's act: As Lorena illustrates, there was a fanaticism around the nature of the body part that was removed. "She took away the thing that means the most to a man," Bobbitt's brother, Todd Biro, declared on one talk show. A contemporaneous interviewee told The New York Times that Gallo "ought to be executed" for what she did to Bobbitt. (Webmaster's comment: He was a male brute rapist and he should have been imprisoned for life!.)
2-14-19 Ryan Adams accused of sexual misconduct by several women
Several women have accused alternative rock star Ryan Adams of emotional and verbal abuse and offering career opportunities as a pretext for sex. A report in the New York Times outlines a pattern of manipulative behaviour, including accusations of psychological abuse from his ex-wife, Mandy Moore. Another woman said Adams sent explicit texts and exposed himself during a Skype call when she was a teenager. The star, who rose to fame in the early 2000s, has denied the allegations. "I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes," he said in a statement posted on social media. "To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologise deeply and unreservedly. "But the picture that this article paints is upsettingly inaccurate. Some of its details are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false. I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period." Acclaimed indie artist Phoebe Bridgers was among the seven women and dozens of associates who were interviewed for the New York Times article. She said that Adams reached out to her when she was 20, offering to release her songs on his record label. Their relationship turned romantic, but Adams became obsessive and manipulative, she claimed, demanding to know her whereabouts and threatening suicide if she did not reply to his texts immediately. When she broke off their relationship, Adams "became evasive about releasing the music they had recorded together and rescinded the offer to open his upcoming concerts," the New York Times reported. Through his lawyer, Adams rejected Bridgers' account, describing their relationship as "a brief, consensual fling," and denying he had threatened to withhold her songs.
2-12-19 Ligue du LOL: Secret group of French journalists targeted women
Several senior French journalists have been suspended or fired for allegedly co-ordinating online harassment through a private Facebook group. The largely-male Ligue du LOL (League of LOL) mocked women, including other journalists, with rape jokes and photoshopped pornographic images. Dozens of women have spoken out since the group was uncovered by the major French daily Libération. Libération's online editor Alexandre Hervaud is among those suspended. People in the League of LOL set up anonymous Twitter accounts in order to harass prominent journalists, writers and activists - predominantly targeting women. Vincent Glad, a well-known freelancer who also worked for Libération, admitted founding the group in 2009. He has also been suspended from the paper. He apologised on Twitter (in French), saying that he now realised that "such practices were unacceptable and 'LOL' was not funny at all when it is done in a pack". Mr Hervaud also tweeted out an apology for his involvement, but in a later post went on to attack "those who jump with joy" at his suspension. Libération is now carrying out an internal investigation into both Mr Hervaud and Mr Glad. Journalist Nora Bouazzouni, Slate France reporter Lucile Bellan, and podcaster Mélanie Wanga have all described being targeted by the group.
2-10-19 Why injustice goes unreported
Black women lie at a dangerous intersection of identities. As decades-old sexual assault allegations increase, so does the question: Why didn't women report it sooner? Shame, fear of reprisals, and the unfortunately common belief that they are responsible for provoking the offender are just a few of the many reasons why women choose not to report a threat, harassment, or assault. Of course, individual women will have their own unique reasons but, as a group, black women are the least likely to report. Surveys point in part to cultural reasons, ranging from pressure to protect black men to not putting personal business in the street. Notably, however, black women also say that they don't think anything good will result from reporting. What we are or aren't able to imagine after we've been victimized matters because the action we take will be the one that we can imagine bringing the desired outcome — and if we can't imagine it, we won't act on it. Black women don't report at the same rates as other women because black women can't imagine being treated justly. The 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume said that "nothing is more free" than the human imagination. Perhaps. But for some of us, imagination is overwhelmed by dehumanizing experience. As a result, we are paralyzed, and the kind of imagining involved in taking action is undermined. The range of imaginable outcomes directly impacts the range of possible courses of action that the imagination presents to the mind. Depending on what we imagine as an outcome, we might decide to alert the authorities — or, alternatively, we might decide not to tell anyone, let alone the authorities. What we imagine as a desirable, realistic outcome will guide us to the action that we imagine will bring it about. What we imagine will depend on what we've experienced, and if we can't imagine an action bringing about the desired outcome, we won't take that action. As a black woman, I hold affirming beliefs about myself balanced against the reality that society doesn't share them. This is what the sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois in 1903 called double consciousness — seeing myself in one way, while simultaneously aware that oppressive society sees me in another — and it truncates the faculty of imagination. It takes the mind on a wild, dizzying ride that dead-ends in a paltry selection of actions to bring a desirable outcome. Black women navigate life doubly, even triply conscious at the intersections of gender, race, and sexuality, polluted with traffic and noise. Our situation is unique. (Webmaster's comment: They are black and they are women and for that they are guilty and are the target of the over 50 million male brutes in America and at the bottom of the American INJUSTICE system!)
2-8-19 Second woman accuses Virginia deputy governor of assault
A second woman has come forward to accuse the deputy governor of scandal-plagued Virginia of sexual assault. Meredith Watson alleges Lt Governor Justin Fairfax raped her in 2000 when they were both students at Duke University in North Carolina. Mr Fairfax, a Democrat, has denied the latest allegation, saying he is the victim of a smear campaign. The governor of Virginia and state's attorney general are meanwhile both embroiled in racism rows. Mr Fairfax's first accuser, Vanessa Tyson, came forward last week to allege he forced her to perform oral sex on him in his hotel room at the Democratic party convention in Boston in 2004. On Friday, a law firm representing the second woman, Meredith Watson, issued a statement on her behalf outlining her allegation. She said "Mr Fairfax's attack was premeditated and aggressive" and the details "are similar to those described by Dr Vanessa Tyson". According to Ms Watson's legal representatives Smith Mullin, former classmates have provided statements corroborating Ms Watson's allegations and stating that she "immediately told friends that Mr Fairfax had raped her". She says she was friends with Mr Fairfax while they studied at Duke University, but that they never had a romantic relationship. Ms Watson is not seeking any damages, her lawyer says, but "came forward out of a strong sense of civic duty" and hopes Mr Fairfax will resign from public office. Mr Fairfax, 39, said in a statement to US media: "I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever."
2-8-19 Sierra Leone declares emergency over rape and sexual assault
Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency over sexual and gender-based violence after recorded cases of rape and assault doubled over the last year. President Julius Maada Bio announced the emergency on Thursday amid a public outcry over the issue, triggered by a series of high-profile attacks. Mr Bio said attacks on minors - which account for a third of all cases - would be punished with a life sentence. Activists say many assaults are not punished under current laws. More than 8,500 cases were recorded last year - a rise of nearly 4,000 on the figure from the previous year - in a country of 7.5 million people. The factors behind the spike are not yet clear. The BBC's Umaru Fofana in Freetown says the declaration of an emergency will mean state resources are more readily diverted to tackling sexual violence. He added that the move allows the president to bypass parliament, which would normally be required to approve changes to the law. Anger has been mounting over sexual violence against women following a series of high-profile cases, including that of a five-year-old girl left partially paralysed after an alleged assault by her uncle. Activists say few cases are reported and successfully prosecuted. The recommended sentence for rape - of between five and 15 years' imprisonment - is often not imposed. Last year, a 56-year-old man who raped a six-year-old girl was sentenced to a year in prison.
2-6-19 Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery
Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves. He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests. It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy. He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was "still going on". Last November, the Catholic Church's global organisation for nuns denounced the "culture of silence and secrecy" that prevented them from speaking out. The Pope's comments come amid long-running allegations of sexual abuse of children and young men by priests at the Church. Speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Tuesday, the pontiff admitted that the Church had an issue, the roots of which lie in "seeing women as second class". He said that priests and bishops had abused nuns, but said the Church was aware of the "scandal" and was "working on it", adding that a number of clerics had been suspended. "It's a path that we've been on," he said. "Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it - slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery - on the part of clerics or the founder." Pope Francis said sexual abuse of nuns was an ongoing problem, but happened largely in "certain congregations, predominantly new ones". "I think it's still taking place because it's not as though the moment you become aware of something it goes away." The female congregation dissolved in 2005 under Pope Benedict was the Community of St Jean, which was based in France, Alessandro Gisotti of the Vatican press office told CBS News.
2-6-19 Why so many young women don't call themselves feminist
In recent years, feminist movements have attracted significant attention in Europe and North America. So why do so many young women still say they do not identify with the term? Fewer than one in five young women would call themselves a feminist, polling in the UK and US suggests. That might come as a surprise as feminism - the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of equality of the sexes - has been in the spotlight lately. A day after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, millions around the world joined the 2017 Women's March. A key aim was to highlight women's rights, which many believed to be under threat. Another defining moment came when sexual harassment claims were made against film producer Harvey Weinstein by more than 80 women - allegations he denies. Online movements have also gained momentum. Actress Alyssa Milano suggested that anyone who had been "sexually harassed or assaulted" should reply to her Tweet with "#MeToo", resurrrecting a movement started by activist Tarana Burke in 2006. Half a million responded in the first 24 hours and the hashtag has been used in more than 80 countries. Many other celebrities have publicly embraced feminism, including actresses Emma Watson, who launched an equality campaign with the United Nations and "body positivity warrior" Jameela Jamil. Movements like #everydaysexism and discussion points such as author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Ted talk, We should all be feminists, have also struck a chord with millions. These events have all helped to bring feminism to mainstream attention. So it is perhaps unexpected that the identity "feminist" has not gained more popularity among young women in the Western world. (Webmaster's comment: Women have been beaten and raped for all of human history and still are. If they want a breeding partner they've learned to keep their opinions to themselves!)
2-6-19 What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you
Law enforcement can now use the company’s private DNA database to investigate rapes and murders. A popular at-home DNA testing company has announced that it is allowing police to search its database of genetic data just as customers do when looking for family members. But there’s one big difference: Police are trying to track down rape and murder suspects using relatives’ DNA. Since Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested as the suspected Golden State Killer last April, police have announced the identification of suspects in at least 25 cold cases, including five in January (SN Online: 4/29/18). Until now, law enforcement agencies had mostly used a public database called GEDMatch for these “genetic genealogy” investigations. But FamilyTreeDNA has granted police permission to upload data from crime scene DNA and search the company’s more than 1 million records to look for relatives of potential suspects. While some people support the company’s effort to help catch suspected rapists and murderers, privacy advocates and some customers of DNA testing services are alarmed by the idea that police could poke around in people’s genetic data. Here’s what the announcement really means. Police are interested in determining how much DNA people in the database share with genetic samples from crime scenes. Genealogists can then use the closest matches possible to build family trees and identify a likely suspect. The process is similar to looking at someone’s LinkedIn profile to see who is in the person’s social network, says Melinde Lutz Byrne, a forensic genealogist at Boston University who is involved in helping law enforcement solve rape and murder cases.
2-5-19 Taro Aso: Japan minister U-turns on birth-rate gaffe
Japan's deputy prime minister has caused consternation after appearing to blame the country's low birth-rate on women. Taro Aso, 78, said elderly people were being unfairly linked to Japan's stagnating economy and worries about health costs. "There are lots of weird people who say the elderly are at fault, but that's incorrect," he was quoted as saying. "Rather, those who aren't giving birth to children are the problem. "The ageing population combined with the diminishing number of children is the grave issue." Mr Aso was speaking at a constituency meeting in Fukuoka, south-west Japan. On Monday he retracted his remarks after criticism from opposition MPs, who said they could hurt couples who were unable to have children. "I'd like to withdraw my comment and will be careful with my words in the days ahead," the minister said. He told reporters his words had been taken out of context. According to Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Mr Aso also called the rise in life expectancy "marvellous" on Sunday, and said Japan needs a social security system that supports people of all generations. The minister is not the first Japanese lawmaker to be accused of sexism in recent years. In May 2018, an MP from the country's governing party said young Japanese women should have more children or face being a burden on the state. Kanji Kato said that if he meets a woman who doesn't intend to marry, he tells her she will end up in a care home paid for by taxes from other people's children. Japan's birth rate fell to its lowest level since records began in 2018, and the population shrank by 448,000 people. (Webmaster's comment: Men always blame the women. It's always the women's fault.)
2-4-19 Kansas judge calls girls the 'aggressor' in sex abuse case
A US judge has found that two girls, aged 13 and 14, were partly to blame in a sex abuse case involving a 67-year-old man - and reduced his sentence. County District Judge Michael Gibbens said "the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct". He reduced the sentence of Raymond Soden, who was convicted last year. Prosecutors are considering an appeal. A child rights group said the girls were the victims, not the aggressors. Soden was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison, less than the minimum of 13 years called for by Kansas sentencing guidelines. The judge said the girls went to Soden's house voluntarily and had taken money for sexual favours. "They were certainly selling things monetarily that it's against the law for even an adult to sell." But Michelle Herman, president and CEO of Sunflower House, said "sexual assault is never the victim's fault". "It doesn't matter what the girls did or didn't do, he is still the adult and nobody deserves to be taken advantage of sexually," Ms Herman was quoted as telling the Kansas City Star. (Webmaster's comment: Every 13-14-year old girl's dream, having sex with at 67-year-old man! What a crock of BS! Protect the man no matter what sex crime he has done and ALWAYS blame the victims!)
2-4-19 Revenge porn: 'I became the lawyer I needed'
After an ex-boyfriend threatened to post her naked pictures, Carrie Goldberg had an idea. The law firm she set up targets the people behind so-called revenge porn - the non-consensual sharing of sexual images online. And she's also taken the fight directly to social media and dating tech companies.
2-4-19 Nepal woman suffocates in banned 'menstruation hut'
A 21-year-old Nepali woman died of suffocation in a windowless "menstruation hut" after she lit a fire to keep warm, say police. DParwati Bogati was found when her mother-in-law went to check on her. "She was excited about the next day as her menstruation would end. Poor child closed her eyes forever," Laxmi Bogati told the Kathmandu Post. The incident in Nepal's Doti district comes just weeks after a mother and her two sons died in a similar shed. Local police officer Lal Bahadur Dhami told AFP of the latest case: "We suspect she died due to smoke inhalation and suffocation because she closed the door of the windowless hut and lit a fire on the floor for warmth during the night." Under the ancient practice known as Chhaupadi, women who have their periods or who have just given birth are seen as impure or as bringers of bad luck. They can be forced to sleep outside in huts or cattle sheds, and are banned from touching some foods, religious icons, and men. The huts can be bitterly cold, and those inside can also be exposed to criminal attacks. There have been several cases of suffocation, and at least one teenage girl has died after being bitten by a snake. Nepal banned the traditional practice of exiling menstruating women and girls from the family home in 2005, and criminalised it in 2017 - but it remains widespread in rural areas.
2-3-19 Obituary: Kim Bok-dong, the South Korean 'comfort woman'
The coffin passed the Japanese embassy in Seoul, accompanied on its final journey by mourners waving banners and holding yellow butterflies. Cries of "Japan must apologise" rang out above the crowd, while others quietly sobbed. It was not your usual funeral procession. But then, Kim Bok-dong was not your usual woman, and this was her final act of resistance against a country which had stolen so much from her. Kim was one of thousands of so-called "comfort women" rounded up by the Japanese army and forced to work as sex slaves for years on end. She died on Monday, at the age of 92, without ever receiving the apology she wanted; still railing against the injustice; still angry with Japan for taking the life she could and should have had. "I was born a woman," she said, "but I never lived as a woman." It took Kim Bok-dong almost 40 years to find the strength to tell her story. She was just 14 when the Japanese soldiers arrived at her family's home in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang. They said she was needed to work in a factory. If she did not come, they warned her mother, the family would suffer. But Kim was not taken to work in a factory. Instead, the teenager found herself transported to one of hundreds of "comfort stations" set up by the Japanese Imperial Army across the territory it had seized. These "stations" were, in reality, brothels where some estimate as many as 200,000 women were forced to work as sex slaves. Kim, who should still have been in school, was among them. Her young age did not go unnoticed after she arrived in China. "When they found out I was only 14, they talked among themselves saying 'Isn't she too young?'," she told YouTube channel Asian Boss during an interview in October 2018. Apparently, it was not a problem. She was sent to start work. "The first time, I got dragged into one of the rooms and beaten up a bit," she recalled. "So I had to comply." Afterwards, she said, the bed sheets were covered in blood. It was too much to bear, and she decided there was only one way out. Using the little money she had been given by her mother, she and two others convinced a cleaner to buy them a bottle of the strongest alcohol they could find. They drank until they passed out, but it wasn't enough. The three girls were found, and their stomachs were pumped. When Kim finally woke up, she made a choice - no matter what happened, she would live to tell the tale. (Webmaster's comment: US soldiers used comfort women too! Visit: http://www.siouxfallsfeminists.com/american-troops-used-comfort-women.html)