12-27-19 Jeffrey Epstein case: FBI 'investigating Ghislaine Maxwell'
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and others are under FBI investigation following the Jeffrey Epstein case, sources have told US and other media. They face investigation over possible crimes linked to the sex trafficking charges laid against the US financier before he killed himself in August. Ms Maxwell, a long-time Epstein friend, has not been accused by the authorities of wrongdoing. Epstein had been charged with the sex trafficking of dozens of girls. He was arrested earlier this year following allegations he was running a "vast network" of underage girls - some as young as 14 - for sex. He pleaded not guilty. The FBI investigation was initially reported by Reuters, quoting law enforcement sources. Neither Reuters nor other US news agencies who reached out to Ms Maxwell's lawyers received a response, and the FBI declined to comment. The inquiry is believed to be in the early stages and no new charges are pending. The sources have not revealed any other names of those being investigated or more details of any possible crimes, beyond saying it concerned people who may have facilitated Epstein's alleged actions. Reuters said there were no plans to interview Prince Andrew, as he did not fit into that category. Prince Andrew was also a friend of Epstein's. In November, the prince stepped away from Royal Family duties, saying the Epstein scandal had become a "major disruption" to the family. The prince said he regretted his "ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein" but did not witness or suspect any suspicious behaviour during his visits to Epstein's homes. Ms Maxwell is the daughter of late British media mogul Robert Maxwell and a former girlfriend of Epstein. A well-connected socialite, she is said to have introduced Epstein to many of her wealthy and powerful friends, including Bill Clinton and the Duke of York. She has mostly been out of public view since 2016 and her whereabouts are unknown. An alleged Epstein victim, Virginia Giuffre, said in a civil lawsuit that Ms Maxwell had recruited her into the financier's circle, allegations Ms Maxwell denies. Other women have also made allegations that Ms Maxwell was involved. One, Sarah Ransome, told the BBC's Panorama that Ms Maxwell "controlled the girls. She was like the Madam". Ms Maxwell has denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, Epstein's alleged abuses.
12-27-19 Disney characters inappropriately touched at theme parks
Walt Disney World employees who work as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck have filed police complaints accusing tourists of inappropriately touching them. Three female cast members complained to police about incidents at theme parks near Orlando, Florida, this month. The woman wearing the Mickey Mouse costume said she was injured by a grandmother who patted her on the head. The women who play Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck allege they were groped. Orange County Sheriff's Office, which investigated all three incidents, said the women wearing the Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck suits decided not to press charges. Police told the woman who plays Mickey Mouse the incident was a civil, not a criminal matter. The incidents come after a 51-year-old man was arrested in November after an employee portraying a Disney Princess told investigators he groped her breast while having a photo taken. "Everyone should feel safe at work, and we encourage cast members to come forward in any uncomfortable situation," a Disney spokesperson told the BBC. "We provide multiple resources to protect our cast members' well-being, including on-site law enforcement officers who respond, and are available to them, if needed." The three most recent incidents, first reported by Orlando Sentinel, happened over two days on 3 and 4 December. The first incident took place on 3 December, when police were called to a restaurant at the Animal Kingdom theme park. A woman in her 60s asked if she could kiss Donald Duck at a meet-and-greet, the police report said. Donald Duck consented to the kiss, but then the woman "proceeded to touch her all over her chest" without permission to do so. When the employee attempted to move away, the woman grabbed hold of her, placed her hands inside the costume and "frantically touched her chest over her bra". The crew member did not press charges, telling police the woman "appeared to be possibly suffering from dementia".
12-27-19 Has #MeToo changed Bollywood?
The #MeToo movement came to India more than a year ago, and Bollywood was one of the first industries to be hit by allegations of sexual harassment and assault. It all started when a 10-year-old allegation by actress Tanushree Dutta against a Bollywood actor resurfaced - and it drew both attention and support. Several other women made similar allegations of harassment in the industry. But how much has changed? And what has happened to the women who spoke out?
12-25-19 Michael Bloomberg says his presidential campaign used prison labour
US presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has said that his campaign "unknowingly" used prison workers to call voters on his behalf. The billionaire Democrat said he had cut ties with a vendor which operates two call centres in state jails. Mr Bloomberg said he learned about the company's use of prison labour only after receiving a call from a reporter. He entered the election race in November with one of the largest-ever political ad buys. His campaign's use of prison labour was first reported by news site The Intercept, and confirmed by Mr Bloomberg in a statement on Tuesday. "We do not support this practice and we are making sure our vendors more properly vet their subcontractors moving forward," said the former New York mayor. According to The Intercept, Mr Bloomberg - using a third-party vendor - hired call centre company ProCom to make phone calls for his campaign. The firm operates two centres in Oklahoma state prisons. An unidentified source told The Intercept that incarcerated people were contracted to make calls from at least one of these prisons - a minimum-security women's prison with a capacity of over 900 inmates. Matt Elliott, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, told CBS News that inmates could earn $1.45 (£1.12) an hour working for call centres. "We believe this type of work helps prepare inmates for release," he said. In a tweet Stu Loeser, Mr Bloomberg's long-time spokesman, said the campaign "didn't know" that "a vendor of a vendor of a vendor used prison labour". (Webmaster's comment: Unsoliciated phone calls are one of the banes of our society. We should not be training prison inmates to make them.)
12-25-19 Burkina Faso: Many women killed in suspected jihadist attack
Suspected Islamist militants have killed 35 civilians, 31 of them women, in an attack on a military base and a town in Burkina Faso, officials say. They say seven soldiers and 80 militants were also killed as the army repelled Tuesday's attack in Arbinda, in northern Soum province. President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré declared two days of national mourning. Jihadist groups have stepped up attacks in Burkina Faso and other West African countries, in recent years. The violence has continued despite Western efforts to help regional governments combat the insurgents. In November, 13 French troops died in a helicopter collision during an operation in southern Mali, near the border with Burkina Faso. Last weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron highlighted the fight against militants in the Sahel region during a visit to Niger. "The coming weeks are absolutely decisive for our fight against terrorism," he said. Tuesday's attack was carried out by dozens of fighters on motorbikes and lasted several hours. No group has so far said it was behind it, but groups allied to al-Qaeda or Islamic State are active in the region. "This barbaric attack resulted in the deaths of 35 civilian victims, most of them women," President Kaboré said in a statement. He also praised the "heroic action of our soldiers" who battled the assailants. Earlier this month, at least 14 people were killed after gunmen opened fire inside a church in the east of the country. Burkina Faso, a predominantly Muslim country, was once relatively stable but has descended into serious unrest since 2015. About 700 people have been killed and 560,000 displaced. The conflict spread across the border from neighbouring Mali, where Islamist militants took over the north of the country in 2012 before French troops pushed them out.
12-20-19 Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein thinks he’s a feminist trailblazer, despite sexual misconduct accusations from 80-plus women. “My work has been forgotten,” the disgraced producer told the New York Post last week. “I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker.” Weinstein, 67, cited the $10 million his studio paid Gwyneth Paltrow for the 2003 film, View From the Top, claiming it was more than any man was paid by an independent studio at the time. “I did it first,” Weinstein said. “I pioneered it.” Days earlier, Weinstein and his bankrupt studio reached a deal to settle dozens of civil lawsuits fo‹r $25 million. Eighteen alleged victims would split $6.2 million, with the rest divided among other cases. It would be paid by an insurance company, not Weinstein, who would not be required to admit wrongdoing. He goes on trial on multiple counts of rape and sexual assault on Jan. 6.
12-19-19 Sudanese brides under pressure to have FGM - again
In our series of letters from African journalists, Zeinab Mohammed Salih looks at a growing phenomenon of "re-circumcision" in Sudan. Some women in Sudan are opting to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) a month or two before their wedding to pretend to be virgins. This is even though most of them have already been circumcised as girls - something that usually happens between the ages of four and 10 years old. In the mainly Muslim country this can involve the removal of the clitoris and labia and often includes some stitching to narrow the vaginal opening - a process known as infibulation. These stitches come away when a woman has sex. If a bride-to-be opts for further FGM, the operation, usually carried out by midwives, can involve cutting away more of the labia and re-stitching the vagina. "It was so painful and I had to go and stay with a friend of mine for days until I recovered because I didn't want my mother to know," said Maha, which is not her real name so that her identity can be protected. "Urinating was an issue and I couldn't walk properly in the first few days." Maha underwent the operation with two months to go to her wedding to a man "a little bit older" than herself. "He will never have trust me if he discovers that I have had sex before our marriage," she said. "He would ban me from going out or even using the phone." The university graduate in her 20s comes from a state in northern Sudan, which bans FGM. But the practice is still widely carried out - 87% of Sudanese women aged between 14 and 49 have undergone some form of FGM, according to the UN. And even though Maha works in the capital, Khartoum - which has not outlawed circumcision - she chose to go home to have the operation secretly at a midwife's house. She knows the midwife, who agreed to do the operation for a little less than the 5,000 Sudanese pound fee (about $110; £85) that is usually charged.
12-18-19 Shiori Ito: Japanese journalist awarded $30,000 in damages in rape case
A Japanese court has ordered a high-profile TV reporter to pay 3.3 million yen ($30,000; £22,917) in damages to a journalist who accused him of rape. Shiori Ito alleged that Noriyuki Yamaguchi raped her in 2015 while she was unconscious. Prosecutors said there was not enough evidence for a criminal case, so Ms Ito brought a civil case. Ms Ito has become a symbol of the #MeToo movement in a country where people rarely report sexual assault. "I'm so happy," said 30-year-old Ms Ito, who held up a sign which read "victory" after the verdict was announced. But in a news conference hours later, Mr Yamaguchi said he planned to appeal - and he again denied the rape allegations. According to Ms Ito, 53-year-old Mr Yamaguchi - who is said to have close ties to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - invited her to dinner to discuss a possible job opportunity in 2015. She suspects she may have been drugged, saying that when she regained consciousness, she was "in a hotel room and he was on top of me". Ms Ito was an intern at news agency Reuters when the alleged rape occurred. Mr Yamaguchi was then Washington bureau chief for the Tokyo Broadcasting System, a major media firm in Japan. Investigations were opened but then dropped by police, citing insufficient evidence. Ms Ito said police forced her to re-enact the alleged rape with a life-sized doll while male officers looked on. A 2017 government survey found that only 4% of rape victims reported the crime to the police. The police refused. I was taken into the gym and told to lie on a mattress, and life-size mannequin was then produced and three male officers moved the doll on top of me, asking me intimate questions about exactly what happened and taking photographs. (Webmaster's comment: This amounted to a second rape of a rape victim!) It was at this time, that I had to make the shift in my head from complainant to journalist.
12-18-19 Journalist wins Japan civil rape case
Japanese journalist Shiori Ito has successfully claimed damages from a TV reporter she has accused of raping her while unconscious in 2015. She brought a civil case after prosecutors dropped a criminal case due to a lack of evidence. The defendant, TV reporter Noriyuki Yamaguchi has denied the allegations and is appealing the ruling.
12-17-19 Charlize Theron 'not ashamed' to talk about her mum killing her dad
Charlize Theron says she's "not ashamed" to talk about the moment her mum shot and killed her dad in self-defence. The actress was 15 when her alcoholic dad shot through the door of the room where she was hiding with her mum. "None of those bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle. But in self-defence, she ended the threat," she told NPR. She added: "The more we talk about these things, the more we realise we are not alone in any of it." Charlize grew up on on a farm near Johannesburg in South Africa with her mum Gerda and dad Charles. She described her dad as a "very sick man" and said living with an alcoholic was a "pretty hopeless situation". "The day-to-day unpredictability of living with an addict is the thing that you sit with and have kind of embedded in your body for the rest of your life, more than just this one event of what happened one night," she said. Speaking about what happened, she said her dad was so drunk he "shouldn't have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun". "My mom and I were in my bedroom leaning against the door, because he was trying to push through the door. "So both of us were leaning against the door from the inside to have him not be able to push through. "He took a step back and just shot through the door three times. None of those bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle. But in self-defence, she ended the threat." Charlize says the violence she experienced within her family is something that she shares with a lot of people. "I'm not ashamed to talk about it, because I do think that the more we talk about these things, the more we realise we are not alone in any of it. "I think, for me, it's just always been that this story really is about growing up with addicts and what that does to a person." (Webmaster's comment: Any women or child has the right to defend themselves from a male brute who is trying to physically harm them. If the male brute dies it is no loss!)
12-13-19 Shooting rapists is no answer
Justice is not achieved through extrajudicial killings, said Partha Chakrabartty. Last week, police arrested the four men suspected of ambushing, brutally raping, and strangling a 27-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad. But there will be no trial, because the police fatally shot all four suspects. The accused had been taken to the rape site for a nighttime reconstruction of the crime; officers said the suspects tried to grab their guns, leading police to open fire in self-defense. “But not even those offering this excuse really believe in it themselves.” Locals celebrated the deaths—some villagers even showered the officers turned executioners with candy—but we should not, lest mob justice become the norm. “Just as the crowds were baying for the blood of these four accused, so, too, other crowds have bayed for the blood of journalists, activists, and student protesters.” Do we want all of them shot too? In any case, killing rapists doesn’t deter rape, as the experience of countries such as Pakistan that have the death penalty for rape has shown. Instead, India needs “comprehensive reform, not just of our police but also of what we teach our young boys and men.” Kenya has a successful education program to “challenge rampant misogyny” that we could emulate. Our focus should be not on lynching rapists but on preventing rapes.
12-13-19 Uber: Safety report reveals assaults
Uber said that 3,045 sexual assaults were reported on its 1.3 billion U.S. rides last year, said Kate Conger in The New York Times. Ride-hailing companies, including Uber, “face a growing number of lawsuits over safety incidents.” One top Uber executive called the numbers “jarring,” but argued they were a reflection less of the company than “the society it serves.” Among the reported incidents were 235 rapes along with “reports of assault that could involve unwanted touching, kissing, or attempted rape,” as well as nine fatal physical assaults.
12-13-19 Top cop versus NRA
After an officer was fatally shot responding to a domestic violence call, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo blasted Republican lawmakers this week for failing to renew the Violence Against Women Act because it restricts gun rights for abusive boyfriends. “I don’t want to see their little smug faces,” Acevedo said, referencing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. “I’m burying a sergeant because they don’t want to piss off” the National Rifle Association. Christopher Brewster, 32, was shot after a woman reported being assaulted by her boyfriend, Arturo Solis, 25, who is now charged with murder. His ownership of a pistol was illegal in Texas because of a prior conviction. The NRA argues that Congress defines domestic violence too broadly. “You’re either here for women and children,” Acevedo said, “or you’re here for the NRA.”
12-13-19 Las Tesis feminist protest song of Chile goes global
The song "The rapist is you" was created by the Chilean feminist collective Las Tesis. They want to bring feminist theories to larger crowds. This viral song and dance was based on the words of feminist anthropologist Rita Segado.
12-13-19 Rape in India: How Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi both made it a political issue
The issue that exercised Indian MPs in parliament on Friday was "rape in India" - but not for the reasons one would think. Parliament was repeatedly adjourned over opposition Congress party leader Rahul's Gandhi's comment on rape at an election rally a day earlier. Talking about the growing incidents of brutal crimes against women in the country, Mr Gandhi had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks about "Make in India, but nowadays wherever you look, it is Rape in India". "Make in India" is a government project aimed at making the country a global manufacturing hub. Several MPs from Mr Modi's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused Mr Gandhi of "insulting India", and said his turn of phrase could almost be taken as an invitation to rape Indian women, and demanded that he apologise for his remark. But Mr Gandhi refused to say sorry - he instead pointed out that Mr Modi himself had described Delhi as the "rape capital" several times when the BJP was in opposition. (Webmaster's comment: United States is the rape capital of the world with 16 times the rape rate as India!) As proof, he tweeted a video clip from Mr Modi's election campaign before the 2014 general election. Mr Gandhi also said that BJP MPs were trying to disrupt parliament over his rape remark because they wanted to divert attention from real issues like the country's economic slowdown and the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill which has angered parts of the country. India has hit global headlines in recent weeks over its treatment of women, especially after a 27-year-old female vet was gang-raped and murdered in the southern city of Hyderabad. Her body was later set on fire. Her death was also raised in parliament when MPs from across the political spectrum condemned the attack. One MP even called for the rapists to be "lynched".
12-12-19 India child sex abuse: Raped for money 'by her father's friends'
Every weekend for two years, men would come home and rape her, the 12-year-old told counsellors. Some were known to her father, some were not. It all began, she said, with her father inviting friends home for drinks. The inebriated men would tease and grope her in front of her parents. Sometimes, she said, the men would disappear into their single, musty bedroom with her mother. Then one day, the girl recounted, her father pushed her into the bedroom with one of his friends and locked the door from outside. The man raped her. Childhood soon became a nightmare. Her father would call up men, booking their time with his daughter, and taking money from them. Counsellors believe the girl was raped by at least 30 men since then. On 20 September, acting on a tip-off from teachers, child welfare officers rescued the girl from her school and took her to a shelter home. A medical examination confirmed rape, according to child welfare officials. Four men, including her father, have been arrested in connection with the case. They have been charged with rape, using a child for pornographic purposes and sexual assault. All have been denied bail. Police are looking for five more men known to the father who also allegedly raped and sexually abused the girl. Investigators have a list of names and photographs of some 25 men known to the family that they have been showing to the girl. "I don't remember any faces. It's all a blur," she told them. The family lived in a fairly prosperous town in southern India known for its lush hills, clean air and freshwater streams. But the good fortunes of their hometown seemed to have passed her family by. On that day in September, the school received word from a couple of teachers who lived in the same neighbourhood as the girl. "There's something wrong with her family and something is going on in her house. Try talking to her," they said. The school management immediately called a counsellor from a women's assistance group.
12-8-19 Bob Hawke 'asked daughter to keep rape claim secret'
The daughter of former Australian PM Bob Hawke has alleged she was raped in the 1980s but he asked her to stay silent to avoid harming his career. Rosslyn Dillon's allegations are made in court documents seen by Australian site the New Daily. She says she was raped by Bill Landeryou, an MP in Hawke's Labor Party. Both men are now dead. Ms Dillon, 59, is currently pursuing an A$4m (£2m; $2.7m) claim on her father's estate. In an affidavit, Ms Dillon alleges she was raped by Landeryou while working for his office. At the time Hawke was attempting to become Labor leader. According to the papers, Ms Dillon says she was sexually assaulted three times, in 1983. After the third time she told her father she had been raped and wanted to go to the police, but he responded by saying: "You can't. I can't have any controversies right now. I am sorry but I am challenging for the leadership of the Labor Party," the documents show. Ms Dillon's sister, Sue Pieters-Hawke, told The New Daily the family was aware of the allegation. "She did tell people at the time. I believe there was a supportive response but it didn't involve using the legal system," she told the site. Other family members have not commented to Australian media. A former union official, Landeryou served as an MP from 1976-1992. He and Hawke are said to have been on good terms throughout Hawke's premiership. Hawke was the dominant figure in 1980s Australian politics, winning four general elections. He introduced sweeping economic and social change to his country, while cultivating a public persona of a down-to-earth, beer swigging rogue.
12-7-19 Unnao rape case: Indian woman set on fire on way to hearing dies
An Indian woman who was set on fire on her way to testify against her alleged rapists has died of her injuries. The 23-year-old died late on Friday after suffering cardiac arrest at a Delhi hospital. She had 90% burns. She was attacked on Thursday as she was walking to a hearing in the rape case she filed against two men in March in Unnao, in northern Uttar Pradesh state. Five men, including the alleged rapists, have been arrested, Indian police say. The sister of the victim, whose name has not been released, told the BBC that she wanted the death penalty for the pair. She said the family would continue to fight the case against them in court. Rape and sexual violence against women have been in focus in India since the December 2012 gang-rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in the capital, Delhi. But there has been no sign that crimes against women are abating. According to government figures, police registered 33,658 cases of rape in India in 2017, an average of 92 rapes every day. (Webmaster's comment: There were 135,755 rapes in the United States in 2017. That's 372 per day! And the United States has only 1/4th as many people as India! So the United States has 16 times the rate of rape per capita as India!) Unnao district has itself been in the news over another rape case. Police opened a murder investigation against a ruling party lawmaker in July after a woman who accused him of rape was seriously injured in a car crash. Two of her aunts were killed and her lawyer was injured. Separately, on Friday, Indian police shot dead four men suspected of raping and killing a young female vet in the southern city of Hyderabad last week. That case sparked widespread outrage, and the killing of the suspects, in what rights activists believe may have been an extra-judicial killing, sparked jubilation among local residents.
12-6-19 Intruder Cowered
An 82-year-old female body builder in Rochester, N.Y., confronted a home invader and beat him into submission. When the intruder broke into Willie Murphy’s home, she clobbered him with a table, poured shampoo in his face, and beat him with a broom. Murphy, a champion bodybuilder who pumps iron daily at her local YMCA, said, “I was whaling on that man. Cause I said to myself, ‘If it’s my time to go to hell, I’m taking him with me!’” Cops arrived to find the intruder cowering under her blows.
12-6-19 Hyderabad case: Police kill suspects in rape and murder of Indian vet
Indian police have shot dead four men suspected of raping and killing a young female vet in Hyderabad last week. The men were in police detention and were taken back to the scene of the crime in the early hours of Friday. The suspects were shot when they tried to steal the officers' guns and escape, police told BBC Telugu. However, human rights organisations including Amnesty International have called for investigations to determine if these were extrajudicial killings. "Extrajudicial killings are not a solution to preventing rape," said Avinash Kumar, executive director of Amnesty International India. The 27-year-old rape victim's charred remains were discovered last Thursday - leading to outrage and protests over alleged police inaction. After news of the killings broke, the victim's mother told the BBC, "justice has been done", while neighbours celebrated with firecrackers, and thousands of people took to the streets to hail the police. Ten armed policemen took the four suspects - who were not handcuffed - to the scene of the crime to reconstruct the incident early on Friday, said VC Sajjanar, police commissioner of the Hyderabad suburb of Cyberabad. The toll plaza where the rape and murder took place is close to the suburb, which houses a number of global tech companies like Microsoft and Google. The police were looking for the victim's phone, power bank and watch which were reported missing, the police commissioner said. "The four men got together and started to attack the officers with stones and sticks and also snatched away weapons from two officers and started firing," the commissioner said, in response to questions about why the men had been killed. "Although the officers maintained restraint and asked them to surrender, they continued to fire and attack us. This went on for 15 minutes. We retaliated and four accused got killed." Two officers suffered head injuries but these were not caused by bullets, he added. The two police officers were admitted to hospital, he said
12-6-19 Uber had 6,000 US sexual assault reports in two years
Uber said it received almost 6,000 reports of sexual assault in the United States in 2017 and 2018. While the number of cases rose in 2018, the rate of incidents dropped by 16%, as the number of journeys was higher. Passengers - as opposed to drivers - accounted for nearly half of those accused of sexual assault. The data was published in a report which Uber said showed its commitment to "improving safety for Uber and the entire industry". Uber is facing growing scrutiny around the world, and recently lost its licence to operate in London. The report showed 5,981 sexual assault incidents were reported out of the 2.3bn US trips over the two-year period. Uber claimed 99.9% of the total journeys were concluded without safety issues. Uber said the report was the first comprehensive safety review of its ride-hailing business. "Voluntarily publishing a report that discusses these difficult safety issues is not easy," said Tony West, chief legal officer at Uber. "Most companies don't talk about issues like sexual violence because doing so risks inviting negative headlines and public criticism. But we feel it's time for a new approach." The company told the BBC there were currently no concrete plans to release safety reports for any non-US markets. Uber said 3,045 sexual assault reports were made in 2018 compared with 2,936 in 2017. Last year, 1.3 billion trips were completed in the US, up from one billion in 2017. The head of the US National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Karen Baker, welcomed the report, saying it "provides an opportunity to shed light on how this information-sharing emboldens our work for a safer future". Passenger safety, in particular sexual violence, have been major challenges for Uber and its US rival Lyft, as well as China's Didi. In November, London's transport regulator announced that Uber would not be granted a new licence to operate after repeated safety issues.
12-5-19 Unnao: India woman set on fire on her way to rape case hearing
A 23-year-old alleged rape victim is fighting for her life after she was set on fire while going to court in northern India. The woman was on her way to a hearing in the case she filed against two men in March, in Uttar Pradesh state. She is in critical condition in hospital, where she is being treated for severe burns. Five men including two of her alleged rapists have been arrested on suspicion of setting her on fire, police say. The woman was on her way to a train station when a group of men assaulted her and dragged her to a nearby field, where they set her on fire, according to reports in local media. Doctors treating her in the hospital in Lucknow city said she had received 90% burn injuries and that she would soon be flown in an air ambulance to the capital, Delhi, for better medical care. The incident occurred in Unnao district, which was recently in the news over another rape case. Police opened a murder investigation against a ruling party lawmaker in July after a woman who accused him of rape was seriously injured in a car crash. Two of her aunts were killed and her lawyer was injured. This latest incident has sparked widespread outrage in India, which is still reeling from a shocking murder and rape case that grabbed headlines just under a week ago. A 27-year-old vet in the southern city of Hyderabad was raped and set on fire on 27 November. Protests were held across the country after the victim's charred remains were found following her disappearance last week. Nearly a hundred rapes are reported in India every single day according to the last recorded crime statistics. Across towns, cities and villages, women, children and sometimes men are subjected to brutal attacks. Many don't get reported, let alone make the headlines. In recent days there's been growing outrage in the wake of the recent gang rape and murder of a vet in Hyderabad. This latest case in Unnao has deepened that anger. In a country where there's huge stigma around coming forward and reporting cases of sexual violence, are there enough safeguards for those who do? Are authorities doing enough to punish the perpetrators?
12-5-19 South Korea intelligence officers accused of raping defector from North
Two South Korean intelligence officials have been accused of raping a North Korean defector, with one said to have abused her dozens of times. The alleged victim, who had been in the two men's custody, was forced to have two abortions, her lawyers say. The officials, a lieutenant colonel and a master sergeant, have been suspended and an investigation has begun. North Korean women who defect are more vulnerable to sexual assault than South Koreans, human rights activists say. Difficult economic circumstances can make them reluctant to speak out. The defence ministry's intelligence command is tasked with investigating North Korean defectors and gathering intelligence. Early this year, the two suspects were assigned the woman's custody, law firm Good Lawyers told BBC Korean. According to the law firm, the first time the woman was raped she was unconscious as a result of drinking alcohol. The master sergeant is accused of raping her dozens of times while the lieutenant colonel is accused of raping her once. The defence ministry said that its investigators had already looked into the allegations and had sent the case to armed forces prosecutors. South Korean defence ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said the officials "would be appropriately handled depending on the investigation results". More than 72% of the 33,000 North Korean defectors in South Korea are women. A human rights activist who advises North Korean women told BBC Korean that "many North Korean defectors experience sexual violence in China before coming to Korea". "They endured it and when they come to South Korea some have this notion that they are already defiled." Human rights group Korea Future Initiative says thousands of North Korean women and girls are being forced to work in the sex trade in China, and that many are forced into at least one form of sexual slavery within a year of leaving their homeland. When the activist asked North Korean women what they thought of the MeToo movement in South Korea back in 2018, some replied by saying: "What good will it do?"; "It only brings humiliation"; or "They should just endure it."
12-4-19 Dua Mangi: Slut-shamed in Pakistan for being abducted
It's been three days since Dua Mangi was kidnapped from an affluent neighbourhood of Pakistan's biggest city Karachi, but there is still no trace of her. Her friend Haris Soomro, with whom she was walking down the street when she was abducted by four or five armed men, was shot and injured by one of the assailants when he tried to resist. He's still in hospital - reports say he was shot in the neck - and his condition is not said to be stable. The motive behind the kidnapping is unclear, and not much detail of Dua Mangi's personal life is known, but a quick look at her Facebook page reveals her to be an educated, successful, independent woman. However, the kidnapping might have gone unnoticed in crime-ridden Karachi as just another statistic - had it not been for a storm it raised on social media. It started with her sister, Laila Mangi, posting Dua's picture on Facebook with the news she had been kidnapped. Laila asked her followers to keep an eye out and inform the family if they saw her anywhere. One of her cousins made a similar request on Twitter. These messages attracted responses from several rights activists, but the debate soon evolved into one that was less focused on Dua's recovery and more on the way she was dressed, suggesting that - with a sleeveless top - she was asking for it. There were also caustic comments on why she, a young woman, was roaming around with a male friend at night. This attracted a frenzy of comments, both sympathetic and unkind, with many taking issue with the portrayal of Dua as an immodestly dressed hate figure who deserved what she got. Many tweeters turned on Dua's critics, questioning their own moral standards. Though the mixing of sexes is becoming increasingly common in urban areas of Pakistan, traditional conservative elements still see it as dishonourable and un-Islamic. (Webmaster's comment: As always it's blame the woman for her being attack!)
12-2-19 Jaya Bachchan: India MP calls for 'lynching' of Hyderabad rapists
An Indian MP has said the men who raped and murdered a 27-year-old vet in the city of Hyderabad should be "lynched". "I know it sounds harsh, but these kind of people should be brought out in public and lynched," Jaya Bachchan said in parliament. Several other MPs from across the political spectrum also condemned the brutal gang-rape and murder. Protests were held across India after the victim's charred remains were found following her disappearance last week. Police say they have arrested the four men who gang-raped and murdered the woman. Rape and violence against women remain at high levels despite widespread public anger at high-profile cases. On Monday, the anger on the streets was reflected in parliament with many MPs demanding to know what action the government planned to take to make the country safer for women. Ms Bachchan, a former Bollywood actress who is very vocal on women's rights issues, led the MPs in demanding justice for the victim. "I think it is time... The people want the government to give a proper and definite answer," she said. Vijila Sathyananth, an MP from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, said the country was not safe for children and women and demanded that the "four men who committed this crime should be hanged before 31 December. Justice delayed is justice denied". Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said "this act has brought shame to the entire country, it has hurt everyone" and that he didn't have appropriate words to "condemn this heinous crime". He said tougher laws that were introduced after the December 2012 gang-rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi had given hope that crimes against women would decline. (Webmaster's comment: They should be tried and sentenced to a public hanging, but not lynched by mob rule.)
12-1-19 India vet murder: Outrage mounts over Hyderabad rape killing
Outrage is mounting in India after the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old vet in the city of Hyderabad. Thousands protested outside a police station in the city, demanding accountability. Police have suspended three officers. Meanwhile family members have turned away visiting politicians and police officials, demanding action instead. Rape and violence against women remain at high levels despite widespread public anger at high-profile cases. The victim's charred remains were discovered after she disappeared on Wednesday. Police allege she was gang-raped before she was killed. Four men have been arrested in connection with the case. Two of their mothers have spoken out, calling for them to be punished if they are found guilty. "You give whatever punishment (to them). I have a daughter too," one told The Press Trust of India. At a police station on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Saturday, thousands of people gathered to protest, insisting the culprits must face the death penalty. Elsewhere in the country there were other protests and vigils for the victim - who cannot be named under Indian law. In the community of Shamshabad in Hyderabad, where the victim lived, residents locked the main gate and held placards saying: "No Media, No Police, No Outsiders - No sympathy, only action, justice." Prominent politicians have also spoken out, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, general secretary of the main opposition Congress party. "Our mindsets have to be jolted into changing, into rejecting violence, into refusing to accept the abhorrent manner in which women are being brutalised on a daily basis," she said. Three police officers have been suspended following allegations by the victim's family that they had not acted quickly enough when the victim was reported missing.
12-1-19 'Masturbation photos' prompt Tunisia's #MeToo anger
Photos of a man allegedly masturbating in a car outside a high school in Tunisia have prompted an outpouring of stories by women about the sexual abuse and harassment they have experienced. They are being shared under the hashtag #EnaZeda, which means "MeToo" in Tunisian Arabic. The man in the photos is a recently elected MP, Zouheir Makhlouf, who denies the allegations - saying he was about to urinate into a bottle as he is a diabetic. Women, wearing #EnaZeda T-shirts, gathered outside parliament earlier this month when MPs were being sworn in, demanding the case be investigated. The MP technically enjoys parliamentary immunity now, though a judge is still examining the case. The images were taken in October by a student who alleges the politician had been harassing her. Outrage over the case prompted Aswaat Nisaa, a non-government organisation meaning "Women's Voices", to launch a closed group on Facebook called #EnaZeda. It is a safe space for victims to share their experiences - and the revelations have been a shock for the moderators of the page. "Paedophilia and incest are more rampant than we would like to admit," moderator Rania Said told the BBC. "Many, many families are hiding this, and many families don't even know how to deal with this." The page now has more than 25,000 members, with thousands still pending approval. There are a deluge of testimonies detailing allegations of rape, marital rape and sexual harassment. Accusations have been made against people in the military, the police, universities, schools, the media and relatives. It is not just women making the allegations - some men have also posted. The level of engagement took Aswaat Nisaa by surprise, especially about child abuse that has been ignored within families. "In the beginning especially there were so many stories about uncles, brothers, neighbours, the guy at the neighbourhood corner store," says Ms Said.