2-26-20 Kenya university's rape memo sparks anger
A top Kenyan university has apologised after blaming "reckless" female students for becoming victims of rape. The security memo, which was sent to all students on Tuesday, was "insensitive", the University of Nairobi's vice-chancellor admitted. A petition started in response to the memo questioned how women could be blamed for their own rape. Popular media personality, Adelle Onyango, posted on Instagram: "This is what victim shaming looks like." The 31-year-old, who is a rape survivor, told her 374,000 followers that she was outraged that the university had had no condemnation for the rapists. "This is what normalisation of rape looks like. And we will not stand for it." The memo, signed by the head of security, said the rising number of cases of robbery and rape of university students in the capital, Nairobi, occurred at certain spots close to campuses. "In all the three rape incidences reported last year, a clear case of recklessness on the part of our female students can be drawn," it said. It gave an example of a drunk student who was gang-raped on her way back in the early hours of the morning. It also included tips about how to keep safe in social gatherings, suggesting students always go out with trusted friends, memorise important numbers in case they lost a phone and never leave their drinks unattended. Ms Onyango, who is raising funds to launch Safe 24/7 to offer free therapy and support to survivors of rape, said such advice given to women was part of the problem. "Right now, where we go, what time we will go there, who we will go with, how we will get there, what we will wear etc is governed by how safe we will be and that is NOT normal neither is it OK! "If men just stopped raping us, rape will stop." The Change.org petition, so far signed by nearly 1,500 people, said: "Misogyny has been time and again endorsed by the powers in play in Kenya, and that has got to stop."
2-25-20 Harvey Weinstein accusers welcome rape and sexual assault conviction
Accusers of Harvey Weinstein have welcomed the guilty verdicts in the rape and sexual assault case against the former Hollywood mogul. Actress Rose McGowan told the BBC "this is a great day", while others said the ruling brought hope to victims that their voices would be heard. Weinstein, 67, was convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act. He was cleared of the most serious count of predatory sexual assault. Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison over the guilty verdicts relating to two women. His lawyers say he will appeal. "I'm innocent. How can this happen in America?" Weinstein's lawyer Arthur Aidala quoted his client as saying. Weinstein once enjoyed phenomenal success with Oscar winners such as Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, The King's Speech and Shakespeare in Love. He was taken to New York's Bellevue Hospital reportedly suffering from chest pains after the verdict was announced. He had been due to be moved to prison on Riker's Island to await sentencing. The jury of seven men and five women reached their verdict on Monday morning, the fifth day of deliberations. Weinstein - who denied all charges - was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, in 2013. The judge ordered him to be sent to jail immediately. But the jury acquitted him on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first-degree rape of Mann. In the minutes after the verdict, Weinstein showed no emotion as he talked to his lead lawyer Donna Rotunno. A third-degree rape charge in New York is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent, or under age 17, or who has not given consent for a reason other than the inability to consent.
2-22-20 L'Arche founder Jean Vanier sexually abused women - internal report
A religious leader who founded a celebrated organisation for people with learning difficulties sexually abused six women in France, an internal report found. Canadian Jean Vanier founded the global network L'Arche in France in 1964 and died last year aged 90. None of the women he abused were themselves disabled, the report says. An investigation into Vanier was commissioned by L'Arche International last year after suspicions were raised. The full report is due to be published in the coming days. "We are shocked by these discoveries and unreservedly condemn these actions, which are in total contradiction with the values Jean Vanier claimed and are incompatible with the basic rules of respect and integrity of persons, and contrary to the fundamental principles on which L'Arche is based," L'Arche International said in a statement on its website. The organisation runs homes and centres where people with and without disabilities live together, operating in 38 countries with around 10,000 members. Vanier, a devout Catholic, had "manipulative and emotionally abusive" sexual relationships with six women in Trosly-Breuil, France, between 1970 and 2005, according to a statement by L'Arche International about the soon-to-be-published report. Sexual relations were instigated by Vanier, usually in the context of giving spiritual guidance. "These women reported similar facts associated with highly unusual spiritual or mystical explanations used to justify these behaviours," the statement said. "The relationships [...] had a significant negative impact on their personal lives and subsequent relationships. "These actions are indicative of a deep psychological and spiritual hold Jean Vanier had on these women," it said. It also says Vanier asked the women the keep the incidents secret. The women included assistants and nuns, according to Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail, which first broke the story.
2-21-20 Slaughter of women goes ignored
Mexican women are furious at their government’s anemic response to an epidemic of gender violence, said Carmen Morán Breña. An average of 10 women a day are killed in Mexico, mostly by current or former partners—a chilling toll that has sparked months of protests by women’s groups. Their anger reached boiling point last week when Ingrid Escamilla, a 25-year-old Mexico City resident, was murdered and skinned by her partner. Yet President Andrés Manuel López Obrador merely reacted with exasperation when asked about the femicide crisis, saying the issue was being “manipulated” by his opponents. Worse, his attorney general, Alejandro Gertz Manero, has proposed eliminating the charge of femicide, saying it is too difficult to determine whether any given female homicide victim was murdered because of her gender. María Candelaria Ochoa Ávalos, a lawmaker with López Obrador’s party who heads his commission on violence, argues that misogyny is entrenched in society and so must be “fought in the family, in the school, in the unions, in the institutions, in the churches.” That’s a cop-out. The president has almost total power in our political system; López Obrador has simply chosen not to use it to halt the mounting casualties in this war against women.
2-21-20 Baxter killings: Australia detective stood down for 'victim blaming'
An Australian police detective investigating the murders of Hannah Clarke and her children has been stood down from the case over comments that were seen as "victim shaming". Clarke and her children died when her estranged husband Rowan Baxter set their car on fire. He also died. In comments to the media on Thursday, Det Insp Mark Thompson had said it could be a case of a man "being driven too far by issues that he's suffered". The remarks caused fury in Australia. Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said on Friday that Det Insp Thompson had been "distraught" over his comments and "how it came out", and had volunteered to stand aside. Hannah Clarke and her children were in the car in Brisbane with her estranged husband on Wednesday when it caught fire. The three children - Laianah, aged four, Aaliyah, six, and Trey, three - died in the car. Police say Rowan Baxter was found dead nearby from self-inflicted wounds. Ms Clarke died in hospital later from severe burns. Witnesses said she had jumped out of the car screaming that he had poured petrol on her. It later emerged that Ms Clarke - who was originally reported as going by the surname Baxter - had repeatedly sought police help over domestic violence and had secured court orders. The reports sparked anger about some of the media treatment of the incident. In a news conference on Thursday, Det Insp Thompson had suggested it could not be assumed the case was straight forward and that it was investigators' job "to keep a completely open mind". He appealed for anyone with information about the family to come forward. "We need to look at every piece of information and, to put it bluntly, there are probably people out there in the community that are deciding which side to take, so to speak, in this investigation," he said. "Is this an issue of a woman suffering significant domestic violence and her and her children perishing at the hands of the husband, or is this an instance of a husband being driven too far by issues that he's suffered, by certain circumstances, into committing acts of this form?" Commissioner Carroll told ABC Radio Brisbane that the comments were "victim-blaming at its worst" and offered her sincere apologies to the community and victims.
2-16-20 'City of Women': A refuge for Colombia's displaced
During Colombia's more than half-century armed conflict, bloodshed between left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and the country's military forced nearly eight million people to flee their homes. Women and Afro-Colombians in particular faced greater levels of violence in the conflict and would often arrive in far-off cities with nothing and no-one. In an impoverished neighbourhood in the sweltering coastal city of Cartagena, a group of displaced women decided to do something about it. They formed the League of Displaced Women and in 2003 began to construct their own community brick by brick: The City of Women. The City, in the nearby municipality of Turbaco, is made up of 100 houses the women built with their own hands. During Colombia's armed conflict, sexual violence and targeting of women were used to sow fear. Many of the women in the City are survivors of that violence. It offers refuge to the women and their families who faced killings, rapes, threats and other violence both in their homes and during their displacement. All of the crimes against them remain in impunity. That struggle has pushed them together and given them the power to push back against things like machismo, societal norms and stigmas against displaced people still prominent in much of the country. "The war had taken our homes from us, it cut you from your customs, your dreams, your land." Consuelo Villega Mendoza, 44, is from a town in the northern region of Sucre, and was forced to flee after paramilitaries began massacring communities near her home. "Being a part of the League of Displaced Women has helped me a lot because they have taught me how to move on." A plaque reading the "La Ciudad de las Mujeres" says that it turned the women's dream of a life with dignity into reality. Women in the City have fought to get justice for the crimes committed against them, but all 159 cases of gender-based violence and displacement remain unresolved.
2-15-20 Ingrid Escamilla: Hundreds protest against woman's brutal murder
Hundreds of people gathered in Mexico City on Friday to protest against the murder of a young woman. Ingrid Escamilla, 25, was stabbed to death allegedly by a man she lived with, who then mutilated her body in an attempt to hide the evidence. Forensic workers leaked images of her corpse, and a local newspaper has been criticised for published one of these pictures on its front page. Femicide, the gender-based killing of women, is on the rise in Mexico. More than 700 cases are currently being investigated, but activists say the number of women killed because of their gender is much higher. The protesters, most of them women, moved through the Mexican capital holding placards calling for "responsible journalism," and chanting slogans like "not one more murder". The group initially gathered outside of the city's National Palace, where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lives with his family. "It seems to me the president has evaded the issue constantly," one protester, Alejandro Castillo, told Reuters news agency. "It is not a personal issue against him. We believe he has the possibility of raising several things on the agenda and has not done so." Demonstrators later marched through heavy rain to the offices of La Prensa, the newspaper that published grisly images of Ms Escamilla body with the headline 'It was cupid's fault". At least one vehicle belonging to the newspaper was set on fire, and several protesters clashed with security forces who tried to stop them from entering the newspaper's offices. La Prensa, in response to public criticism, has stood by its decision but said it was open to discussions about adjusting its editorial standards beyond legal requirements. Earlier this month, many Mexicans flooded social media with photos of wildlife and natural landscapes, using the hashtag #IngridEscamilla to drown out the photos of her body circulating online.
2-15-20 Sex robots may cause psychological damage
US researchers have warned that the availability of sex robots with artificial intelligence (AI) poses a growing psychological and moral threat to individuals and society. They say the technology is escaping oversight because agencies are too embarrassed to investigate it. The scientists want action to prevent the unregulated use of such robots. Dr Christine Hendren of Duke University told BBC News that "the stakes were high". "Some robots are programmed to protest, to create a rape scenario," she said. "Some are designed to look like children. One developer of these in Japan is a self-confessed paedophile, who says that this device is a prophylactic against him ever hurting a real child. "But does that normalise and give people a chance to practise these behaviours that should be treated by just stamping them out?" Dr Hendren was speaking here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A number of sex robots are advertised online. A US-based firm, Realrobitix, has posted a video marketing its Harmony robot for between $8,000 and $10,000. It is a life-sized doll which can blink and move its eyes and neck, and also its lips as it talks. Speaking with a Scottish accent, the mannequin says, "if you play your cards right you will have some pleasure and fun coming your way". And the firm's founder and CEO, Matt McMullen explains that Harmony has AI that enables "her" to develop a relationship with the owner. "She is going to remember things about you, your likes, your dislikes and your experiences," says Mr McMullen. Kathleen Richardson, who is a professor of the Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI at De Montfort University in Leicester, wants this kind of marketing outlawed. "These companies are saying, 'you don't have a friendship? You don't have a life partner? Don't worry we can create a robot girlfriend for you'. "A relationship with a girlfriend is based on intimacy, attachment and reciprocity. These are things that can't be replicated by machines," she said.
2-12-20 Lawrence Ray: US student's dad charged for sex trafficking
A man accused of abusing his daughter's university roommates has been arrested in the US and charged with extortion, sex trafficking and forced labour. Prosecutors say Lawrence "Larry" Ray extorted some $1m (£771,000) from students at New York's Sarah Lawrence College, abusing them "emotionally, physically, and sexually". The charges were prompted by a story in New York magazine, which detailed the alleged workings of Mr Ray's "cult". Mr Ray, 60, has denied the allegations. He was arrested on Tuesday in the state of New Jersey. "For the better part of the last decade, we allege there was no limit to the abuse Ray's victims received, and there is no way of knowing the amount of damage he may have caused them in the years to come," said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney. According to New York magazine, the abuse started when Mr Ray showed up at his daughter's university in 2010, after being released from prison, where he had been serving time on charges related to a custody dispute. The publication said his daughter described him to friends as a "truth-teller" who had been unjustly imprisoned. A former FBI informant, Mr Ray had been a close associate of former New York police chief Bernard Kerik. The pair fell out and Mr Ray cooperated with authorities in a high-profile corruption case against Kerik. Mr Ray moved into his daughter's dormitory, where prosecutors say he presented himself as a father-figure and began conducting "therapy" sessions. During the sessions, he allegedly learned intimate details about the students' private lives and mental health struggles. He alienated several of them from their parents, persuading some to move into a Manhattan apartment and convincing them that they were "broken" and needed his help. After gaining their trust, prosecutors say Mr Ray subjected his victims to interrogation sessions in which he falsely accused them of harming him by attempting to poison him or damage his property. He allegedly demanded confessions, using tactics including sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation and physical violence.
2-12-20 Harvey Weinstein trial: Could written sexual consent stand up in court?
Harvey Weinstein's lawyer has insisted she would not engage in an intimate relationship without a signed "consent form". But who would a codified consent form actually protect - and would it stand up in court? "If I was a man today in today's world, before I was engaging in sexual behaviour with any woman, today, I would ask them to sign a consent form," attorney Donna Rotunno told the New York Times Daily podcast. When pressed, she added: "Why not? Take all the question out of it. Make it easier on everybody." The 41-year-old said she had never been sexually assaulted because she had not "put [herself] in that position". Ms Rotunno's answer did not make explicit reference to Mr Weinstein's accusers, but it mirrors his denials. His ongoing defence to five rape and sexual assault charges - fronted by Ms Rotunno - hinges on the contention that the producer's actions were consensual, including in one "loving" relationship. Mr Weinstein is one of more than 40 men accused of sexual misconduct defended by Ms Rotunno. Of these, she has lost just one. Her words drew swift rebuke from victims' advocacy groups who said the "self-serving" comments amounted to victim blaming. "The narrative that the ability to avoid rape is under the victim's control is probably good for her business, but has no basis in fact," said a spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse and National Incest National Network - the largest anti-sexual violence organisation in the US. But the comments also renewed discussion surrounding efforts to formalise consent in intimate relationships. The now-defunct LegalFling app, for example, promised to "turn the #MeToos into #iFlings" by asking participants to request and gain explicit consent for specific sexual acts. "Having an app that clearly shows the rules of engagement as well as personal preferences, can remove misunderstandings and prevent unintentional bad situations," LegalFling said on its website.
2-7-20 Courtroom confrontation
Harvey Weinstein accuser Jessica Mann was left sobbing uncontrollably in court this week after defense attorneys accused the former aspiring actress of manipulating Weinstein during their “loving relationship.” Mann says he raped her twice in 2013, yet defense attorney Donna Rotunno questioned why the hairstylist continued to seek Weinstein’s company. Mann said she had “compassion” after Weinstein, 67, needed a penis injection to become erect. “I thought he was deformed and intersex,” Mann said. Jurors were shown nude photographs of Weinstein taken by a detective. Rotunno asked why Mann wanted Weinstein to meet her mother, suggesting that she exploited Weinstein for access to A-list parties. Asked to read a letter to her boyfriend in which Mann called Weinstein a “pseudo father,” Mann suffered a panic attack and the court adjourned. Later, she was unwavering. “I do want the jury to know that he is my rapist,” she said.
2-7-20 Black dress
Writer E. Jean Carroll requested last week that President Trump submit a DNA sample to substantiate her allegation that Trump raped her in the mid-1990s. Carroll, a longtime Elle advice columnist based in Warwick, says she kept unwashed in her closet the black Donna Karan dress she was wearing when Trump forcibly penetrated her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996. A lab test found DNA on the dress’s sleeves belonging to at least four people, at least one of whom was male. No semen was detected. Carroll, 76, sued Trump for defamation after he vehemently denied raping her, saying he’d “never met this person in my life” and that Carroll was “not my type.” Trump has tried unsuccessfully to get the lawsuit thrown out in New York. Carroll’s lawyers requested that the DNA sample be delivered March 2. Some 20 other women have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
2-7-20 Why it’s still hard to prove sexual assault
The victims and prosecutors in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial face an unseen opponent, said Barbara Bradley Hagerty: “the disturbing history of rape prosecution in America.” Deep skepticism toward any woman’s allegations of rape was written into English law in the 17th century, and while U.S. law has evolved in recent years, “the attitudes that animated those rules live on.” In about 80 percent of sexual assaults, the victim knows her assailant. Yet under the law in about half the states (including New York), “forcible compulsion” must be demonstrated; shouting “Stop!” is not enough to get a conviction. This requirement runs counter to everything we know about “the neurobiology of trauma,” which is that victims often become paralyzed with fear and disgust during an assault, especially by someone they know. Weinstein’s accusers have said he overpowered them, and that they feared his rage—both in the moment and for what it would mean for their careers. But since they didn’t report the assaults at the time and continued to communicate with Weinstein later, the defense is arguing that the women willingly traded sex for career advancement. Even in the #MeToo era, sexual assault remains “the easiest violent crime to get away with.”
2-7-20 Woman haters refuse to live in the real world
The incel movement is on the rise in Scandinavia, said Pernilla Ericson. Young Swedish men who complain of being “involuntary celibates” are now meeting up in online forums to gripe about the women who ignore them. So far, there are thought to be only a few hundred incels in Sweden, compared with thousands in the U.S. But the Swedish Security Service is keeping an eye on them, because right-wing extremism is known to thrive in such forums. Philip Manshaus, a 22-year-old Norwegian accused of killing his sister and shooting up a mosque last summer, visited incel sites, as did Swedish terrorist Anton Lundin Pettersson, who murdered three people with a sword in a 2015 school attack. Why are these men so alienated? In part, it’s a rejection of the “rapid change” in gender relations that Sweden has undergone in just two generations. “When my grandmother was born, Swedish women still did not have the right to vote.” But women today hold nearly half the seats in our parliament and outnumber men at universities. Social norms have changed so thoroughly that “the responsibility for unpaid housework no longer defaults to women.” Incels think they are excluded from this new world and believe that empowered women are interested only in rich, handsome partners. That’s utter nonsense, of course. “If it were true, some 95 percent of men would be single.” (Webmaster's comment: Incels are the result of their own behavior! Who'd want them?)
2-5-20 Canada MPs condemn parole decision that 'led to' woman's death
Canadian parliamentarians have condemned a parole board decision that allowed a man with a history of violence against women to be released on day parole. Eustachio Gallese, 51, allegedly killed Marylène Lévesque in a hotel in the Quebec town of Sainte-Foy. He was allowed to see women to meet his "sexual needs" while on parole. Gallese has been charged with second-degree murder over Lévesque's death after turning himself into police. The tragedy sparked widespread indignation about whether Gallese's "sexual needs" were given priority over the safety of women in the community. Lévesque, 22, was reportedly a sex worker. The parole decision raised questions over whether it put the lives of women involved in sex work specifically at risk. On Wednesday, members of Parliament in the House of Commons unanimously approved by 315 votes to zero a Conservative motion to censure the parole board decision, which it said "led to a young woman's death by an inmate during day parole in January of this year". The motion also authorised the House of Commons public safety committee to conduct hearings into the matter. The federal public safety minister had already announced the decision will be subject to a joint investigation by Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board of Canada. Gallese was granted day parole in March after being sentenced to life for the 2004 murder of his partner, Chantale Deschenes, who he attacked with a hammer before repeatedly stabbing her. He had previously been in trouble with the law for assault and threats directed at a previous partner. In a written September decision, the parole board denied Gallese full parole but allowed him to continue living in a halfway house on day parole, deeming him a "moderate risk". The board said in the decision they were concerned about the "inappropriate" sexual relations with women he was allowed as part of a "risk management strategy", saying it was itself a "serious and worrisome risk factor" that would need to be reconsidered.
2-5-20 Spain sexual assault: US issues security alert over rise in reported cases
The US has issued a security alert for its citizens visiting Spain in response to a rise in the number of reported sexual assaults across the country. Students and tourists are advised to "drink responsibly" and avoid travelling alone in a set of guidelines published by the US embassy in Spain. The embassy also advised citizens to familiarise themselves with the law. Spain's interior ministry has reported a steady increase in sexual assaults nationally in recent years. In a security alert posted online, the US embassy said that US citizens were among those to report serious instances of sexual violence. It warned its citizens visiting or living in Spain not to "consume beverages that have been out of your control" and to use "the buddy system" - to travel with a friend or a family member. "If you have been sexually assaulted, call 112 immediately... [and] consider contacting a local attorney to help you navigate the criminal justice process and protect your rights," the alert added. It said the advice was issued in response to a rise in reported incidents over the last five years. In January, three young US women alleged they were sexually assaulted at a New Year's Eve party in the southern Spanish city of Murcia. Police questioned three suspects, who have all denied any wrongdoing, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported. The case is ongoing. According to the latest figures from human rights organisation Geoviolencia Sexual, there were a record 73 cases of sexual assault carried out by multiple offenders in Spain in 2019. The organisation reports 60 group assault cases in 2018 and just 14 in 2017. In November, thousands of people took to the streets across Spain after a Barcelona court ruled that five men accused of gang-raping a 14-year-old girl had committed the lesser crime of sexual abuse.
2-2-20 Ecuador president says women 'only report harassment from ugly men'
The president of Ecuador has apologised for saying women only report harassment "when it comes from an ugly person". His comments at conference in the city of Guayaquil on Friday sparked uproar online. At the same event Lenin Moreno also said that men faced the constant threat of being falsely accused of harassment by women. As the backlash mounted, he tweeted that he "did not intend to minimise an issue as serious as violence or abuse". "I apologise if it was understood that way," he added. "I reject violence against women in all its forms!" Addressing the conference in Guayaquil, President Moreno had said that men are "permanently subjected to the danger of being accused of harassment". "Women often report harassment, it is true, and it is good that they do so," he went on, before claiming that women often "get angry with ugly people" in harassment cases. "That is to say, it is 'harassment' when it comes from an ugly person," he said. "But if the person is good looking... they usually do not think it is harassment." After footage of the speech was shared online, the president's comments attracted widespread criticism. One Twitter user wrote: "According to Lenin Moreno women only report harassment when the perpetrator is 'ugly'. Now it makes sense why they cut $876,000 for the prevention of gender violence: for this lot our lives our worthless." Another added: "We are governed by a misogynist!"
1-31-20 Kobe Bryant, the Truth
The Washington Post newsroom was in an uproar this week over the brief suspension of reporter Felicia Sonmez for sharing via Twitter a story detailing the 2003 sexual assault allegation against Kobe Bryant. Hours after his death, Sonmez tweeted, “Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality.” The tweet was met with thousands of vitriolic responses and death threats, and when she relayed screenshots of them, her editors put her on administrative leave, saying her tweets showed “poor judgment” and had “undermined” the work of her colleagues. Sonmez was reinstated after more than 200 Post journalists signed a letter to management expressing “alarm and dismay” over the suspension. The letter conceded it was “a fraught time” for her to be discussing the charge against Bryant, but noted that Sonmez herself “is a survivor of assault.”
The New Orleans Saints are fighting the release of hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives helping the Archdiocese of New Orleans spin the news of a sexual abuse scandal, the Associated Press reported last week. Attorneys for about two dozen men suing the archdiocese say the NFL team aided the church in “concealing its crimes.” The Saints admit to offering church officials advice in 2018 on how to announce that more than 50 clergy members had been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse, but the team says it advocated transparency, not a cover-up. The Saints are owned by Gayle Benson, who inherited the team when her husband, Tom, died in 2018. Archbishop Gregory Aymond accompanied Gayle at Tom’s funeral procession. She has given millions to Catholic institutions around New Orleans, and Aymond is a frequent guest of hers at Saints games.
1-31-20 Russia may drop murder charge in Khachaturyan sisters case
Three Moscow sisters accused of murdering their father are likely to have the charges reduced to "necessary self-defence", their lawyers say. The decision by Russia's chief prosecutor could lead to their criminal prosecution being dropped, lawyer Alexei Parshin told Tass news agency. In July 2018 the teenage Khachaturyan sisters stabbed and battered their father to death in his sleep. He had beaten and sexually abused them, so many Russians urged their release. More than 350,000 people signed a petition supporting the sisters, and their high-profile case was a powerful argument for a new law against domestic violence, expected to take effect this year. Human rights activists argued that the sisters were not criminals but victims, as they had no means of getting help and protection from their abusive father. Krestina, Angelina and Maria Khachaturyan, who were 17, 18 and 19 when they stabbed their father to death, currently face up to 20 years in prison, after the Investigative Committee (SK) accused them of premeditated murder. Mr Parshin said "the prosecutor has taken a position, that this was self-defence and the SK has to consider that position, the investigators have to consider this. This will, I think mean more investigation. "I hope after that, the case will be closed against the girls. I think it will take another month or two." The sisters live in different places and cannot speak to each other or to the media. They are free to come and go, but cannot communicate with anyone linked to the case, the lawyer said. Deputy Prosecutor-General Viktor Grin, quoted by Mr Parshin, said the SK's conclusions had not taken full account of the circumstances which drove the young women to murder. The father's behaviour, Mr Grin argued, posed a real threat to the sisters' safety, which justified them resorting to any means to defend themselves.
1-30-20 How yoga helped an Indian rape survivor to love her body
Natasha Noel was selected as one of the BBC's 100 Women for 2019.She overcame childhood abuse to become a successful yoga and wellness coach. The body positivity influencer uses social media to talk about tough subjects, including her own her traumatic childhood and the death of her mother. She says that she has always had a complicated relationship with her body throughout her life. But when she started practising yoga, she found a new love for herself and her body.
1-27-20 It's 2020 and women are exhausted
So many of my interactions with friends these days have become commiseration sessions about the state of our politics. When will the indignities end? Back in 2018, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren met for an off-the-record conversation. Warren says that during that conversation, Sanders told her a woman could not win the presidency in 2020; according to Sanders, he said it would be difficult, not necessarily impossible. Now that both parties involved are running for president, this exchange has been made public, as have their conflicting memories of what was said. And yet only one of these two people — the woman — has had her social media inundated with images of snakes to underscore her apparent duplicitousness. As the 2020 presidential race approaches its final throes, Warren and her fellow female candidates are being distilled to the most basic and dehumanizing of stereotypes. Because in our American patriarchy, when accomplished, outspoken women pursue positions of power, they are routinely painted as unreliable and unlikable — snakes in human form. And so we are, once again, being asked to question whether a woman is "electable," by which we really mean whether all of her qualifications for the job can outweigh the fact that she is a woman. Meanwhile, the man all the Democratic candidates are running to unseat has bragged, on tape, about committing multiple sexual assaults; even the revelation of this shortly before the 2016 election was, apparently, not enough to render him "unelectable." Regardless of which candidate(s) you support in a crowded-but-dwindling Democratic presidential field, the current flood of headlines is pretty rough for anyone who's not a cisgender white man. Being alive to the news in 2020 means being constantly reminded of our status as lesser-thans, as non-default humans, as objects. And the latest dustup between Sanders and Warren is just another illustration that, in America, the very fact of a woman's ambition is enough to make her motives suspect.
1-24-20 Women managers face harassment
A survey of more than 26,000 women found that workplace sexual harassment got worse the further they advanced in their career, said Arianne Cohen in FastCompany.com. “Female supervisors experience 30 to 100 percent more harassment” than rank-and-file female employees, according to a study involving women in Japan, Sweden, and the U.S. “Low-level leaders receive the brunt of it.” They face harassment both from “subordinates and from higher-level management,” so they have it “coming at them from all sides.” When reporting the misbehavior, “supervisors face more professional and social retaliation,” say researchers at the Swedish Institute for Social Research, who surmise male subordinates demean women managers because of jealousy.
1-23-20 Annabella Sciorra says Harvey Weinstein brutally raped her
US actress Annabella Sciorra has testified in Harvey Weinstein's trial that the film producer pinioned and raped her at her home 25 years ago. Ms Sciorra, best known for her role in The Sopranos, said Mr Weinstein forced himself into her apartment and attacked her. "I was trying to get him off me," Ms Sciorra said to the New York jury. "I was punching him, kicking him." The 67-year-old denies all charges, which include rape and sexual assault. If convicted, he could face life behind bars. But prosecutors intend to use her testimony to support their argument that the accused is a sexual predator. To do so, they must prove Mr Weinstein committed a serious sexual offence against at least two people. Mr Weinstein is charged with raping one woman, Jessica Mann, in a hotel room in the New York borough in 2013, and performing a forcible sex act on a second woman, Mimi Haleyi, in 2006. His defence team said his actions were consensual, including one "loving" relationship. According to her emotional testimony, Ms Sciorra had dinner with Mr Weinstein in the winter of 1993-94. The Hollywood mogul then offered to drive the actress back to her Manhattan apartment. Soon after Mr Weinstein dropped her off, the actress heard a knock at her door. The producer shoved his way into her apartment, she said, and took her to a bedroom where he forced her on to a bed and sexually assaulted her. Mr Weinstein ignored her attempts to fight him off, Ms Sciorra testified on Thursday, fighting back tears. "He got on top of me and he raped me," she said. "He had intercourse with me and I was trying to fight him, but I couldn't fight anymore because he had my hands locked." She said he then forcibly performed oral sex on her, telling her: "This is for you." "It was just so disgusting that my body started to shake in a way that was very unusual," she said.
1-17-20 Alphabet: Top lawyer leaves after misconduct claims
Google parent company Alphabet said this week that its controversial chief legal officer, David Drummond, will step down, said Jillian D’Onfro in Forbes. “One of the most long-tenured, influential employees at the company,” which he joined in 2002, Drummond was being investigated by the board over claims that he had inappropriate relationships with other employees. The board is also looking into Drummond’s handling of complaints against former Android chief Andy Rubin, “who reportedly received a $90 million exit package” despite credible allegations of sexual assault. Drummond will receive no exit package but has sold more than $200 million in stock in the past few months.
1-17-20 Kill your ex, get soccer contract
Brazilian soccer clubs are falling all over themselves to sign a vicious murderer, said Renata Mendonça. Bruno Fernandes de Souza was a successful goalkeeper before he was convicted of ordering the gruesome 2010 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Eliza Samudio, whose body he had chopped up and fed to his rottweilers. Bruno, the court heard, wanted to avoid paying child support for his then 4-month-old son. Sentenced to 22 years in prison, he was released in 2017 on a technicality and was promptly showered with multiple offers from eager teams before being sent back to prison two months later. Now that he has been transitioned to house arrest and given leave to play pro soccer, he is again being pursued by interested teams. Fluminense de Feira announced it wanted to sign Bruno, only to backtrack after a huge outcry by female fans and women’s groups. Moral issues aside, we’re talking about a player “who hasn’t played in 10 years” and is surely out of shape. So why the rush to sign this brute? Clubs say they believe in second chances, but we don’t see them hiring ex-cons to work as janitors or office staff, do we? The real reason is that teams know his hiring will generate publicity, and it’s disgusting. Let Bruno have his second chance, sure, but “not on the pitch.”
1-17-20 Andrew Yang's wife says gynaecologist sexually assaulted her
The wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang has said she was sexually assaulted by her gynaecologist while she was pregnant with their first child. Evelyn Yang has accused Robert Hadden of assaulting her at his New York practice in 2012. Speaking to CNN, Ms Yang said she didn't tell her husband at first. Ms Yang is one of 32 women suing Hadden and the university where he practised. Hadden has denied the allegations in a court document. He was convicted of sexual assault in 2016 and surrendered his medical licence, but did not serve any jail time after accepting a plea deal. Ms Yang, 38, said she was encouraged to speak out by the warm reception she and her husband had received when talking to voters about their son's autism. "Something about being on the trail and meeting people and seeing the difference that we've been making already has moved me to share my own story about it, about sexual assault," Ms Yang revealed to CNN. She said "everyone has their own Me Too story", referencing the global movement against sexual assault, but added "not everyone has the audience or platform to tell their story". When victims of abuse come forward, they deserve our belief, support, and protection," Mr Yang said in a statement on Thursday. "I hope that Evelyn's story gives strength to those who have suffered and sends a clear message that our institutions must do more to protect and respond to women." Ms Yang has accused Hadden of assaulting her in his examination room when she was seven months pregnant with her first child. "I was dressed and ready to go," she told CNN. "Then, at the last minute, he kind of made up an excuse. He said something about 'I think you might need a C-section' and he proceeded to grab me over to him and undress me and examine me internally, ungloved." Ms Yang said she told her husband about the alleged assault after the birth of their child, Christopher. Ms Yang said she was prompted to do so after reading about a woman who had accused Hadden of sexual assault. Other women came forward and a case against Hadden was opened by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
1-16-20 Allison Donahue: US lawmaker Peter Lucido probed for comments to reporter
A US lawmaker is facing investigation for telling a reporter schoolboys "could have a lot of fun" with her. Allison Donahue, 22, said she felt "humiliated" by the comment Michigan state senator Peter Lucido made when she went to him for comment on a story. His remark was "belittling and it came from a place of power", she said. Mr Lucido, 59, initially told US media the incident was "blown out of proportion", and tweeted an apology for what he called "the misunderstanding". Two state senate leaders have called for an investigation into whether his remarks amounted to sexual harassment. In a report for her newspaper, the Michigan Advance, Ms Donahue said she was seeking comment from Mr Lucido, a Republican, about claims he was a member of a since-deleted Facebook group targeting Michigan's Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Members of that group had also posted messages advocating violence against Democrats and Muslims, local media reported. Ms Donahue wrote that Mr Lucido told her he would speak to her after honouring a group of students from an all-boys' high school, who were standing just behind him. As she turned to leave, she said that he told her: "You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you." Ms Donahue added: "The teenagers burst into an Old Boys' Network-type of laughter, and I walked away knowing that I had been the punch line of their 'locker room' talk. "Except it wasn't the locker room; it was the senate chamber. And this isn't high school. It's my career." On Wednesday morning Mr Lucido didn't dispute the quotes, but told the Detroit Free Press that he didn't feel he owed Ms Donahue an apology. He then tweeted: "I apologise for the misunderstanding yesterday and for offending Allison Donahue." Later the same day, he alleged that he was misquoted - telling local broadcaster WDIV-TV that he had actually said "we're going on the [senate] floor to have some fun, you're welcome to join us". (Webmaster's comment: LIAR!)
1-16-20 'I was sexually abused by a shaman at an ayahuasca retreat'
The psychedelic powers of a traditional Amazonian plant medicine called ayahuasca are attracting more and more tourists. It's said to bring spiritual enlightenment and to help with addiction, depression and trauma. But a string of allegations suggests there's a darker side to the ayahuasca scene. Rebekah first tried ayahuasca on a "complete whim" when she was travelling in Peru in 2015. "I thought it sounded interesting and I thought I might as well give it a try," says Rebekah, a New Zealander in her 20s who asked the BBC not to use her surname. "So I found a retreat centre that I felt was good and I just went for it and it was amazing." Ayahuasca can induce visions of things like serpents, palaces, and alien beings - and bring up long-forgotten memories. Like many who've drunk the brew, Rebekah has a wide-eyed distant look as she reminisces about the experience. "It was like being guided very gently and very kindly through some really awful experiences that I'd had in the past," Rebekah says. "And returning back home after that, I felt like my relationships were a lot stronger. I felt it was a lot easier to share and receive love. "They do say that ayahuasca is like 20 years of psychotherapy. And I completely believe that." Ayahuasca is usually taken in ceremonies at night, led by a healer - sometimes called a shaman. He or she will drink the sticky brown liquid - a brew of two Amazonian plants - then dole out helpings to the participants. It's been used by tribes in the Amazon region for centuries but now there's a boom in what's become known as "ayahuasca tourism", with ever more specialist retreat centres opening. Travellers often come for help dealing with mental health problems - and a growing body of scientific research suggests ayahuasca could be an effective treatment.
1-10-20 Tavis Smiley
Longtime PBS host Tavis Smiley spent years sexually harassing and pursuing sexual relationships with subordinates and guests on his show, according to an external investigation released last week. Smiley, 55, sued PBS after being fired in 2018, claiming he had only consensual relationships with employees. Yet several women told investigators that Smiley subjected them to unwanted advances, including inappropriate touching, sexual comments, and requests that they “hook up.” Smiley denied the allegations, which he called “weak,” and said he was looking forward to “my day in court.”
1-10-20 Facing justice
Forty out of 120 potential jurors said they couldn’t be impartial this week in Harvey Weinstein’s trial, which could see testimony from actresses Salma Hayek, Rosie Perez, Charlize Theron, and Annabella Sciorra. The disgraced movie producer, 67, hobbled into court for jury selection using a walker, which some thought was a theatrical plea for sympathy. He’s charged with forcing oral sex on a production assistant, Mimi Haleyi, at his Manhattan apartment in 2006 and raping a woman at a hotel in 2013. Numerous other women could be called to testify about Weinstein’s alleged predations; his brother and producing partner, Robert, could also testify. In the courtroom, Judge James Burke threatened to jail Weinstein, who still wields two cellphones, for texting in court. Just hours after the hearing—with timing that Weinstein’s lawyers argued was calculated to taint the jury pool—Los Angeles prosecutors charged Weinstein with rape and sexual assault in separate 2013 incidents.
1-9-20 Are Europe's rape laws letting women down?
Women across Europe have taken to the streets over the past year to demand their governments do more to protect them from sexual violence. Their anger was fuelled by two high-profile Spanish cases, which have forced countries to question how they prosecute rape. A minority of countries in Europe base their legal definition of rape on a lack of consent. In others, rape must involve some sort of violence or threat. But pressure is growing on this to change.
1-7-20 Reynhard Sinaga: Father of rapist says ‘punishment fits his crimes’
The father of Reynhard Sinaga, the worst rapist in British legal history, has said his son's punishment "fits his crimes" after he was jailed for life. Sinaga, a 36-year-old PhD student from Indonesia, was found guilty of 159 sexual offences against 48 men. He picked up his victims outside clubs in Manchester and lured them to his flat, where he drugged and assaulted them while filming the attacks. On Monday, a judge jailed Sinaga for life, with a minimum term of 30 years. As Sinaga's family and friends come to terms with his fate, they have painted a picture of his life in Indonesia before he became a serial sexual predator. Speaking for the first time since his son was jailed, his father Saibun Sinaga told BBC Indonesian over the phone: "We accept the verdict. His punishment fits his crimes. I don't want to discuss the case any further." Sinaga's friends at the University of Indonesia say he was a flamboyant and popular student. "He was very social, friendly, easy to get along with and fun to work on projects with," one friend, who wished not to be named, said. She lost contact with him when he went abroad to continue his studies in the UK in 2007. Sinaga is said to have fallen in love with the city of Manchester and told his family that he wanted to live in Britain forever. Living close to Manchester's Gay Village, he was able to express his sexuality openly in a way that was impossible to do back in Indonesia. The oldest of four children, Sinaga was born in 1983 into a conservative Christian family, part of the Batak tribe from the island of Sumatra. "His family describe him as a good, very bright, religious boy who was a regular churchgoer," said Gulfan Afero, a consular official at the Indonesian embassy in London. When sentencing him to life in prison, Judge Suzanne Goddard QC noted the reference and said directly to Sinaga that his family "know nothing of your true nature". Police say they have evidence Sinaga targeted at least 190 victims in total. Further potential victims have come forward following his sentencing by contacting a dedicated helpline.
1-6-20 Harvey Weinstein trial: 'Why I broke my silence'
Jasmine Lobe is a "silence breaker", one of the dozens of women who have come forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault after allegations about his behaviour became public in 2017. Ahead of the Hollywood producer's trial on criminal charges, she spoke to the BBC's Nick Bryant about what a guilty verdict would mean for alleged survivors. Mr Weinstein is accused of raping one woman in a hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting another in his apartment in 2006. He has pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.