9-30-20 Hathras gang rape: India victim cremated 'without family's consent'
The family of a Dalit (formerly untouchable) woman who died after she was gang-raped has accused police officials of cremating her body without their permission. The 19-year-old was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras district in northern India. She was grievously injured and died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday after fighting for her life for two weeks. Activists say police must explain why they took the "inhumane decision". Her alleged attackers have been arrested and a fast-track court has been set up to hear the case. Local journalist Abhishek Mathur, who witnessed the cremation from a distance, told the BBC that the police kept her family and media away from the funeral pyre. Her body was brought to their village in Uttar Pradesh state around midnight. The victim's brother said that police officials were putting pressure on the family to cremate her immediately. "When we refused, they took the body in an ambulance and cremated her," he said. A senior district administration official, however, denied the allegation, saying the family's consent was taken. Mr Mathur said the victim's mother wanted to take her body home for rituals before the last rites, but her request was denied. "Police had formed a human-chain to stop the protesting crowds, the family and the media from getting close to the cremation spot," he added. The victim's brother said some police officers were rude to them. "They took the body away without our permission, without the permission of my parents and cremated her. We didn't even get to see her one last time," he said. He further added that the police beat up members of the family when they protested to see the body, adding that even women members of the family were beaten up. In India where a rape is reported every 15 minutes, most assaults don't even make news.
9-29-20 Hathras gang rape: India victim's death sparks outrage
A 19-year-old Dalit (formerly untouchable) woman has died after she was allegedly gang raped by four upper-caste men, sparking outrage in India. The woman was admitted to a hospital in Delhi two weeks ago with several serious injuries. The attack occurred on 14 September in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Four men have been arrested. The news of her death has prompted many in India to take to social media and demand justice. Police told local media that the four men had dragged the victim to a field in Hathras district, where they allegedly raped her. She was grievously injured. The victim's brother confirmed her death to BBC Hindi, saying that no arrests had been made in the first 10 days after the incident took place. "She was left for dead. She fought for her life for 14 days," he said. The family told the Indian Express newspaper that the main accused in the crime had always harassed Dalits in their area. Opposition parties in the state have condemned the attack. "The government should provide all possible help to the victim's family and ensure speedy punishment to the culprits by prosecuting them in a fast-track court," Mayawati, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Dalit politician, tweeted on Tuesday. Akhilesh Yadav, another former chief minister, said the government was "insensitive" to crimes against women. Dalit politician and activist Chandrashekhar Azad visited the victim over the weekend. His party has now called for nationwide protests over her death. Dalits are some of India's most downtrodden citizens because of an unforgiving Hindu caste hierarchy that condemns them to the bottom of the ladder. Despite laws that protect them, discrimination remains a daily reality for the Dalit population, thought to number around 200 million. On Twitter, the victim's death is among the top discussion trends, with many calling her the forgotten Nirbhaya, a reference to the gang-rape and murder in Delhi in 2012 that shocked the world. (Webmaster's comment: Of the over 127,000 rapes in the United States every year over 27,000 of them are gang rapes!)
9-28-20 The South African cleric taking on the church over a rapist priest
Reverend June Major has been fighting for justice for 18 years, ever since she says she was raped by a fellow South African cleric. She has undertaken various unorthodox protests in a bid to get the Anglican church of Southern Africa to open an investigation into her case and others. On 9 August 2020, South Africa's women's day, Rev Major was among several women and activists who hung up underwear along the fence of the residence of the Archbishop of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba. The women were protesting against what they said was inadequate action from the church over allegations of sexual misconduct by priests in the Anglican church of Southern Africa, including one who Rev Major says raped her. "My fight isn't against the church, it's against the hierarchy and patriarchy that silences women, who tells us to keep quiet and who finds fault with us and allows the perpetrator to continue doing what they are doing," she told South African media. But this was not the first time Rev Major had protested against the church's alleged silence on the issue. In 2016, Rev Major went on her first hunger strike. Four years later, in July this year, she went on another hunger strike, this time camping next to 20 Bishopscourt in Cape Town, the official residence of Archbishop Makgoba. "I was willing to die on that pavement, not only for myself, but for every woman and child who's been denied justice," she told the BBC. According to Rev Major, she was attacked in 2002, while visiting a seminary. Rev Major says the priest entered the room where they were being hosted by one of the families at the seminary and attacked her. "I fought him off but at some point he had his hands around my throat. I didn't scream because there were children in the house. He left when he was done. "I was shaky and frightened after. I just wanted to die. I called our other friend and told him what had happened," she explains, adding that her attacker came back a second time and only left after she told him that their friend knew about the assault.
9-24-20 France street harassment: Strasbourg woman attacked 'for wearing skirt'
French police have opened an investigation after a woman in Strasbourg said she was attacked in broad daylight for wearing a skirt. The student, identified only as Elisabeth, 22, said she was punched in the face "by three individuals who complained about me wearing a skirt". The government has denounced the "very serious" incident as unacceptable. About 1,800 fines have been handed out since a law against street harassment was passed in 2018. In an interview with France Bleu Alsace radio, Elisabeth said she was walking home when one of the three men said: "Look at that whore in a skirt." Two of the three men then held her while the third hit her in the face, leaving her with a black eye, she told the station. The men then fled. She said more than a dozen people witnessed the incident, but no-one intervened. On Wednesday, junior interior minister Marlene Schiappa - who is in charge of citizenship and was previously in charge of equality issues - visited the eastern city to discuss the safety of women in public. She told France Bleu Alsace that "the skirt is not responsible for the attack and the woman even less". "A woman is never hit because she wears a skirt. A woman is hit because there are people who are misogynistic, sexist, violent, and who free themselves from any law and any rule of civility by striking them. "When you're a student and you have to think about the outfit you have to wear and the message it sends, it's an overwhelming mental load," Ms Schiappa said. She also urged people to call the police if they witnessed any kind of street harassment incidents against women in a public space. On Thursday, France Bleu Alsace reported that two women had been attacked in another eastern city, Mulhouse, on Wednesday, after a man told one of them her skirt was "too short".
9-21-20 India: Baby dies after man 'cuts pregnant wife's belly'
Police in India say a pregnant woman whose belly was allegedly cut open with a sickle by her husband has given birth to a stillborn boy. The woman's family has alleged that the man attacked her because he wanted to check the baby's gender. They say the couple have five daughters and the man has been putting pressure on his wife to deliver a son. The man, who has been arrested, has denied intentionally hurting his wife, saying instead that it was an accident. The incident took place in Badaun district in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state in the north of the country. Police officials told the BBC that the injured wife was in a stable condition in a hospital in the capital, Delhi, and that her husband had been arrested. The wife's sister told local media the couple used to regularly quarrel about having a son. According to her brother, the woman was taken to Delhi on Sunday on the advice of doctors as her condition was extremely critical. The husband said he did not attack his wife intentionally. He told local media he threw the sickle at her, but had no idea it would injure her so severely. "I have five daughters, one of my sons is dead. I know that children are the gift of God. Now whatever is to happen, will happen." The police investigation is ongoing. The desire among Indian parents to have sons instead of daughters has created a skewed gender ratio. Some 46 million girls went missing from India in the past 50 years, according to a June report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Annually, as many as 460,000 girls are killed through abortion after gender-based sex selection and excess female mortality due to deliberate neglect of girls after birth. A 2018 Indian government report said the desire for sons had created 21 million "unwanted" girls. The finance ministry report found that many couples kept on having children until they had a boy.
9-20-20 Danny Masterson: That ’70s Show star denies rape charges, his lawyer says
Actor Danny Masterson, best known for his role in the hit series That '70s Show, has appeared in court accused of raping three women in the early 2000s. He is charged with raping the women, who were all in their 20s, between 2001 and 2003. Mr Masterson, 44, denies the charges and has argued he was being persecuted for his high-profile membership of the Church of Scientology. If convicted, the actor could face up to 45 years in prison. Free on $3.3m (£2.5m) bail since his arrest in mid-June, Mr Masterson made his first court appearance over the allegations in Los Angeles on Friday. While the actor did not enter a plea, his lawyer, Tom Mesereau, mounted a vigorous defence of his client, dismissing the charges against him as politically motivated. The lawyer accused Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey of filing the charges for political gain ahead of a bid to retain her post in a November election. "There have been repeated attempts to politicise this case," said Mr Mesereau, who also defended Michael Jackson against sexual misconduct allegations in a previous case. "He is absolutely not guilty and we're going to prove it." Ms Lacey is yet to comment, but Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller dismissed Mr Mesereau allegations as "false" and "pure speculation, with no basis in fact". Friday's court hearing was attended by all three of Mr Masterson's accusers, while about 20 of the actor's supporters stood outside the courtroom, unable to enter due to coronavirus regulations. The allegations against Mr Masterson first came to light in 2017, when the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations was gathering momentum. Mr Masterson was removed from The Ranch - the Netflix comedy in which he starred - over the allegations.
9-18-20 Donald Trump: President denies new assault allegation
US President Donald Trump has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a former model in New York in 1997. Amy Dorris told the UK's Guardian newspaper that Mr Trump groped various parts of her body and forcibly kissed her as she came out of a bathroom at the US Open tennis tournament. Mr Trump's lawyers have denied the claims, branding it an "attempt to attack" him before the election. Multiple women have accused Mr Trump of inappropriate sexual misconduct. The president has denied all of the allegations against him. Ms Dorris, who was 24 years old at the time, said she watched matches with her then-boyfriend Jason Binn in Mr Trump's VIP box. She said she used the bathroom and alleged Mr Trump was waiting for her outside. "He just shoved his tongue down my throat and I was pushing him off. And that's when the grip became tighter and his hands were very gropey and all over my butt, my breasts, my back, everything," she told the Guardian. "I was in his grip, and I couldn't get out of it." She says she told Mr Trump to stop, but that "he didn't care". Ms Dorris said she decided to come forward with her story in order to be a role model to her two teenage daughters. She said she had considered speaking about the incident in 2016, but chose not to out of fear for her family. Jenna Ellis, legal adviser to the Trump campaign, told CBS News "the allegations are totally false". "We will consider every legal means available to hold The Guardian accountable for its malicious publication of this unsubstantiated story," she said. Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Trump's lawyers say there would have been other witnesses to the assault and suggested the allegation could be politically motivated ahead of the November election. His lawyers also said Mr Binn told them he did not recall Ms Dorris saying anything inappropriate or uncomfortable had happened with Mr Trump. It is not the first time claims of sexual assault have been made against the president. (Webmaster's comment: Trump is a sexual pig!)
9-16-20 The dehumanizing mistreatment of poor women in America
It is a business, complete with an address and posted hours of operation like any other. It even has reviews ("They do not answer phone calls for emergencies. Family member in there and we haven't heard from her, the money we placed in her account has not reached her") on Google Maps, averaging around two stars. But it does not sell products or offer services to customers; it locks them up. I wish I could say that I was even remotely surprised by reports that emerged on Monday of horrifying abuses at a privately run Immigration and Customs Enforcement "detention center" in Georgia. According to whistleblowers, women at the facility are being given hysterectomies at astonishing rates. One person who has come forward compared the facility to an "experimental concentration camp." There are dark reports of a gynecologist who seems to be performing these procedures for no reason — or rather for some unspeakably twisted and private purpose of his own: "We've questioned among ourselves like goodness he's taking everybody's stuff out... That's his specialty, he's the uterus collector. I know that's ugly... is he collecting these things or something... Everybody he sees, he's taking all their uteruses out or he's taken their tubes out. What in the world." These surgeries are alleged to have taken place largely without the consent of the women upon whom they were performed, many of whom cannot speak English and say that they were not told why the procedures were being done. Monolingual nurses at the facility allegedly relied upon Google Translate in some cases. There are many reasons why these reports, which ICE has dismissed as "anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics," are worth taking seriously. The first is simply that they will not be shocking to anyone who has experienced the reality of how poor women — perhaps especially those who cannot speak English — are treated by the medical establishment in this country. Just before Labor Day my wife, a certified birth assistant, spoke to the sister of a young Hispanic woman who was giving birth for the first time at a hospital in Indiana. Due to absurd COVID-19 restrictions, the woman, who had reached the end of a routine healthy pregnancy, was prevented from bringing her sister or a third party to advocate on her behalf. For no discernible medical reason her water was forcibly broken and she was told that she would have to undergo an "emergency" caesarean section. After she refused the latter, she was given a heavy dose of pitocin. The cycle of unnecessary but (for the hospital anyway) convenient and lucrative interventions ended with a unilateral oophorectomy. Situations like the one I have just described are distressingly common, if unfortunately underreported, in this country. They are the result of two factors: the treatment of pregnancy and delivery as some kind of assembly line process in American hospitals, and the unworkable public-private hybrid that is our health-care system. Even women with ostensibly decent private insurance routinely find themselves misled into accepting scheduled inductions, epidurals, and C-sections that are wholly unnecessary and would be unthinkable in most European countries, where midwifery is the norm for healthy pregnancies. These interventions make complications in future pregnancies vastly more likely. I do not think it is an accident that women like those alleged to have had their uteruses removed in Georgia are treated this way. Undergirding the assembly-line attitude toward pregnancy is the widely held but rarely articulated view that poor women, especially those who are racial minorities, are subhuman, that this country and the world do not need more of their children, that their pregnancies are the unfortunate and wholly unnecessary result of the failure of their mothers to render themselves infertile, which is now apparently the default condition of the female sex.
9-14-20 Belarus protests: Police target female protesters
Tens of thousands of people have been marching in the capital Minsk and other cities, in the latest of several weeks of mass protest against President Alexander Lukashenko. The BBC's Ukraine correspondent Jonah Fisher was amongst the demonstrations as security forces turned their attention to detaining female protesters.
9-10-20 Prominent women attacked as Afghanistan eyes peace
Just minutes after Saba Sahar had left her home in Kabul, her husband heard gunshots ring out. The actress, film director and senior police official had received warnings of threats to her life in the past, so Emal Zaki frantically called his wife. "She answered the phone and told me to come as soon as possible. She said she had been shot," Mr Zaki told the BBC. He was the first person on the scene and found his wife crouched down by a wall where she and her bodyguards had been trying to fend off the attackers. She had been shot multiple times but was still alive. He bundled her into a car and rushed to hospital. Ms Sahar is one of Afghanistan's first female film directors. Fiction and real life have interwoven for her at times, as she has starred in and helped produce a TV series about the Afghan police, and also holds a high-level role with the police force and Ministry of Interior. She is now recovering in hospital, and is gradually starting to walk again. Her husband believes she was targeted for her work promoting women's rights. "Those who raise women's voices are always at risk of being targeted," Mr Zaki told the BBC, before adding defiantly, "but I think these attacks will never succeed in silencing the voices of the women of Afghanistan." Under Taliban rule in the 1990s women were not allowed to attend school or work. Since the hard-line group were overthrown in 2001, fragile progress has been made in bringing more Afghan women back into public life, though challenges remain. The Taliban now say they don't oppose women's education, or them working. But some remain sceptical. The attack on Saba Sahar is one of a number of assassination attempts that have taken place in Kabul in recent months, often targeting prominent figures. In many instances, including the shooting of Ms Sahar, the Taliban has denied being responsible, but no other militant group has admitted involvement either.
9-9-20 India in shock over 86-year-old grandmother's rape
Tens of thousands of rapes are reported in India every year, but some stand out for being deeply disturbing. In one particularly shocking case, police in the capital, Delhi, have arrested a man in his 30s for the rape and assault of an 86-year-old grandmother. "The woman was waiting outside her home on Monday evening for the milkman when she was approached by her attacker," Swati Maliwal, head of the Delhi Commission for Women, told the BBC. "He told her that her regular milk delivery man wasn't coming and offered to take her to the place where she could get milk." The octogenarian trustingly accompanied him, said Ms Maliwal, adding that he took her to a nearby farm where he raped her. "She kept crying and begging him to leave her. She told him that she was like his grandmother. But he ignored her pleas and assaulted her mercilessly when she tried to resist and protect herself," Ms Maliwal said. Local villagers who were passing by heard her cries and rescued her. They handed over the attacker to the police. Ms Maliwal, who visited the survivor at her home on Tuesday, described her meeting as "heart-breaking". "Her hands are totally wrinkled. You get a shock when you hear what she went through. There are bruises on her face and all over her body and she told me that she had vaginal bleeding. She is suffering from extreme trauma." (Webmaster's comment: United States with only 1/4th the population of India has over 100,000 rapes every year!)
8-25-20 Jerry Falwell Jr quits Liberty University role amid sex scandal
The head of a major US evangelical college has quit his job after being accused of hypocrisy. Mr Falwell Jr came in for criticism after posting a photo of himself with his trousers unzipped on Instagram. A business partner has also claimed to have been involved in a sexual relationship with Mr Falwell Jr, who heads Liberty University, and his wife. The college has a strict honour code which bans sexual relations "outside of a biblically ordained marriage". A vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump, Mr Falwell Jr took over at the college in 2007 after the death of his father, Jerry Falwell. Mr Falwell Sr founded the university in the 1970s as well as the conservative Moral Majority movement. Jerry Falwell Jr first took an indefinite leave of absence from Liberty University earlier this month after posting a photo of himself with his trousers unzipped on Instagram. On Monday, US media reported he had resigned, citing officials from the institution. Mr Falwell Jr denied the reports, telling Politico news site they were untrue. The university issued a statement saying Mr Falwell Jr had changed his mind: "On the first day of classes of Liberty University's fall term, Jerry Falwell Jr, agreed to resign as its President and from its Board of Directors, but following media reports about the resignation, withdrew it." In a further U-turn, Mr Falwell Jr eventually confirmed to ABC News and the Wall Street Journal that he had resigned. The executive committee and board of the evangelical college said it would meet on Tuesday to discuss the matter. Mr Falwell Jr was already under scrutiny for a photograph he posted online earlier this month. He appeared in the image with his trousers unzipped and his arm around a woman. The image provoked outrage and charges of hypocrisy from the political right and left and Liberty University asked Mr Falwell to take an "indefinite leave of absence" soon after.
8-25-20 Saba Sahar: Afghan actress and film director shot in Kabul
Saba Sahar, one of Afghanistan's first female film directors, has been shot, officials say. The 44 year old was taken to hospital but the extent of her injuries was not immediately clear. Her husband, Emal Zaki, said she was travelling to work on Tuesday in the capital, Kabul, when three gunmen opened fire on her car. Ms Sahar is among Afghanistan's most famous actors, as well as a director and campaigner for women's rights. The shooting happened in the west of Kabul, Mr Zaki told the BBC. There were five people in the car, he said - Ms Sahar, two bodyguards, a child and the driver. The bodyguards were also hit and injured, her husband said. The child and driver were not harmed. Mr Zaki said he heard gunshots about five minutes after his wife left the house. He said when he called her she told him she had been shot and hit in the stomach. "I reached the scene and found them all wounded," he said. "She received first aid and we transferred her to the emergency hospital and then to the police hospital." He said she underwent a successful operation. Ms Sahar trained as a police officer and still works for the interior ministry. Her films and television programmes have explored justice and corruption. Responding to news of the shooting on Tuesday, Amnesty International said there had been an "extremely worrying" rise in attacks on film actors, political activists and human rights defenders in Afghanistan.
8-22-20 Iraqi activist killing: Why are so many being targeted?
Riham Yaqoob was a doctor and female activist in Iraq who became the face of many local anti-government and anti-corruption protests. She died after being shot in her car whilst in the city of Basra. It is the third of a series of attacks on activists in a week. The killing of another activist, Tahseen Osama, saw protesters take to the streets to demand the authorities uncover those responsible. Many human rights activists are beginning to become concerned over the growing frequency of these attacks.
8-20-20 Female Iraqi activist killed in Basra as gunmen target protesters
A female political activist has been shot dead in the Iraqi city of Basra, in the third such attack in a week. Riham Yaqoob, a doctor who led local anti-government protests, was killed by unidentified assailants on Wednesday. The killing on Friday of another activist, Tahseen Osama, saw protesters take to the streets to demand the authorities uncover those responsible. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi dismissed Basra's chief of police and other security officials in response. Following the killing of Dr Yaqoob, he vowed to "do everything necessary for the security forces to undertake their duties". "Complicity with the killers and submitting to their threats is rejected and we will do everything necessary for the ministry of interior and security agencies to carry out the task of protecting the security of society from the threats of outlaws," he added. Mr Kadhimi - a former intelligence chief - took office in May, five months after his predecessor resigned in response to mass protests in the capital Baghdad, Basra and other southern cities. Until the Covid-19 pandemic reached Iraq, thousands of people were regularly taking to the streets to express their anger at endemic corruption, high unemployment, dire public services and foreign interference. Their demands included sweeping away Iraq's political system, which allocates positions to political parties based on ethnic and sectarian identity, encouraging patronage and corruption. More than 500 protesters were shot dead by security forces and gunmen suspected of links to militias during the unrest. Thousands of others were injured. Mr Kadhimi has pledged to hold those responsible for the killings to account and offered the dead protesters' families $8,380 (£6,340) in compensation.
8-19-20 Cuba Gooding Jr accused of raping woman
Cuba Gooding Jr has been accused of raping a woman twice, according to a civil lawsuit filed on Tuesday. The Oscar-winning actor is alleged to have assaulted the unnamed woman in a New York hotel room in 2013. A legal representative for Mr Gooding, Mark Jay Heller, said the allegations were untrue. The actor has previously faced claims that he groped several women, but this is the first time he has been accused of rape. The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, said she met Gooding in a Manhattan bar in August 2013 and was invited to join him for drinks at a nearby hotel. The actor said he needed to change his clothes, and invited her up to his hotel room. The lawsuit alleges Mr Gooding then raped her. She is seeking a jury trial as well as compensatory and punitive damages. Mr Heller told The New York Times the allegations in the lawsuit were "completely false and defamatory". He also noted the allegations had not resulted in criminal charges over the past seven years. The allegation comes a year after the actor pleaded not guilty in New York to charges of groping three different women in nightclubs in the city. Those criminal cases have yet to be resolved. Mr Gooding's trial was due to start in April but was delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, Mr Gooding attended a pre-trial hearing in New York and wore a Black Lives Matter facemask in the court room. Mr Gooding, 52, won a best supporting actor Oscar in 1997 for the film Jerry Maguire and is known for roles in films including A Few Good Men and The Butler. In 2016, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his leading performance in the TV miniseries The People v. OJ Simpson. Two years later, he starred as Billy Flynn in a West End production of Chicago.
8-18-20 Ellen DeGeneres: Three producers fired over 'toxic workplace' claims
Three top producers of the Ellen DeGeneres Show have been fired amid allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment. DeGeneres announced the overhaul in a video meeting with staff, and said an internal investigation was under way. In a message to staff she said she was "so sorry for what this has become," according to the Hollywood Reporter. The departures follow investigations by journalists into claims of bullying and intimidation on set. A spokesperson for Warner Brothers confirmed the show has "parted ways" with executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman. In a story published earlier this year, several former employees told Buzzfeed News they had experienced racism while working on the show, which has won over 60 Emmy Awards since it first aired in 2003. Others accused Mr Glavin of inappropriate touching, and leading with intimidation and fear. Mr Leman and Mr Norman were also accused of sexual harassment by former staff. In earlier statements to Buzzfeed News, Mr Leman denied "any kind of sexual impropriety," and Mr Norman said he was "100% categorically denying these allegations." Mr Glavin has not publicly responded to the claims. DeGeneres initially distanced herself from the claims of a toxic work environment, saying in an email to staff that she had been "misrepresented" by "people who work with me and for me". But she apologised to staff and said she was "glad the issues were brought to her attention". A host of celebrities, including singer Katy Perry and comedian Kevin Hart, have spoken out in support of the chat show host. However, other stars have supported the claims made against her programme, among them Everybody Loves Raymond actor Brad Garrett. In an email to staff, David McGuire, executive vice president of programming at Warner Brothers, said the studio was "absolutely committed" to "change and a new culture.
7-23-20 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denounces 'sexist slur by congressman'
US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has given a speech rejecting a colleague's apology after he allegedly used a sexist slur in an argument. The New York City Democrat took to the House floor to accuse Republican Ted Yoho of accosting her on the steps of the US Capitol on Monday. Ms Ocasio-Cortez, who is often a target of conservatives, said the words showed a "pattern" of bad behaviour by men. Mr Yoho denies saying the slur and has called for civility. "This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural," she told lawmakers, calling it a culture "of accepting a violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports that." She added that she was prepared to let the incident go until Mr Yoho "made excuses" by citing his wife and daughters in a speech on Wednesday. Ms Ocasio-Cortez said she was entering Congress to vote when Mr Yoho, a Florida congressman, and Texas Congressman Roger Williams approached her as they departed the chamber. She said he called her "disgusting" and said "you are out of your freaking mind" in what a reporter who also witnessed the incident called a "brief but heated exchange" about recent comments Ms Ocasio-Cortez made about crime being linked to poverty. Ms Ocasio-Cortez - a member of the so-called "squad" of young female Democrats - said she told him he was being "rude". Then, as Mr Yoho walked away, he was overheard by reporters using an extreme swear word and calling Ms Ocasio-Cortez a "bitch". Mr Yoho's office has denied this, and instead said he had exclaimed "bullshit" to himself as he was leaving. In a passionate speech on Thursday, Ms Ocasio-Cortez rejected Mr Yoho's comments on the House floor one day earlier, in which he apologised for the "abrupt manner of the conversation" with her and said he was "very cognizant"of his language because he was married and had daughters. "I will commit to each of you that I will conduct myself from a place of passion and understanding that policy and political disagreement be vigorously debated with the knowledge that we approach the problems facing our nation with the betterment of the country in mind and the people we serve," Mr Yoho told his colleagues. "I cannot apologise for my passion or for loving my God, my family and my country," he added.
7-23-20 Australian gymnastics: Former athletes speak out on 'abuse' culture
Dozens of Australia's former top gymnasts have spoken out to allege instances of mental and physical abuse within the nation's elite programme. In stories shared online, many argued that coaches normalised a "toxic" environment. Gymnastics Australia has acknowledged the allegations, saying it wishes to improve the sport's culture. It follows a similar reckoning for the sport in the US and UK, where an inquiry has been launched. Many of the Australian gymnasts said they had been motivated to speak up following the release of a Netflix documentary about the cover-up of sexual abuse within the USA Gymnastics team. The case of Larry Nassar, the US team doctor, gained global attention following accusations from top Olympians. He was jailed in 2018 for molesting hundreds of young gymnasts. Though none have alleged sexual abuse, generations of former gymnasts have posted publicly about damaging experiences. strong>Their allegations include: Pressure over their weight and incidents of food deprivation; some detailed experiences with bulimia, Pressure to train and perform through injuries such as broken bones, Being coerced to perform stunts beyond their ability, Widespread violations of adult-child supervision guidelines, A "toxic" environment of criticism and negativity. Chloe Gilliland, a gold medallist at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, said she had felt depressed and anxious at her "peak", and left the sport for her own wellbeing when she was 17.She said was regularly insulted by her coaches, called stupid and overweight, and isolated from her teammates. She added she had suicidal thoughts. Olivia Vivian, who began in the sport when she was nine, said she learnt as a child to hide experiences from her parents. She represented Australia at the 2008 Olympics but after reaching that level became "a broken athlete and a broken person," she wrote on Instagram. She said she only rebuilt her love for the sport after moving to the US, where she found a "positive and supportive environment".
7-22-20 Sydney police 'asked woman to remove tampon' in strip-search
Police in Sydney asked a young woman to remove her tampon during a strip-search, a law enforcement review has found. It was among instances of police misconduct uncovered in an investigation into five controversial strip-searches across Sydney last year. Most took place at music festivals and left those searched feeling humiliated and degraded, the report said. New South Wales Police said it would consider the findings of the report. The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission report called on the police force to apologise to one of the young women involved, and noted in another case that an officer had been suspended from duty. The cases were reviewed either after parents of the women complained or they received coverage in local media. Questions over the legality of the searches - all targeting drugs - was a "recurring" issue, the report said. It has added to public scrutiny of searching practices and calls for reforms. In one instance in January 2019, police strip-searched two young women outside a Sydney casino - one was asked by an officer to remove her tampon. A review of that incident "revealed a lack of clarity for [officers] regarding the lawfulness of such a request", the report said. That prompted a review of other cases where complaints had been made and no drugs had been found. In another case, a young performer at the Secret Garden festival was ordered to pull down her underwear and bend over before being spoken to unprofessionally and laughed at by male officers, the report said. A woman strip-searched at another festival was made to squat and cough and wasn't given adequate privacy. The review found that in many cases, police reported not knowing what they could do in a strip-search. It noted a new manual was introduced last August to instruct officers correctly. But the examples raised questions over the legality of police conduct, pressure to conduct searches, and poor communication and record-keeping, the report added.
7-21-20 France domestic violence: Senate to vote on bill lifting patient confidentiality
France's parliament is due to vote on a bill later on Tuesday intended to protect victims of domestic violence. The bill introduces an exception to medical confidentiality in the event of "immediate danger". The bill was approved last week by the National Assembly, and is going before the Senate on Tuesday afternoon. According to government figures, a woman is killed in France by a partner or former partner every three days, one of the highest rates in Western Europe. The bill authorises doctors or any other health professional to break patient confidentiality when they "consider in conscience" that violence puts the life of the victim "in immediate danger" and that there is a situation of control. The text also increases the penalties for harassment within the couple, increasing sentences to 10 years' imprisonment in cases where it led the victim to commit suicide or to attempt to commit suicide. In order to protect children, the proposed law also opens up the possibility of suspending parental authority in case of domestic violence, it adds. Last year, 149 women were said to have died as a result of domestic violence, the new Minister for Gender Equality, Elisabeth Moreno, told deputies last week, quoting figures from advocacy groups. Since the start of 2020, at least 39 women have been killed by their spouse or former spouse, according to a tally kept by the AFP news agency. Some advocacy groups activists have previously argued that the government measures do not amount to very much or lack the funding to be truly effective.
7-21-20 Indonesia vows to end practice of bride kidnapping
Indonesian officials are vowing to end the controversial custom of bride kidnapping on the remote island of Sumba, after videos of women being abducted sparked a national debate about the practice. Citra* thought it was just a work meeting. Two men, claiming to be local officials, said they wanted to go over budgets for a project she was running at a local aid agency. The then 28-year-old was slightly nervous about going alone but keen to distinguish herself at work, so she pushed such concerns aside. An hour in, the men suggested the meeting continue at a different location and invited her to ride in their car. Insisting on taking her own motorbike she went to slide her key into the ignition, when suddenly another group of men grabbed her. "I was kicking and screaming, as they pushed me into the car. I was helpless. Inside two people held me down," she says. "I knew what was happening." She was being captured in order to be wed. Bride kidnapping, or kawin tangkap, is a controversial practice in Sumba with disputed origins which sees women taken by force by family members or friends of men who want to marry them. Despite long-standing calls for it to be banned by women's rights groups, it continues to be carried out in certain parts of Sumba, a remote Indonesian island east of Bali. But after two bride kidnappings were captured on video and widely shared on social media, the central government is now calling for it to end. Inside the car, Citra managed to message her boyfriend and parents before arriving at a traditional house, with its high peaked roof and solid wooden pillars. The family who kidnapped her, she then realised, were distant relatives from her father's side. "There were lots of people waiting there. They sounded a gong as I arrived and started doing rituals." An ancient animist religion, known as Marapu, is widely practised in Sumba alongside Christianity and Islam. To keep the world in balance, spirits are appeased by ceremonies and sacrifices. "In Sumba, people believe that when water touches your forehead you cannot leave the house," Citra said. "I was very aware of what was happening, so when they tried to do that I turned at the last minute so that the water didn't touch my forehead." Her captors told her repeatedly that they were acting out of love for her and tried to woo her into accepting the marriage.
7-20-20 Amber Heard: Johnny Depp 'threatened to kill me many times'
Actor Johnny Depp "threatened to kill" ex-wife Amber Heard "many times", the US actress has claimed. She described a "three-day hostage situation" during which she claimed Mr Depp was on a "drug and alcohol binge". Mr Depp, 57, is suing the publisher of the Sun over an article that referred to him as a "wife beater" - but the newspaper maintains it was accurate. He denies 14 allegations of domestic violence on which News Group Newspapers is relying for its defence. Ms Heard took to the witness stand at London's High Court on the 10th day of the case, and her written witness statement was also submitted to the court. In it, she accused Mr Depp of verbal and physical abuse including screaming, swearing, issuing threats, punching, slapping, kicking, head-butting and choking her, as well as "extremely controlling and intimidating behaviour". "Some incidents were so severe that I was afraid he was going to kill me, either intentionally, or just by losing control and going too far," she said. Ms Heard, 34, claimed Mr Depp had a "unique ability to use his charisma to convey a certain impression of reality" and "he is very good at manipulating people". "He would blame all his actions on a self-created third party instead of himself, which he often called 'the monster'. "He would speak about it as if it was another person or personality and not him doing all these things." She said in the beginning of their relationship, he would be "intensely affectionate, warm and charming" and it felt like she was "dating a king". Ms Heard said Mr Depp had pursued her romantically while they were filming The Rum Diary in 2009 and they spent time together sometimes with the director "just drinking wine and talking". But she said nothing happened between them at that point because she was in a relationship. "After that shoot, I didn't hear from him directly, although he would send me gifts," she said. The next time they saw each other was when they were promoting the same film in 2011. She said his publicist invited her to meet Mr Depp and the director in a hotel room for a drink, but when she got there it was just Mr Depp. "Our romantic relationship then began," she said.
7-20-20 Japanese athletes suffered abuse, says Human Rights Watch report
Young athletes in Japan have suffered physical, verbal and sexual abuse during training, a report by Human Rights Watch says. The report, recording the experiences of more than 800 athletes in 50 sports, comes in the week that would have marked the start of the Tokyo Olympics. "The abuses include punching, slapping and excessive or insufficient food and water," said HRW's Minky Worden. The Japanese Olympic Committee has been contacted for a response to the report. The Japan Sports Council, also mentioned by HRW, has also been contacted. In 2013, the JOC promised to take steps to eradicate abuse among its sports federations after an internal survey revealed more than 10% of its athletes had been victims of bullying or harassment. It also cut funding to its judo federation for a time after coaches were found to have physically abused female athletes. "Human Rights Watch is calling on Japan to take decisive action and to lead in tackling this global crisis," added Worden, who is HRW's director of global initiatives. The report is based on interviews, an online survey that drew 757 responses and meetings with eight Japanese sports organisations. Of the 381 survey respondents aged 24 or younger, 19% indicated they had been hit, punched, slapped, kicked, knocked to the ground or beaten with an object while participating in sports. A total of 18% reported experiencing verbal abuse, while 5% reported sexual assault or harassment while participating in sport as children. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in a statement: "We acknowledge the Human Rights Watch report. Harassment and abuse is unfortunately part of society and also occurs within sport. "The IOC stands together with all athletes, everywhere, to state that abuse of any kind is contrary to the values of Olympism, which calls for respect for everyone in sport."
7-13-20 Ubisoft: Sexual misconduct probe sees three senior heads resign
Three senior executives at game-maker Ubisoft have stepped down amid an investigation into sexual misconduct. The French company's chief creative officer, Canadian studios head, and global HR chief had all left their roles, Ubisoft said. Ubisoft is a major player in the games industry, best known for the Assassin's Creed franchise. The resignations came just before its annual showcase of new games, which made no mention of the allegations. In a tweet ahead of the event, Ubisoft said: "Because all the content has been pre-recorded, we wanted to recognise that the issues we're currently dealing with won't be addressed directly in the show." The company has already seen one of its most senior executives depart and another placed on administrative leave. Many of the allegations have been made anonymously online, with a particular focus on the company's Canadian studios. Ubisoft has not publicly made any specific allegations against its own staff as its investigation continues. But Both French media and the gaming press have published allegations the company ignored complaints of sexual misconduct and had a culture of harassment, sometimes fuelled by alcohol consumption at company events. Ubisoft said the latest three executives to step down "are a part of the comprehensive work the company is doing to improve and strengthen its workplace culture". Chief creative officer Serge Hascoët "has chosen to resign from his position" with immediate effect, the company said. Mr Hascoët was widely seen as a key figure in the company, with games journalist Jason Scheier calling him "the most powerful creative force" with the power to single-handedly "greenlight or cancel a project". Canadian studios managing director Yannis Mallat is also leaving the company immediately. "The recent allegations that have come to light in Canada against multiple employees make it impossible for him to continue in this position," Ubisoft said. And global head of HR Cécile Cornet "has decided to step down from this role, as she believes it is in the best interest of the company's unity".
7-13-20 Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon accused of four years of sexual harassment
A former secretary for the mayor of Seoul - who died last week in an apparent suicide - has accused him of four years of sexual harassment. Park Won-soon was one of South Korea's most influential leaders and was seen as a possible presidential candidate. His body was found in woods on Friday - after a note to his family was found - and his funeral began on Monday. His death came just a day after the secretary made a police complaint about his behaviour. More than 500,000 people signed a petition saying Mr Park's state-run five-day funeral should not go ahead. At a news conference on Monday, lawyers for the alleged victim said the mayor sexually harassed her for four years. The woman said the mayor sent her pictures of himself in his underwear, and called her into the bedroom in his office, asking her to hug him. The woman said she asked for help from Seoul City Hall but was ignored. She said the abuse continued even when she changed departments. "I should have reported this in the beginning," the alleged victim said in a letter that was read at the news conference. "I wonder if had, I wouldn't be blaming myself now." She said she was "questioned all night" after complaining to the police, and that she was shocked by her former boss's death. "The word death was something I could not have spoken of - even during my hardest times. It was truly so disappointing and I still do not want to believe it. "I wish the dead good will." After a huge search, Mr Park's body was found on Friday in woods at Mount Bugak in Seoul. He left a note for his family, which was publicly released after his death. The petition on the South Korean presidential website, where people regularly start campaigns, was signed more than 560,000 times. "Do the people need to watch a fancy five-day funeral for a famous politician whose sexual harassment allegation led to his suicide?" it asked.
7-8-20 Parisian graffiti artist accused of rape and sexual assault
A group of 25 women have accused a well-known Parisian graffiti artist of rape and sexual assault. The women filed a joint complaint with the public prosecutor in Paris on Tuesday, saying the alleged attacks took place over the last 11 years. Known for his tag "love runs the streets", the artist, identified as Wilfrid A, has denied the allegations. Several of his tags have been erased and replaced with "the rapist runs the streets". The attacks allegedly took place between 2009 and 2020, mostly in the Montmartre district in Paris's 18th arrondissement. All the women were aged between 16 and 26 when they say they were assaulted. Wilfrid A is reportedly in his 50s. Joseph Cohen-Sabban, a lawyer representing Wilfrid A, told Franceinfo his client "denies the facts" and "doesn't even know who is attacking him". He added that the artist plans to "defend himself". Two lawyers specialising in sexual assault, Valentine Rebérioux and Louise Bouchain, are representing the women. "We have never seen a case of this magnitude," Ms Rebérioux told Franceinfo, saying they had received more than a hundred testimonies in the space of just 10 days. Ms Rebérioux said he had a pattern, contacting each of them "for professional purposes, boasting about his fame and influence". He then offered to help them and sent them an address which was in reality his home, she said. "That's when things went wrong." A woman identified as Chloé told Le Monde newspaper that she met Wilfrid A in front of her school in 2015, when she was 16 and he was 50. "He told me that I was magnificent, that I could be a model, that he worked in fashion," she said. He invited her to a photo shoot at his house. Chloé said during the shoot Wilfrid A told her she looked "ugly" and gave her alcohol and marijuana, telling her: "You have to turn me on." "While I was in a daze, he lay on top of me, telling me that it was okay to sleep with your photographer," she told the paper. French magazine NEON published an investigation into Wilfrid A in late June, detailing the accounts of 16 women contacted by the artist. According to the magazine, Wilfrid A was twice detained for rape in 2013 and 2019.
7-6-20 Ryan Adams apologises for 'mistreating' women
Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams has written a lengthy apology for his past behaviour, a year after he faced allegations of sexual misconduct. "There are no words to express how bad I feel about the ways I've mistreated people through my life and career," the musician said in open letter. "All I can say is that I'm sorry." Last year, seven women told the New York Times that Adams had offered to help them with their careers before things became sexual. One of them, identified only as "Ava", showed reporters more than 3,000 explicit texts she said she exchanged with the star when she was 15 and 16. The story also contained accusations of psychological abuse from the musician's former wife, Mandy Moore, who told the paper: "Music was a point of control for him." Adams' initial response was to threaten legal action, in a tweet that said the newspaper was "going down". He quickly deleted that message and apologised to anyone he had hurt, "however unintentionally"; while his lawyer said Adams "unequivocally" denied exchanging inappropriate messages with someone he knew to be underage. Adams said his new apology was prompted by an extended "period of isolation and reflection" during lockdown. "I've gotten past the point where I would be apologising just for the sake of being let off the hook and I know full well that any apology from me probably won't be accepted by those I've hurt," he wrote, in a letter published by the Daily Mail. "I get that and I also understand that there's no going back." He acknowledged that many people would view his statement as "the same empty apology" he'd used in the past but added, "this time it's different". "Having truly realized the harm that I've caused, it wrecked me, and I'm still reeling from the ripples of devastating effects that my actions triggered. "No amount of growth will ever take away the suffering I had caused," he continued. "I will never be off the hook and I am fully accountable for my harmful behaviour, and will be for my actions moving forward."
7-3-20 Outrage as Indian judge calls alleged rape victim 'unbecoming'
An Indian judge is under pressure to delete comments from a court order that questioned the behaviour of a woman who alleged she was raped. Granting bail to the rape accused last week, Justice Krishna S Dixit of the Karnataka High Court said he found the woman's statement "a bit difficult to believe". Justice Dixit went on to ask why the woman had gone "to her office at night - at 11pm"; why had she "not objected to consuming drinks with him"; and why she had allowed him "to stay with her till morning". "The explanation offered by her that after the perpetration of the act she was tired and fell asleep is unbecoming of an Indian woman," the judge said, adding that it was "not the way our women react when they are ravished". His remarks set off a storm of protest. Outraged Indians asked if there was a "rulebook" or a "guide" to being a rape victim. An illustration was widely shared online which, drawing on several recent court rulings, mocked up "An Indian judge's guide to being the ideal rape survivor". Aparna Bhat, a senior Delhi-based lawyer, wrote an open letter to the chief justice of India and the three female judges of the Supreme Court in response to the ruling. "Is there a protocol for rape victims to follow post the incident which is written in the law that I am not aware of?" she wrote. "Are 'Indian women' an exclusive class who have unmatched standards post being violated?" Appealing to the Supreme Court judges to intervene, Ms Bhat said the judge's remarks showed "misogyny at its worst", adding that not condemning them would "amount to condoning". Madhu Bhushan, a women's rights activist in Bangalore, where the Karnataka high court is located, described the language used by the judge as "shocking" and "absolutely uncalled for". "His comments are objectionable at several levels," she told the BBC. "What does he mean by 'our women'? And 'ravished'? It's so Victorian, so outdated, it takes away from the seriousness of the issue, which is violence against women." Ms Bhushan said she was not questioning the order itself, but asked "why did he have to pass these comments on her conduct?" "It's preposterous to say women don't behave like this. It has nothing to do with law, it's judging her behaviour," she said.
7-1-20 Ed Henry: Fox News anchor fired over 'wilful sexual misconduct' claim
Fox News has fired one of its leading anchors over claims of "wilful sexual misconduct" involving a colleague several years ago. Ed Henry co-presented the America's Newsroom programme, which is broadcast mid-morning every weekday. His former co-host Sandra Smith gave viewers the news on air on Wednesday. Fox News said it received a complaint last week and fired Mr Henry after hiring a law firm to investigate. He has not yet commented. The 48-year-old's profile has already been deleted from the network's website, and the page for America's Newsroom now lists Smith as the sole anchor. Fox News said the complaint was made on 25 June by the lawyer of a former employee. Mr Henry was suspended the same day and has now been fired based on "investigative findings" from the law firm, according to an internal memo provided to the Reuters news agency. On Wednesday's programme, Smith read a statement from Fox News chief executive Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace, saying they had taken the decision as part of an "effort to bring full transparency" to the matter. "We strive to maintain a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees," they added. Smith said rotating anchors would co-host the programme with her until a replacement is named. The former employee has not been identified. Mr Henry joined Fox News from CNN in 2011. He has served as the network's chief national correspondent and previously hosted several weekend shows. He is not the first Fox News figure to face allegations of sexual misconduct. Former chairman Roger Ailes resigned in 2016 after being accused by former employees of sexual harassment. The case against him was made into a 2019 Hollywood film, Bombshell, which starred Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie. After Mr Henry's departure, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson called for the network to release former employees from non-disclosure agreements.
7-1-20 Harvey Weinstein: Some accusers denounce $19m 'sellout' settlement
Two lawsuits against Harvey Weinstein are to be settled for a proposed $18.9m (£15.3m), the New York Attorney General has announced. The fund would be distributed between dozens of women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. However, lawyers representing six of the women who have accused the disgraced film producer have criticised the proposal as a "complete sellout". Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape. The settlement, announced on Tuesday, would resolve a lawsuit filed in 2018 against Weinstein, his production company and his brother by the New York Attorney General's office. It would also settle a separate class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of women who accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault. "After all the harassment, threats, and discrimination, these survivors are finally receiving some semblance of justice," Attorney General Letitia James said. "Women who were forced to sign confidentiality agreements will also be freed from those clauses and finally be able to speak." The proposed settlement will still require approval from a federal judge and bankruptcy court. Lawyers Douglas H Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, who represent six accusers, criticised the proposed settlement because it did not require Weinstein to accept responsibility or personally pay out any money. "The proposed settlement is a complete sellout of the Weinstein survivors and we are surprised that the attorney general could somehow boast about a proposal that fails on so many different levels," they said. "While we do not begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal, as we understand the proposed agreement, it is deeply unfair for many reasons." However, another of Weinstein's accusers, Louisette Geiss, said: "This important act of solidarity allowed us to use our collective voice to help those who had been silenced and to give back to the many, many survivors who lost their careers and more. "There is no amount of money that can make up for this injustice, but I'm extremely proud of what we've accomplished today." In February, Weinstein was convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act, and later sentenced to 23 years in jail.