12-28-20 Loujain al-Hathloul: Saudi woman activist jailed for five years
A prominent Saudi female activist, who campaigned for women's right to drive, has been sentenced to more than five years in prison. Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, has already been in a maximum security prison for two and a half years. She and other activists were detained in 2018 on charges including contacts with organisations hostile to Saudi Arabia. International human rights groups have repeatedly called for her release. But on Monday, the country's Specialised Criminal Court, which was set up to try terrorism cases, convicted her of various charges including trying to harm national security and advance a foreign agenda. It sentenced her to five years and eight months in prison. Two years and ten months of the sentence are said to have been suspended. She and her family have denied all charges. They have also said that she has been tortured in jail - accusations the court dismissed. Hathloul was detained just weeks before Saudi women were finally allowed to drive in 2018 - the cause she championed. Saudi officials insist her detention has nothing to do with that issue. Hathloul's family says she was held incommunicado for three months following her arrest, and that she was subjected to electric shocks, whippings, and sexual harassment. They also allege that she was offered freedom if she agreed to say she was not tortured. Human rights experts have said her trial did not meet international standards. In November, Amnesty International condemned her transfer to the Specialised Criminal Court, saying it exposed "the brutality and hypocrisy" of Saudi authorities. The case is seen as further damaging the reputation of Saudi Arabia's controversial de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known as MBS. He has led a programme of reforms, including lifting the ban on women driving, in a bid to open up the conservative kingdom to investment. But he has also been condemned for the continued crackdown on rights activists, as well as the Saudi authorities' role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
12-28-20 Zhang Zhan: China jails citizen journalist for Wuhan reports
A Chinese citizen journalist who covered Wuhan's coronavirus outbreak has been jailed for four years. Zhang Zhan was found guilty of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", a frequent charge against activists. The 37-year-old former lawyer was detained in May, and has been on hunger strike for several months. Her lawyers say she is in poor health. Ms Zhang is one of several citizen journalists who have run into trouble for reporting on Wuhan. There is no free media in China and authorities are known to clamp down on activists or whistleblowers seen as undermining the government's response to the outbreak. Ren Quanniu, one of Zhang Zhan's lawyers, expressed serious concern for her physical and mental wellbeing, saying she was very weak and on hunger strike. Mr Ren said his client "looked devastated" when her sentence was announced and her mother sobbed loudly. In a video interview with an independent filmmaker before her arrest, Ms Zhang said she decided to travel to Wuhan in February after reading an online post by a resident about life in the city during the outbreak. Once there, she began documenting what she saw on the streets and hospitals in livestreams and essays, despite threats by authorities, and her reports were widely shared on social media. The rights group Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders said her reports also covered the detention of other independent journalists and the harassment of families of victims who were seeking accountability. "Maybe I have a rebellious soul... I'm just documenting the truth. Why can't I show the truth?" she said in a clip of the interview obtained by the BBC. "I won't stop what I'm doing because this country can't go backwards." Ms Zhang went missing on 14 May according to the CHRD. One day later, it was revealed she had been detained by police in Shanghai, more than 400 miles (640km) away. She was formally charged in early November. The indictment sheet alleges she sent "false information through text, video and other media through [platforms like] WeChat, Twitter and YouTube". She is also accused of accepting interviews with foreign media outlets and "maliciously spreading" information about the virus in Wuhan. A sentence of four to five years was recommended.
12-19-20 Epstein ex-associate Jean-Luc Brunel placed under formal investigation
A former associate of deceased US financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has been placed under formal investigation and remanded in custody in France on suspicion of sex crimes. French modelling agent Jean-Luc Brunel is accused of sexual harassment and the rape of minors aged between 15 and 18. Mr Brunel, 74, has denied wrongdoing. Epstein died in a New York prison last year as he awaited trial over allegations he ran a network using underage girls for sex. "This is what the victims have been waiting for for many years," said lawyer Anne-Claire Le Jeune, who is representing Mr Brunel's accusers. Mr Brunel was detained at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport on Wednesday as he was preparing to board a flight to Senegal. He co-founded French modelling agency Karin Models in 1977, and MC2 Model Management in the US with funding from Epstein. US court documents allege that Mr Brunel procured girls for Epstein, flying them from France to the US and promising them modelling contracts. Virginia Giuffre, one of the main complainants in Epstein's prosecution, also claims to have been forced into sex with Mr Brunel. His arrest is the result of an inquiry by French prosecutors into rape and sexual assault allegations against Epstein, focusing on potential crimes committed against French victims and suspects who are French citizens. French police last year raided the offices of Karin Models and a flat near the Arc de Triomphe owned by Epstein. Before his death, Epstein was charged in New York with sex trafficking and conspiracy and was awaiting trial. He was already a convicted sex offender, having pleaded guilty to prostitution charges involving a minor in Florida in 2008.
12-16-20 Uber fined over withholding sexual assault records
Uber has been fined $59m (£43m) for refusing to hand over the details of more than 1,200 alleged victims of sexual assault involving its drivers. The taxi app firm said providing the information would be a "shocking violation of privacy" for victims. Its decision was supported by one victims' rights group. The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC), which imposed the fine, said it did not require a public disclosure of the information. The assaults allegedly took place in California between 2017 and 2019. Uber had argued that public disclosure may be traumatic for survivors, potentially putting them in danger and discouraging others from coming forward. But it also stated, in a long-running case with the CPUC, that it might not have a complete account of the incidents. In its most recent ruling the CPUC said it "requires only that the information regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment be submitted to the Commission under seal", which would have kept the details of individual cases private. It added: "Uber's effort to frustrate Commission oversight of the particulars of sexual assault and sexual harassment claims is also troubling given Uber's professed desire to provide the safest transportation services." RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) had, in an August filing on the case, defended Uber, saying the firm should not have to share victims' names without their consent. According to the RAINN website, it is involved in a partnership with Uber to provide tips for "the best ways to respect others while driving and riding". Some pointed out that Uber had in the past shown little regard for user privacy. In November 2017 it concealed a huge data breach that affected 57 million customers and drivers.
12-15-20 Pakistan anti-rape ordinance signed into law by president
Pakistan's president has signed a new anti-rape measure aiming to speed up convictions and toughen sentences. The ordinance will create a national sex offenders register, protect the identity of victims and allow the chemical castration of some offenders. Special fast-track courts will hear rape cases and will be expected to reach a verdict within four months. It comes after a public outcry against sexual violence following the gang-rape of a woman outside the city of Lahore. The woman was assaulted on the side of a motorway leading into the city in front of her two children. Lahore's most senior police official implied the following day that the victim had been partially at fault for the assault. His comments and the brutal assault appalled Pakistanis, spurring a wave of demonstrations nationwide and forcing the government to promise action. Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet approved the legal measure last month, and President Arif Alvi signed it into law on Tuesday. The government now has 120 days to take the measure to parliament and have it permanently passed into law. Until then the law will remain in force. Some however have criticised the ordinance, saying the punishments are too harsh and arguing that officials did not follow the necessary consultation process before approving it. Other countries already use chemical castration - medication to reduce testosterone - as part of their sentencing for sexual offenders: Indonesia passed a chemical castration law for paedophiles in 2016, while Poland made it compulsory for adults who rape children in 2009. There has been growing awareness of sexual violence in Pakistan over the last few years. In 2015, one woman was gang-raped in a remote village and footage of the attack appeared on social media. The country did not have laws to stop the footage from being shared online. (Webmaster's comment: Why not actual castration? That would stop rape in its tracks!)
12-12-20 FKA twigs sues ex-boyfriend Shia LaBeouf over alleged abuse
British singer-songwriter FKA twigs has filed a lawsuit against the Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf for sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress, the New York Times reports. The newspaper quotes the lawsuit as saying LaBeouf knowingly gave the singer a sexually transmitted disease. The pair dated between 2018 and 2019. LaBeouf, 34, has not commented on the lawsuit, but told the Times he accepted he had "been abusive to myself and everyone round me for years". "I'm not in any position to tell anyone how my behaviour made them feel," he said in an email to the newspaper broadly addressing his conduct towards FKA twigs and a second former girlfriend who accused him of abusive behaviour. "I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations.... I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I'm ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say." In another email, the Times says, he wrote that "many of the allegations are not true" but that he owed the women "the opportunity to air their statements publicly and accept accountability for those things I have done". He said he was "a sober member of a 12-step program" and "committed to doing what I need to do to recover". However, FKA twigs' lawyer Bryan Freedman disputed this saying his client - who filed the lawsuit under her non-stage name Tahliah Debrett Barnett - "tried to resolve this matter privately on the condition that Mr LaBeouf agree to receive meaningful and consistent psychological treatment. "Since he was unwilling to agree to get appropriate help, Ms Barnett filed this suit to prevent others from unknowingly suffering similar abuse by him." Ms Barnett, 32 who was born in Gloucestershire, has filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, the Times reports. The newspaper quotes distressing testimony in which she describes how LaBeouf lavished her with "over-the-top displays of affection" in the early days of their relationship, but quickly became possessive, jealous, critical and violent. Living with him became frightening and isolating, she said.
12-10-20 Kenya election violence: Court orders government to pay sex attack survivors
In what has been called a "landmark judgment", four women subjected to sexual assault in the violence that followed Kenya's disputed 2007 election are set to receive compensation. The judge ruled that the state had violated their rights when it failed to investigate their cases. The government was ordered to pay $36,000 (£27,000) to each one. This could be a precedent for hundreds of others who were abused in the wake of the election, activists say. More than 1,000 people died and 500,000 fled from their homes in the inter-ethnic violence that began in late December 2007. Despite some cases going to the International Criminal Court, there have been very few prosecutions relating to the unrest. The victims involved in Thursday's ruling were backed by a coalition of NGOs in a case that was first brought to the High Court in Kenya in 2013. Physicians for Human Rights, one of the groups involved in the case, hoped to "secure justice for the survivors". It said that the ruling was the "first time in Kenya that post-election sexual violence had been legitimately recognised". Three of the four to receive compensation were assaulted by members of the security forces and so in effect their rights to life and security were infringed by the state itself, Justice Weldon Korir said. The fourth woman was attacked by an ordinary citizen, but the judge ruled that the state had violated her rights when the police failed to investigate her complaint. There were four other people involved in the case, but Justice Korir said that as they had not reported their cases to the police, the state could not be found at fault. "This is a historic day for survivors of the rampant sexual violence perpetrated in the aftermath of the 2007 election, who have waited for accountability for far too long," said Naitore Nyamu, head of the Kenya office of Physicians for Human Rights.
12-2-20 China #MeToo: Court to hear landmark case of intern versus TV star
Six years after the alleged incident, a Chinese court on Wednesday is hearing a landmark case that analysts say could define the future of the country's #MeToo movement. Zhou Xiaoxuan - also known online by her nickname Xianzi - has taken one of the country's most prominent TV hosts to court, accusing him of sexually harassing her in 2014. He denies all wrongdoing and has in turn sued her and her supporter for damaging his reputation as well as mental wellbeing. It is rare in China for such cases to even get to this stage and the stakes are high, analysts say. Ahead of the hearing, which will not be public, Xianzi told the BBC that whatever happens, she will have no regrets. "If I win, this will encourage many women to come forward and tell their stories; if I lose, I'll keep appealing until justice is served." About 100 people gathered outside the Haidian District Court in Beijing on Wednesday to show their support for Xianzi. Many were carrying posters with the word #Metoo on them. "We wait with you for an answer from history," another sign read. The gathering was largely peaceful, though there were scuffles as police tried to clear the protesters and dragged away foreign reporters, according to the AFP news agency. In the summer of 2018, shortly after Xianzi learned about the slew of legal cases against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, she decided to write down her own experience in Chinese on her WeChat account - in part to show solidarity to a childhood friend, who once told her that she was a survivor of rape. In the 3,000-word essay, the then 25-year-old recalled a 2014 experience where she alleged that while interning at China's state broadcaster CCTV that year, one of the country's most high-profile TV hosts Zhu Jun sexually harassed her. Xianzi alleged that she did complain to the local police, but claims they told her to drop the accusation because Mr Zhu was a prominent TV host and his "positive impact" on society should make her think twice.
11-24-20 Ntabo Ntaberi: DR Congo militia leader jailed for crimes against humanity
A former militia leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, including mass rape. A military court convicted Ntabo Ntaberi of murder, rape, sexual slavery and enlisting children under the age of 15. The ruling came at the end of a two-year trial that saw 178 victims testify. The United Nations said the ruling showed "impunity is not inevitable". "This verdict is a source of immense hope for the many victims of the conflicts in the DRC: their suffering has been heard and recognised," said Leila Zerrougui, head of the UN's peacekeeping mission in DR Congo. Ntaberi, also known as Sheka, was one of the leaders of a militia group called Nduma Defense of Congo (NDC), which operated in the restive eastern province of North Kivu. Eastern DR Congo has long been wracked by conflict, fuelled by political divisions and the area's abundance of mineral resources. There was a civil war in DR Congo between 1998 and 2003, but some militias fight on and continue to commit atrocities in the east, where a UN mission is struggling to keep peace. Authorities first issued a warrant for Ntaberi's arrest in January 2011, accusing him of orchestrating raids on villages in mid-2010. During those raids, members of the NDC and two other militia groups allegedly raped about 400 people and killed almost 300. Ntaberi was on the run for nearly six years, but eventually surrendered to UN peacekeepers in DR Congo in July 2017. He was prosecuted along with three co-defendants, including a commander from another militia, who also received a life sentence for crimes committed in North Kivu. Their jail sentences were handed out at the trial in the city of Goma on Monday. "We are satisfied with this verdict, it is a strong signal to other warlords," Kahindo Fatuma, a spokesman representing the victims, told AFP news agency. "The victims will be a little bit relieved." Thomas Fessy, a researcher on DR Congo for Human Rights Watch, said Ntaberi's conviction was "an important step in the fight against impunity". Dozens of armed groups are active in eastern DR Congo. A spin off of Ntaberi's militia group still operates in eastern DR Congo under the name NDC-Renovated, or NDC/R.
11-21-20 Kenyan online cartel is luring girls to orgies, police warn
Police in Kenya are investigating an "online cartel" that targets girls stuck at home because of coronavirus and lures them under false pretences to what officers describe as orgies. The case came to light after three missing teenagers were rescued by officers in the capital Nairobi. The three told police they had seen a social media account that invited them to "parties" in the city. Police warned parents to keep a close eye on their children's activities. "The DCI (Directorate of Criminal Investigations) wishes to inform the public that we are hunting down members of the cartel and they'll be apprehended to answer for their crimes," police said on Twitter. Cases of young girls disappearing - some after being promised jobs - have been reported in Kenyan media in recent days. Earlier this week the relative of one girl made a tearful appeal on Twitter fearing she had been kidnapped or trafficked. The relative said the girl had gone missing in Nairobi on Saturday after being lured by people who were promising modelling jobs. "My cousin along with the 16-year-old girls, six of them, have not been seen since," the woman in the video says. On Friday, police tweeted that child-protection detectives had rescued three of the seven girls reported missing. Efforts to trace the others were continuing, they said. They did not reveal details of where the girls were found or if any arrests had been made. The DCI said the cartel operated from Nairobi and was using internationally registered telephone numbers. "As investigations go on we wish to issue a stern warning to individuals taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to prey on school girls, Their days are numbered," the DCI tweeted. Earlier this month the East African country tightened restrictions as a second wave of the coronavirus caused a surge in cases and deaths. Public gatherings are banned and an overnight curfew is in place. Schools closed in March but partially reopened in October. The government has said they will not fully reopen until January. Kenya, which has a population of 53m, has reported more than 75,000 infections and 1,349 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
10-30-20 Qatar to prosecute officials over forced exams of women at airport
Qatar says several airport officials have been referred for prosecution after forced gynaecological exams were carried out on women flying to Sydney. The group - which included women from Australia, the UK and New Zealand - was checked for evidence they had recently given birth after a baby was found in a bin at Doha airport on 2 October. Qatar's government said on Friday that "standard procedures were violated". It also offered its "sincerest apology" for what the women went through. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne called the referrals for prosecution an "important step". "The statement of the government of Qatar is consistent with our expectations for contrition, accountability and determination to avoid any repeat of this disturbing episode," she said. The incident came to light earlier this week after some of the Australian passengers spoke out and foreign governments said they were appalled. The women said they were ordered to disembark the Sydney-bound Qatar Airways flight at Hamad International Airport. They were then taken to ambulances on the tarmac and told to remove their underwear before being examined. The women said they were given no information by officials and that they did not have an opportunity to provide informed consent. Female passengers on nine other flights were also reportedly examined. Qatar's Government Communication Office (GCO) said on Wednesday that airport authorities took action after a newborn baby girl was "found in a trash can, concealed in a plastic bag and buried under garbage", in an apparent attempt to kill her. "This egregious and life-threatening violation of the law triggered an immediate search for the parents, including on flights in the vicinity of where the newborn was found." On Friday, the GCO said a preliminary investigation into the actions of airport authorities "revealed that standard procedures were violated". "Those responsible for these violations and illegal actions have been referred to the Public Prosecution Office," it added.
10-26-20 Australia seeks Qatar response after female passengers strip-searched
Australia says it has raised "grossly disturbing" reports with Qatar that women were strip-searched and examined before a flight from Doha to Sydney. The women were checked for signs of having recently given birth after a newborn baby was found abandoned in a toilet at Hamad International Airport. The unidentified baby has been cared for since being found on 2 October. The searches came to light when Australian women spoke out. Women from other countries were also examined. All adult women on the Qatar Airways flight were required to disembark to be body-searched, two of the women told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Thirteen Australian women were taken to an ambulance on the tarmac and told to remove their underwear before being examined, reports said. Kim Mills told the Guardian she was among those taken off the flight and led into a dark car park, where three ambulances were waiting to perform medical examinations. However, officials did not subject her to the examination due, she suspected, to her being in her 60s. Even so, she said, the experience was horrifying. "My legs were just wobbling. I was terrified they were going to take me away somewhere. Why didn't they explain to us what was going on?" she said, adding that airplane staff later told her they didn't know what was happening. "It was absolutely terrible. I can't imagine what it was like for those poor young girls." Passengers had boarded the flight before women were told to get off, witnesses told Australian media. Fellow passenger Wolfgang Babeck told the ABC that he watched as the women re-boarded the flight, noting "many... were upset, one of them was in tears - a younger woman". Qatar's government is yet to respond to the incident. It is not clear if other flights were also involved.
10-12-20 Bangladesh to introduce death penalty for rape
Bangladesh is to introduce the death penalty for rape cases, following days of protests about the country's high level of sexual violence against women. Law Minister Anisul Haq told the BBC that the president would issue an ordinance on Tuesday making it law. There was widespread outrage in Bangladesh last week after footage of a brutal gang assault on a 37-year-old woman went viral on social media. At least 1,000 rapes have been reported in Bangladesh this year, activists say. (Webmaster's comment: And over 70,000 this year so far in the United States!) But many cases go unreported because women fear they will be stigmatised, according to human rights advocates, and in cases that are reported conviction rates are extremely low. Protesters galvanised by last week's viral video have demanded faster trials and changes to the way rape cases are prosecuted. An investigation by Bangladesh's National Human Rights Commission found that the woman in the viral video, who was attacked in the southeastern district of Noakhalim, had been raped repeatedly over time and terrorised. Eight men were arrested after the video emerged. In a separate case another woman was allegedly gang raped last week in a hostel in the northern district of Sylhet, leading to the arrest of several members of the student wing of the ruling party. Bangladesh was rocked over the weekend by an unprecedented level of protest. Demonstrators carried signs reading "Hang the rapists" and "No mercy to rapists". In the capital Dhaka, a mock gallows was erected by protesters. Responding directly to the protests, the government decided to make the change by way of an ordinance, since parliament is not sitting - effectively passing it directly into law.
10-10-20 The Gretchen Whitmer abduction plot is a window into American misogyny
On Thursday, 13 men were charged by the FBI for a plot to kidnap Michigan's Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer, allegedly in retaliation for "tyrannical" executive orders the governor made to close businesses and shut down travel during the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes after a series of armed protests at the Michigan state capitol, as well as Whitmer's home, in the spring of this year. Whitmer is not the only Democratic swing-state governor who has implemented strict lockdown measures during the pandemic. But she is the only one of those governors who is a woman, and it is no coincidence that she has also been the target of the most violent reactionary right-wing extremism. The serious threats to Whitmer's physical safety are an indication of the growing danger today's political and cultural climate poses for women. The protests in May were in reaction to the pandemic control measures Whitmer introduced to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, and were notable both for the extreme show of force and the violent, misogynistic language many of the protestors used. Though many governors across the country imposed similarly severe restrictions during the first major wave of coronavirus infections, and though armed protests sprung up in several states, the Michigan protests were perhaps the most disturbing. Hundreds of protestors, some of them armed, stormed the Michigan state capitol building in Lansing, brandishing racist paraphernalia including Confederate flags, and making explicit calls for violence against Whitmer. In one of the most reprehensible examples, a Republican state House candidate hung an unclothed brown-haired doll — Whitmer in effigy — by a noose. Female Michigan lawmakers wore bulletproof vests to work and reported feeling afraid for their lives. Meanwhile on Facebook, people in private groups posted calls for Whitmer to be lynched, beaten, or beheaded, referring to her as an evil witch or wicked queen. She's been likened to a menopausal teacher, an overbearing mother, and a "tyrant b*tch." One post called for "watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants." Many pointed to President Donald Trump's tweets urging supporters to "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" as a catalyst for the protests. And indeed, rather than condemn the violence espoused by the violent protesters, the president urged Whitmer to "give a little," arguing, "These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely!" The conspirators plotting to kidnap Whitmer met during a Second Amendment rally in June before reaching out to the Michigan militia group, Wolverine Watchmen, according to The Detroit News. In the FBI's affidavit, one of the group's leaders, Michigan resident Adam Fox, is quoted as saying, "Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f***in' Governor. Just grab the b*tch," and, "She f***ing goddamn loves the power she has right now."
10-6-20 Hathras case: Dalit women are among the most oppressed in the world
"We are victims of violence because we are poor, lower caste and women, so looked down upon by all," a Dalit woman told researcher Jayshree Mangubhai some years ago. "There is no one to help or speak for us. We face more sexual violence because we don't have any power." Last week, it was reported that a 19-year-old Dalit woman (the Dalits were once called "Untouchables") was allegedly gang raped and assaulted by a group of upper caste men in Uttar Pradesh state again. The news shone the spotlight again on the rampant sexual violence faced by India's 80 million Dalit women, who like their male counterparts languish at the bottom of India's unbending and harsh caste hierarchy. These women, who comprise about 16% of India's female population, face a "triple burden" of gender bias, caste discrimination and economic deprivation. "The Dalit female belongs to the most oppressed group in the world," says Dr Suraj Yengde, author of Caste Matters. "She is a victim of the cultures, structures and institutions of oppression, both externally and internally. This manifests in perpetual violence against Dalit women." The aftermath of the recent rape and murder of a woman in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, allegedly by upper caste men, played out the way it usually does when a Dalit woman is attacked: police are slow to register a complaint; investigations are tardy; officials raise doubts there was a rape; there are insinuations it had nothing to do with caste; and authorities appear, perhaps, to be complicit in siding with the upper caste perpetrators of violence. Even some of the media, from newsrooms dominated by upper caste journalists, question why sexual violence should be linked to caste. In other words, the state and parts of society in India conspire to downplay or erase the links between sexual violence and the hierarchies of caste. (Webmaster's comment: In America just substitute Black for Dalit.)
10-2-20 Hathras case: Are Indian state police trying to discount a woman's story of rape?
Days after the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang raped and assaulted in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state, a senior state police official appeared to imply the woman was not raped because semen was not found. Additional Director General Prashant Kumar told reporters on Thursday that the forensic report had found "no semen or semen excretion" in the viscera sample of the victim, and the cause of death was due to "trauma caused by the assault". Mr Kumar also claimed that the woman's family had not mentioned rape in the initial complaint. But in fact the victim had given a statement to the police in the presence of a magistrate in the hospital saying that she had been gang-raped. A dying declaration by a rape victim is admissible evidence in India's courts. And he said there had been attempts to stir caste tensions and disrupt peace by "putting out twisted facts in the media" - possibly an allusion to the widespread coverage that the teenager, a Dalit, had been gang-raped and murdered by upper-caste men. Dalits sit at the bottom of India's caste system and are some of the country's most downtrodden citizens. They face widespread discrimination, despite laws to protect them. Taken together, Mr Kumar's remarks appeared to suggest that the teenager was not raped, and that the reported absence of semen in the viscera sample was significant evidence. Except it was not. Seven years have passed since India introduced an anti-rape law which expanded the definition of rape to include oral sex and penetration with objects. The law also says explicitly that the absence of a physical struggle doesn't equal consent. "The law is extremely clear about the definition of rape," Gopal Hosur, a retired senior police official, told me. "Police officers should not jump to conclusions. The presence or absence of semen by itself does not prove rape. We need a lot of other circumstantial and other evidence," he said.
10-1-20 Australian jailed for Islamophobic attack on pregnant woman
An Australian man who punched and stamped on a pregnant woman in a suspected Islamophobic attack has been jailed for three years. Stipe Lozina, 44, attacked Rana Elasmar, 32, in Sydney last November. Ms Elasmar, then 38 weeks pregnant, had been with friends in a cafe when Lozina entered and approached their table, asking for money. When she refused, he launched into a "vicious" assault fuelled by religious prejudice, a trial heard. Prosecutors said he had yelled "you Muslims wrecked my mum" before leaning over and punching Ms Elasmar to the ground. He struck her at least 14 times and stamped on the back of her head before other customers managed to pull him away. Security video of the attack outraged people across Australia. Sentencing judge Christopher Craigie previously described it as a "wicked and deplorable" attack from an "obviously unwell" man. "The assault was one with a grave potential to cause very serious harm to both the victim and her unborn child," he said on Thursday. Ms Elasmar told the court in September she had felt targeted because of her religion, and had feared for her baby's life and her own. "If nobody intervened, I could have been killed," she said. "I made a conscious decision to turn my abdomen away from his punches. I wanted to protect my baby." She suffered minor injuries and gave birth to a boy three weeks after the attack. But the court heard she had suffered lasting trauma since, including fears about being in public and explaining the attack to her four children. "Islamophobia needs to end. Violence against women needs to stop," she said last month. Lozina refused legal help and represented himself in court. During his trial, he made many incoherent rants, Australian media reported. The judge noted that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had a "longstanding struggle with mental illness". He will be eligible for parole in 2022.
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.
6-24-20 Ron Jeremy: Adult star charged with rape and sexual assault
Adult film star Ron Jeremy has been charged with raping three women and sexually assaulting a fourth, prosecutors say. He is accused of attacking the women between 2014 and 2019. The alleged victims were aged between 25 and 46. The 67-year-old is one of the biggest names in pornography and has featured in more than 2,000 films dating back to the 1970s. If convicted, he faces up to 90 years behind bars. He denies the charges. Mr Jeremy, whose real name is Ronald Jeremy Hyatt, stands accused of raping a 25-year-old woman at a house in West Hollywood, according to a statement from Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. He allegedly sexually assaulted two women, ages 33 and 46, on separate occasions at a West Hollywood bar in 2017, the district attorney said. He also is accused of raping a 30-year-old woman at the same bar in July 2019. A separate case from 2016 was dropped due to insufficient evidence. Mr Jeremy's attorney Stuart Goldfarb told AFP news agency the charges were a "surprise". "He is not a rapist," he said. "Ron - over the years, because of who he is - has essentially been a paramour to over 4,000 women," he said. "And to allege that he is a rapist is beyond... I mean, women throw themselves at him." Mr Jeremy appeared in court Tuesday, wearing handcuffs and a face mask, but did not enter a plea. A judge delayed his arraignment until Friday and set his bail at $6.6 million (£5.27 million). Dante Rusciolelli, Mr Jeremy's manager, told US media he was dropping the actor as a client. In 2017, Rolling Stone reported that more than a dozen women had accused Mr Jeremy of sexual misconduct, including groping, inappropriate touching, non-consensual digital penetration, and sexual assault. He told the magazine he had "never and would never rape anyone". Mr Jeremy is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for "Most Appearances in Adult Films" and was the subject of the 2001 documentary Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy. He has also made numerous cameo appearances in computer games, Hollywood films and music videos, including for Moby, Guns N' Roses, Armin Van Buuren and LMFAO's Sexy and I Know It.
6-22-20 Justin Bieber denies 2014 sexual assault allegation
Justin Bieber has denied an allegation of rape made on Twitter by an anonymous account over the weekend. Two accounts tweeted claims about incidents alleged to have happened in 2014 and 2015. The account of one anonymous accuser has been removed from Twitter, but Justin Bieber responded to it, saying: "There is no truth to this story." The second account is still online. This account is not anonymous. A spokesperson for Justin Bieber told Newsbeat they wouldn't comment and had nothing to add to the singer's tweets. Over the weekend, Riverdale actors also denied accusations of a sexual offence made by other anonymous accounts. An account from a woman known only as Danielle detailed claims of an assault in Houston, Texas on 9 March 2014. She says she was encouraged to come forward after seeing unrelated claims about an American actor online. Danielle claims that after a surprise performance in front of a small crowd at a bar, Justin Bieber invited her and two friends to a Four Seasons hotel in Austin,Texas. She says he took her to a private room where the sexual assault happened. She says she did not tell anyone for years, but has now had "multiple therapy sessions" and spoken to close friends and family. These tweets have been deleted but screengrabs of her comments continue to be shared. Justin Bieber responded to the allegation "after talking with [his] wife and team", with a denial. In a series of tweets, the singer posted screenshots and articles from the night the alleged 2014 assault took place, which show him with his then-girlfriend Selena Gomez. He says they did not stay at the Four Seasons hotel but at an AirBnB with some friends. He also shared a screenshot of a tweet which claimed he was spotted at the Four Seasons restaurant on 10 March, the day after the alleged assault. That Twitter account appears to have been deleted.
6-20-20 Debbie Kaore: The attack that highlighted an epidemic of abuse
Before last week, Debbie Kaore was best known in Papua New Guinea as a champion boxer who won gold at the Pacific Games in 2015 and had recently made a career-changing move to rugby. Then last Friday, a video was widely shared on social media that showed Ms Kaore being violently attacked with a hot iron in her home. The video was posted on TikTok and Instagram by her friend, with permission, and went viral. Ms Kaore's partner Murray Oa, a lieutenant in the Papua New Guinean army, was arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm. Graphic pictures showed terrible injuries on the rugby player's face and body. "I realised if I didn't get out of our room, he would burn me alive," she said in an interview with the BBC. The footage of Ms Kaore's assault has shone a light on the extent of domestic abuse in Papua New Guinea, and led to statements of support for her from the UN and the nation's Prime Minister James Marape, who urged Papua New Guinea's men to "leave that lady alone". But too many of the nation's women would have been able to empathise with what they saw in the video. As many as two-thirds have experienced domestic violence, according to one study by the UN. Ms Kaore started seeing Mr Oa just over a year ago. The first attack happened when she was about two months pregnant, she told the BBC. "And from then on he continued to verbally, mentally and emotionally abuse me," she said. "I was psychologically breaking down." On 4 June, she posted a video on the app TikTok. It was a response to a video posted by her sister's ex-boyfriend, creating a duet which showed the two in split-screen - a feature of the app. Happy with the result, she shared it via her Whatsapp status. She told the BBC that Mr Oa saw it while out having drinks, and returned home shortly after. "I saw him parking the car across the road, and noticed that he looked uneasy," Ms Kaore recalled. "He came in, walked up to me and asked for my phone so he could send an email. So I gave it to him, and he went into our room and viewed my WhatsApp video again." She said he called her into the room and started questioning her about the video. "But as I started showing him my phone, he punched me down and picked up the iron," she said. Mr Oa burned her across the face and stomach with the iron, she said, and headbutted her, while demanding to see her Facebook account. Her two sons from a previous relationship, both younger than 10, saw the attack. She managed to escape through a back door and call her father, who picked her up and took her to hospital.
6-18-20 Danny Masterson: That '70s Show star charged with rapes of three women
Actor Danny Masterson, best known for his role on the hit series That '70s Show, has been charged with 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 that his membership of the Church of Scientology was leading to his persecution. If convicted, he could face up to 45 years in prison. Prosecutors did not file charges in two other cases due to insufficient evidence and the statute of limitations expiring. Mr Masterson's lawyer Tom Mesereau said his client "is innocent". "Obviously, Mr Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year-old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out," Mr Mesereau said in a statement. In 2017, Netflix wrote Mr Masterson out of its comedy The Ranch after the accusations came to light. "I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said at the time. "However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused." Mr Masterson has been married to the actor and model Bijou Phillips since 2011. Last year, four women filed a lawsuit against Mr Masterson and the Church of Scientology, stating they were stalked, harassed and intimidated after reporting the alleged abuse. That '70s Show - which also starred Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis - ran from 1998 to 2006, gaining huge international success.
6-17-20 Tshegofatso Pule killing: South African police make arrest
South African police have arrested a 31-year-old man for the murder of a woman whose stabbed body was found hanging from a tree last week, triggering a national outcry. Twenty-eight-year-old Tshegofatso Pule was eight months pregnant. The man is currently in court but has not yet commented on the charges. After her death, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the culture of silence around gender-based violence had to end. Ms Pule went missing on 4 June and four days later a member of the public found her body in the Johannesburg suburb of Roodepoort. She was hanging from a tree and had been stabbed through the chest. There was a wave of outrage in South Africa after her death and the hashtag #JusticeForTshego trended on Twitter. The past few days have been difficult for the women of South Africa. At a time when the nation's focus has been on containing the spread of coronavirus, the gruesome murders of women like Tshegofatso Pule have been a harsh reminder of the daily violence women face here. President Cyril Ramaphosa has described gender-based violence as the shame of the nation. His government has in the last few months channelled more resources towards the fight. Some of the extra funding has gone towards training the police, some towards special sexual offences courts. But advocates say there should be more focus placed on prevention and, for that, attitudes towards women need to change. That is something that will need more than hashtags and protests, it needs men to be part of the solution, they say.
6-14-20 South African president's shame over surge in murders of women
South Africa's president says it has been a "dark and shameful week" for his country following a surge in violence against women. Cyril Ramaphosa's remarks come after several femicides, including one woman who was eight months pregnant and found stabbed and hanging from a tree. He noted they had occurred since some coronavirus restrictions were lifted, including a ban on the sale of alcohol. The culture of silence around gender-based violence had to end, he said. "Gender-based violence thrives in a climate of silence. With our silence, by looking the other way because we believe it is a personal or family matter, we become complicit in this most insidious of crimes," President Ramaphosa said. As many as 51% of women in South Africa had experienced violence at the hands of someone they were in a relationship with, the president's statement said. Mr Ramaphosa condemned the brutality of recent killings, naming three of the victims, two of whom have become the subject of Twitter campaigns calling for justice: Tshegofatso Pule - #JusticeForTshego began trending after the pregnant 28-year-old was found hanging from a tree in Johannesburg on Monday. No arrests have been made yet. Naledi Phangindawo - the 25-year-old was stabbed to death in the harbour city of Mossel Bay last Saturday. Those using the hashtag #JusticeforNaledi want the suspect, who is now in police custody, to be denied bail. He is believed to be her partner. The president said another young woman had been dumped under a tree in Johannesburg's Soweto township on Friday. Police later named her as Sanele Mfaba, sparking another hashtag that began trending on Saturday - #JusticeforSanelisiwe - calling for more to be done to protect women. "The manner in which these defenceless women were killed points to an unconscionable level of barbarism and lack of humanity," the president's statement said. "We note with disgust that at a time when the country is facing the gravest of threats from the [coronavirus] pandemic, violent men are taking advantage of the eased restrictions on movement to attack women and children."
6-12-20 Coronavirus: Domestic violence 'increases globally during lockdown'
The UN has described the worldwide increase in domestic abuse as a "shadow pandemic" alongside Covid-19. It’s thought cases have increased by 20% during the lockdown, as many people are trapped at home with their abuser. The BBC’s Gender and Identity Correspondent, Megha Mohan, has been finding out how women in four countries have come up with solutions to help vulnerable women in their communities. (Webmaster's comment: This is problem is obvious in the United States also. Reading of our SiouxFallsFeminists.com website help lists fell to 1/3-1/2 normal levels when the male abusers had to stay home.)
6-11-20 Kenyan police arrested after dragging suspect by motorbike
Three police officers in Kenya have been arrested after one of them was filmed apparently dragging a 21-year-old woman tied to a motorcycle. Accusing her for involvement in a robbery, another man is seen whipping her as she pleads for them to stop. The crowd in a town in the western county of Nakuru reportedly intervened and she is being treated in hospital for a broken leg, among other injuries. Kenya's police are often accused of brutality. Last week, the police watchdog said at least 15 people had been killed by police during the nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew, aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus. A separate UN human rights report has documented widespread police violence in 182 communities, including beating, use of live ammunition and tear gas, sexual violence and damage to property. "I don't know how I survived this," Mercy Cherono told Kenya's Standard newspaper about her ordeal after watching the one-and-a-half minute clip that has been widely shared on social media. According to the paper, the incident took place in Olenguruone, a town about 250km (155 miles) north-west of the capital, Nairobi, on Sunday. Her trousers and underwear were dragged down to her knees as she was pulled along a dirt road by the motorbike and by the end of the clip she was surrounded by a crowd. "I pleaded for mercy but the officer couldn't hear none of that," she told the Standard from her bed in hospital. "All this time I was not aware of the crime I was being punished for," she said. Ms Cherino was accused of being part of a gang of three who had stolen some items from a police officer's house, Citizen TV reports.
6-9-20 Outcry in South Africa after woman found stabbed and hanging from tree
The hashtag #JusticeForTshego has been trending on Twitter in South Africa after the horrific killing of 28-year-old Tshegofatso Pule. Her stabbed body was found hanging from a tree near Johannesburg. She was eight months pregnant, local media are quoting police as saying. There are high levels of violence against women in South Africa and last year President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country was one of "the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman". Crime statistics released last year showed that 2,930 adult women were murdered in a 12-month period from 2017 to 2018, which amounts to one murder every three hours. Ms Pule went missing last week and her body was found on Monday, the Sowetan newspaper reports. It also quotes police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele as saying that a murder investigation has been opened. On Twitter, people have been urging the police to find the culprit, but they also question whether the justice system will serve Ms Pule properly. Last year, a spate of murders of women that received a lot of publicity led to a series of demonstrations with people calling for more action to be taken. Since then special sexual offences courts have re-opened - they have worked intermittently over recent years because of funding difficulties, reports the BBC's Pumza Fihlani from Johannesburg. More resources have also been directed towards both places of safety for survivors of abuse, as well as government-funded programmes aimed at changing men's behaviour, our reporter says.
6-5-20 #WeAreTired: Nigerian women speak out over wave of violence
There is widespread outrage in Nigeria following the murder of a 22-year-old university student in a church where she was studying in the southern city of Benin. The family of Uwavera Omozuwa, known as Uwa, say she was brutally raped and bludgeoned to death. It is one of several shocking cases in the past week which have led to street protests, an online petition signed by thousands and a Twitter hashtag #WeAreTired. Many Nigerians point to a legal system they say makes it hard to convict suspected rapists and blames women when they are victims of sexual assault. (Webmaster's comment: Just like in the United States!) The first time 36-year-old Wanda Ebe was sexually molested, she was under six years of age. She says her nanny, a middle-aged woman, forced her to repeatedly perform oral sex on her when they were alone. At the age of six, an attempt by Ms Ebe to stop the abuse by threatening to report the nanny to her parents almost cost her her life. "She [the nanny] poured a bucket full of hot water on me that left me in excruciating pain. I had to be taken to the hospital and I missed a year of school," Ms Ebe told the BBC. Ms Ebe said the nanny told her parents it was an accident and so, fearing for her safety, she did not say anything more at the time. The second time Ms Ebe was sexually abused, she was a 21-year-old student in her second year at university who was recovering from a recent surgery. She recalls being raped by a doctor, who made an excuse to take her to his house for an appointment instead of a medical centre. "He tore off my clothes, and raped me," she said. "I was weak from the surgery and could do little to resist him." "I did not go to the police or anyone for that matter. I did not even know that rape cases were to be reported to the police." In Nigeria, it is not uncommon for rape to go unreported. Some victims and their families, fearing stigmatisation, police extortion and a lack of trust in the judicial process, choose not to report cases to the authorities. There have also been instances where those brave enough to report are targeted with derogatory comments at the police station.
5-29-20 Harvey Weinstein: Four more women accuse producer of assault
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by four further women as he serves a 23-year prison sentence. Court documents filed in New York on Thursday allege several sexual offences dating from 1984 to 2013. One of the four anonymous women was 17 at the time of an alleged attack. Weinstein's legal representative told BBC News: "Mr Weinstein intends to defend against the claims filed anonymously against him yesterday." The lawyer, Imran H Ansari of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins PC, added: "Some of these claims, including those alleged to have occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, may be barred by the applicable statute of limitations, and not subject to any exceptions under the law, as these plaintiffs do not appear to be complainants in Mr Weinstein's criminal case." The latest legal cases allege multiple sexual offences against four women, who currently reside in Tennessee, New York, Ecuador and Hungary. Some of the attacks allegedly took place after meetings with Weinstein at the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals. Allegations against Weinstein began to emerge in October 2017, when The New York Times first reported incidents dating back decades. At least 80 women have since accused him of sexual misconduct, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek. The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men. Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had "caused a lot of pain", but denied any allegations of non-consensual sex. 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. (Webmaster's comment: It might be easier to determine who he has not abused!)
5-29-20 Coronavirus: Italian minister Azzolina targeted with sexist abuse
Tensions after more than two months of lockdown in Italy have boiled over into sexist attacks and threats against Education Minister Lucia Azzolina, who now has police protection. DRight-wing Senator Giuseppe Moles of Forza Italia spoke out publicly, warning the minister that credibility was like virginity and "easy to lose". Furious senators in her Five Star party demanded that Mr Moles apologise. A deputy health minister and a regional governor also have police guards now. The deputy minister, Pierpaolo Sileri, had received threats linked to coronavirus aid. Like Ms Azzolina, he is in the anti-establishment Five Star movement, part of Italy's coalition government. Attilio Fontana, governor of the Lombardy region - epicentre of Italy's coronavirus crisis - was also assigned police protection after being threatened on social media. Graffiti in Milan labelled him a "murderer". He is in Matteo Salvini's anti-immigration League, and his Lombardy government has been heavily criticised for shortcomings in its crisis response, such as shortages of some medical kit in the severely stretched health service. Austria's Justice Minister Alma Zadic, a Green politician, was reported to be under police protection in January after being targeted by far-right threats on social media. During question time in the Senate on Thursday Senator Moles unleashed a tirade against Ms Azzolina, 37, who is battling to address widespread frustration over the paralysis in education caused by the coronavirus crisis. "We've heard so much: school closing yes, school closing no; in April all students will be promoted, in May some students will fail; in September lessons can be half at school, half at home," he said. "I remind you minister that school requires credibility and seriousness. And credibility is like virginity: easy to lose, difficult to maintain, and impossible to recover."
5-29-20 Uzma Khan: An actress assaulted, a jealous wife and a viral video in Pakistan
Police in Pakistan are investigating three women over the assault of a well-known actress in her home, after footage posted on social media went viral and the actress lodged a case. The video shows three women and about a dozen armed guards entering Uzma Khan's house in Lahore. They smash up property and interrogate and assault the actress and her sister. Despite her celebrity and such a dramatic sequence of events, the incident has barely made it into the Pakistani media. This is probably because two of the women alleged to be involved in the attack have been named as the daughters of one of Pakistan's most powerful property magnates, Malik Riaz - and the media is wary of running stories about his family. The influential property tycoon has distanced himself from what happened, saying he had no involvement in what he called "disgraceful incidents". His daughters have not made any public comment but the other woman who has been named in the police report, Amena Usman Malik, has. She has defended her actions in another video, and accused the actress Uzma Khan of having an affair with her husband. Although there is little in the mainstream media, social media has been consumed by the drama, which provides some insight into the personal enmities and politics of the country's elite - as well as the media's reluctance to tackle certain issues. The incident happened on Saturday night, just before the Eid festival at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. After a number of videos were shared on social media, police announced they were launching an investigation on Wednesday. They have registered a formal complaint against the three women and their guards for allegedly breaking and entering the actress's residence, beating up her and her sister and damaging their property.
5-25-20 Nikoloz Basilashvili: Georgian tennis star charged with assaulting ex-wife
Georgian tennis player Nikoloz Basilashvili has been charged with assaulting his former wife. Basilashvili, 28, is accused by Neka Dorokashvili of attacking her in front of their five-year-old son. Basilashvili, ranked 27th in the world, denies all the allegations, saying that the truth will be proven in court. On Sunday, he was released on a 100,000 Georgian lari ($31,300; £25,700) bail by the court in the capital Tbilisi. If guilty, he faces three years in jail. A preliminary court hearing has been scheduled for 16 July. "I feel your support and love," the tennis player told followers on Facebook, adding that he did not want to make any further comment. During his career, Basilashvili won three ATP titles, but is yet to progress further than the fourth round in any of the four majors. His highest singles ranking was 16th in the world in May 2019.
5-18-20 Coronavirus: They grabbed my breasts and said, 'You're not a woman'
Lockdown in Panama is strictly enforced, with men allowed out one day and women the next. But this has been used by some as an excuse to harass members of the trans community. Monica is an excellent cook. Like a lot of people, during the coronavirus lockdown she has been making elaborate meals to distract herself during the long hours spent inside. One Wednesday last month, Monica fancied making some marinated chicken in a rich spicy tomato sauce with rice. She had most of the ingredients already, but needed the chicken. So she left the small detached house near Panama City airport that she shares with her extended family to go to the local corner shop. She passed groups of women on her way, some of them linking arms with their children. It was quieter than usual in the neighbourhood, as the government had just introduced a new measure to curb the spread of coronavirus, allowing women to leave their homes to buy necessities on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and men on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On Sundays, everyone has to stay at home. Monica walked into the shop. She knew the Chinese family who ran it well. They adored her. But as she entered, the atmosphere changed. The owner approached her silently, his face not breaking into the smile she was used to seeing. "We can't serve you, Monica," he said. "The police said we can only serve women today. They said, 'No maricon.'" The transphobic term made Monica shudder, but at the same time, it wasn't a complete surprise. The police in her neighbourhood had targeted her before for being a trans woman. Monica started going to school dressed as a girl from the age of 12. She had never felt like a boy, and now she wanted to be open about her identity. Coming out as a girl wouldn't have an impact on her home life - it was hard enough already. "My father was a macho man," Monica says. "He needed no excuse to beat me, my two sisters or our mother."
5-18-20 Coronavirus: Health workers face violent attacks in Mexico
Mexican nurse Ligia Kantun says that in 40 years of work, she has never witnessed such a poisonous reaction to health workers. While in many countries doctors and nurses are being praised for their work on the coronavirus front line, in Mexico dozens have been attacked. Ligia, 59, says that she has worked during the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and an outbreak of cholera in 2013, but some people are "behaving psychotically in response to this virus. It is terrible". She was attacked on 8 April after leaving work in her hometown of Merida, Yucatan. Someone drove past her and threw hot coffee down her back. "Infected!" they yelled through the car window before speeding away. She says that luckily she was not badly injured but recognises it could have been worse. As of 28 April, there have been at least 47 attacks against health workers, particularly nurses, in the country, the Mexican government says. And the authorities recognise the true figure may be higher - reports on social media of discrimination range from nurses stopped from getting on buses to doctors assaulted by relatives of Covid-19 patients. "It made me sad… to see how people are attacking us," says Ligia. "That hurt me more - the psychological damage." Some of the attacks appear to have been motivated by a misguided attempt to disinfect health workers. Alondra Torres, an ear, nose and throat specialist, had diluted bleach thrown over her on 13 April while walking her dogs in the city of Guadalajara. She does not see Covid-19 patients in her clinic, but is convinced her uniform made her a target. Alondra, who suffered conjunctivitis and contact dermatitis on her neck and shoulder as a result, says she was "disappointed" that some people seem to believe she needs to be bathed in bleach. "My eye was burning a lot, I couldn't see well."
5-15-20 Afghan maternity ward attackers 'came to kill the mothers'
The cold-blooded murders of 24 women, children and babies at a hospital in the Afghan capital were horrific enough But as Frederic Bonnot made his way through the bullet-riddled maternity unit, he realised something more. The attackers had walked straight past a number of other wards, all closer to the entrance of Kabul's Dasht-e-Barchi hospital, and made straight for the maternity unit. To him, it meant one thing: this was no mistake. "What I saw in the maternity demonstrates it was a systematic shooting of the mothers," Bonnot, Head of Programmes for Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Afghanistan, said. "They went through the rooms in the maternity, shooting women in their beds. It was methodical. "They came to kill the mothers." Amina was just two hours old when the attack started. The little girl was the third child for Bibi Nazia and her husband, Rafiullah. Back at home, they already had a girl and a boy. Nazia had gone to the hospital with her mother, and Amina was born at 08:00. It should have been a day of celebration for Rafiullah. But at 10:00, the attack began. Explosions were heard by people outside the hospital complex. Those with family and friends inside rushed to the scene - including Rafiullah. "He ran from side to side. But he couldn't do anything: no one allowed him to go inside," his cousin Hamidullah Hamidi told BBC Pashto. Inside the walls of the hospital, three gunmen were moving through the 55-bed maternity unit, which has been run by MSF since 2014. A total of 26 mothers and mothers-to-be were inside at the time. Ten managed to flee to safe rooms; the other 16 - including Bibi Nazia and Amina - were not so lucky. Three of the 16 mothers were shot and killed in the delivery room, along with their unborn babies. Bibi Nazia was among the other eight mothers killed; little Amina was shot in the legs. Five more were wounded. Two young boys were also killed in the carnage, along with a midwife. One woman, named only as Khadija, told Reuters news agency how one of the gunmen had pointed his weapon at her, before turning it on two other people.
5-12-20 Joe Biden assault claim: What does 'believe women' mean now?
The debate over what it means to "believe women" - the rallying cry of the #MeToo movement - has escalated in recent weeks over a sexual assault allegation lodged against Joe Biden. The accusation by a former staff assistant, Tara Reade, raises uncomfortable questions for Democratic voters who previously said women's complaints should be listened to and treated as credible. It also means that both presidential candidates have been accused of - and denied - sexual assault. The expression "believe women" - and its sister phrase: "believe survivors" - rose to prominence in tandem with the #MeToo movement, beginning in the autumn of 2017 when famed producer Harvey Weinstein was accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment, abuse or rape. Advocates say it is a reaction to a historical assumption that women are prone to deceit. Critics see it as a dangerous overreach, a licence to ignore evidence. "The reason that became a mantra was because interwoven so deeply in our culture was the idea that women and survivors were lying," said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women's Law Center. Their concerns were deemed "so inherently suspect they were not worthy of being treated seriously". Less than a year later the phrase gained momentum when, in the midst of his confirmation to the US Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford when the two were in high school. MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke led a national walkout in solidarity of Blasey Ford three days before her testimony, with participants using the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors. "We believe Dr Blasey Ford. We believe survivors," Burke wrote on Twitter. It became a refrain among high-profile supporters of Blasey Ford and a number of high-profile Democrats pushing for further investigation of her claims, including Joe Biden.
5-8-20 Tara Reade: Biden sex attack accuser urges him to quit race
A woman who accuses Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her 27 years ago has called on him to quit the presidential race. In an interview, Tara Reade urged Mr Biden to "please step forward and be held accountable". She added: "You should not be running on character for the president of the United States." Mr Biden, who is set to challenge President Donald Trump in November, has denied Ms Reade's accusation. Ms Reade, now 56, worked as a staff assistant to Mr Biden from 1992-93 when he was a senator for the US state of Delaware. She has said that in 1993 he forced her against a wall and put his hands under her shirt and skirt, penetrating her with a finger, after she delivered him his gym bag. In her most graphic, detailed account yet of the alleged assault, Ms Reade told US media personality Megyn Kelly that Mr Biden kissed her neck and told her he wanted to have sex with her, using an obscene term. "So, he had one hand underneath my shirt, and the other had, I had a skirt on, and he went down my skirt and then went up and I remember I was up almost on my tippy toes," she said. "When he went inside the skirt, he was talking to me at the same time, and he was leaning into me and I pulled this way away from his head." When she refused his advances, she said: "He looked at me and said, 'What the hell, man, I heard you liked me'." She added: "He pointed his finger at me and he said 'You're nothing to me. You're nothing'." Ms Reade was asked by Kelly if she wanted Mr Biden to withdraw from the race. "I wish he would, but he won't, but I wish he would," she said. "That's how I feel emotionally." Ms Reade offered to take a lie detector test about her claim, on condition that Mr Biden do so also. "I will take one if Joe Biden takes one," she said.
5-1-20 Joe Biden denies sexually assaulting staff assistant Tara Reade
US Democratic candidate Joe Biden has flatly denied sexually assaulting a former staff assistant, Tara Reade, nearly 30 years ago. "I'm saying unequivocally: it never, never happened," he said of the allegations during a TV interview on Friday. He asked for a search of the Senate archives for any record of a complaint Ms Reade allegedly filed at the time. Ms Reade made a criminal complaint to police last month. She said she was a victim of sexual assault without naming Mr Biden. The police complaint, she said, was filed "for safety reasons only" as the statute of limitations for her claim had expired. Mr Biden is running against Republican incumbent President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by some 25 women. The Democrat put out his statement before speaking on Morning Joe, a show on US cable channel MSNBC. She was working as a staff assistant to Mr Biden from 1992-93, when he was a senator for the US state of Delaware. Ms Reade, now 56, says that in 1993 he forced her up against a wall in the halls of Congress, and put his hands under her shirt and skirt, penetrating her with a finger. "I remember him saying, first, as he was doing it 'Do you want to go somewhere else?' and then him saying to me, when I pulled away... he said 'Come on man, I heard you liked me,'" she told podcast host Katie Halper in March. "That phrase stayed with me." Ms Reade says records of Mr Biden's 36-year career as a US senator will contain evidence that she complained to her superiors about him. The records are being held at the University of Delaware, which has said it will not release any papers until two years after Mr Biden leaves public life. It appears there were no witnesses to the alleged assault but three people have backed Ms Reade's account. Her brother, a former neighbour and a former colleague have all said that they heard her give it shortly after the alleged incident. Former neighbour Lynda LaCasse told Business Insider: "This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it." "I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolised him," Ms LaCasse said. "I remember the skirt. I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated." Ms Reade is one of more than half a dozen women who have forward over the last year to accuse him of inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing, though none described his actions as sexual assault at the time.
4-28-20 Tara Reade: What are the sex attack allegations against Joe Biden?
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden faces mounting calls to respond to a sexual assault allegation against him by a former employee. Tara Reade, who worked for the former US vice-president nearly 30 years ago, says he sexually assaulted her in the halls of Congress. Mr Biden has been accused of being "touchy feely" by multiple women, but this is the first public accusation of serious sexual misconduct against him. The White House hopeful's camp has denied it, but acquaintances of Ms Reade have confirmed she confided in them about her alleged ordeal. With the claim looming during a presidential election year - the first such vote since the emergence of the #MeToo movement - let's take a look at what exactly Mr Biden is accused of and how he has responded. Tara Reade, 56, worked as a staff assistant to Mr Biden from 1992-93 when he was a senator for the US state of Delaware. In recent interviews, she has said that in 1993 her former boss forced her against a wall and put his hands under her shirt and skirt after she delivered him his gym bag. "There was no exchange, really, he just had me up against the wall," she said to podcast host Katie Halper in March 2020. "I remember it happened all at once... his hands were on me and underneath my clothes." He then penetrated her with his fingers, she said. "I remember him saying, first, as he was doing it 'Do you want to go somewhere else?' and then him saying to me, when I pulled away... he said 'Come on man, I heard you liked me,'" she said. "That phrase stayed with me." Ms Reade filed a criminal complaint on 9 April 2020 with police, saying she was a victim of sexual assault but did not name Mr Biden. She said in a tweet that she filed the complaint "for safety reasons only", as the statute of limitations for her claim have expired and she had begun to receive online threats.
4-26-20 Should women be eligible for US military draft?
US women may soon achieve a level of equality not everyone wants - ending 40 years of all-male precedent by becoming eligible to be conscripted in a time of war, writes James Jeffrey. One of the starkest ways American women have achieved equality with men in the workplace has occurred in the military. The decision five years ago by then Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to open all positions in the armed forces to women - including combat duty - was largely applauded as a necessary step that benefited the military and society. But this levelling of the military playing field has led to a more divisive consequence - at the end of March the government's National Commission on Military, National and Public Service declared it is now time that women become eligible for the military draft - the procedure by which individuals are chosen for conscription - just like their male counterparts between the ages of 18 and 25. Currently, all male US citizens in that age bracket, regardless of where they live, and male immigrants - documented and undocumented - residing within the US, must register through the Selective Service System. These registrations create a pool of men who could be pressed into service if the US needs tens of thousands more troops to fight a war or if the country faces an existential crisis. Women have also been serving the US military for generations, from sewing uniforms during the Revolutionary War to nursing the wounded in World War II. But they have never been required to register for the draft, a stance increasingly at odds with the reality of American's modern military. "The mere fact that women would have to register would signal a national recognition that everyone is expected to serve if needed and that everyone's service is valued equally," says Kara Vuic, a war studies professor at Texas Christian University, who is writing a book called Drafting Women.
4-15-20 Biden campaign denies ex-aide's sexual assault allegation
Former Vice-President Joe Biden has denied an allegation that he sexually assaulted a former aide nearly 30 years ago as a US senator. Tara Reade, who worked briefly as a staff assistant in Mr Biden's office, has said that her former boss forced her against a wall, putting his hands under her shirt and skirt. "This absolutely did not happen," Mr Biden's campaign said this week. Mr Biden, 77, is now the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. "He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard - and heard respectfully," said his campaign spokeswoman. "Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: It is untrue." Ms Reade, 56, described the allegation in an interview with podcast host Katie Halper in March. She was asked to deliver a gym bag to the senator in the spring of 1993, she said, and found herself alone with Mr Biden. "There was no exchange, really, he just had me up against the wall," she said to Ms Halper. "I remember it happened all at once... his hands were on me and underneath my clothes." He then penetrated her with his fingers, she said. "I remember him saying, first, as he was doing it 'Do you want to go somewhere else?' and then him saying to me, when I pulled away... he said 'Come on man, I heard you liked me,'" she said. "That phrase stayed with me." The fact he was a champion of women's rights in her eyes made the experience all the more shattering, she said. Ms Reade filed a criminal complaint on 9 April with police, saying she was a victim of sexual assault but did not name Mr Biden. She said in a tweet that she filed the complained "for safety reasons only", as the statute of limitations for her claim have expired. Ms Reade was one of eight women who came forward last year to accuse the candidate of inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing, though none described his actions as sexual assault at the time. In response, Mr Biden pledged to be "more mindful" in his interactions.
4-14-20 US McDonald's workers file $500m sexual harassment lawsuit
Two McDonald's employees in Florida have filed a $500m (£400m) class action lawsuit, accusing the fast food giant of fostering "systemic sexual harassment". Jamelia Fairley and Ashley Reddick are named on behalf of some 5,000 women from over 100 US McDonald's outlets. It is backed by Time's Up, a high-profile legal charity set up as part of the #MeToo movement. McDonald's said it is "committed" to addressing all harassment claims. "McDonald's has always been committed to ensuring that our employees are able to work in an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment," the company said in a statement. Ms Fairley and Ms Reddick join 5,000 other women who have worked at corporate-run McDonald's restaurants across Florida since April 2016 and experienced sexual harassment on the job. The suit, filed in the company's home state of Illinois, centres on a particular McDonald's restaurant near Orlando, Florida, and alleges "extensive illegal harassment that went ignored by management". The plaintiffs say that numerous women were subject to "pervasive sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, including groping, sexual assault and sexually-charged comments" at the Orlando restaurant. Ms Fairley, 24, claims she was harassed by two colleagues. One made sexually-explicit comments towards her, she alleges, saying she had a "fat ass" and that he would "take [her] on a ride". Ms Fairley says the comments escalated to unwanted touching. The colleague would pull her into his groin area and "[rub] his genitals on her", the suit claims. Ms Fairley reported the behaviour, she says, and had her hours cut as a consequence of speaking up. "McDonald's did not take my complaint seriously," she said. Ms Reddick, 28, a former McDonald's worker, also allegedly faced verbal and physical harassment from a male co-worker. The colleague would rub his groin area against her, she says, and touch her thighs. On one occasion she alleges he put his phone in front of her face and showed her a picture of his genitals. Ms Reddick says she told her managers and was fired as a result.
4-13-20 Coronavirus lockdown spares Czech women an Easter whipping
The coronavirus lockdown has led to the suspension of a controversial Czech Easter tradition where men lightly whip women with a switch made of willow branches to ensure fertility.(Webmaster's comment: this is beyond sick, it is EVIL.) It is an Easter Monday ritual of pagan origin, popular in rural areas. Men go door-to-door, singing a ditty and whipping women's legs and buttocks. They are rewarded with painted eggs and shots of plum brandy. However, for many Czech women the ritual is far from harmless. "It hurt like hell," said Ladka Bauerova, who grew up in Prague, not a village. "Even as a child I felt acute embarrassment at the heavy-handed symbolism (you're giving men your eggs to stop them from being violent!?) It just wasn't right," she told the BBC. It can be seen either as a quaint rural custom with roots in pagan fertility rituals or an unacceptably sexist reminder of the power of the patriarchy. On Easter Monday, male villagers spend the morning going from house to house, whipping the village women. Frankly as the brandy-fuelled morning wears on, their ability to administer any kind of physical punishment is somewhat diminished. But wherever you stand on the tradition, it's not likely to be happening much this year as Interior Minister Jan Hamacek has urged Czech men to leave their whips at home. The Czech Republic has so far been only lightly affected by coronavirus - there were just 89 new cases on Sunday and a total of 139 Covid-19 deaths. However, the authorities are urging people to keep their guard up, including with the compulsory wearing of protective masks.
3-25-20 Cho Ju-bin: South Korea chatroom sex abuse suspect named after outcry
A man accused of leading a group that blackmailed girls into sharing sexual videos - which were then posted in pay-to-view chatrooms - has been named after an outcry in South Korea. At least 10,000 people used the chatrooms, with some paying up to $1,200 (£1,000) for access. Some 74 people, including 16 underage girls, were exploited. A police committee took the unusual step of naming Cho Ju-bin, 24, after five million people signed petitions. "I apologise to those who were hurt by me," Cho said as he was led away from a Seoul police station on Wednesday. "Thank you for putting a brake on the life of a devil that could not be stopped." He did not respond when reporters asked if he admitted the charges. He is accused of abuse, threats and coercion, and of violating the child protection act, the privacy act and the sexual abuse act. As reported by Quartz, customers paid to access the so-called "nth rooms", where extorted content from underage girls was uploaded. Fees ranged from $200 to $1,200. According to Korean newspaper Kookmin Ilbo, each of the eight "nth rooms" hosted videos from three to four girls who had been blackmailed by chatroom operators. The girls were active on chat apps, or Twitter, and engaged in prostitution or sexting for money. The chatroom operators contacted the girls, promising modelling or escort jobs. They were then directed to a Telegram account where the operator extracted personal details which were used to blackmail them. One schoolgirl - speaking to Kim Hyun Jung on South Korea's CBS radio - said she was approached online after looking for work. After being promised money and a phone, she was told to send pictures of herself, followed by sexual abuse videos. The victim said there were at least 40 videos in total. "He already had my face, my voice, my personal information," the victim said. "I was afraid that he would threaten me with that information if I said I would quit."
3-20-20 The Rape of Two Coreys
Charlie Sheen vehemently denied new allegations this week that he raped co-star Corey Haim while making the 1986 film Lucas. Corey Feldman has hinted for years that a major Hollywood figure raped his fellow child star and longtime friend, causing Haim years of trauma before he died from pneumonia in 2010 at age 38. In Feldman’s long-awaited documentary (My) Truth: The Rape of Two Coreys, he recounts a story he claims Haim asked him to reveal before his death. “He went into great detail,” Feldman says. “He told me, ‘Charlie bent me over in between two trailers…and raped me in broad daylight.’” Sheen was 19 and Haim was 13 during filming. Several others featured in the documentary claimed knowledge of the assault. Sheen said that “these sick, twisted, and outlandish allegations never occurred.”
3-20-20 Delhi Nirbhaya rape death penalty: What do hangings mean for India's women?
Four men found guilty of the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in the Indian capital, Delhi, seven years ago have been hanged. The hangings were the last step in the brutal December 2012 rape case that stunned India, brought thousands of protesters out on the streets and made global headlines for weeks. It also forced the authorities to bring in more stringent laws, including the introduction of the death penalty in rare cases. The judges perceived this particular crime fit for awarding the death penalty and on 20 March, the convicts were executed. Despite the outcry over the crime and the government's promise to deliver quick justice, the case had meandered through courts for more than seven years. The hangings have been welcomed by the victim's family. Her mother, Asha Devi, who had become the face of the campaign to carry out the death sentences, has said that justice has finally been done. There have been celebrations outside the prison where the executions took place with many chanting "death to rapists". But will it make women any safer in India? A short answer to that question would be: No. And that's because despite the increased scrutiny of crimes against women since December 2012, similar violent incidents have continued to make headlines in India. According to government data, thousands of rapes take place every year and the numbers have been consistently rising over the years. Recently-released figures from the National Crime Records Bureau show police registered 33,977 cases of rape in 2018 - that's an average of 93 every day. (Webmaster's comment: In the United States we have an average of 433,648 rapes every year for an average of 1,188 rapes per day, over 12 times the rate in India!) And statistics tell only a part of the story - campaigners say thousands of rapes and cases of sexual assault are not even reported to the police. I personally know women who have never reported being assaulted because they are ashamed, or because of the stigma associated with sexual crimes, or because they are afraid that they will not be believed. Even so, the daily newspapers are full of horrific reports of violations and it seems no-one is safe - a victim could be an eight-month-old or a septuagenarian, she could be rich or poor or middle class, an assault could take place in a village or the big city, inside her own home or on the street.
3-20-20 Nirbhaya case: Four Indian men executed for 2012 Delhi bus rape and murder
Four Indian men convicted of the gang rape and murder of a student in Delhi in 2012 have been hanged. Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh were sentenced to death by a trial court in 2013. The four were hanged in the capital's high-security Tihar prison in the first executions in India since 2015. The victim died from her injuries days after being raped by six men on a moving bus. The incident caused outrage and led to new anti-rape laws in India. The 23-year-old physiotherapy student was dubbed Nirbhaya - the fearless one - by the press as she could not be named under Indian law. Six people were arrested for the attack. One of them, Ram Singh, was found dead in jail in March 2013, having apparently taken his own life. Another, who was 17 at the time of the attack, was released in 2015 after serving three years in a reform facility - the maximum term possible for a juvenile in India. In the last few months, all four convicts filed petitions in the Supreme Court in a bid to reduce their sentences to life imprisonment. But the top court rejected their petitions, leaving the men with no other legal recourse. A last-minute appeal to have the death penalties commuted was also rejected hours before the executions. Minutes after the convicts were hanged on Friday morning, the victim's mother said, "I hugged my daughter's photograph and told her we finally got justice." Her father said that his "faith in the judiciary had been restored". Security was tight outside the prison with a large number of police and paramilitary personnel deployed to maintain law and order. A group of people carrying placards had gathered outside the prison gates and began celebrating after the executions were announced. Some chanted "death to rapists" and waved posters thanking the judiciary. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Friday morning saying "justice has prevailed". He added that the country had to "build a nation where the focus is on women's empowerment". Despite the fact that this case made rape and sexual violence against women a focus, there has been no sign that crimes against women are abating. Recently-released figures from the National Crime Records Bureau show police registered 33,977 cases of rape in 2018 - that's an average of 93 cases a day. (Webmaster's comment: In the United States we have an average of 433,648 rapes per year for an average of 1,188 rapes per day, over 12 times the rate in India!)
3-13-20 Gone for life
Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison this week for raping one woman and sexually assaulting another, meaning the disgraced movie producer who sparked the #MeToo movement will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. Weinstein’s attorneys requested a five-year sentence, but Judge James Burke gave Weinstein 20 years for forcing oral sex on Miriam Haley in 2006 and three years for the third-degree rape of Jessica Mann in 2013. The sentences will run concurrently. All six women who testified to being sexually assaulted by Weinstein sat together in the courtroom, some sobbing upon hearing the sentence. Weinstein, 67, says he suffered a concussion while awaiting his sentence at the Rikers Island jail, and told Burke he’s experienced “hell on earth.” Although Weinstein said he feels “great remorse,” he also attacked #MeToo, saying he’s “totally confused” about what happened to his life.
3-13-20 Day without women
Thousands of Mexican women withdrew from public life this week in a daylong protest to draw attention to the thousands of women who are murdered each year in Mexico. In the capital, subway cars reserved for women were nearly empty, and many businesses were sparsely staffed and lacking in customers. Femicides in Mexico have risen 137 percent over the past five years—four times more than the general homicide rate—and about 10 women are killed there every day. The strike came one day after the International Women’s Day march, which drew 80,000 people onto the streets of Mexico City. Protesters brought signs reading “Fight today so we don’t die tomorrow.”
3-12-20 Harvey Weinstein jailed for 23 years in rape trial
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault. He was found guilty in a trial in New York last month, a dramatic fall from grace for one of Hollywood's most powerful figures. The 67-year-old appeared in court on Wednesday in a wheelchair. His lawyers had appealed for leniency, saying even the minimum sentence of five years could be a "life sentence". But prosecutors argued Weinstein should be given the maximum possible sentence given his "lifetime of abuse" towards women and "lack of remorse" for his actions. Weinstein addressed the court for the first time on Wednesday, saying he had "deep remorse" but described him and other men as "totally confused" by events in comments seen as critical to the #MeToo movement. Dozens of women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, including rape, against Weinstein since October 2017. He has consistently denied wrongdoing and his lawyers have vowed to appeal against his conviction. These were the first charges to make it to trial. Weinstein still faces further criminal charges, for rape and sexual assault, in Los Angeles, where officials have started extradition proceedings. Hours after being sentenced, he was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan with chest pains, a spokesman said. He had heart surgery after his conviction. Weinstein was found guilty of committing a first-degree criminal sexual act against production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006 and of the third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013. New York jurors acquitted him of the most serious charges, of predatory sexual assault, which could have seen him given an even longer jail term. All six women who testified against him during his trial sat together on Wednesday as he was sentenced and told to register as a sex offender.
3-11-20 Harvey Weinstein arrives for sentencing in New York rape trial
Harvey Weinstein has arrived in court in New York for sentencing, weeks after being found guilty of sexual assault and rape in a landmark trial. Once one of Hollywood's most powerful figures, Weinstein could face up to 29 years in prison. His lawyers have appealed for a much shorter term. Weinstein appeared in court in a wheelchair. The 67-year-old has recently been moved to Rikers Island jail after being hospitalised when his trial ended. He had stent implant surgery to remove a blockage after complaining of chest pains, according to a spokesman. Weinstein's lawyers have asked Judge James Burke to consider his poor health, age and young children while sentencing him. They asked for the shortest possible punishment of five years for their client, citing his "accomplishments" and "charitable endeavours" over the years. Prosecutors have asked for a prison sentence which reflects his "lifetime of abuse towards others" and "lack of remorse" for his actions. Dozens of women have come forward allegations of sexual misconduct, including rape, against Weinstein since October 2017. Weinstein consistently denied wrongdoing and his lawyers have said they will appeal against his convictions. Both he and the two women he was found guilty of assaulting could have the chance to speak at Wednesday's hearing, AP reports. Weinstein was convicted for two offences last month after a weeks-long trial in Manhattan. He was found guilty of a first-degree criminal sexual act charge for forcing oral sex on former production assistant Miriam Haley, also known as Mimi Haleyi, in 2006. He was also convicted of the third-degree rape of Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, in 2013. The jury acquitted him of a more serious first-degree rape charge relating to Ms Mann. Jurors also cleared him of the two other counts he faced, for predatory sexual assault, which would have factored in the testimony of a third woman: actress Annabella Sciorra. Her allegation of rape, which dated back to the 1990s, was too old to be charged independently under New York law. If Weinstein had been found guilty of the more serious predatory assault charges, he could have faced a life sentence.
3-7-20 Aurat March: Pakistani women face violent threats ahead of rally
Conservative groups in Pakistan are often heard to invoke a famous saying: the proper place of a woman is in her "chadar aur char diwari" - meaning veiled and within the four walls of her home. But this weekend, in the face of violent threats and legal petitions, women across Pakistan are preparing to demand their rights in direct defiance of that belief. Since 2018, Aurat March - Urdu for Women's March - has been held in many cities across Pakistan to coincide with International Women's Day on 8 March. It is no small feat in a conservative Muslim country where many women often don't feel safe in public places because of the harassment they often endure. Those who took part last year faced intense backlash, especially online. Some said they had received death and rape threats afterwards. And this year, voices on both sides of the debate have grown louder in the lead-up. While religious and right-wing groups have said the march goes against Islam, even moderate factions have taken issue with what the marchers themselves acknowledge is a provocative approach. "There's a deep conflict in the society that we live in, about the right of women to ask for their rights; to be mobile, to be out in the streets," says a 38-year-old organiser in Karachi, who did not want to be identified. The idea for Aurat March began when a few women decided to mobilise their networks and gather in a park in the port city of Karachi on International Women's Day to ask for an end to violence and harassment. It has since evolved into a wider movement, including transgender people, demanding better laws to protect women and enforcement of existing laws, as well as raising awareness and changing attitudes. The march took inspiration from similar events in the US, but has been further fuelled by incidents at home. The "honour killing" of social media star Qandeel Baloch by her own brother and other incidents have shone a light on violence against women in recent years.
3-6-20 Is it okay to tell a dirty joke at work?
On her first day in a new job in the City, Kate (not her real name) didn't know what to expect. Now a successful executive, she remembers being ready to roll with the punches, anything in order to get ahead. What she didn't expect was unrelenting sexual innuendo. Whenever she wore red heels, one of her bosses joked about how she wasn't "wearing knickers". In other meetings, senior male colleagues would say "while you're down there", when she was plugging in a computer. By the time she quit, she says, she knew the reference to red shoes was a joke that was often made. While Kate doesn't mind a bit of "banter", she says it was just too easy for lines to be blurred, especially within the tough culture of the City. What was meant as joking around with the boys, when you are the subject of the comments amount to sexual harassment. She told the human resources team who handled her exit interview that this kind of office "humour" had driven her to attempt suicide. While Kate's experience was extreme, others agree with her, that "jokes" at work often get out of hand. In one survey, out of 20,000 people questioned, only 16% of British women were comfortable with sexual workplace humour. On the other hand, 28% of men in the UK think it is okay to tell a dirty joke at work. And British men are happier to have a laugh over a crude joke, than men from many other parts of the world including Turkey, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the United States. The difference between having a joke in the workplace or delaying it until "you are with your mates at the pub" can mean a lot to female co-workers, says Hillary Margolis a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. "A lot of women feel they have to brush or laugh off a joke or they will be seen as too serious. But it can make women and those who identify as non-binary - and also people who are LGTBQ - feel disparaged," she says.
3-3-20 Spain plans 'only yes means yes' rape law
Spain's government has backed a proposed change to its controversial rape laws that focuses on the importance of sexual consent. DA series of court cases prompted outrage when men were convicted of sexual abuse, rather than the more serious offence of sexual assault. The new law will abolish that distinction so that rape will instead be decided by the question of consent. Several European countries already define rape as sex without consent. The UK, Sweden and Germany are among those that do, and Spain has joined Denmark in planning to change its definition. The terms of the new rape law, which were given the green light by ministers on Tuesday, will see any penetration without consent as rape, punishable by between four and 10 years in jail. Aggravated rape will command a higher prison term, with a maximum of 15 years. The punishment will be higher where the victim is the rapist's wife or former partner. The current law was widely condemned after a group of five men who called themselves "La manada" (wolf pack) were initially cleared of gang-raping a teenage woman and convicted instead of sexual abuse. The court in Navarre in northern Spain decided that the woman had not faced violence or intimidation, as intimidation was considered key to establishing the crime of rape. That was eventually struck down in June 2019 when the Supreme Court endorsed the principle of "only yes means yes", using the Istanbul Convention definition that "consent must be given voluntarily as the result of the person's free will assessed in the context of the surrounding circumstances". The men's jail terms were raised from nine to 15 years. For the first time, she said, the law would recognise that sexual violence was gender, or "macho", violence. The proposals could still be changed by parliament, as they require a new offence under Spain's criminal code.
2-28-20 ‘Future saint’ an abuser
The late founder of a French charity who was seen as a likely candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church has been exposed as a serial sexual predator. Jean Vanier, who died last year at age 90, was the founder of L’Arche International, a nonprofit that helps people with learning disabilities in 38 countries. But in a report released this week, L’Arche said that the devoutly Catholic Vanier had coercive sexual relationships with six women—none of them disabled—from 1970 to 2005, leaving them psychologically and spiritually harmed. One woman said Vanier told her: “This is not us, this is Mary and Jesus. You are chosen, you are special, this is secret.” The director of L’Arche in the U.S., Tina Bovermann, said she shared the news with sorrow but added, “We stand today on the side of those who have been harmed.
2-28-20 President downplays femicide
After a rash of protests over Mexico’s epidemic of violence against women, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has drawn fierce criticism for dismissing the demonstrations as a conservative conspiracy. An average of 10 Mexican women and girls are killed every day, mostly by current or former partners, and the past few weeks have seen a series of particularly gruesome murders: Ingrid Escamilla, 25, was skinned and disemboweled by her boyfriend, and Fátima Aldrighett, 7, was kidnapped from school and tortured to death. Activists have spray-painted the national palace with anti-femicide slogans and called for a women’s strike on March 9. López Obrador, a leftist, said that his conservative opponents were exploiting the issue to harm him. “Conservatives have now become feminists,” he said, “and just as there are women who protest freely out of conviction, there are also opportunists.”
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.