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Posts Tagged ‘rape’

Slut-shamed at the American border

In behavior, blogging, culture, immigration, journalism, life, love, Media, men, travel, US on April 27, 2013 at 2:55 pm
Welcome to the United States of America

Welcome to the United States of America (Photo credit: Kai Strandskov)

By Caitlin Kelly

This is one hell of a post, by University of British Columbia student Clay Nikiforuk, from rabble.ca:

What do you do when you’re detained by powerful officials, everything you say is presumed deceptive, arbitrary “evidence” is held against you, and you’re treated like a moral deviant? And what if its 2013, you’re a woman, and the “evidence” is that you possess condoms? It happened three times in two weeks — being detained by U.S. border officials on my way to or through the States…

I was detained, yelled at, patted down, fingerprinted, interrogated, searched, moved from room to room and person to person without food, water or being told what was going on for what seemed like forever. Just as I thought they were tiring of me and going to refuse me entry but at least let me back into Aruba, a ‘Bad Cop’ type took me to a distant, isolated office and yelled at me that I was full of shit. He had found information online that in the last couple of years I had been modelling and acting. This, he concluded, was special code for sex work, and I was never going to enter the U.S.A. ever again. I tried not to laugh and cry at the same time. I told him I’m currently writing a book on the sociology of sexual assault.

“Are you looking to be sexually assaulted?”

I blinked at him. I couldn’t breathe.

“Was that meant to be funny?”

“No, it wasn’t.”

“Ah, no. I’m definitely not.”

“Well, it sure seems like you are.”

“… How so?”

He wouldn’t elaborate.

This post raises a whole host of questions about power, sexuality, female agency and abuse of power. I also had my own issues with it because she admits — brave? foolish? — that she was traveling with her lover, a married man. Not my thing. I hate adulterers, frankly; my first husband was one, as was his partner (now his second wife.)

She had initially entered the country by bus. Bad choice!

But the larger point remains: whose fucking business is it, when women cross the U.S. border, who we’re fucking, when and why?

Are young, unmarried men subjected to the same sort of interrogation?

I’m betting that’s a “no.”

ARIZONA BORDERS AND CITIZEN SAFETY...

ARIZONA BORDERS AND CITIZEN SAFETY… (Photo credit: roberthuffstutter)

I’ve also lived through a much milder version of this, as a young, single Canadian regularly crossing the American border for a year or so to visit my then beau, (later first husband), an American I had met when he was at med school in Montreal and who was then doing his residency in New Hampshire.

I did not then know how to drive, at 30, nor did I own a car. I did not understand that, in the United States, traveling anywhere by bus shrieks — at least to border officials — of poverty, desperation and an apparent lack of any economic choice.

To me, as I’m sure it was to Clay, also a well-educated Canadian woman, it was just a damn bus, an affordable, efficient mode of transportation, with no coded message implied.

Wrong!

The offices of The Gazette newspaper on Saint ...

The offices of The Gazette newspaper on Saint Catherine Street, Montreal, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was also making, for a young journo, a healthy wage as a staff reporter at the Montreal Gazette, a large regional newspaper. I had a laminated press pass with my photo on it. No matter!

Every single time I crossed the U.S. border and showed it to prove my full-time, staff job in Canada I was subjected to nasty and aggressive interrogation by U.S. border officials — surely the only reason I was dating an American man was to marry him, rightaway so I could escape my hideous, unemployed life in Canada.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

I climbed back into the bus every time shaken, crying, humiliated and angry. This bullshit was sexist, ugly and routine, and — luckily — something I’d not been subjected to before.

This was the country I’d be moving to to marry? Jesus!

Like Clay, I was young, single, female. These interrogations scared the shit out of me. How could they not? Would I lose the right to see my sweetie? Lose the privilege of crossing that border then, or forever? What records were they keeping and how could they affect me?

I moved to the United States, with a green card as a permanent legal resident, in July 1988 — after submitting to an AIDS test.

And yes, I learned how to drive and bought my first car, stat. The hell with the bus.

Have you ever faced this sort of experience?

Rape in India up 25 percent. Why?

In behavior, cities, Crime, culture, life, news, parenting, politics, urban life, women on December 31, 2012 at 11:17 am
Rape

Rape (Photo credit: Valeri Pizhanski)

While the rest of the world recently watched the horrors of a mass shooting of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut with disgust and dismay at Americans’ deep and profound attachment to private gun ownership, (consequences be damned), my own shock, disgust and sadness at that (latest) massacre here has been matched — possibly exceeded — by the reports of rape from India, where a 23-year-old woman was attacked and raped then thrown from a moving bus.

Her battered, torn body gave up the ghost in Singapore, where she was sent in a last-ditch desperate attempt to save her life. A 17-year-old girl, also raped — one of the barely one percent of women even reporting this assault to authorities — committed suicide.

This prompted one Indian politician to suggest girls stop wearing skirts to school.

No salwar kameez — the modest tunic/trousers combination — will protect any woman from  the brutality and terror of rape.

Here’s one analysis — albeit by John Lloyd,  a middle-age white male journalist writing for Reuters:

Indian observers have cast both tradition and modernity as background causes. The country’s most prominent sociologist, Dipankar Gupta, said the “unmet aspirations” among hundreds of millions of young men “who know just enough English to know that they don’t know English” were a major cause of Indian criminality. (It’s a telling comment: Fluency in English is among the most obvious class markers in India; most of the protesters’ signs were in English.) Cities are seen both as a place where success can be achieved and where traditional respect for fathers gives way to life in a space where male hedonism can be indulged. For the six drunkards on the New Delhi bus ride, a rape and a beating were folded into a fun night out.

Female empowerment has unsettled men everywhere. Women who think and speak for themselves rip apart settled hierarchies; educated women who take jobs other than mechanical, peasant labor or household tasks threaten the grip men have over income and its patterns of spending. The rootlesssness of the mainly dirt-poor migrants who flock to New Delhi and other cities for work tears them away from a life in which marriage is embedded in family and social structures.

And the nation’s leaders too often create moral vacuums. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered an anguished and brief reaction over Christmas, in which he sounded like a man who felt every one of his eight years in office and 80 years of life, and had nothing to offer but sympathy as with the father of three daughters. His honesty is unquestioned, but his governments have presided over large increases in corruption and in reported rape cases. Neither of these has been more than sporadically tackled. Now, in the December days on the streets of New Delhi, there may be something more than a flash flood of protesters – something that points to a tipping point.

From news.com.au:

Her killing has prompted government promises of better protection for women, and deep soul-searching in a nation where horrifying gang-rapes are commonplace and sexual harassment is routinely dismissed as “Eve-teasing”.

Several thousand people massed again yesterday in the centre of the Indian capital – some to express sympathy for the victim who had been out to watch a film with her boyfriend, others to voice anger at the government.

Stringent security measures that have seen government offices and other public areas sealed off in New Delhi to prevent protests have been seized on by critics as further evidence of an out-of-touch government bungling its response.

From Counterfire, a radical left website advocating for social change:

This horrific incident comes at a time of growing outrage in India about how women are treated and about the prevalence of rape and sexual assault. Demonstrators have repeatedly taken to the streets, to be met with tear gas, water cannon and attacks from riot police.

Police are guarding the presidential palace, parliament and war memorial in an attempt to deflect the rage which so many people feel not just towards the perpetrators of this and other rapes, but towards the government and police who are regarded as at best complacent – and at worst as colluding in growing numbers of attacks on women.

Sexual violence and official complicity

The government was silent for days after the attack. It has done little to challenge the climate where sexual attacks are widespread and offenders walk free. It is now proposing naming sex offenders, which may make some small difference but is hardly likely to alter the fundamentals of society where women are often not believed and where, if they are known to have been raped, they face social stigma and are unlikely to get married.

In a recent case, police jeered and laughed when a young 17-year-old woman in Punjab tried to report a gang rape. She was urged to drop the case and either marry one of the perpetrators or accept cash compensation. She committed suicide by taking poison.

Official figures show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year in India were against women.

Campaigners are demanding tougher sentences and better policing. Many will realise, however, that such demands will do little to stop rape and that there need to be fundamental changes in society if women are to be able to move freely around the streets and to have the right to live, work and study without the threat of sexual violence.

Broadside has readers in India.

I need to hear from you now.

What is going on?

Why are Indian women such objects of contempt, loathing and derision?

How is this considered acceptable by police, the judiciary, feminists, the press and the government?

What About Their Wives?

In behavior, domestic life, family, life, love, men, politics, women on June 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm
Larus argentatus

Kick 'em to the curb! Image via Wikipedia

Ah-nuld. DSK. Weiner.

What a sad, stupid, nasty trio of egos gone wild. All-id-all-the-time!

And, yet, they all (this week, anyway), have super alpha wives: smart, educated, powerful, wealthy.

Anne Sinclair, DSK’s wife, millionaire, broadcaster.

Huma Abedin, aide to Hillary Clinton, featured in Vogue: gorgeous, married less than two years to Weiner. (I do wonder what Hillary is saying to her about surviving such marital insanities.)

Maria Shriver, ex-broadcaster, ex First Lady, member of the Kennedy clan.

Their alpha men can’t keep their trousers zipped, nor be truthful or faithful.

My ex-husband wailed to me, on June 15, 1994, after barely two years of marriage, “I’m leaving” and ran off with someone he worked with; I at least had the financial dignity and means to survive without his lies and deception. Thanks to a pre-nup I made him sign.

I’d left Canada, and friends, family and career, to follow him to his native U.S. to start his medical career. (Journalism is not a business you leave untended for any length of time.)

Six weeks after I threw his stuff into garbage bags — after seven years of trying to make the thing work — I had a funny, fun, kind new boyfriend. And a marriage proposal from someone else in another  country who had loved me from afar for decades.

These men are morons — and their women? I can’t fathom the rage and embarrassment they must feel at having chosen them or stayed with them.

Women like these have choices, plenty of them, and better ones than these wretches.

I’d change the locks and start proceedings on every one of these losers.

What would you do?

Having A Lousy Date? There's A New App For That

In behavior, Crime on May 22, 2010 at 9:52 am
Image representing iPhone 3G as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Here’s a useful app – that turns your Itouch or Iphone into a rape whistle. From the Toronto Star:

On Friday, YWCA Canada announced its YWCA Safety Siren app, available free for download at the iTunes store.

The alarm — with a choice of three ear-splitting wails — goes off with either a press of the pink button or a shake, converting an iPhone or iPod Touch into a 21st-century version of the rape whistle.

Not only does the siren sound, but an email is automatically generated while a phone call gets made (if you have an iPhone) to preset emergency contacts. Both can attach a Google map pinpointing your location…

There are other safety apps already available, including an “I’m being assaulted’’ app that sends emails. There’s also an “Am I safe?’’ app that rates locations as go or no-go zones.

But neither combines all the features of the YWCA app, which is more than a siren. Hit the “Safe Date’’ button and there’s info on how to avoid trouble before you step out. The Health icon describes healthy ways to hook up. Dating 101 is a guide to guys, good and bad. Finally, the Geolocations tab will pop up a map showing the nearest health and rape crisis centres.

Even the most charming — often the most charming — of men can turn predatory. I doubt (m)any women are carrying rape whistles or Mace these days.

The wisest move, as every smart woman knows, is to let a friend know where you’re heading before going on a first date and/or avoiding a stranger’s car or apartment until you have some idea who he is. Having ended up in the clutches of a former felon, a man as handsome, well-dressed and chatty as they come, I know well that appearances mean little.

I think this is a smart idea.

The interesting question is what happens after that blast of noise — will anyone come to your aid? Or is it most useful as a distracting device, a chance to give you a few moments of surprise to flee?

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BBC Radio Looks At Women At War Worldwide

In the military, women on February 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm
A female Swedish soldier participates in joint...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

I’ve spent the week listening to a powerful BBC radio series on “Women At War”. One of them focused on the issue of sexual assault on American female soldiers:

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who sits on the Military Personnel Subcommittee, successfully lobbied last year for the development of a Sexual Assault Database to encourage accountability within the Armed Forces.

“There are plenty of phone calls that come into my office of alleged assault of women by our military men,” she says.

“They are heartbreaking. Some women don’t want to go public with it, some have gone public with it and they’ve been drilled out of the military.

“I’m told that the statistics are that once you have been raped in the military you are most likely to be raped over and over.”

She says that not enough prosecutions are happening and that while the Pentagon is taking it more seriously, big changes still need to be made.

“Why is it that when a woman alleges rape, the outcome shows that the man who supposedly did this was demoted or moved to another unit? I want to know why this is happening!”

Other women in the series include a former girl soldier in Eritrea and a female combat soldier in the Israeli army.

Women Soldiers Fight Another Enemy — Sexual Harrassment By Fellow GI's

In the military, women on December 28, 2009 at 10:23 am
050616-A-5930C-013 Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, vehi...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not a new story, although not an easy one to report with names and photos of women wiling to speak out publicly on the record. Female soldiers say they face significant sexual harrassment, let alone rape, according to today’s New York Times front-page story.

Here’s a two-year-old story from website DissidentVoice. And here’s an AP piece:

Of the women veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have walked into a VA facility, 15 percent have screened positive for military sexual trauma, The Associated Press has learned. That means they indicated that while on active duty they were sexually assaulted, raped, or were sexually harassed, receiving repeated unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature.

In January, the VA opened its 16th inpatient ward specializing in treating victims of military sexual trauma, this one in New Jersey. In response to complaints that it is too male-focused in its care, the VA is making changes such as adding keyless entry locks on hospital room doors so women patients feel safer.

Depression, anxiety, problem drinking, sexually transmitted diseases and domestic abuse are all problems that have been linked to sexual abuse, according to the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit group that provides support to victims of violence associated with the military. Since 2002, the foundation says it has received more than 1,000 reports of assault and rape in the U.S. Central Command areas of operation, which include Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Miles Foundation, based in Newtown, CT, focuses on helping women facing these issues.

How ugly and abusive that women brave and patriotic enough to fight in war face enemies within their own ranks.

College Rape Victims Speak Out, Hoping To Help Others

In Crime, education, women on December 19, 2009 at 9:19 pm

College rape victims say their attacks are often ignored or minimized, according to a new study reported by CNN:

One in five college women will be raped, or experience an attempted rape, before graduation. Less than 5 percent will report these crimes to officials on or off campus, and, when they do, there’s a good chance the system will let them down.

A handful of former students who spoke out and reported rapes at their schools told CNN they didn’t feel protected by their universities. They were initially interviewed as part of an investigative series by the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based nonprofit that says it seeks to make institutions more transparent and accountable.

The women welcomed the chance to share their experiences and offer advice to students today.

“I was too young, still in too much shock and too emotionally gone to make decisions on my own,” said a woman who, as a freshman, reported a rape in 2001. “I needed an adult I trusted. The school did not provide such a person.”

Schools are aware it’s a problem, a big problem. … They’re just not dealing with this issue head-on.
–Kristen Lombardi, Center for Public Integrity

The shocking statistics of rape and attempted rape on campus came to light in a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice nine years ago. But the recently released series published by the Washington center shows that while federal law requires schools to act on sexual assault allegations and look out for the rights of victims, many higher-education institutions aren’t making the grade.

“Schools are aware it’s a problem, a big problem,” said Kristen Lombardi, the center’s lead reporter for Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice. She pointed to a “culture of silence” and said critics say, “The biggest sin is one of omission. They’re just not dealing with this issue head-on in a public manner with their student bodies.”

The story has so far gathered 250 comments, several of which point out that men, too, are raped on campus and also need support and advice.

Rape in South Africa, Where Little Girls and Lesbians Are Targets of Choice

In politics, women on July 28, 2009 at 6:19 am
CIA map of South Africa

Image via Wikipedia

Today, BBC World News, a radio show I listen to every morning for an hour, will focus again on this horrifying issue, one the BBC has been following for years. In 2002, they posted the news that one in four South African girls under the age of 16 had been raped. Now, a survey of 1,730 men conducted by the Medical Research Council there finds that 25 percent of men say they’ve raped, and half of them have done it more than once.

In addition to child and adult rape, consider the phenomenon of “corrective rape” — the idea being that a brutal sexual attack by a man, or several will “cure” lesbians of their preference for women. Eudy Simelone, one of the nation’s star athletes, a lesbian, was raped and stabbed 25 times for the crime of being gay.

I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know her name or much about her story. Imagine the international outrage and horror if we heard of the raping and stabbing of openly lesbian athletes like  tennis legends Billie Jean King, Aurelie Mauresmo or Martina Navratilova, Canadian hockey player Nancy Drolet, German cyclist Judith Arndt, American mountain biker Missy Giove or Carol Blazejowski, a former basketball star now the general manager of the New Jersey Liberty of the WNBA.

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