Monthly Archives: February, 2013

“Police failed to investigate sex attacks across six London boroughs”

A man accused of rape was allowed to walk free and later kill two children as a result of a “disturbing” police policy to manipulate crime statistics by failing to record sexual assault allegations – a tactic that was employed in several more London boroughs than was officially admitted on Tuesday, the Guardian has learned.

An official report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission on Tuesday identified one London borough – Southwark – where the policy operated.

However, sources said that an internal police review in 2009 had identified five other areas where similar practices operated.

The resulting policy led to scores of women in boroughs such as Haringey having their allegations not classed as crimes instead of being investigated by police. When the practices were spotted by Metropolitan police chiefs and corrected, it led to a 25% spike in recorded sexual offences in a year, a rise of 469 recorded incidents, a source said.

Tuesday’s report from the IPCC focused on the policy of a specialist Met sex crimes unit based in Southwark, south London, which was branded as “deeply disturbing”.

The IPCC said the Sapphire unit in Southwark tried to persuade women who reported they had been sexually attacked to drop their cases.

It did so to boost its performance figures, which were among the worst in the Met.

The policy had disastrous consequences. A woman who made rape allegations against Jean Say in November 2008 did not have her case investigated.

Say went on to murder his daughter Regina, aged 8, and son Rolls, aged 10, with a carving knife, with police having missed the chance to take him off the streets. He was later jailed for life.

The IPCC report says a detective decided that the woman who earlier made rape allegations against Say had consented to sex. Thus no forensics were taken and the suspect was not even interviewed about the rape allegation.

According to the report: “There is no doubt from the evidence that the woman made an allegation of rape at Walworth police station which should have been believed and thoroughly investigated.”

The IPCC also revealed other Met failings. It said that officers involved in alleged blunders – which left the serial sex attacker Kirk Reid free to assault an estimated 71 women – had not faced a disciplinary panel, despite the watchdog saying they should answer charges of gross misconduct.

Furthermore, two officers who should have faced discipline hearings were in fact promoted.

A protest letter from the IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass to the Met, complaining about a “unhappy litany of delay and prevarication” in the failure to hold discipline hearings, did not receive a reply, the watchdog added.

The report was the IPCC’s ninth into the Met’s treatment of sexual violence victims.

Glass warned that the Met’s repeated claims to have learned lessons after a series of blunders was hard to find credible. “Given the number of cases where the Met’s response to victims has failed, either through individual officers’ criminality or neglect or more systemic problems of training, priorities and resources, the response that ‘lessons have been learned’ begins to ring hollow,” she said.

The Met said the scandal in Southwark has been ended. It ran from 2008 to 2009.

Women reporting sexual assaults would be questioned repeatedly by a detective about whether they had consented to sex. They were encouraged to withdraw their complaints, which boosted the unit’s sanctioned detection rate.

The Sapphire unit’s behaviour broke the force’s policy that women were to be believed unless there was compelling evidence to the contrary.

The IPCC refused to say how many women had been effected by the practice. It said further investigation was hampered because of missing files, which disappeared during building works and due to an archiving system.

But solicitor Debaleena Dasgupta, who helps women who feel they have been failed by the criminal justice system, said the refusal to investigate legitimate rape claims was wider-reaching than one Sapphire unit.

“I have been approached by people who have been in the same position when dealt with by other parts of the Met – it’s not just Southwark,” she said.

The revelations about Southwark are the latest in a long line of police blunders in dealing with sexual violence cases.

In the case of John Worboys, the Met police missed chances to stop a man who drugged, raped and sexually assaulted over 100 women. He was arrested and released after a woman came forward in July 2007 and officers chose to believe his account, not hers. The victim said she had been “lied to and laughed at” by officers. Worboys was given an indeterminate sentence in April 2009.

A detective from another Sapphire unit was convicted last year of failing to investigate the alleged rapes and sexual assaults of 12 women by faking police reports, failing to pass on forensic evidence and not interviewing suspects.

Green party London Assembly member Jenny Jones said the Met was failing to honour repeated promises to end blunders in rape and sexual assault cases: “Despite the fine words of four Commissioners in the past 12 years, the Met is still underperforming badly for rape survivors and simply not doing their job of solving crimes and catching criminals.”

In a statement, the Met said it had improved: “We have for some time acknowledged that previous investigation of rape and serious sexual assault in the MPS was below standard. The activities identified in this report came during that era and highlight specific issues within Southwark which resulted in unacceptable actions by local officers.

“It is as a result of such failings that we have made substantial changes to the investigation of rape and serious sexual assault, both in terms of structure and revised working practices.”

The IPCC said discipline cases may be held against Met officers and at least one from another unit is facing a criminal investigation.


“There is no feminist war on sex workers”

I’ve become increasingly frustrated by what feels like a barrage of articles coming from self-described progressives claiming that feminists are the real enemy of sex workers. It seems as though some of those who position themselves as ‘sex worker rights activists’ are intent on creating rigid divisions among women, placing the prostituted woman in a category of her own and placing feminists in some illusory moralistic war against sex.

A key factor is that many writers on the left either misunderstand or misrepresent the abolitionist approach as a moralistic one, leading them to draw unfounded conclusions based on what could easily be resolved by having a simple conversation.

I’m disappointed that journalism, the left and the feminist movement has come to manipulating ideology in order to further a rather self-defeating cause, but here we are.

There are a number of recent examples of this distortion. Reason, a libertarian print and online magazine, recently published an article called “The War on Sex Workers.” The author, Melissa Gira Grant, criticizes the criminalization of prostituted women in the U.S. — a righteous endeavor, no doubt. But rather than challenge an unequal and oppressive system that offers marginalized women few viable options outside the sex industry and then criminalizes them for doing what they have to in order to survive (essentially criminalizing poverty) and a porn culture that positions stripping and pornography as empowering professions for women, Grant blames feminists.

Continue reading here. Meghan Murphy is a brilliant writer and I don’t quote/link to her enough; this piece is thorough, comprehensive and well researched, go read it!

MRA/Dudebro Bingo

MRA Bingo

From Princess Bubblescum

I need radical feminism because …

I need radical feminism because

From Feminist Ninja

This highlights a fundamental difference between radical feminism and liberal feminism.

Liberal feminism is more concerned with reaching some level of political and social equality between men and women within the current system.

Radical feminism doesn’t think this goes far enough, and critiques that being equal with men in a system that is built around notions of inequality is neither possible nor attractive. Radical feminists instead focus on seeking the root problem that causes structural and systematic oppression of women as a class and aim to recreate the very fabric of our societies, governments, institutions, economies, etc. in a way that allows for the full expression, inclusion, participation, and liberation of women. Not at the expense of men, but at the expense of age-old systems that are damaging to women as a class. Incidentally, radical feminists find the system damaging to men as well, for it forces polarity between the sexes, neither side being inclusive of the whole of human experience.

Full list here

“Oxford child abuse trial: woman says she was branded at age of 12”

TRIGGER WARNING for descriptions of sexual violence

A young woman has told the Old Bailey that when she was 12 years old she was branded with the initial of a man so other men who raped her would know she “belonged” to him.

The jury was earlier told that the woman, now 19, had been sold to the man as an 11-year-old. She told the court that until she was 15 he repeatedly and brutally raped her, organising for other men to have sex with her.

The woman, known as girl D for legal reasons, said on several occasions Mohammed Karrar and his brother Bassam Karrar forced her to have sex with one of them while performing a sex act on the other.

The woman is the fourth witness to give evidence at the Old Bailey in the trial of nine men accused of offences including rape, trafficking and child prostitution against children as young as 11 in Oxford.

Appearing in court via video link, the woman struggled to control her emotions on several occasions, fighting back tears and taking deep breaths as she gave her evidence.

She earlier told the court that Mohammed Karrar would rape her in her own home as her parents were deaf. On one occasion after sex she was on her sofa wearing only knickers when he took one of her hairpins, stripped the paint off it with a knife, bent it into a M and heated it up with a lighter. He then burned it into her bottom, she said. “He was branding me so people knew that I was his … if I had to have sex with someone else.”

Earlier she described a “honeymoon period” with Mohammed Karrar when she believed he loved her and they were in a romantic relationship. She told the court earlier in the week that she had become pregnant and he had taken her to have an illegal abortion.

She met Mohammed Karrar and his brother Bassam Karrar as an 11-year-old and was forced to have sex with both of them, she said. She described one occasion when she said Mohammed Karrar had followed her into the bathroom and gagged her with her own scarf before raping her.

Knowing he carried a knife in his coat pocket, she grabbed it, she told the court. “I kind of took the knife and threatened him. I said I would stab him but I didn’t do anything. He was quite mad with me, even threatening him and taking the knife,” she said.

He dragged her to the living room and told the other people there to leave. Then he grabbed a baseball bat, she said. “I was whacked around my head. I remember whistling in my ears, my head felt really heavy and pounded,” she said.

When she regained consciousness he was assaulting her with the handle of the baseball bat, she told the court. “I hated him when he done that”, she said. “I thought it was my own fault because I shouldn’t have threatened him with the knife.”

She told the court she had “no choice” but to have sex with the brothers. If she tried to stop Mohammed Karrar “sometimes he would get angry, sometimes give me a guilt trip”. Asked how he would react she said he would “shout, hit, or just take it into his own hands”.

She described one occasion when he hit her with the back of his hand and she “flew into the sofa”. If she refused to have sex “he would force himself upon me, he would whisper in my ear saying you know this is what it’s meant to be like, baby, I love you”, she said.

Mohammed Karrar had total control over her and would force her to dress up and perform roleplays, she told the court. “If he wanted me to do something I would do it. [He said] If he wanted me to eat shit, I would eat shit.”

Mohammed Karrar also organised for other men to have sex with her and took payment for it, the woman told the court. She met other men in hotel rooms or in flats, sometimes alone or in twos and threes, and up to three times a week, she told the court. She was expected to treat the men like “important guests” but said “it was meant to be nice … but I dressed like a slut”.

She told the court that on a few occasions she had been able to say no, but more often “they would go mad, or sometimes they would ask very nicely, [saying] ‘Please, for me, these are my guests’, but eight times out of 10 it was ‘You have to do it and you are going to do it’.” One man threatened her with a knife before penetrating her with the handle of the weapon, she said. She didn’t understand what the men said to each other, as they talked in a different language, but she got the impression they enjoyed scaring her, she told the court.

After the men had left, Mohammed Karrar would force her to have a bath and scrub her so hard that she would, on occasion, bleed, she told the court.

He would say “stuff like I’m a dirty bitch, and I needed to keep clean. Calling me all the names under the sun,” she said. He would ask sarcastically if she had enjoyed herself. “He would just make me feel lower and lower and lower, even though it was him making me lower,” she told the court.

Kamar Jamil, 27, Akhtar Dogar, 32, Anjum Dogar, 30, Assad Hussain, 32, Mohammed Karrar, 38, Bassam Karrar, 33, Mohammed Hussain, 24, Zeeshan Ahmed, 27, and Bilal Ahmed, 26, face a total of 51 counts between them, including rape, forcing a child into prostitution and trafficking. The men deny all the charges.

It is alleged the men targeted young girls from vulnerable and chaotic backgrounds, and over a period of eight years subjected them to extreme physical and sexual violence, sold some victims for prostitution in Oxford and trafficked others around the country.

The trial continues.

From The Guardian

For my US readers: Create federal law banning rapists from suing for custody and visitation rights to the children their assault creates

31 states allow rapists to sue for rights to the children their assault creates, and an estimated 32,000 women will become pregnant as a result of rape each year.

Do not allow their attackers to victimize them further. These rapists do not deserve custody or visitation rights. We must show women of America that we will no longer allow them to be victimized by their attackers over and over again.

We must take rape seriously.

Sign the petition here

“Until male violence toward women stops …”

Until male violence toward women stops and women feel safe with (and safe from) men, it is impossible to say whether women’s femininity, love for men, and heterosexual identity are anything other than survival responses.

Dee L. R. Graham, Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men’s Violence, and Women’s Lives

Found at Feminist Ninja

Hang on … there’s a fourth wave of feminism happening?!?

I simply hadn’t noticed! It seems that the ‘fourth wave’ of feminism (or should that be ‘feminism’) is much the same as the third wave, except even more lacking in political and structural analysis, and even more invested in the magical power of choosy-choices, plus this esoteric thing called ‘agency’, which is so powerful, it can negate a woman’s political and social reality, but at the same time, so fragile the mere opinions of radical feminists can destroy it!

On the liberal side, one of the tenets of the fourth wave of feminism, which is just starting to crest, is that women should not criticise one another’s life choices. Rather, every lifestyle, every fashion choice is acceptable because they all reflect a woman’s freedom of choice, whether it’s going out in one’s underwear (Slutwalk) or, well, being a princess. This kind of open-ended tolerance is all well and good, except when it then results in people attacking another woman for expressing an opinion about an industry that exploits their own, as invariably happens when a woman discusses, say, Page 3 girls or strip clubs.

Hadley Freeman, writing about Hilary Mantel

Thanks Patriarchy!

Thanks Patriarchy!

From Notcot

“UK ‘will follow Iceland’s lead over ban on internet porn’: Anti-pornography campaigner believes Britain will try to filter out ‘brutal and hardcore imagery which is now the standard'”

One of the world’s leading anti-pornography campaigners predicts that Britain will be next in following Iceland’s lead and looking at a ban on internet pornography.

Iceland’s ministry of the interior is drawing up anti-porn legislation after consultations with police and education and health officials showed strong concern over the impact of online porn on children as well as women and their relationships with men.

Dr Gail Dines, a British-American academic based at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts and author of Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality, said she believed that Britain would be next to attempt to filter out the “increasingly brutal and hardcore imagery which is now the standard”.

“I have been talking to charities in the UK and the NSPCC and professionals and they are seeing what is happening, the rise in child abuse, the violence. There are real moves afoot to follow Iceland. We live in a very closed-down society when it comes to talking about sex so a lot of people have their heads in the sand but not those working on the ground. You cannot leave it to parents. Online porn is shaping the sexual lives of our young people.”

Claire Lilley, of the NSPCC, said: “We wouldn’t come out and ask for a full ban, we want to stop children being exposed to it. The average child now has access to five devices so we are beyond the stage of a parental lock on the family PC. But there is wrangling and foot-dragging from the internet service providers over how we can implement the opt-out system, where new customers to an ISP are asked specifically to say they want access to adult sites otherwise they will be blocked. She said the gambling industry had managed to run an age verification system successfully.

“We are not being moralistic about pornography. The stuff children are coming across is hardcore and upsetting. It’s also staggering how widespread child pornography is.”