Category Archives: We live in a rape culture

QotD: “These levels of physical and sexual violence are bordering on and including behaviour that would meet the criminal code definition of torture”

A concerning new trend tracked by welfare workers at the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence reveals clients who have been raped had been subjected to increasing violence.

Centre director Di McLeod in an address yesterday to more than 50 community stakeholders detailed the shocking violence which included women being subjected to group sex along with strangulation and choking.

Much of the violence had occurred after women were forced to have nonconsenting sex and their injuries required them to obtain treatment at the emergency departments at Gold Coast Hospitals.

“These levels of physical and sexual violence are bordering on and including behaviour that would meet the criminal code definition of torture,” Ms McLeod told the Problem with Porn conference at the Sharks Event Centre at Southport.

“What used to be an uncommon story is now very much an everyday story involving women of varied ages and diverse backgrounds.”

In the past five years the Coast centre had experienced a 56 per cent increase in referrals from emergency departments of local public hospitals, the forum was told.

“Sometimes the sexual violence is committed by a just-met partner, but in cases where the woman has knowledge of the offender’s habits she has often identified that the offender is a regular consumer of pornography,” Ms McLeod said.

The forum was told it was clear not everyone who viewed pornography would commit sexual and domestic violence “because some men who use pornography don’t rape”.

“But what research is finding and what we are seeing at our centre is that pornography is clearly influencing sexual expectations and practices between intimate partners, so that the correlation between pornography, rape and domestic violence can no longer be ignored,” Ms McLeod said.

The key finding by welfare workers was violent men using pornography could not see the difference between fantasy and reality and believed “women are up for it 24-7”.

The increased reporting figures were due to the extent of the injuries and view that many women felt less shame about admitting what had happened.

From the Gold Coast Bulletin, published 2016

Advertisements

QotD: “If sex is a service rape is just unpaid labor”

If sex is a service rape is just unpaid labor.

If sex is a service it can be provided to family members, morally.

If sex is a service it can be a small child’s career aspiration, and it should be supported as such.

If sex is a service then pornographic content can also be displayed to children, as they should be given examples of their work possibilities.

If sex is a service, and sex work is an existent opportunity to you, you can’t complain about being unemployed.

If sex is a service csa is just some form of child labour.

If sex is a service it is bigoted and against the costumer rights to denny service on the basis of anything, including sex, regardless of the workers orientation they should provide service to the costumer.

Things get really creepy when you mix things with inherent different natures like sex and labour, I know.

iloveradfems

If sex work is work, then incest is no different than working in the yard or shed with mom and dad. It’s just practice for working in the real world.

blackswallowtailbutterfly

Children being raped to death is just an occupational hazard

tehbewilderness

From tumblr

QotD: “The cautionary tale of Karen White, the transgender rapist”

There is a common criticism of journalism and political argument on this topic, a criticism that is often voiced by trans-rights advocates and others. It can be summarised as: “By discussing trans rights and cases of abuse in the same context, you are demonising trans people and implying that trans people are sexual predators and perverts. That is harmful because it adds to the stigma some trans people experience. Please stop.”

And if that was indeed the point being made, I think that would be a fair response.

But it’s not. The concern that has been raised about self-ID and other trans-rights policies is about safeguarding, about protecting vulnerable people from manipulative and abusive men. The expressed gender identity of those men doesn’t really come into it, except where those people might use the concept of gender to exploit those rules and facilitate their abuse.

Put more bluntly, no one is scared about trans people here. They’re scared about rapists. Some rapists say they’re trans. Get over it.

Because acknowledging that some sex offenders will use gender laws to facilitate their abuse is no more “anti-trans” than accepting that some sex offenders used their positions as Roman Catholic priests to carry out abuse is anti-Catholic. Bad people do bad things. Anyone making, implementing or advising on policy should accept that basic fact and work to mitigate it, not cry bigot when someone asks whether that policy is open to misuse.

One of the feminist groups that raised such concerns is Fair Play for Women. These are the people who really sounded the alarm about transgender offenders in the women’s prison estate, with a report last autumn that was later borne out in official figures released by the MoJ. As the group’s warnings over prisons are being so horribly vindicated by the Karen White case, I hope that people in authority will pay more attention to FPFW’s most recent work, which is about domestic violence refuges and shelters.

That report makes two points that deserve much more attention in political conversation about gender, law and domestic violence. The first is that a lot of women who run and use shelters feel they can’t talk freely about this issue, for the familiar reasons that they will be accused of transphobia, lose their jobs and lose funding for the services they provide for vulnerable women.

The second, and more fundamental, point is that the people who run shelters and refuges believe that laws proposed to make life easier for transgender people will also have the effect of making it easier for abusive men to abuse women.

The report, based on the accounts of domestic violence workers and volunteers, makes abundantly clear the fact that the sort of men who wish to hurt, rape and kill women will take every opportunity to do. One shelter manager with 37 years’ experience told FPFW researchers:

With self-ID policies we will effectively be giving the keys to women’s refuges to abusive men. If that happens, beyond a shadow of a doubt, women will die. Never ever underestimate the potential for abusive men to track down, find and torture their victim.

Perhaps you think that’s hyperbolic or excessively dramatic. If so, consider again the case of Karen White.

In 2016, the Prison Service put in place a policy that was intended to make life easier for transwomen in custody. That policy meant Karen White, a rapist and child abuser, was able to gain access to vulnerable women and sexually assault them. In the words of the prosecution in White’s latest trial, White is a “predator” who sought to “use a transgender persona to put herself in contact with vulnerable persons she can then abuse.”

Those words were spoken in a trial that ended in Karen White being given a life sentence and the judge telling White: “You are a predator and highly manipulative and in my view you are a danger.”

The Karen White case came about even after MPs had been given clear warnings by several experts that dangerous and manipulative predators like Karen White would try to exploit gender laws and rules in order to abuse women. They failed to act on those warnings and properly scrutinise the rules involved in the Karen White case.

Now, that Fair Play for Women report about domestic violence shelters gives MPs and other people in power another chance to do better. They have been given a clear warning by the professionals who spend their every waking moment dealing with the harm done by abusive men and trying to protect women from abusive men, that such men will try to exploit laws on gender change to find, abuse and kill women.

What will it take to persuade them to listen to that warning this time?

James Kirkup

QotD: “#Merseyside Police failing to monitor sex offenders, says watchdog. Same police force found time to investigate #WomenDontHavePenises stickers”

#Merseyside Police failing to monitor sex offenders, says watchdog. Same police force found time to investigate #WomenDontHavePenises stickers despite that being a statement of fact which harms no one. Prioritising men’s feelings over women’s safety.

Helen Steel on twitter

Nobel Peace Prize for anti-rape activists Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has gone to campaigners against rape in warfare, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege.

Ms Murad is an Iraqi Yazidi who was tortured and raped by Islamic State militants and later became the face of a campaign to free the Yazidi people.

Dr Mukwege is a Congolese gynaecologist who, along with his colleagues, has treated tens of thousands of victims.

Some 331 individuals and organisations were nominated for the prestigious peace award this year.

The winners announced in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Friday won the award for their “efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war”, Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Nobel committee chair, said.

The pair both made a “crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes”, Ms Reiss-Andersen added.

Full article here

QotD: “If power and money put you above the law, then the law is worth nothing”

It was when I left Miramax in 1998 and tried to pursue justice that the scales really fell from my eyes; in some ways, the real abuse started then. I began working for Harvey when I was only 22 and didn’t really know who he was; partly through my naivety, partly through my upbringing, I happened to have the right set of tools in my personality to deal with him. I simply saw him as an unpleasant, lascivious boss and so treated him as such. I didn’t initially understand his power, or see him as the key to my future, which were the things that made so many others vulnerable to him.

But the challenge turned into a nightmare when a new colleague alleged Harvey had tried to rape her while we were at the Venice film festival. I had employed her to assist me, so she was my responsibility; once she told me, there was no possibility of us continuing to work for him.

On going to lawyers we were told, to our horror, that our only realistic option was to make a damages claim and enter into an agreement. They told me it wasn’t worth considering going to court. It became increasingly apparent that this had little to do with justice and everything to do with money and power. I had presumed the law was above all men, but the disparity of my position and Harvey’s trumped whatever he had done; the ensuing legal process ultimately broke my belief in the core values of our culture. That is more seismic than having your belief broken in one individual.

Miramax was represented by one of the most powerful “magic circle” law firms on the globe, Allen & Overy. Even though the allegations were of a serious criminal nature, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was negotiated that, as far as I can see, was wholly unethical. The agreement includes things that were legally extraordinary. Under its terms, my colleague and I would not be able to speak to a doctor, counsellor or accountant about what had happened, without them also signing an NDA, which we would be held accountable to if they broke it. The most sinister of these clauses stipulated that I was to use my “best endeavours” not to disclose anything in a civil or criminal case brought against Weinstein. In other words, I was to keep quiet, whatever the circumstances, for ever.

The NDA took hours of complex and stressful negotiations in Allen & Overy’s offices. The experience was one of complete siege mentality, with sessions lasting up to 12 hours. On one day, after a full morning’s negotiations, we resumed at 5pm and finished at 5am the next day. You lost track of time and space. We were two young women shut in a room full of lawyers talking in legal riddles, and we were not able to tell anyone what we were doing.

From the beginning, it was imperative to me that money never changed hands. But it was made very clear that a financial demand was the standard and only formula. At this point, our entire motivation became focused on the fact that, if we could not prosecute Harvey, then we had to stop his behaviour and protect people in the future, in exchange for our silence. Other obligations that were agreed were that Harvey would have to attend therapy for three years, and that Miramax would be forced to inform Disney (its parent company) or fire him if any further settlements were attempted. I don’t believe anyone had tried to do this before; it seems clear from the horrifying list of further allegations that have since emerged that his side of the agreement was not upheld.

I always felt we were being made to do something we didn’t want to do. However, it wasn’t a simple situation and it was not just about me. My colleague was in a very psychologically vulnerable position, having experienced extreme trauma in the first few weeks of her job, and we were being given frightening advice with few options. I had no choice but to do what our lawyers were telling us, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

Harvey insisted on being present on the day we signed the agreement. He apologised for his behaviour and offered us anything we wanted to return to the company. This was the first time my colleague had seen him since the attempted rape and it was obviously very distressing and intimidating. There seemed to be no protection within the system to stop this. His words that day were essentially an admission, all of which was noted down by our lawyer. But when we got up to leave, Harvey’s team insisted the notes be destroyed.

My film career came to a halt after that. It’s a small industry, and there were whispers and rumours. No one knew what had happened, of course, but after several uncomfortable interviews, it became clear people didn’t want to risk upsetting Harvey, and I couldn’t defend my reputation.

My goal now is to ensure that NDAs cannot be weaponised and used to hide criminal behaviour. Law firms have been enabling questionable behaviour and making money out of these agreements. And this is not just limited to sexual harassment; it is far more insidious within our work culture. My NDA would have been unenforceable, but this was never made clear to me and I lived in fear of it for 20 years – until last year. I felt I had been criminalised and that, if I spoke, I would be the one going to jail.

There will always be characters like Weinstein; we can’t deny the existence of charismatic, sociopathic and dangerous characters, and they seem to people the top echelons of most businesses. But as a society, we have a responsibility to make sure that employees are protected – and that if they are abused, they have true recourse.

There is a place for NDAs, but they have become an immoral tool, legally used to silence victims. The circumstances in which they are created need to be carefully examined, and regulated.

Earlier this year, I gave evidence to MPs at a select committee inquiry to examine sexual harassment in the workplace, and the improper use of NDAs. The lawyer who negotiated my NDA from Allen & Overy gave evidence immediately after me. I was sitting right behind him, watching his neck getting redder and redder as he was asked whether he had produced an agreement that could pervert the course of justice. I got terrible nervous giggles, because I hadn’t expected the MPs to be so aggressive. Unfortunately, the representative sent to the inquiry from Simons Muirhead & Burton (my solicitors 20 years earlier) had not been involved with my case.

My argument was not with the individual lawyers, nor even with the firms. My argument is with the fact that they were doing something apparently legal. A positive thing to have emerged from the inquiry is that the Solicitors Regulation Authority is now investigating; this, and the recommendations made by the select committee, mean there is a real chance that significant change will come. If power and money put you above the law, then the law is worth nothing. And that, fundamentally, is more frightening and dangerous than an ego out of control.

Zelda Perkins

QotD: “Imagine unironically saying that pornography isn’t a public health and safety crisis or a crisis of morality with a straight face”

Imagine unironically saying that pornography isn’t a public health and safety crisis or a crisis of morality with a straight face … when articles like this have to be written

From jaggedlittlepills on tumblr

And here is the original article

#Rapisthill

Yes but it won’t stop at rapists. Normalizing the misgendering of anyone sets a dangerous precedent.

This is why i’m fighting so hard on #RapistHill. If we give any ground they will not stop until all trans rights are systematically dismantled. First the rapists, next everyone else.

I’m standing up for myself. If we normalize erasing the identity of rapists then i’m next

It’s not just being called a dude, its the systematic destruction of trans rights. rapists are just the beginning. If they got their way we would be lined up against a wall with guns against our heads.

AllieLia on twitter

QotD: “Sexual violence is the new normal in India – and pornography is to blame”

Another day, another shocking headline about rape in India, from the 30 girls in a Bihar shelter who were allegedly sexually abused over many years to the 10-year-old child who escaped from another “shelter” in Uttar Pradesh and ran to a police station asking for help.

Rapes have become the new normal in my country. So much so that India’s supreme court made headlines itself on Monday, asking: “What is to be done? Girls and women are getting raped left, right and centre.” This is unusual practice for a supreme court anywhere, and underlines the gravity of the situation. Justice Madan Lokur of the supreme court pointed out: “The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data observes that a woman is raped every six hours in India.”

Even the highly regarded Tata Institute of Social Sciences, in Mumbai, has reported the abuse of minors and women. It uncovered evidence while conducting a social audit of government shelters earlier this year. A medical report confirmed 34 girls had been sexually abused.

The 10-year-old in Uttar Pradesh begged the police to save her and her friends. Every evening, she said, red, black, grey cars came and took her friends away. They brought them back in the morning and the girls cried all day. Please help them, she pleaded. Predictably, she captured hearts and headlines. So it became national news.

Likewise, the alleged gang rape of a 13-year-old tribal girl, by seven tribal men, five of whom were juveniles. This was in Jharkhand state, adjoining Bihar. The child was grazing cattle outside her village when seven men were said to have pounced on her. One veteran social activist explained to me some decades ago: “Sex before marriage was accepted by tribal communities, so where was the need for rape?”

The same person sadly reported that rape is now rampant in tribal Jharkhand. Boys as young as 10 download pornography from mobile phone shops for as little as 10 rupees (12p). The combination of endless, violent porn videos and alcohol appears to be a lethal trigger for many rapes in India – a country where traditional Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh society strictly forbids not just sex outside marriage but any mixing of the sexes in towns and villages. Arranged marriages are still the norm across all religions. For repressed men to be fed a constant diet of porn on their phones is a recipe for disaster.

The infamous gang rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi in 2012 that led the city to be called the “rape capital of the world” was carried out by six men who had just been watching violent porn while drinking alcohol, another taboo in orthodox Indian families.

Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, a child rights activist for nearly 30 years, told me: “Society is being sexualised, there is sexual content everywhere, in films and music. Rampant, vicious porn is easily available to children. Middle-class families may monitor what their kids watch, but uneducated and illiterate people haven’t a clue about what their kids see on their phones. The vegetable vendor near my house sits glued to his mobile all day. Two young boys with one wire plugged into an ear each, sharing a video. I can assure you they are not watching the news.”

Thukral, like me, is depressed. “Why should the supreme court publicly lament the situation?” she said. “We look to the supreme court for solutions, not laments. It needs to see that implementation of laws regarding women’s safety is stringently carried out.”

For decades, women’s groups have fought long and hard to put safety measures in place through special laws. But where is the proper governance and monitoring of juvenile homes and women’s shelters? We have special police now, to check on internet crime, harassment and abuse. How do we protect children and women from predators and harmful porn?

My liberal friends have fought for civil liberties and freedom of expression over the years. As a journalist I support that. But grassroots activists like me are increasingly sick of liberals fighting for freedom to watch violent, sadistic porn. One tired human rights defender said: “It’s hard to stomach glib sermons on the right to freedom to use a potential ‘driver of rape’ [porn] when faced with a wounded, bleeding raped woman or child.”

I have to say I agree with her. It’s time for the courts and the government to look seriously at how we can clamp down on porn in India. As we approach India’s 71st Independence Day anniversary, on 15 August, perhaps we can focus on freedom from fear for our women and children.

Mari Marcel Thekaekara, a human rights activist and writer based in Tamil Nadu

QotD: “Police appeared to punish victims of Newcastle grooming gangs, review finds”

Grooming gangs who preyed on 700 women and girls in north-east England acted with “arrogant persistence” after police were seen to be punishing victims for their situation, a serious case review has found.

The report from the retired barrister David Spicer into the response by authorities in Newcastle to child sexual exploitation concluded that victims received effective protection after the launch of a Northumbria police investigation in January 2014. Before that, however, the force’s actions lacked consistency and had little impact, it said.

Seventeen men and one woman were jailed last year for being part of a network that plied 22 women and girls aged 13-25 with drink and drugs before sexually assaulting them between 2011 and 2014.

The trials were the result of the Northumbria police investigation Operation Shelter, part of the larger Operation Sanctuary, the force’s investigation into the sexual exploitation of vulnerable children and adults. The report said Sanctuary had identified 700 victims in the force’s area. Perpetrators have received a total of 429 years and three months in prison as part of the operation.

Addressing the response from authorities before 2014, the report said perpetrators were not consistently investigated or interviewed. “Historical information was not routinely accessed and incidents were treated as separate occurrences with no strategy to pull information together to improve understanding of the whole picture,” it said.

“While perpetrators were not punished or disrupted, attempts to persuade victims to change behaviours and not return to the abusers led to consideration of deterrent punishments of victims for being drunk and disorderly or for making false allegations when accounts were changed. Some victims were placed in secure accommodation.

“This sent an unhelpful message to perpetrators. They were unlikely to be prosecuted or prevented from continuing to abuse, encouraging an arrogant persistence. It also had a significant impact on victims who learnt that nothing would be done against perpetrators.”

The report highlighted a stark contrast between the approach taken before and after early 2014, when a Northumbria police investigation was first launched, but it stressed that many of the reasons identified for lack of action in reviews in other cities – including ignoring whistleblowers, members of the public or families, lack of compassion or empathy, misplaced concerns about political correctness and fears of allegations of racism – did not occur in Newcastle.

It did, however, add: “Practitioners did feel that early responses had the appearance of blaming the victims for their behaviour and allocating them responsibility for making bad choices.”

The report detailed victims’ accounts of sexual abuse after being drugged. “I never had sex when I was sober,” one victim told Spicer. “I wanted to leave. I was given drink. I kept saying no and fighting them off. I was very tired and fell asleep. When I woke, I had been raped.”

“I didn’t think what was happening was wrong,” said another. “I thought they were my friends. They bought me drink and drugs. I thought it was OK because of my family. Then it became more sinister. Different. There were parties with men a lot older: 30-40, when previously 20-21.”

Full article here