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Men must stop giving ethical sewers moral comfort

Charles Adler on how men see sexual harassment.  Sadly many women act in the same way.  Most men have understood what I went through.  Some of the women closest to me blamed me to protect the men that attacked me.

As I write this, I know we still live in the dark ages as far as sex crimes are concerned.

Many male opinion leaders in recent days have used the same old contaminated playbook, focused on what women knew and when they knew it.

When will women come forward,” they ask.

And when women like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow come forward to support Ashley Judd and Asia Argento and Lucia Evans, the question becomes “What took these women so long?”

Sexual crimes are still considered women’s issues. But we don’t pervert journalistic justice on massive frauds or mass murders. Media pundits don’t put Bernie Madoff’s victims on trial.

We didn’t badger the people and charities that got plundered because they chose to invest with the villain Madoff. We don’t pile on country music fans for unwittingly entering a killing field in Las Vegas.

But for some reason, when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault, the burden is on women to expose their souls to us.

Every male needs to listen to the audio tape of Harvey Weinstein preying on the model that he had already pawed earlier. He demands that she come into his hotel room and swears on his kids she has nothing to fear.

When she won’t submit, he threatens with the loss of his “friendship.” That’s no idle threat. It means whatever work he may have for her will disappear.

Because of his influence, it means work she may be able to get with others may also vanish. Her career could be dusted unless she participates in Harvey Weinstein’s idea of fun.

I am not here to litigate this feral hound. I simply want to ask my fellow men to arrest our impulses to burden women exclusively with outing the hounds.

Any woman who may have been interfered with and extorted and violated by Harvey Weinstein had a boyfriend or a husband or fellow actors who would know what Harvey was about.

Not knowing every single detail of every encounter is no excuse for inaction. There is no deep, dark mystery as to why Weinstein was able to purchase silence from male superstars who had to know.

But if you’re an actor who knows about Weinstein’s conduct and are making money inside the empire, you find ways of getting along with Darth Vader Weinstein.

And the last thing you ever do is go to the police, or the district attorney or the New York Times.

While these actors who knew could have come forward with information and didn’t, there were many men in the corner suites of networks and movie studios who also could have spoken out or gone to the authorities many years ago.

You will hear their voices now talking about how outraged they are.

But how outraged were they when they were aware of sizable cheques that were being written to shut women up? How outraged were they when they first learned that the man they were doing business with, and sometimes investing in, was accused of being a serial predator?

They wrote it off as an occupational hazard, the Hollywood culture and all that blah blah blah.

What’s most corrosive is that they ultimately viewed the behaviour as someone else’s problem.

And the someone else was always a woman.

There is much about the Harvey Weinstein story that has not yet been published. But let’s put this on the record now. Rape is not a women’s issue. It’s a human issue. Men who know something should say something, and what they should never say is “Why are women not coming forward sooner?”

Many men who play this game are publicly big on supporting all kinds of causes that are dedicated to human rights and human dignity. They are publicly generous.

But on the issue of sex crimes they are privately aware of they are morally miserly.

Silence is a predator’s best friend. Males have been silent for too long.

Instead of telling jokes about the Harvey Weinsteins and demanding that women do more to call them out we need to stop enabling our fellow men in getting away with murdering the dignity of our colleagues and sisters and girlfriends and wives.

I am hoping we can finally make some human progress if the Harvey Weinstein story forces our male consciences to whisper six sad words: “I’m ashamed to be a man.”

“Sex assault is not about sex. It’s about power, it’s about the abuse of power," former VP Joe Biden says in speech

As reported on CNN

“Sex assault is not about sex. It's about power, it's about the abuse of power," former VP Joe Biden says in speech

He is also traveling for speeches on other issues. He’ll be at Rutgers University on Thursday for a discussion about sexual assault on college campuses — one that comes a day after he sharply criticized Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood executive producer and Democratic megadonor at the Anti-Violence Project Courage Awards in New York City.

“My father taught me that the greatest sin was the abuse of power: Mental. Physical. Or economic,” Biden said there in his first comments about Weinstein since reports of his history of his sexual assaults emerged six days earlier. “The cardinal sin was for a man to use his power to abuse a woman or a child. It is disgusting. But because of the bravery of so many courageous women speaking up. Putting their careers at risk to save other women from similar abuse, this disgusting behavior — at least on the part of Harvey Weinstein — has been brought to an abrupt and justifiable end.”

Glad to see that at least some people get this.

Sexual violence against women: The scope of the problem

A research paper that looks at the extremely wide scope of violence towards women.

Child sexual abuse is global problem.  A number of reviews and meta-analyses have been undertaken on child abuse victimisation, and have found lifetime prevalence rates ranging from 7–36% for women and 3–29% for men.50–52 The WHO MCS found that between 1 and 21% of women interviewed reported child sexual abuse before the age of 15 years. In most cases, the perpetrator was a male family member other than the father or stepfather. The IMAGES study found rates of child sexual abuse against boys ranged, for example, from between 3% in Croatia, 8% in Chile, to 17% in Rwanda and 21% in India. Other data on the history of child sexual abuse (including both forced sexual intercourse and other sex act including such as unwanted touch) reported by adult women sourced from large Reproductive Health national surveys from Latin America and the Caribbean, found prevalence rates among women from 5.8% in El Salvador, 4.0% in Nicaragua, 2.9% in Ecuador, and 2.6% in Paraguay. Population-based data on the prevalence of child sexual abuse perpetration are completely lacking.

National surveys undertaken in developing countries have found high rates of child sexual abuse. Research from Bangladesh found a high proportion of men interviewed reported experiencing some form of sexual abuse during childhood (37% of urban man and 22% of rural). Other recent large studies on child abuse have been undertaken in Swaziland (girls only) and Tanzania. The Tanzanian study found that nearly three out of every 10 girls and three out of every 20 boys reported having experienced sexual abuse. The study in Swaziland found that about one in three girls had experienced some form of sexual violence before the age of 18 years. Most perpetrators (75%) were men and boys from the victims’ communities. In Switzerland, as survey of more than 6500 school children found that 22% of girls and 8% of boys reported ever having experienced sexual assault at least once in their lives, but only 3–5% of them said they had reported the abuse.56 Data from the US-based Adverse Childhood Experiences study found that 24.7% of girls and 16.0% of boys had experienced sexual abuse during their childhood.

Estimates for child sexual abuse vary greatly between studies. As with other types of sexual violence, variations in prevalence may be explained by differing methods and definitions used. Memory of the abuse may be repressed and thus prevent disclosure or uncertainty about what ‘really happened’. Much of the research has been conducted with adults asking about childhood experiences, and this increases the likelihood of recall bias. If children are interviewed, comparability is hindered by the age structure of the population (i.e. it is not possible to calculate the proportion of children ‘ever’ abused). Similarly, if adults are interviewed a past year prevalence of child sexual abuse cannot be calculated. The estimates cited by research need to be interpreted with these limitations in mind.

Ugh.  I wasn’t alone.  The study is worth the read.

Sexual assault the focus of Broom’s live podcast fundraiser

From The StarPhoenix

Looking back at a year of interviews with regular people about their day-to-day lives, Shawn Broom had an unhappy realization.

“A lot of our — especially female — guests have at some point in the conversation brought up the fact that they were raped or sexually assaulted, or they know someone who was,” said Broom, creator and host of The Story of U podcast.

“Obviously I knew it was a problem in society, but I didn’t realize how prevalent it was and how far-reaching it was.”

That epiphany is the reason for A Night of Hope and Healing, a Regina Sexual Assault Centre fundraiser scheduled for Tuesday night at the Artesian.

The panel discussion about rape and sexual assault will feature four guests, three of whom were part of a past podcast episode.

“Part of his goal is to address stigma,” said Kate McEvenue, a panellist and counsellor at the Regina Sexual Assault Centre.

“Hopefully having these honest conversations, it will encourage others to be a little bit more open-minded and a little bit more understanding of what a person’s life can be like, especially after a trauma.”

While her counterparts will share their personal experiences with sexual assault, McEvenue anticipates she’ll talk more from a professional perspective, offering information and advice.

According to Statistics Canada information: 1,196 sexual assaults were recorded in Saskatchewan in 2016; 95 per cent of sexual assaults are not reported to police; and, one in three women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

This is disgusting

Senator (and pastor) Don Meredith just doesn’t grope teens according to allegations from staff

Senator and pastor Don Meredith

Two sets of doors were always closed before Sen. Don Meredith felt comfortable starting any meeting in his office across Parliament Hill.

The first leads to a shared hallway, the second to Meredith’s desk. Shutting them both seemed to give him a sense of privacy and control.

Staff members found it bizarre, but they did what their boss asked. “Constant paranoia” was a running theme in the office, one former female aide said.

Behind those doors, they claim, the senator began inappropriately touching his female employees.

“Once the doors close — which was not able to be opened from the outside if it was locked — well, I felt like I was trapped and he was able to touch me and be very … all over me,” alleged another former female staffer.

It looks like he was a sexual predator as a senator and a pastor.  I am not sure what is more appalling that he has been able to keep his title of Senator this long or his church hasn’t fired him and he hasn’t been defrocked by whoever it was who ordained him.

Oh good grief, he was a fraud before he was a senator as well.

Meredith claims an honorary degree from an association of Christian counsellors, the Canadian Christian Clinical Counsellors’ Association, that has no standing as a degree-granting school and has been signing himself as “The Honourable Dr. Don Meredith” since receiving the honour. Meredith stopped calling himself a doctor after his credentials were questioned and he was called upon to substantiate his educational credentials. Meredith also claims to have earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in religious studies from California State Christian University, an unaccredited, unregulated school which is not recognized by either the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and is not permitted by the state of California to grant graduate degrees.

South Africa’s rape epidemic

In a survey, 38% of men in one township admit to having used force or threats to obtain sex

In a survey, 38% of men in one township admit to having used force or threats to obtain sexBrown Lekekela dreads the end of the month. Payday means binge drinking. Violence follows. Women turn up battered and distraught at his gate, usually with small children in tow. They have nowhere else to go: Mr Lekekela’s emergency shelter, Green Door, is the only one in all of Diepsloot, a hardscrabble township north of Johannesburg that is home to an estimated half a million souls. The shelter, built in the yard of his humble house, can fit two women and their children, plus maybe one more family on the couch in his office. He runs it on donations and sheer willpower.

Mr Lekekela has a first-aid kit and some training to treat minor injuries. For more serious ones, it can take hours for an ambulance to arrive. Sometimes the women (or their children) have been raped. But with no other income or support, they often end up returning to their abusive partners. “It’s hard,” says the soft-spoken Mr Lekekela. “But if I don’t do it, who will?”

Rape and domestic violence are hard to measure, since victims often suffer in silence. And headline-writers overuse the word “epidemic”. But in South Africa it clearly applies. For a study published in November by the University of the Witwatersrand and Sonke Gender Justice, a non-profit group, 2,600 men in Diepsloot were surveyed anonymously. An astonishing 38% admitted to having used force or threats to obtain sex in the preceding year. Add those who said they had beaten, hurt or threatened to use a weapon against a woman, and the share jumps to 54%. Of those men, more than half said they had committed such crimes more than once.

Many men in Diepsloot, as in many other parts of South Africa, do not think they are doing anything wrong. They think they have a right to use force against their partners. In addition, many of the men interviewed had themselves experienced childhood abuse or trauma. Some were mentally ill. Those who abuse others suffer few consequences, whether from the law or neighbours. Diepsloot, a warren of shacks with pockets of small houses, did not exist until the mid-1990s, so everyone comes from somewhere else. “These men think they can do whatever they like,” says Precious Moeketsi, a 28-year-old with two young children who shares a shack with her sister’s family. “I feel worried living here.”

Although South Africa has strict laws against violence, they are spottily enforced. Researchers found that of 500 sexual-assault cases reported to the police in Diepsloot since 2013, only one resulted in a conviction. Small wonder rape is so rarely reported. (Researchers guess that police are informed about only one of every nine sexual assaults in South Africa.) Women worry about what friends and family will think. Some fear reprisals. Policemen are sometimes sceptical and tell women to go home and smooth things over. Even officers who take the issue seriously are hamstrung. Diepsloot’s police station has no specialist unit for rape and sexual-assault cases; the nearest one takes an hour to get to. The closest state hospital that can examine victims is 30km away.

Why Police Dismiss 1 in 5 Sexual Assault Claims as Baseless

Robyn Dootlittle in the Globe and Mail. In a 20-month-long investigation into how police handle sexual assault allegations, The Globe and Mail gathered data from more than 870 police forces. The findings expose deep flaws at every step of the process

When complaints of sexual assault are dismissed with such frequency, it is a sign of deeper flaws in the investigative process: inadequate training for police; dated interviewing techniques that do not take into account the effect that trauma can have on memory; and the persistence of rape myths among law-enforcement officials.

“What does unfounded mean to you? What does unfounded mean to anybody? It means ‘You’re lying,’.” says Ottawa criminologist Holly Johnson, who has extensively studied that city’s unfounded cases. She believes that high rates send a message that police don’t believe large numbers of complainants, “which reinforces damaging myths that women lie about sexual victimization, and could act as a deterrent to already low reporting.”

To conduct its review, The Globe and Mail requested unfounded data from every police service in the country, which covers more than 1,100 jurisdictions. Though not all forces complied with the request, The Globe received data from 873 police jurisdictions, which represent 92 per cent of the population.

A panel gives 17 reasons Robin Camp shouldn’t remain a judge

An interesting read on Robin Camp’s bias against sexual violence as a judge.

The three judges and two lawyers on a Canadian Judicial Council inquiry committee have unanimously concluded that Justice Robin Camp is unfit to remain on the bench, after his conduct in a rape trial gave him a national reputation as the judge who asked a sexual assault complainant why she couldn’t keep her knees together.

Their recommendation now goes to the full Canadian Judicial Council, who will pass its own recommendation on Camp’s fate to federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and a possible parliamentary vote. Judges who get this far toward losing their jobs sometimes resign before being pushed, but Camp’s only comment Wednesday, through a lawyer, was that he “is grateful to the inquiry committee for its thorough consideration of the evidence and his submissions.”‘

The panel’s consideration went well beyond the “knees together” comment. There were several remarks the judge made in a 2015 Calgary sexual assault trial that drew complaints from legal experts, the public and Alberta’s justice minister. In the first case of its kind, this committee effectively sketched out limits on what is acceptable or unacceptable to say from the bench when conducting such a trial. Much of what Camp said fell outside those limits, and peddled long-discredited myths about rape and sexual assault victims, the two men and three women on the committee concluded.

The inquiry concluded that 17 of the 21 allegations were fully substantiated, while another two were partly substantiated. The panelists wrote in their report that his misconduct severely damaged public confidence in his role as an impartial jurist, and that remedial education he was receiving couldn’t offset that damage.

If you read all of this comments, it reminded me of what I was taught growing up and that is good girls don’t get raped and that it is the women’s fault for being drunk, dressing provocatively, or list your own reason… it was the women’s fault.

It’s discouraging to think that a judge of all people would act this way but it’s encouraging that people are finally standing up to it.

How we talk about sexual assault online

We need a more considered approach to using social media for social justice, says writer and activist Ione Wells. After she was the victim of an assault in London, Wells published a letter to her attacker in a student newspaper that went viral and sparked the #NotGuilty campaign against sexual violence and victim-blaming. In this moving talk, she describes how sharing her personal story gave hope to others and delivers a powerful message against the culture of online shaming.

Spotty Access

How a lack of rape kit services is hurting sexual assault investigations.

In Canada, sexual assault is the least likely violent crime to be reported to police, and the vast majority — 90 percent, according to Statistics Canada — are never reported.

Spotty access to rape kits is contributing to the problem: Where you live determines how easy it is to get one, how sensitively you’re treated during the process, and even whether the evidence gathered holds up in court.

Front-line workers tell VICE News that improving access to those kits — simple packages of tools used to collect evidence of sexual assault — could have a huge impact. Women, especially in British Columbia, are forced to drive hours down desolate stretches of highway to reach a hospital where the evidence can be collected.

“They turtle,” says Christine Baker, a health services manager in Squamish, BC, of women who hear they have to travel an hour down the highway in order to get a rape kit. “They crunch in and they say, ‘No, not going to do it.’”

But it’s not just the west coast. Front-line workers in BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia tell VICE News that if an ambulance isn’t available, or the victim has no other way to travel, they sometimes make the journey locked in the back of a cop car.

The problem, which victims’ advocates say has a “simple fix,” often comes down to whether a community’s hospital has a freezer that locks to secure the evidence, and whether its physicians are properly trained to administer rape kits. If not, the victim has to travel to a hospital that does have these services — sometimes hours away, if a program exists in their province at all.

In North America, recent court cases have exposed how poorly the criminal justice system deals with sexual assault. This spring in Canada, protesters chanted outside the two court cases of Jian Ghomeshi, a former radio star who was charged with sexually assaulting four women. He was, in the end, acquitted on a spate of charges, while other charges were withdrawn after he issued an apology to one of his accusers.

And in the US last month, it was the judge in the Stanford rape case who drew scrutiny when he sentenced convicted rapist and swim star Brock Allen Turner to only six months in prison, though the prosecutor had asked for six years.

Better access to rape kits is one piece of the larger justice system puzzle, and front-line workers in Canada lay the blame at the feet of provincial health authorities who they say could fund better access to rape kits — but choose not to.

British Columbia is one of the worst areas for rape kit access in Canada.