In major legal victory, sex workers in California gain access to victim compensation rights

December 15, 2013

California officials voted Thursday to overturn a discriminatory rule that prevented sex workers who are physically or sexually assaulted from receiving money from a special victim compensation fund intended to help the victims of violent crimes. The change in policy means that sex workers will now be eligible for state assistance to pay for medical and related expenses they incur as a result of the assault.

Members of the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board said they were compelled to change the “repugnant” rule after hearing the testimony of sex workers who have been assaulted and left without recourse or support following the crime, simply because of their job. Prior to the change, sex workers who were raped while working were not eligible for compensation because sex work is illegal in California, but the new policy recognizes that “rape is rape, period,” according to board chairwoman Marybel Batjer.

“Victims of this violent crime deserve compensation, regardless of circumstance,” she added.

As the Press Democrat reports, Carol Leigh, a representative of the Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network, was among the women who testified before the board. Leigh said she was raped by two men who entered the massage parlor where she worked. “[The men] took a knife to my throat and demanded sex and money,” she testified. “I realized that, as a sex worker, I was a sitting duck, that the system, basically, was set up so that I felt that I couldn’t go to the police. … The rapists know, and they see us as targets.”

“I think we sent a big message today from this board for the state of California, that we are now going to mirror some of our other states that feel the same way. It’s a national issue,” Michael Ramos, district attorney in San Bernardino County, said following the vote.

“It really opens the way for women who have suffered a very violent and traumatic act to get recognition from the state that something terrible happened and that you can get compensated for it,” Rachel West, of the U.S. PROStitutes Collective, said of the change.

But the fight for sex workers’ rights in California and elsewhere continues, said Maxine Doogan, an organizer for the Erotic Service Providers Union. “We would like the state of California to adopt the Obama administration policy on prostitution, which is that prostitution should not be discriminated against in seeking public services.”

Source

US air force engineer sentenced to 15 months after making assault allegation
July 18, 2013

A flight engineer, who accused the US air force of prosecuting him in retaliation for reporting a sexual assault, was dismissed from the military and sentenced to 15 months in prison on Tuesday.

Lieutenant Adam Cohen, 29, of the 18th air force, pleaded guilty to making false statements to investigators, criminal offences akin to federal wiretapping, sexual harassment, and “conduct unbecoming an officer” including sexual misconduct that occurred before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the law that forced gay and lesbian members of the military to keep their sexuality secret

Questions were raised about the prosecution by senators, advocates groups and the special victims counsel the air force employed to help him when he reported an allegation of sexual assault.

During the investigation into that allegation, the air force says, new information emerged which led to Cohen himself being prosecuted. Major John Bellflower, Cohen’s special victims counsel, said on Wednesday: “None of this would have happened had not Lt Cohen come forward with an allegation of sexual assault. It is because of this we are where we are today and because of that he is behind bars.”

Cohen’s 15-month sentence was considerably lower than the maximum he could have faced. Each of five charges against him, the majority of which had several sub-charges, carried a maximum potential sentence of between two and 35 years.

A dozen related charges, or parts of charges, were dropped by the government as a result of a pre-trial agreement.

Cohen told the Guardian days before his trial that he had decided to plead guilty because he did not want to face his alleged attacker in court. He also said that he expected a guilty plea would cap his potential sentence at 15 months.

After his court martial on Tuesday, Cohen was held at a military facility at McConnell air base, in Wichita, Kansas. He is expected to be transferred to a military prison.

Lt Col Linell Letendre, a legal expert for the air force, told the Guardian: “Lt Cohen pled guilty to 15 different specifications of criminal wrongdoing.”

That plea was accepted by the military judge. “The very thing he complained of, he pled guilty to and was found guilty of,” Letendre said.

Source

TW: Rape, Violence: 4-year-old Indian girl raped, left with severe brain injuries in critical conditionApril 24, 2013
A 4-year-old Indian girl who was raped last week is currently in critical condition, having sustained severe brain injuries after allegedly being suffocated.
The unnamed child was reportedly raped in her village in Madhya Pradesh on April 17, according to Press Trust of India.
The girl’s family found the child, who went missing on Wednesday, the next morning lying unconscious and profusely bleeding near a crematorium in her village, according to The Times of India. She had lacerations, tears and bruises on her body, and had allegedly been suffocated, which caused serious brain injuries.
Firoz Khan, a 35-year-old welder, is accused of raping the 4-year-old. His alleged accomplice is accused of using chocolate to lure the girl from her home, NDTV reports.
“The condition of the 4-year-old child, who was found unconscious in a field in Ghansur town of MP, is still critical. She is totally unconscious from the time she was brought to Nagpur,” a doctor told The Hindu. “We have done all the examinations including MRI brain and EEG which indicates gross damage to her brain. Her brain’s functioning has reduced to an abnormal level. This is hypoxic brain damage which means inability of brain to work due lack of oxygen supply.”
“She has been put on a life support system and is being treated by a team of senior doctors. Nothing else can be said about her situation now” he added.
Police are still searching for Khan, who may have left the country, according to NDTV. The other suspect has been arrested.
News of this horrific incident comes in the midst of fury over the rape and torture of a 5-year-old girl in the Indian capital . The girl was found Wednesday in a New Delhi apartment building and doctors discovered a candle and a bottle of hair oil inside her little body.
Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in the wake of the crime, alleging that police did not respond to the tragedy.
"The police must be held accountable for their shocking levels of apathy. They urgently need to review police processes to ensure that all cases of rape and sexual violence – not just those highlighted by the media – are fully and promptly investigated,” G. Ananthapadmanabhan, who heads the India chapter of the human rights group Amnesty International, said, according to the Associated Press. “Those who fail to do their job must be held accountable.”
Two suspects — aged 19 and 24 — have been arrested in connection with the rape, according to the report.
Source

TW: Rape, Violence: 4-year-old Indian girl raped, left with severe brain injuries in critical condition
April 24, 2013

A 4-year-old Indian girl who was raped last week is currently in critical condition, having sustained severe brain injuries after allegedly being suffocated.

The unnamed child was reportedly raped in her village in Madhya Pradesh on April 17, according to Press Trust of India.

The girl’s family found the child, who went missing on Wednesday, the next morning lying unconscious and profusely bleeding near a crematorium in her village, according to The Times of India. She had lacerations, tears and bruises on her body, and had allegedly been suffocated, which caused serious brain injuries.

Firoz Khan, a 35-year-old welder, is accused of raping the 4-year-old. His alleged accomplice is accused of using chocolate to lure the girl from her home, NDTV reports.

“The condition of the 4-year-old child, who was found unconscious in a field in Ghansur town of MP, is still critical. She is totally unconscious from the time she was brought to Nagpur,” a doctor told The Hindu. “We have done all the examinations including MRI brain and EEG which indicates gross damage to her brain. Her brain’s functioning has reduced to an abnormal level. This is hypoxic brain damage which means inability of brain to work due lack of oxygen supply.”

“She has been put on a life support system and is being treated by a team of senior doctors. Nothing else can be said about her situation now” he added.

Police are still searching for Khan, who may have left the country, according to NDTV. The other suspect has been arrested.

News of this horrific incident comes in the midst of fury over the rape and torture of a 5-year-old girl in the Indian capital . The girl was found Wednesday in a New Delhi apartment building and doctors discovered a candle and a bottle of hair oil inside her little body.

Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in the wake of the crime, alleging that police did not respond to the tragedy.

"The police must be held accountable for their shocking levels of apathy. They urgently need to review police processes to ensure that all cases of rape and sexual violence – not just those highlighted by the media – are fully and promptly investigated,” G. Ananthapadmanabhan, who heads the India chapter of the human rights group Amnesty International, said, according to the Associated Press. “Those who fail to do their job must be held accountable.”

Two suspects — aged 19 and 24 — have been arrested in connection with the rape, according to the report.

Source

TW: Rape, suicide - 2 teen girls kill themselves after rape photos circulate online

April 16, 2013

Two teenage girls have killed themselves in recent months after pictures of them being raped or sexually assaulted circulated among their classmates and online. In Canada, 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off life support this week after trying to hang herself. Police never pressed charges in her alleged gang rape, which occurred when she was 15.

"Rehtaeh is gone today because of the four boys that thought that raping a 15-year-old girl was OK and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun," her mother wrote. "All the bullying and messaging and harassment that never let up are also to blame. Lastly, the justice system failed her. Those are the people that took the life of my beautiful girl."

Canadian authorities are reopening the investigation, which is pretty much the definition of too little, too late. Meanwhile, in San Jose, California, three 16-year-old boys have been arrested in the September 2012 sexual assault of 15-year-old Audrie Pott, who committed suicide eight days later. The boys face felony and misdemeanor charges.

"The family has been trying to understand why their loving daughter would have taken her life at such a young age and to make sure that those responsible would be held accountable," said family attorney Robert Allard.

"After an extensive investigation that we have conducted on behalf of the family, there is no doubt in our minds that the victim, then only 15 years old, was savagely assaulted by her fellow high school students while she lay on a bed completely unconscious," said Allen.

Recently, of course, two teenage boys were convicted of a similar rape with photos in Steubenville, Ohio.

There’s nothing particularly new about the rapes themselves. What’s new is that there are pictures and videos, which are immediately circulated. Those mean evidence—though that doesn’t always mean arrests, as in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons—but they also mean that victims face increased bullying, that they don’t have to worry only about running into their rapists in the hallways at school, but about every one of their classmates who has seen the pictures and decided that the way to respond is not by speaking out against rape or quietly supporting the victim but by joining a pack of bullies in attempting to shame and humiliate her. And there’s no redemptive ending—justice in Steubenville is good, but it doesn’t undo what that girl went through; Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott are dead. What we have is a long, grueling fight to make this less common. We probably can’t eliminate rape. We probably can’t make teenagers not be assholes. But we can fight to change the culture so that everyone knows rape is something for the rapist, not the victim, to be ashamed of. We can push the justice system to act swiftly so that potential rapists don’t figure they’ll get away with it. It’s not easy and it’s not enough, but it would be something. And then maybe the next Rehtaeh or Audrie wouldn’t feel quite so isolated and hopeless.

Source

On New Delhi street, protest simmers nonstopMarch 31, 2013
The massive protests that swept India after the gang rape of a paramedical student in the capital last year may seem to have disappeared from the headlines here.
The young woman who was assaulted died; the government gave her family a new apartment and financial compensation. The accused are on trial, and a new law has toughened the penalties for sexual assault.
But on one street in New Delhi, the movement — dubbed the 16 December Revolution after the date the gang rape occurred — is still alive, kept in the public eye by bandanna-wearing, placard-wielding activists who sleep in plastic tents and hold daily candlelight vigils.
Jantar Mantar, the capital’s official protest street, is the place where much of the anger and dissent in this teeming democracy finds a voice. On Friday, the anti-rape protesters sat in the rain next to people demanding cleaner rivers, affirmative action, pension funds, disability grants and a corruption-free government.
When it comes to grievances, India is a buffet. And anybody with a cause can find slogan-shouting time and space at Jantar Mantar — as powerful an advertisement for free speech as Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park, only more crowded and more littered.
As public outrage over corruption and sexual violence grew in the past two years, it appeared for a while as if the India Gate boulevard that runs past Parliament, the prime minister’s office and the president’s residence would again become the demonstration hub it had been until the 1980s. But the protest-wary government imposed curfews on India Gate and herded activists back into the tiny street, named Jantar Mantar after the nearby 18th-century astronomical observatory of the same name.
Protesters describe Jantar Mantar evocatively. “Temple of democracy,” one said. Another likened it to the bell that citizens rang to alert the king of their grievances in olden times. One man said it was like the “anger palace” of the Hindu epics to which queens withdrew to indicate to the king that they were sulking.
But Ram Shankar Ojha, 56, who was protesting the condition of the city’s polluted Yamuna River, said the street could also be seen as “a jailhouse for protesters.”
“The government has set aside this street for us to come, shout, vent our anger and leave,” he said. “The government wants to contain our anger within Jantar Mantar so that it does not spill out into the rest of the city.”
Anti-rape protesters said they will not leave the street until all those accused in the Dec. 16 incident, including the juvenile defendant, are hanged.
“The so-called fast-track court is taking too long,” said Mohammad Faiz Khan, 32. “Today it is three months since the woman died.”
In another tent, a mother was protesting on behalf of her daughter, who she said was raped by a policeman in the northern state of Punjab in 2010.
“The police have not even filed a complaint,” said Mahinder Kaur, 60. “It has been nearly three years.” Buoyed by the anti-rape protests in the capital, Kaur and her daughter have camped in Jantar Mantar since January. Activists helped her write letters to the government’s human rights panel and women’s commission.
Policemen stand around on the street all day, keeping an eye on things & plainclothes intelligence officers speak to protesters in the evening and take notes.
Meanwhile, ideas and activists circulate and sometimes meld.
Several auto-rickshaw drivers demanding speedier vehicle registration and a new fare schedule wore white caps bearing the slogan “I am the common man,” the signature protest prop of the anti-corruption movement that began in Jantar Mantar two years ago.
One driver said he had volunteered at the office of the anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal, who is now on a hunger strike in a distant slum to protest electricity prices. Kejriwal was invited to speak a few days ago at the Jantar Mantar protest tent of activists demanding a separate state for the ethnic Gorkha community in eastern India.
“He said he supports our cause for a separate state because of our distinct Gorkha ethnic and linguistic identity,” said Bhushan Rai, 37.
A law student protesting against rape said he had also taken part in the anti-corruption drive: “In a way, the anti-corruption movement gave me the first exposure to activism, then the rape protests took place and I went to that, too,” said Mohit Ranjan, 21. “I am still here because I don’t want that spirit to die out.”
Source

On New Delhi street, protest simmers nonstop
March 31, 2013

The massive protests that swept India after the gang rape of a paramedical student in the capital last year may seem to have disappeared from the headlines here.

The young woman who was assaulted died; the government gave her family a new apartment and financial compensation. The accused are on trial, and a new law has toughened the penalties for sexual assault.

But on one street in New Delhi, the movement — dubbed the 16 December Revolution after the date the gang rape occurred — is still alive, kept in the public eye by bandanna-wearing, placard-wielding activists who sleep in plastic tents and hold daily candlelight vigils.

Jantar Mantar, the capital’s official protest street, is the place where much of the anger and dissent in this teeming democracy finds a voice. On Friday, the anti-rape protesters sat in the rain next to people demanding cleaner rivers, affirmative action, pension funds, disability grants and a corruption-free government.

When it comes to grievances, India is a buffet. And anybody with a cause can find slogan-shouting time and space at Jantar Mantar — as powerful an advertisement for free speech as Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park, only more crowded and more littered.

As public outrage over corruption and sexual violence grew in the past two years, it appeared for a while as if the India Gate boulevard that runs past Parliament, the prime minister’s office and the president’s residence would again become the demonstration hub it had been until the 1980s. But the protest-wary government imposed curfews on India Gate and herded activists back into the tiny street, named Jantar Mantar after the nearby 18th-century astronomical observatory of the same name.

Protesters describe Jantar Mantar evocatively. “Temple of democracy,” one said. Another likened it to the bell that citizens rang to alert the king of their grievances in olden times. One man said it was like the “anger palace” of the Hindu epics to which queens withdrew to indicate to the king that they were sulking.

But Ram Shankar Ojha, 56, who was protesting the condition of the city’s polluted Yamuna River, said the street could also be seen as “a jailhouse for protesters.”

“The government has set aside this street for us to come, shout, vent our anger and leave,” he said. “The government wants to contain our anger within Jantar Mantar so that it does not spill out into the rest of the city.”

Anti-rape protesters said they will not leave the street until all those accused in the Dec. 16 incident, including the juvenile defendant, are hanged.

“The so-called fast-track court is taking too long,” said Mohammad Faiz Khan, 32. “Today it is three months since the woman died.”

In another tent, a mother was protesting on behalf of her daughter, who she said was raped by a policeman in the northern state of Punjab in 2010.

“The police have not even filed a complaint,” said Mahinder Kaur, 60. “It has been nearly three years.” Buoyed by the anti-rape protests in the capital, Kaur and her daughter have camped in Jantar Mantar since January. Activists helped her write letters to the government’s human rights panel and women’s commission.

Policemen stand around on the street all day, keeping an eye on things & plainclothes intelligence officers speak to protesters in the evening and take notes.

Meanwhile, ideas and activists circulate and sometimes meld.

Several auto-rickshaw drivers demanding speedier vehicle registration and a new fare schedule wore white caps bearing the slogan “I am the common man,” the signature protest prop of the anti-corruption movement that began in Jantar Mantar two years ago.

One driver said he had volunteered at the office of the anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal, who is now on a hunger strike in a distant slum to protest electricity prices. Kejriwal was invited to speak a few days ago at the Jantar Mantar protest tent of activists demanding a separate state for the ethnic Gorkha community in eastern India.

“He said he supports our cause for a separate state because of our distinct Gorkha ethnic and linguistic identity,” said Bhushan Rai, 37.

A law student protesting against rape said he had also taken part in the anti-corruption drive: “In a way, the anti-corruption movement gave me the first exposure to activism, then the rape protests took place and I went to that, too,” said Mohit Ranjan, 21. “I am still here because I don’t want that spirit to die out.”

Source

Ohio teens guilty of rape, face year-plus in jailMarch 17, 2013
A judge announced on Sunday that the defendants in the Steubenville rape trial were found guilty.
Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond had been accused of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance while she was severely intoxicated. Video and photo footage from the night of the incident spread across the internet soon after, drawing national attention to the case.
Mays and Richmond, both football players at Steubenville High School, received delinquent verdicts on all three charges. Delinquent is the guilty equivalent for juveniles. They were both convicted of digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, and Mays was also found guilty of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The boys will serve their sentence at a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21.
The defendants and their family members openly wept at the verdict.
The victim, who has not been identified, testified in court on Saturday that she did not remember the attack, but that she remembered waking up naked in a house she did not recognize. Other members of the small Ohio community also testified against the defendants.Two members of the high school football team that is the pride of Steubenville were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that bitterly divided the Rust Belt city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community’s athletes.
Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond face a possible sentence of detention in juvenile jail until they turn 21, capping a case that came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video.
Both broke down in tears after the verdict was read.
Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after an alcohol-fueled party on Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house. Mays was also found guilty on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
The case roiled the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community of 18,000 that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry. Their arms linked, protesters stood outside the courthouse Sunday morning awaiting the verdict, some wearing masks.
The trial opened last week as a contest between prosecutors determined to show the girl was so drunk she couldn’t have been a willing participant that night, and defense attorneys soliciting testimony from witnesses that would indicate that the girl, though drunk, knew what she was doing.
The teenage girl testified Saturday that she could not recall what happened the night of the attack but remembered waking up naked in a strange house after drinking at a party. The girl said she recalled drinking, leaving the party holding hands with Mays and throwing up later. When she woke up, she said she discovered her phone, earrings, shoes, and underwear were missing, she testified.
"It was really scary," she said. "I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything."
The girl said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself taken that night, along with a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn’t explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was.
"They treated her like a toy," said special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter.
Evidence introduced at the trial included graphic text messages sent by numerous students after the night of the party, including by the accuser, containing provocative descriptions of sex acts and obscene language. Lawyers noted during the trial how texts have seemed to replace talking on the phone for contemporary teens. A computer forensic expert called by the state documented tens of thousands of texts found on 17 phones seized during the investigation.
The girl herself recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened.
"They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me," she testified. "I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video."
Source
They should serve more time. Also, the victim blaming in this case is shameful. That’s rape culture.

Ohio teens guilty of rape, face year-plus in jail
March 17, 2013

A judge announced on Sunday that the defendants in the Steubenville rape trial were found guilty.

Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond had been accused of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance while she was severely intoxicated. Video and photo footage from the night of the incident spread across the internet soon after, drawing national attention to the case.

Mays and Richmond, both football players at Steubenville High School, received delinquent verdicts on all three charges. Delinquent is the guilty equivalent for juveniles. They were both convicted of digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, and Mays was also found guilty of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The boys will serve their sentence at a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21.

The defendants and their family members openly wept at the verdict.

The victim, who has not been identified, testified in court on Saturday that she did not remember the attack, but that she remembered waking up naked in a house she did not recognize. Other members of the small Ohio community also testified against the defendants.Two members of the high school football team that is the pride of Steubenville were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that bitterly divided the Rust Belt city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community’s athletes.

Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond face a possible sentence of detention in juvenile jail until they turn 21, capping a case that came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video.

Both broke down in tears after the verdict was read.

Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after an alcohol-fueled party on Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house. Mays was also found guilty on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

The case roiled the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community of 18,000 that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry. Their arms linked, protesters stood outside the courthouse Sunday morning awaiting the verdict, some wearing masks.

The trial opened last week as a contest between prosecutors determined to show the girl was so drunk she couldn’t have been a willing participant that night, and defense attorneys soliciting testimony from witnesses that would indicate that the girl, though drunk, knew what she was doing.

The teenage girl testified Saturday that she could not recall what happened the night of the attack but remembered waking up naked in a strange house after drinking at a party. The girl said she recalled drinking, leaving the party holding hands with Mays and throwing up later. When she woke up, she said she discovered her phone, earrings, shoes, and underwear were missing, she testified.

"It was really scary," she said. "I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything."

The girl said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself taken that night, along with a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn’t explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was.

"They treated her like a toy," said special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter.

Evidence introduced at the trial included graphic text messages sent by numerous students after the night of the party, including by the accuser, containing provocative descriptions of sex acts and obscene language. Lawyers noted during the trial how texts have seemed to replace talking on the phone for contemporary teens. A computer forensic expert called by the state documented tens of thousands of texts found on 17 phones seized during the investigation.

The girl herself recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened.

"They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me," she testified. "I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video."

Source

They should serve more time. Also, the victim blaming in this case is shameful. That’s rape culture.

West Sacramento Cop Sergio Alvarez allegedly raped 6 women while on duty

March 1, 2013

A California police officer has been fired and arrested following allegations that he raped at least six women while in uniform and on duty, some of them in his patrol car.

Sergio Alvarez, a five-year veteran of the West Sacramento Police Department, stands accused of raping at least six women since October 2011. He faces kidnapping and sexual assault charges in connection with the alleged attacks. According to ABC News 10, bail has been set at $26.3 million.

The 37-year-old Alvarez allegedly attacked the women while driving in his patrol car. His alleged victims, who ranged in age from 20 to 47, were stopped while walking, according to West Sacramento Police Chief Dan Drummond. The chief added that some of the alleged rapes occurred in the patrol car.

Suspicions about Alvarez arose last September after a 37-year-old woman came forward with allegations that she was attacked by the officer. He was placed on administrative leave following the report.

“I am just appalled and sickened that someone that was put in the position of trust would violate that trust in such an egregious manner,” Drummond told WPTV. “The whole department is appalled.”

As a result of the alleged rapes, the department is reviewing its practices and may no longer allow officers to patrol by themselves at night.

“We are looking at our procedures and the way we are accountable to each other,” Drummond told WPTV. “We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure this does not happen again.”

It has happened before, but not in West Sacramento. In recent weeks, the following are among the alleged incidents that have made headlines around the nation:

- In Massachusetts, Lawrence police officer Carlos Gonzalez, 48, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with committing a sexual crime against an underage girl while on vacation in Haines City, Florida last summer.

- Last month, Ashokie, North Carolina police Lieutenant Andres Snape, Jr. was arrested and charged with rape and other sex crimes in connection with an alleged attack on a teenage girl aged between 13 and 15.

- Also last month, veteran Boston, Massachusetts officer Henderson Parker, 45, was arrested and charged with raping and indecently assaulting a woman in a residence.

Source

College rape victim faces expulsion for speaking out

February 26, 2013

A sophomore at the University of North Carolina (UNC) is facing potential expulsion and other consequences from her school for what the college calls “intimidating” behavior. But the “intimidating” behavior may be that the student spoke out to the press about the man who raped her.

As the blog Jezebel highlights, Melinda Manning, the former assistant dean of students at UNC, and other students “filed a complaint [last month] with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on behalf of themselves and 64 other unnamed sexual assault survivors, alleging that university officials pressured Manning into underreporting cases.” The complaint also alleges violations of laws under the “Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, the Clery Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and equal opportunity mandates” from federal civil rights law.

Now one of the students who was a party to the complaint, named Landen Gambill, is being investigated by the school’s “Honor Court,” which is tasked with reviewing allegations of misconduct on campus. The student alleges the charge results from her talking to the media.

Gambill had spoken out to the press about her awful experience reporting sexual assault at the school she attends. Gambill says she was verbally and physically abused by her long-term boyfriend. After the relationship ended, she had to deal with stalking, threats and harassment from the ex-boyfriend. When she pressed charges at the Honor Court, she says she had to answer humiliating questions.

“The woman student said to me, ‘Landen, as a woman, I know that if that had happened to me, I would’ve broken up with him the first time it happened. Will you explain to me why you didn’t?’” Gambill explained to The Daily Tar Heel, a student newspaper at UNC, in December 2012. The court also “implied that I was emotionally unstable and couldn’t be telling the truth because I had attempted suicide.”

Gambill added: “It’s incredibly clear that those people had no idea what sexual assault is, what consent is. They were not only offensive and inappropriate, but they were so victim-blaming. They made it seem like my assault was completely my fault.”

10 days after news of the federal complaint Gambill and Manning filed broke, “Landen received an email from Elizabeth Ireland, the Graduate & Professional Schools Student Attorney General, who wrote that she ‘received a report of a possible violation of the Honor Code on which you are listed as the reporting party,’” Jezebel notes. But Gambill says she did nothing wrong—she hasn’t even named her rapist, who lives across the street from her.

And then last Friday, Gambill received another e-mail from Ireland that said that sufficient evidence existed to refer the case to the Honor Court, though Ireland also said that being charged does mean she is guilty. The charges include “disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes” with a student that “adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for University employment, participation in University-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life.”

If the Honor Court finds Gambill guilty of “intimidating” her rapist, she could face a slew of consequences, including: loss of privileges on campus; a grade penalty; a written assignment; probation or suspension; and expulsion.

A preliminary Honor Court meeting with Gambill has taken place. Jezebel reports that  the student “asked whether she could have violated the Honor Code simply by saying she was raped; the answer was yes.”

“This type of gross injustice is the reason why UNC students are speaking out and demanding answers,” Gambill told Jezebel. “The reason why i’m so vocal about this isn’t because I just want justice for my case. I want to make sure no one else has to go through this if they want to report an assault to the university.

Source

15-year-old girl raped, police dismiss the case because victim & attackers have “low IQs”

February 13, 2013

TW: Rape, violence: In some of the most disturbing and sickening news of the day, New York state police have decided that a 15-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by three boys was in fact not sexually assaulted because both she and the boys are mentally handicapped.

In May of last year, three boys attacked a 15-year-old mentally challenged student at Martin De Porres Academy, a school for students with special needs in Long Island. According to the police report, one of the boys repeatedly banged her head against the table while the other two forced her to give them oral sex and then tried to have forcible anal sex with her. In interviews with the police, the girl explained how she repeatedly said “no” and “stop” but that the boys continued to assault her. When she came home from school that day, her mother noticed that she had blood on her underwear.

But the Nassau County Police Department recently decided to drop the case after learning that the boys also had learning disabilities and mental handicaps, which apparently made the situation far too complicated for the police department.

The department’s spokesperson told the New York Daily News , “It was more of a consensual situation with their mental capabilities.”

Of course, head-banging, blood and repeated pleas to “stop” are never consensual situations—regardless of the IQ level of the attackers. But, in this case, the police department is even further off target. As the family’s lawyer explained, the girl has an IQ of about 50 points, which puts her below the cognitive functioning level to consent to sex at all.

The school meanwhile, has played its own part in attempting to cover up the case. Only weeks after the assault occurred, the school sent a letter to the police department, that read:

“The school administration request (sic) no further police action and will handle additional behavioral and social issues with traning (sic) and additional counseling.”

The school did fire the teacher who was present in the classroom during the attack.

Women and girls with mental disabilities are frequently the targets for sexual assaults—and few of their aggressors are ever prosecuted.

According to one study, a staggering 80 percent of women with these disabilities are the targets of rape or sexual assault in their lifetimes.

Source

People with disabilities are rarely brought into conversations about social justice struggles, like sexual violence, but that 80 percent statistic is outrageous & disgusting. If we are going to talk about rape culture, we need to include those most vulnerable to violence, including those with disabilities. 

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, VIOLENCE
I saw this on Facebook shared by one of my friends. It’s from Feminist India’s Facebook page. It’s from September 2012. The text says:





REVENGE ON RAPIST
A woman made pregnant by a rapist shot him ten times and cut his head off after authorities refused to let her have an abortion. 
The victim hurled the severed head into her village square, shouting that her attacker had ‘toyed with her honor’. 
The man had taken nude photos of her and blackmailed her before raping her repeatedly.
The 26-year-old has been hailed as a heroine for her actions by women’s groups in Turkey.





And then based on this CNN report uploaded to Youtube, the Turkish authorities STILL would not allow the woman to have an abortion, which she continued to express that she wanted to have.
I just looked up an update to the situation here (and had to google-translate the page) which says that Nevin Yildirim (the victim of rape) was forced to carry the child full term and gave birth in November. Unbelievable. 
—
You can “like” & “become a fan” of our Facebook for similar daily content here. 

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, VIOLENCE

I saw this on Facebook shared by one of my friends. It’s from Feminist India’s Facebook page. It’s from September 2012. The text says:

REVENGE ON RAPIST

A woman made pregnant by a rapist shot him ten times and cut his head off after authorities refused to let her have an abortion. 

The victim hurled the severed head into her village square, shouting that her attacker had ‘toyed with her honor’. 

The man had taken nude photos of her and blackmailed her before raping her repeatedly.

The 26-year-old has been hailed as a heroine for her actions by women’s groups in Turkey.

And then based on this CNN report uploaded to Youtube, the Turkish authorities STILL would not allow the woman to have an abortion, which she continued to express that she wanted to have.

I just looked up an update to the situation here (and had to google-translate the page) which says that Nevin Yildirim (the victim of rape) was forced to carry the child full term and gave birth in November. Unbelievable. 

You can “like” & “become a fan” of our Facebook for similar daily content here

TW: Violence - Two more horrifying gang rape cases in India over the weekendJanuary 15, 2013
Seven men gang rape bus passenger in New Delhi
In an incident eerily similar to a sexual assault that sent shock waves worldwide, Indian police say a woman was gang-raped over the weekend by seven men after she boarded a bus at night.
Police have arrested all seven suspects, including the bus driver, after the alleged Friday night attack in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab state.
Just like a gang rape in New Delhi that sparked international outrage last month, the new attack occurred after the woman got on a bus.
The bus sped past her stop, police said. By that time, the woman was the only passenger.
The bus driver and his helper then took the married 29-year-old woman to an undisclosed address where five others joined the two men and raped her throughout the night, police said.
"They threatened me with a sharp edged weapon and did wrong things with me," the victim told CNN’s sister station, CNN-IBN. "They kept me confined all through the night and forced me to do what they want."
The next day, the suspects dropped her off at her village, where she informed her family and alerted police, according to authorities.
Source
Passenger gang raped, killed, hanged from a tree in Bhagalpur
A woman who got down from a Delhi-bound train in Bhagalpur district, was gang-raped, killed and her body hanged from a tree in a mango orchard.
Police said the 32-year-old victim, who was a passenger of the Brahmaputra Mail that was travelling to the national capital, was dragged to the mango orchard and gang-raped by unidentified persons after she alighted from the train between Vikramshila and Kahalgaon stations.
She was strangled and her body hanged from a tree late on Saturday night. Police recovered the body on Sunday and sent it to the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital in Bhagalpur for postmortem.
The victim, who hails from New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, took the train from Alipore to Delhi, along with her son. As the train was jampacked, she tried to get down at Sahibganj but was prevented from doing so by co-passengers, ASP, Bhagalpur, Meenu Kumari said. When the train slowed down between Vikramshila and Kahalgaon stations, she jumped out. It is not clear why she took this step.
A group of inebriated people then dragged her to a nearby mango orchard and sexually assaulted her. Liquor bottles were found at the spot, Kumari said.
A railway ticket and cellphone number of her village pradhan written on a piece of paper was recovered from the victim’s possession, police said.
Source
The number of reported rapes in India has increased from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011. 

TW: Violence - Two more horrifying gang rape cases in India over the weekend
January 15, 2013

Seven men gang rape bus passenger in New Delhi

In an incident eerily similar to a sexual assault that sent shock waves worldwide, Indian police say a woman was gang-raped over the weekend by seven men after she boarded a bus at night.

Police have arrested all seven suspects, including the bus driver, after the alleged Friday night attack in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab state.

Just like a gang rape in New Delhi that sparked international outrage last month, the new attack occurred after the woman got on a bus.

The bus sped past her stop, police said. By that time, the woman was the only passenger.

The bus driver and his helper then took the married 29-year-old woman to an undisclosed address where five others joined the two men and raped her throughout the night, police said.

"They threatened me with a sharp edged weapon and did wrong things with me," the victim told CNN’s sister station, CNN-IBN. "They kept me confined all through the night and forced me to do what they want."

The next day, the suspects dropped her off at her village, where she informed her family and alerted police, according to authorities.

Source

Passenger gang raped, killed, hanged from a tree in Bhagalpur

A woman who got down from a Delhi-bound train in Bhagalpur district, was gang-raped, killed and her body hanged from a tree in a mango orchard.

Police said the 32-year-old victim, who was a passenger of the Brahmaputra Mail that was travelling to the national capital, was dragged to the mango orchard and gang-raped by unidentified persons after she alighted from the train between Vikramshila and Kahalgaon stations.

She was strangled and her body hanged from a tree late on Saturday night. Police recovered the body on Sunday and sent it to the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital in Bhagalpur for postmortem.

The victim, who hails from New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, took the train from Alipore to Delhi, along with her son. As the train was jampacked, she tried to get down at Sahibganj but was prevented from doing so by co-passengers, ASP, Bhagalpur, Meenu Kumari said. When the train slowed down between Vikramshila and Kahalgaon stations, she jumped out. It is not clear why she took this step.

A group of inebriated people then dragged her to a nearby mango orchard and sexually assaulted her. Liquor bottles were found at the spot, Kumari said.

A railway ticket and cellphone number of her village pradhan written on a piece of paper was recovered from the victim’s possession, police said.

Source

The number of reported rapes in India has increased from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011. 

How Anonymous hacking exposed Steubenville HS rape caseJanuary 5, 2013
At an August football party in Steubenville, Ohio, a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped by multiple athletes as she lay unconscious. Now, because of social media, horrific details of the case have been leaked to the masses, inspiring a call for increased accountability and a protest planned for this Saturday.
While two boys were arrested and charged in relation to the alleged rape, several others have been accused of playing a role in the crime, either by watching without intervening or disseminating photographs of the attack. Due to the small town’s close-knit nature, accusations of a coverup have emerged.  
According to various reports, an alleged “rape crew” dragged the young girl from party to party before she finally passed out. Testimony from witnesses suggests that she faced multiple sexual assaults while she was unconscious. One tweet suggests she may have been urinated on.
The victim did not realize she had been raped until she heard about the photographs, and then saw the images. One image shows two football players carrying the girl — who has not been identified because she is a minor — by her hands and ankles, as she hangs limp above the ground. The New York Timesreported that another image shows her lying naked on the floor.
Despite the disturbing nature of the case, for months only Alexandria Goddard of Prinniefied.com reported on the rape, documenting social media evidence with screenshots and suggesting a handful of perpetrators were to blame. Now that the hacktivist collective Anonymous has taken an interest in the case, new details are emerging. Photographs and other evidence on social media have raised questions about local authorities’ investigation. 
After demanding a public apology from the boys they identified by name as the so-called “rape crew” by January 1,  the rape-specific arm of Anonymous, KnightSec, released a disturbing video of a teenage boy who appears to be speaking moments after the rape occured. In it, he laughs at how the unconscious girl is “deader than Trayvon Martin,” was raped “quicker than Mike Tyson” and “more than [by] the Duke lacrosse team.” The same boy tweeted about the night, with disturbing posts like “Song of the night is definitely ‘Rape Me’ by Nirvana,” “you don’t sleep through a wang in the butthole,” and “some people deserve to be peed on.”
While Anonymous appears to have uncovered information that mainstream journalists could not, the police released a statement following the video’s release saying that law enforcement was aware of the footage and had interviewed the teen who made it. While police say witnesses have not heeded their calls to come forward, there appears to be an abundance of evidence suggesting other individuals were involved. But according to the New York Times, deleted images were unretrievable:



Eventually, 15 phones and 2 iPads were confiscated and analyzed by a cyber crime expert at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. That expert could not retrieve deleted photographs and videos on most of the phones.
In the end, the expert recovered two naked photographs of the girl. One photograph showed the girl face down on the floor at one party, naked with her arms tucked beneath her, according to testimony given at a hearing in October. The other photograph was not described. Both photographs were found on Mays’s iPhone. No photograph or video showed anyone involved in a sexual act with the girl.
Anonymous complaints and chatter on the Internet about a less than fully aggressive investigation have perhaps not surprisingly proliferated.



Adding to the Anonymous-led conspiracy theory is that Steubenville High head coach Reno Saccoccia did not bench or in any way suspend the players involved. 
Full article
This incident happened nearly five months ago, but this case is finally starting to cause some outrage on a national scale. Coincidentally, after the House GOP let the Violence Against Women Act expire on January 2, Sen. Patty Murray is expected to reintroduce VAWA this year. 
But smashing rape culture must go beyond an act of legislation. As writer Jessica Valenti for The Nation wrote:
"We live in a country where politicians call rape a “gift from God” and suggest that women regularly lie about being raped. Where a group of young men in high school think so little of sexual assault that they thought it was fine—hilarious, even—to post pictures online of a passed out rape victim, and to live-tweet the rape, joking about the victim being urinated on. We live in a country where media as revered as The New York Times finds it necessary to describe an 11-year-old gang rape victim as “wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.” Where a woman can be fired because her boss finds her “irresistable” and a woman’s rape case falls flat because she isn’t married.
It’s time to acknowledge that the rape epidemic in the United States is not just about the crimes themselves, but our own cultural and political willful ignorance. 
Rape is as American as apple pie—until we own that, nothing will change.”

How Anonymous hacking exposed Steubenville HS rape case
January 5, 2013

At an August football party in Steubenville, Ohio, a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped by multiple athletes as she lay unconscious. Now, because of social media, horrific details of the case have been leaked to the masses, inspiring a call for increased accountability and a protest planned for this Saturday.

While two boys were arrested and charged in relation to the alleged rape, several others have been accused of playing a role in the crime, either by watching without intervening or disseminating photographs of the attack. Due to the small town’s close-knit nature, accusations of a coverup have emerged.  

According to various reports, an alleged “rape crew” dragged the young girl from party to party before she finally passed out. Testimony from witnesses suggests that she faced multiple sexual assaults while she was unconscious. One tweet suggests she may have been urinated on.

The victim did not realize she had been raped until she heard about the photographs, and then saw the images. One image shows two football players carrying the girl — who has not been identified because she is a minor — by her hands and ankles, as she hangs limp above the ground. The New York Timesreported that another image shows her lying naked on the floor.

Despite the disturbing nature of the case, for months only Alexandria Goddard of Prinniefied.com reported on the rape, documenting social media evidence with screenshots and suggesting a handful of perpetrators were to blame. Now that the hacktivist collective Anonymous has taken an interest in the case, new details are emerging. Photographs and other evidence on social media have raised questions about local authorities’ investigation. 

After demanding a public apology from the boys they identified by name as the so-called “rape crew” by January 1,  the rape-specific arm of Anonymous, KnightSec, released a disturbing video of a teenage boy who appears to be speaking moments after the rape occured. In it, he laughs at how the unconscious girl is “deader than Trayvon Martin,” was raped “quicker than Mike Tyson” and “more than [by] the Duke lacrosse team.” The same boy tweeted about the night, with disturbing posts like “Song of the night is definitely ‘Rape Me’ by Nirvana,” “you don’t sleep through a wang in the butthole,” and “some people deserve to be peed on.”

While Anonymous appears to have uncovered information that mainstream journalists could not, the police released a statement following the video’s release saying that law enforcement was aware of the footage and had interviewed the teen who made it. While police say witnesses have not heeded their calls to come forward, there appears to be an abundance of evidence suggesting other individuals were involved. But according to the New York Times, deleted images were unretrievable:

Eventually, 15 phones and 2 iPads were confiscated and analyzed by a cyber crime expert at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. That expert could not retrieve deleted photographs and videos on most of the phones.

In the end, the expert recovered two naked photographs of the girl. One photograph showed the girl face down on the floor at one party, naked with her arms tucked beneath her, according to testimony given at a hearing in October. The other photograph was not described. Both photographs were found on Mays’s iPhone. No photograph or video showed anyone involved in a sexual act with the girl.

Anonymous complaints and chatter on the Internet about a less than fully aggressive investigation have perhaps not surprisingly proliferated.

Adding to the Anonymous-led conspiracy theory is that Steubenville High head coach Reno Saccoccia did not bench or in any way suspend the players involved. 

Full article

This incident happened nearly five months ago, but this case is finally starting to cause some outrage on a national scale. Coincidentally, after the House GOP let the Violence Against Women Act expire on January 2, Sen. Patty Murray is expected to reintroduce VAWA this year. 

But smashing rape culture must go beyond an act of legislation. As writer Jessica Valenti for The Nation wrote:

"We live in a country where politicians call rape a “gift from God” and suggest that women regularly lie about being raped. Where a group of young men in high school think so little of sexual assault that they thought it was fine—hilarious, even—to post pictures online of a passed out rape victim, and to live-tweet the rape, joking about the victim being urinated on. We live in a country where media as revered as The New York Times finds it necessary to describe an 11-year-old gang rape victim as “wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.” Where a woman can be fired because her boss finds her “irresistable” and a woman’s rape case falls flat because she isn’t married.

It’s time to acknowledge that the rape epidemic in the United States is not just about the crimes themselves, but our own cultural and political willful ignorance.

Rape is as American as apple pie—until we own that, nothing will change.”

Death of India rape victim stirs anger, promises of actionDecember 29, 2012
A woman whose gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about violence against women in India died from her injuries on Saturday, prompting promises of action from a government that has struggled to respond to public outrage.
The unidentified 23-year-old medical student suffered a brain injury and massive internal damage in the attack on December 16 and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.
Protesters rallied peacefully in the capital New Delhi and other cities across India to keep the pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to get tougher on crimes against women. That was in contrast to the pitched battles protesters fought with police last weekend.
The six suspects held in connection with the attack on the student on a New Delhi bus were charged with murder following her death, police said. The maximum penalty for murder is death.
Authorities, worried about the reaction to the news of her death, deployed thousands of policemen, closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from some main roads in the heart of New Delhi, where demonstrators have converged since the attack to demand improved women’s rights.
Despite efforts to cordon off the city centre, more than 1,000 people gathered at two locations. Some protesters shouted for justice, others for the death penalty for the rapists.
Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say that successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women.
Political leaders vowed steps to correct “shameful social attitudes” towards women in the world’s biggest democracy.
"The need of the hour is a dispassionate debate and inquiry into the critical changes that are required in societal attitudes," the prime minister said in a statement.
"I hope that the entire political class and civil society will set aside narrow sectional interests and agenda to help us all reach the end that we all desire - making India a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in."
The woman, beaten, raped and thrown out of a moving bus, had been flown to Singapore in a critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday.
She and her male friend were returning home from the cinema, media reports say, when six men on the bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. Media said a rod was used in the rape, causing internal injuries. The friend survived.
"She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome," Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore said in a statement announcing her death from multiple organ failure.
The Indian government has chartered an aircraft to fly her body back to India, along with family members, T.C.A. Raghavan, the Indian high commissioner to Singapore, told reporters.
The body was taken from the hospital to a Hindu undertaker in Singapore and hours later, lying in a gold and yellow coffin selected by Indian diplomats, the body was driven in a hearse to the airport.
The plane took off from Singapore at 1630 GMT and was expected to reach New Delhi around 3 a.m. local time on Sunday (2130 GMT Saturday), the NDTV channel reported on its website citing the High Commissioner.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in the northern Indian city of Lucknow. In Hyderabad, in southern India, a group of women marched to demand severe punishment for the rapists. Protests were also held in the cities of Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.
"For some reason, and I don’t really know why, she got through to us," well-known columnist Nilanjana Roy wrote in a blog on Saturday.
"Our words shriveled in the face of what she’d been subjected to by the six men travelling on that bus, who spent an hour torturing and raping her, savagely beating up her male friend.
Sonia Gandhi, the powerful leader of the ruling Congress party, directly addressed the protesters in a rare broadcast on state television, saying that as a mother and a woman she understood their grievances.
"Your voice has been heard," Gandhi said. "It deepens our determination to battle the pervasive and the shameful social attitudes that allow men to rape and molest women with such impunity."
The attack has put gender issues centre stage in Indian politics. Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide have rarely entered mainstream political discourse.
Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed “Amanat”, an Urdu word meaning “treasure,” by some Indian media could change that, although it is too early to say whether the protesters calling for government action to better safeguard women can sustain their momentum through to national elections due in 2014.
The outcry over the attack caught the government off-guard and it was slow to react. It took a week for Singh to make a statement on the attack, infuriating many protesters who saw it as a sign of a government insensitive to the plight of women.
The prime minister, an 80-year-old technocrat who speaks in a low monotone, has struggled to channel the popular outrage in his public statements and convince critics that his eight-year-old government will take steps to improve the safety of women.
"The Congress managers were ham-handed in their handling of the situation that arose after the brutal assault on the girl. The crowd management was poor," a lawmaker from Singh’s ruling Congress party said on condition of anonymity.
Commentators and sociologists say the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social issues.
A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.
Source

Death of India rape victim stirs anger, promises of action
December 29, 2012

A woman whose gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about violence against women in India died from her injuries on Saturday, prompting promises of action from a government that has struggled to respond to public outrage.

The unidentified 23-year-old medical student suffered a brain injury and massive internal damage in the attack on December 16 and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.

Protesters rallied peacefully in the capital New Delhi and other cities across India to keep the pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to get tougher on crimes against women. That was in contrast to the pitched battles protesters fought with police last weekend.

The six suspects held in connection with the attack on the student on a New Delhi bus were charged with murder following her death, police said. The maximum penalty for murder is death.

Authorities, worried about the reaction to the news of her death, deployed thousands of policemen, closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from some main roads in the heart of New Delhi, where demonstrators have converged since the attack to demand improved women’s rights.

Despite efforts to cordon off the city centre, more than 1,000 people gathered at two locations. Some protesters shouted for justice, others for the death penalty for the rapists.

Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say that successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women.

Political leaders vowed steps to correct “shameful social attitudes” towards women in the world’s biggest democracy.

"The need of the hour is a dispassionate debate and inquiry into the critical changes that are required in societal attitudes," the prime minister said in a statement.

"I hope that the entire political class and civil society will set aside narrow sectional interests and agenda to help us all reach the end that we all desire - making India a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in."

The woman, beaten, raped and thrown out of a moving bus, had been flown to Singapore in a critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday.

She and her male friend were returning home from the cinema, media reports say, when six men on the bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. Media said a rod was used in the rape, causing internal injuries. The friend survived.

"She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome," Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore said in a statement announcing her death from multiple organ failure.

The Indian government has chartered an aircraft to fly her body back to India, along with family members, T.C.A. Raghavan, the Indian high commissioner to Singapore, told reporters.

The body was taken from the hospital to a Hindu undertaker in Singapore and hours later, lying in a gold and yellow coffin selected by Indian diplomats, the body was driven in a hearse to the airport.

The plane took off from Singapore at 1630 GMT and was expected to reach New Delhi around 3 a.m. local time on Sunday (2130 GMT Saturday), the NDTV channel reported on its website citing the High Commissioner.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in the northern Indian city of Lucknow. In Hyderabad, in southern India, a group of women marched to demand severe punishment for the rapists. Protests were also held in the cities of Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

"For some reason, and I don’t really know why, she got through to us," well-known columnist Nilanjana Roy wrote in a blog on Saturday.

"Our words shriveled in the face of what she’d been subjected to by the six men travelling on that bus, who spent an hour torturing and raping her, savagely beating up her male friend.

Sonia Gandhi, the powerful leader of the ruling Congress party, directly addressed the protesters in a rare broadcast on state television, saying that as a mother and a woman she understood their grievances.

"Your voice has been heard," Gandhi said. "It deepens our determination to battle the pervasive and the shameful social attitudes that allow men to rape and molest women with such impunity."

The attack has put gender issues centre stage in Indian politics. Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide have rarely entered mainstream political discourse.

Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed “Amanat”, an Urdu word meaning “treasure,” by some Indian media could change that, although it is too early to say whether the protesters calling for government action to better safeguard women can sustain their momentum through to national elections due in 2014.

The outcry over the attack caught the government off-guard and it was slow to react. It took a week for Singh to make a statement on the attack, infuriating many protesters who saw it as a sign of a government insensitive to the plight of women.

The prime minister, an 80-year-old technocrat who speaks in a low monotone, has struggled to channel the popular outrage in his public statements and convince critics that his eight-year-old government will take steps to improve the safety of women.

"The Congress managers were ham-handed in their handling of the situation that arose after the brutal assault on the girl. The crowd management was poor," a lawmaker from Singh’s ruling Congress party said on condition of anonymity.

Commentators and sociologists say the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social issues.

A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.

New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.

Source