UN-believable

The Christian Science Monitor raises the problem of UN Peacekeepers in Congo who’ve not prevented soldiers from raping women and children:

Mass rape in Congo reignites questions of efficacy of UN force  

The UN Peacekeepers have had a long history of problems:

UN-believable:  Sexual misconduct by UN Peacekeepers

Women ignored

Excellent article in the New York Times about sexual violence against Bangladeshi women. Just makes me wonder – how can the NY Times keep ignoring women’s human rights violations at the same time they print such an illuminating article on how this issue gets ignored?!?

Note the use of the term “women raped” – this is a passive construct that ignores the perpetrators and highlights the undesirable status women being victims.

Bangladesh war’s toll on women still undiscussed 

As the 40th anniversary of the 1971 war approaches, the Bangladeshi government has set up an International Crimes Tribunal to investigate the atrocities of that era. But human rights advocates and lawyers fear that the mass rapes and killings of women will not be adequately addressed. They hope to ensure they are.

There has been a denial by certain political groups of the history of the war, and a failure to account for the crimes of sexual violence against women,” said Sara Hossain, a human rights lawyer based in Dhaka.

For years, the experiences of women — the independence fighters, the victims of rape, the widows — during the war received little attention, their stories seldom told, the violence they experienced rarely acknowledged.

“As a young teenager in 1971, I had heard a lot about female university students, young village girls and women being raped and held captive, effectively forced into sexual slavery, in the military cantonment. But after the war, very soon, one heard nothing more,” said Irene Khan, former secretary general of Amnesty International.

Irene Khan also says this,

A conservative Muslim society has preferred to throw a veil of negligence and denial on the issue, allowed those who committed or colluded with gender violence to thrive, and left the women victims to struggle in anonymity and shame and without much state or community support.”

Bad Ads

In the Bad Ads department, we have this from AdFreak:

Summer’s Eve placed this big ad for its Feminine Wash in Women’s Day magazine suggesting that the cleanliness of her privates plays a pivotal role in whether or not a woman will get a raise at work. Literally the ad says that step one toward getting paid more is keeping yourself clean “down there.” The premise of the ad—that a woman’s ultimate worth is the sum of her ladyparts—is insulting enough, but the ad places use of the product above things like establishing your accomplishments and worth to the company.

Summer’s Eve ad:  Douche more, earn more

A double standard when it comes to athletes and domestic violence

Great article by Jeff Benedict – A double standard when it comes to athletes and domestic violence. This could also be called: Why do athletes believe heavyweights can fight lightweights? Because that’s what I’d like to know.

It’s pretty sobering to visualize a big muscular athlete knocking down a woman or pummeling a grandfather. Against the sheer violence involved in each of these cases, it’s easy to overlook the fact that each of these incidents played out in front of plenty of witnesses. Typically, domestic violence is the kind of crime that goes on behind closed doors, where bullies carry out threats and violence without fear of being seen or caught.

But athletes are less prone to fear consequences, especially when it comes to their off-the-field behavior. Fields confronted his ex-girlfriend outside a child care facility at 5 o’clock on a Monday afternoon. Rodriguez couldn’t have picked a more public place to berate his girlfriend and strike her father than at a ballpark, never mind the fact that there were security guards on hand.

Most of us would consider this behavior pretty brazen. Yet athletes who run afoul of the law are used to getting out of jams. Look at Stephenson. While starring at Abraham Lincoln High in Coney Island Stephenson and a teammate were arrested in October 2008 for allegedly sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl inside the school. At the time, Stephenson was being recruited by schools like North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis, USC and many others. He was on his way to becoming the all-time leading scorer in New York state history and leading his team to four consecutive New York City championships. He’d become such a big phenomenon that a courtside announcer had nicknamed him “Born Ready” and a reality web series about him was being planned under the same name.

All of that was jeopardized by the felony sexual assault case pending against him. But here’s where it pays for an abuser to be an athlete. After Stephenson pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, the University of Cincinnati offered him a scholarship. He became the Big East’s Rookie of the Year in 2010 and was selected drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of June’s NBA Draft. It was as if the incident at his high school didn’t matter.

Jeff Benedict is a distinguished Professor of English at Southern Virginia University and the author of several books on athletes and violence, including Out of Bounds and Pros and Cons. Check out his website at jeffbenedict.com.

Primary aggressors

Here’s an article about a couple arrested for domestic violence because the police couldn’t determine who was the primary aggressor. I’m including this article as a chance to mention “primary aggressor.” Some of the men’s rights activists are ticked off that police determine and arrest the primary aggressor. They’d much rather think the violence was mutual because, according to their viewpoint, all domestic violence is mutual.

While this particular article indicates the woman committed violence, the problem with dual arrests is that victims can be arrested too. So perhaps this is not the best example to use – but I want to take this opportunity to include some citations to research studies here about primary aggressors and dual arrests.

Police: Couple charged with criminal domestic violence

National Institutes of Justice

Section 12 — Who is the primary/predominant aggressor?

A substantial percentage of victims of domestic violence hit their perpetrators back. [72] In Massachusetts, 37.3 percent of the female victims fought back in the incident in which their male abuser was arrested. However, most (59.1 percent) of those females who fought back found that this made their abuser more violent. [23] A substantial number of victims will not self-disclose their victimization. [93] Consequently, determination of primary or predominant aggressor may not be self-evident. Nonetheless, data on police action in 2,819 jurisdictions in 19 states reveal that only 1.9 percent of incidents resulted in dual arrests for intimate partner violence and intimidation. In other words, less than 4 percent of all intimate partner arrests were dual arrests in which law enforcement could not determine a primary or predominant aggressor. [117]

Studies suggest that officers’ determination of primary or predominant aggressor is particularly problematic when the intimate partner violence occurs between same-sex couples. Although police are equally likely to make arrests in same-sex as in heterosexual partner abuse cases, a study of more than 1,000 same-sex intimate partner violence reports from departments across the country found that officers were substantially more likely to arrest both parties in same-sex cases. Specifically, 26.1 percent of female same-sex cases and 27.3 percent of male same-sex cases resulted in dual arrests, compared to only 0.8 percent with male offenders and female victims, and 3 percent with female offenders and male victims. [175]

Research on the impact of primary aggressor policies, either mandated by state statute or by individual law enforcement agencies, reveals that such policies significantly reduce the percentage of dual arrests from an average of 9 percent to 2 percent of domestic violence arrests. [117]

Implications for Judges

In dual-arrest cases, judges should insist that prosecutors provide evidence that one of the parties was the primary or predominant aggressor and the other the victim. This may be particularly important, as advocates caution that female victims who are arrested along with their abusers may nonetheless plead guilty in order to be able to return home to care for minor children. Furthermore, it appears that law enforcement finds it particularly challenging to determine the primary/predominant aggressor with same-sex couples. (Research basis: The most significant dual-arrest study was based on examination of all assault and intimidation cases in the 2000 NIBRS database as well as more detailed examination of these data from 25 diverse police departments across the country.)

Media bias

When women’s use of violence is exaggerated in order to get attention, it’s media bias.  Check out this headline:

Yeardley Love, George Huguely fought days before her death, court papers show

University of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love was so angry at George Huguely V in the days before she was killed that she hit him with her purse, spilling its contents all over the floor…

While I realize purses come in all sizes and have varying weights, this headline and opening sentence seem pretty exaggerated to me. Hitting a Lacrosse player (capable of murder) with a purse wouldn’t warrant being called a fight – but hey, the media is also prone to using “dispute,” which does the opposite – it minimizes the extent of violence. One commenter on this article believed the Washington Post writer acted as though Love somehow deserved to get her head bashed into the wall. I’m not sure if I believe the writer felt that Love was ‘asking for it’ but I do think he played up her use of violence.

Protective Parents

Here are some resources for protective parents, people who make allegations of abuse in family court and are not believed. The newsletter (link below) includes information on a clearinghouse, a brochure, a letter on PAS, and another event to help raise awareness about family court catastrophes (a two-day event in DC on Friday, October 1st and Saturday, October 2nd – Please come and join us!)

NOW Foundation

Believe women

Child psychologist loses custody of her 2 sons

Amy Castillo was a pediatrician with a clean record yet the judge believed her husband (who had vandalized the house, threatened to kill the kids and was institutionalized) and she was denied a restraining order.

He drowned the 3 children in a hotel bathtub in Baltimore.

Now, here’s another case – a child psychologist loses custody of her 2 sons after making allegations of abuse. The judge transfers custody to the husband until the mother ‘changes her mind about the allegations.’ Even her family members are forbidden contact.

I can’t say whether these allegations are true or not, but allegations can be hard to prove and this judge’s decisions are ridiculous. Clearly, the judge doesn’t believe this woman made false allegations malicously, so by punishing her, she’s sending a message that allegations – whether or not they’re made in good faith – will be penalized severely.  Not a good public health policy.

She recalls how, on the evening she lost her children, Tin ordered her and her family to stay put in the courtroom and directed that Pennington’s nanny drive her boys to their father’s parents. As the boys sobbed, Pennington says, the exchange took place in the parking lot of a Charlotte pancake house.

It’s been 18 months since then, and Pennington says she’s seen her sons for only 17 hours, despite completing thousands of dollars in court-ordered therapy. To get more visitation, she’s supposed to change her mind about allegations she made against her ex-husband. Yet she claims requirements in Tin’s order are impossible to meet.

Change her mind? Is that what Judge Tin thinks is the answer to a mother who believes abuse took place?

When Pennington and her ex-husband divorced in 2006, they agreed to share custody. Back then, nothing suggested their break-up would end so badly.

But in 2007, Pennington filed for primary custody. She alleged, among other things, that her ex-husband wasn’t properly giving one son his asthma medicine and wasn’t adequately preparing the two boys for school.

Pennington and her ex-husband tried mediation. It failed. About two weeks later, in early 2008, she reported serious allegations to a pediatrician. A Department of Social Services investigation followed.

To protect the privacy of the boys, the Observer isn’t providing details of the allegations or identifying the children or their father, who shares their last name.

In subsequent months, Pennington reported several more incidents that she said her sons disclosed to her following visits with their father, according to Tin’s order.

But the DSS investigation didn’t substantiate Pennington’s allegations. And police concluded the allegations were unfounded, Tin’s order says.

Instead, it was Pennington who DSS cited for neglect, finding that she had repeatedly discussed the allegations with her sons. During the trial, a DSS social worker testified that one of Pennington’s sons said his mom and her boyfriend talked about the allegations all the time, “even after the judge told them not to talk about it.”

The trial lasted 13 days. When it was over, Tin issued a tough ruling from the bench. She gave custody of the boys to their father and limited Pennington, at first, to supervised visitation with her children – if her therapist and their therapists deemed it appropriate.

How is discussing abuse allegations with children considered neglect?!?
Tin also ordered Pennington to pay $266,657 for her ex-husband’s attorney fees. He was represented by lawyers with James, McElroy & Diehl.
She doesn’t just get fined for a “false allegation,” she has to pay over $250,000 for her exes legal fees, along with her own.
Tin wrote that Pennington may have believed the allegations she was making. But if she ever wanted unsupervised time with her boys, the judge required an unusual condition: Pennington would have to show a “changed perspective,” admitting that her ex-husband didn’t commit the acts she alleged, and that her actions had harmed her boys.
Tin ruled she would use testimony from multiple people familiar with Pennington’s behavior to decide if she changed her perspective. They would include therapists and her family members – as well as her ex-husband.

After the trial, Tin also forbade several of Pennington’s family members from having contact with her boys.

This is sounding more and more cult-like. She gets virtually no contact until she changes her mind about her sons being abused. The judge is basically saying, I don’t care if you believe abuse took place, change your perspective or suffer the consequences.

Pennington says she’s a good mother being punished for believing what her children told her. She says she did not repeatedly question and coach her children about the allegations.

She’s now supposed to pay her husband’s attorney fees, child support and for therapy for herself and her sons, she says. She has also spent about $268,000 on her own legal fees, according to Tin’s order.

Pennington believes she has proof that Tin’s order is flawed. She filed ethics complaints against her sons’ two therapists, and the licensing board recently agreed that Tin’s order had created possible conflicts of interests by requiring the therapists to both treat and evaluate family members.

Pennington’s complaints prompted the therapists to halt visitations – one reason she’s seen so little of her sons.

Read more here:  With stakes so high, she won’t stop

 Here’s more on Judge Tin and judicial bias: Trials that will not adjourn

Global Media Awards

“The Population Institute released today its annual “Call for Entries” for its Global Media Awards (GMA) program. This year marks the 31st  Anniversary of the GMA. The program is a global competition that encourages participation from individuals and organizations in all continents and regions. This year’s December award dinner, which will be held in San Francisco, will honor a wide range of journalists and media for their outstanding coverage of population, family planning and reproductive health issues. The awards serve to stimulate high standards of journalism and full and accurate reporting on issues related to population. By encouraging better coverage of population and development issues, the GMAs serve to educate policymakers, opinion leaders and the general public about the impacts of population growth and the benefits of ensuring that all women have access to family planning and reproductive health services.”

For more info: The Population Institute

Women News Network

Check it out! 

“Women News Network is dedicated to bringing you in-depth international women’s news not found in our current public media stream. Starting from a writing assignment to cover global women’s news for the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2006, director Lys Anzia saw the vital need to report the many times hard and suffering stories of women. WNN news stories have appeared on UN affiliate and agency publications through WUNRN – Women’s UN Report Network and UN-INSTRAW, the United Nations Institute of Training and Research for the Advancement of Women.”

From:  Women News Network