Rape is rape (now, can somebody please tell the judges)

This is really bad…The judge overturned a 2-year sentence for 6 men that gang-raped 12-year-old girls. Not only that, he said the men had “positive good character” for confessing.

British judges free child rapists, say 12-year-old wanted sex

In March, six British soccer players confessed to gang-raping two 12-year-old girls and were sentenced to two years behind bars. But last week, an Appeal Court overturned the sentence, and all of the men were freed.

The reasoning? “The girls wanted to have sex,” said Lord Justice Moses, who was among the deciding judges. “And  they had pretty miserable, fleeting sex in a freezing cold park.”

Rape is rape  –  sign the petition to the FBI here

For 82 years, the FBI has defined “forcible” rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” This means that rapes using fingers or an object aren’t counted–as well as non-consensual anal and oral penetration. The rapes of men, boys and transgender people also fall outside the legal definition. What’s more, the emphasis on “forcible” means that other categories of rapes often aren’t counted, either: those of victims who were unconscious, unable to consent because of physical or mental disabilities, or those where drugs or alcohol were used to gain control over the victim.

 

Update: Grieving mother gets probation and community service

The grieving mother who was going to face 3 years in jail received probation and the possibility of a new trial:

Mother of boy killed by hit-run driver gets probation and community service

Nelson faced up to three years in jail on the charges, but Judge Kathryn
Tanksley instead gave her 12 months probation on each of two charges, vehicular
homicide and failure to use the crosswalk, but combined the two counts into a
year’s probation.

In addition, she was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.

In an unusual move, Tanksley also offered Nelson a new trial, telling her
that if she is found innocent of the charges her record would be cleared.
Nelson’s lawyer David Savoy they would accept the judge’s offer.

As she left court, Nelson was clearly relieved that her sentence did not
involve jail time.

“I am walking out of here. I don’t think you could be more satisfied,” she
said.

The judge said she had received letters of support for Nelson from across the
country, and the online group Change.org claims to have delivered 125,000
signatures on a petition in support of Nelson and to demand a crosswalk at the
site of the accident.

And – by the way – a Google search turned up articles with mother/mom in the title in the majority of cases.  

Victim blaming in the media regarding the IMF chief’s sexual assault case

This is from the Women’s Media Center and it contains a link to a petition to protest the media’s rampant victim blaming:

“Dominique Strauss-Kahn may have more to worry about than a possible prison sentence.” That was the first sentence in an article in the New York Post today about the IMF Chief accused of sexually attacking a woman in a New York City hotel. The article then proceeds to “out” the alleged victim for living in an apartment building for people and families living with HIV/AIDS. This type of coverage does nothing to help hold an alleged rapist accountable and only contributes to victim-shaming and stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS – With no respect for the accuser’s medical confidentiality or the confidentiality of the residents in that building. Further, they repeatedly refer to her as maid, rather than a victim, and highlight her immigration status and race. The New York Post should be ashamed for framing their coverage of sexual assault about concerns for an alleged attacker, rather than the impact of a violent sexual assault on a woman at her place of work. They also printed this quote:

“One high-powered lawyer, who was among those trying to reach her to offer to rep her, said ‘She could make $6 million, maybe more, just by shutting her mouth.”

As heinous as the NY Post’s piece was, they’re not the only ones who are guilty of harmful coverage. The Daily Beast ran this commentary by Bernard-Henri Levy in which he questioned the alleged victim’s legitimacy:

“I do not know—but, on the other hand, it would be nice to know, and without delay—how a chambermaid could have walked in alone, contrary to the habitual practice of most of New York’s grand hotels of sending a ‘cleaning brigade’ of two people, into the room of one of the most closely watched figures on the planet.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, The American Spectator published this despicable piece by Ben Stein yesterday, in which he ranted:

“The prosecutors say that Mr. Strauss-Kahn ‘forced’ the complainant to have oral and other sex with him. How? Did he have a gun? Did he have a knife? He’s a short fat old man. They were in a hotel with people passing by the room constantly, if it’s anything like the many hotels I am in. How did he intimidate her in that situation? And if he was so intimidating, why did she immediately feel un-intimidated enough to alert the authorities as to her story?

People accuse other people of crimes all of the time. What do we know about the complainant besides that she is a hotel maid? I love and admire hotel maids. They have incredibly hard jobs and they do them uncomplainingly. I am sure she is a fine woman. On the other hand, I have had hotel maids that were complete lunatics, stealing airline tickets from me, stealing money from me, throwing away important papers, stealing medications from me. How do we know that this woman’s word was good enough to put Mr. Strauss-Kahn straight into a horrific jail?”

After all this media coverage, all women (and men) may have more to worry about than the possibility that an international leader is guilty of sexual assault. This type of coverage reinforces the power structures that legitimize sexism and rape, and works directly against the elimination of sexual violence in our culture. In a country where a woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes, such pieces do real harm.Tell the NY Post, the Daily Beast, and the American Spectator that media have a responsibility to work towards the elimination of rape culture and sexism – Not to legitimize it!

Send a letter by clicking here: http://www.change.org/petitions/media-stop-victim-blaming-and-shaming-in-coverage-of-imf-chiefs-alleged-sexual-assault

Change.org

Skechers want girls as young as 7 to shape up

An excerpt from Change.org:

Augusta Christensen is a recent college grad who remembers all too well what it’s like to be a little girl with a poor self-image, so she started a petition on Change.org pushing Skechers to discontinue Shape Ups for Girls.

Nearly 2,000 signatures later, the president of the “Skechers Fitness Group” wrote a column on the Huffington Post that attacked Augusta personally and claimed that the shoes are just the company’s way of getting involved in the fight against childhood obesity — even comparing the product to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. 

But if that’s true, why not make Shape Up sneakers for boys? (Plus, experts say the shoes may not actually increase fitness — and lack support and stability when you’re running.)

Augusta pushed back with a column of her own, and the controversy has since been covered by the Today Show, MSNBC, and ABC News, among others. 

But Skechers still refuses to discontinue Shape Ups for Girls — and it will take a bigger public push to get them to back down. 

Please sign the petition to Skechers at:  Change.org

New York Times apologizes for victim-blaming

A bit of a half-assed apology, but it can help:

Big news! After a massive outcry from more than 40,000 Change.org members — which led to news coverage in the Huffington Post, Village Voice, and even London’s Daily MailNew York Times public editor Arthur S. Brisbane has issued a strong rebuke of the victim-blaming in a recent article by reporter James McKinley about the gang-rape of an 11-year-old girl and her community’s response.  

Brisbane wrote said that the outrage was “understandable” and that the piece conveyed “an impression of concern for the perpetrators and an impression of a provocative victim” that “led many readers to interpret the subtext of the story to be: she had it coming.”

The apology isn’t perfect — it decries the lack of “balance,” as if the paper should be providing equal voice to the concerns of the victims and her alleged attackers. And unfortunately, while the story ran in section “A” of the Times, Brisbane’s commentary showed up only online, not in his weekly column.

But because the Times is so high-profile, this condemnation still sends an important message to reporters all around the U.S. that readers will hold them accountable for insinuating that victims are somehow responsible for playing a role in their own sexual assaults. And you made this happen.

We have much more to do together as we fight for the rights and security of women everywhere, but we’re proving we can make real progress. If there’s a campaign you’d like to start, click here to create your own petition:

http://www.change.org/start-a-petition?alert_id=IWSUxNFEGk_HMgNqlZrOR&me=aa

Thanks for taking action,

Shelby and the Change.org team

New York Times: ‘Nice guys’ rape 11-year-old

Here’s a combination of the ‘nice guys’ rape scenario and victim-blaming. In this case, the victim is an11-year-old child. And the perpetrators are boys and men, ranging from middle-schoolers to 27 years in age. They raped the girl under the threat of a beating. In the article, the writer, James C. McKinley Jr., has quotes in the article that blames the victim (she wore make-up, dressed in clothing that made her look older; where was her mother) and praised the perps (they’ll have to live with this the rest of their lives)

Here are my thoughts:

1) Who else has reported on this? I haven’t searched it yet, but I’ve only heard about the NY Times piece. Why is it that this crime didn’t get national attention?

2) A link below has a response from the NY Times. They stand by this piece. They said the reporter used quotes – they weren’t his words. Aaaaah! So, if we can use quotes (choosing from, I assume, many quotes), we no longer are responsible!!! It’s as if those words jumped on the page themselves. I’ve encountered this problem before and I don’t buy it. The least the writer can do is interview an anti-rape advocate to counter the victim blaming.

3) When is society going to wake up? This should serve as the wake up call, but I doubt it will. A MIDDLE SCHOOLER was involved in this gang-rape. THE VICTIM WAS A CHILD.  Really? No public outrage? We should be ashamed to call ourselves humans. Having a conscience is what separates humans from animals — in this case, we are no different.

4) Men in their 20s raped this 11 year old. Hello!! This is pedophilia, folks. Why didn’t the NY Times deal with this? 

Here’s the NY Times piece: Gang rape of schoolgirl, and arrests, shakes Texas town

Here’s their reply, posted in The Cutline news blog  NY Times responds to backlash over reporting of an alleged child rape (alleged rape?! it was caught on tape, it was a rape)

The Times responded Wednesday evening to The Cutline: “Neighbors’ comments about the girl, which we reported in the story, seemed to reflect concern about what they saw as a lack of supervision that may have left her at risk,” said Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for the paper. “As for residents’ references to the accused having to ‘live with this for the rest of their lives,’ those are views we found in our reporting. They are not our reporter’s reactions, but the reactions of disbelief by townspeople over the news of a mass assault on a defenseless 11-year-old.”

Rhodes Ha also stressed that the paper stands by the controversial piece.

“We are very aware of and sensitive to the concerns that arise in reporting about sexual assault,” Rhoades Ha said. “This story is still developing and there is much to be learned about how something so horrific could have occurred.”

Read the NY Times letter to the editor

Mother Jones has quotes from the article & analysis: The NY Times’ rape-friendly reporting

Victim-blaming in the NY Times Cleveland gang rape article

The fword blog: Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused  (Domestic violence victims are also the “accused” – they nag or cheat or otherwise do something to deserve the beating. They, like rape victims, are also accused of lying.)

Here’s Salon’s reaction: The NY Times’ sloppy, slanted child rape story 

Here’s a petition on Change.org Tell the NY Times to apologize for blaming a child for her gang rape