9-27-19 Not just about sex: Indonesia's protests explained
For days, Indonesia has been rocked by student protests against a new corruption law and plans for a draconian criminal code. The most headline-grabbing issue is a proposed ban on extramarital sex, but the protests go far beyond that. They focus on corruption, plans to outlaw insulting the president and a toughening of blasphemy laws. While the vote on some of the new bills has been postponed, observers fear the protests will continue. The demonstrations were triggered by a new law which critics say weakens Indonesia's anti-corruption agency. While that law has already been passed and protesters are now demanding for it to be repealed, they have a long list of other demands and grievances. "It's not a one-issue protest," explained Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch in Indonesia. "And it's also not a unified or organised movement." The anger is, for instance, directed at plans for a new criminal code, at troops in the unrest-hit Papua region, and at the failure to stem forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo that are causing toxic haze across South East Asia. "People are trying to protect their civil liberties and individual liberties," Djayadi Hanan, lecturer in political science at Paramadina University in Jakarta, told the BBC. "And they are upset that the president is disappointing them by not moving strongly against corruption." For years already, Indonesia has been planning to reform its criminal code which dates back to Dutch colonial rule. Now that the new draft is on the table, many feel it would roll back years of progress and reform in the country. It would outlaw sex outside of marriage and criminalise abortion in the absence of a medical emergency or rape. It would also outlaw insulting the president and expand blasphemy laws, already a very sensitive issue in the country.
9-25-19 Plácido Domingo leaves Met Opera over sexual harassment claims
The Metropolitan Opera has ended its relationship with the renowned tenor Plácido Domingo over allegations of sexual harassment by several women. Domingo, 78, was due to sing the title role in the Met's production of Verdi's Macbeth, opening on Wednesday evening. But the singer, who denies the allegations, said in a statement on Tuesday that his 51-year relationship with the opera house was over. Several other companies had already cancelled his concerts over the claims. A total of 20 women have now accused the Spanish singer of harassment, inappropriate sexual behaviour and of sometimes using his position in the industry to harm their careers if they rejected him. Their claims were published in two reports by the Associated Press news agency. The Met Opera said in a statement that Domingo had "agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately", adding: "The Met and Domingo are in agreement that he needed to step down. The Met has no further comment at this time." AP reports that the opera house's general manager, Peter Gelb, had told performers at a dress rehearsal on Saturday that he was waiting for the results of investigations by the LA Opera - which Domingo directs - before cancelling the singer's appearances. He had been scheduled to perform in Macbeth on 25 and 28 September and 1 October, as well as four dates in Madama Butterfly in November. Domingo said he considered the Macbeth dress rehearsal to be his "last performance on the Met stage". "I made my debut at the Metropolitan Opera at the age of 27 and have sung at this magnificent theatre for 51 consecutive, glorious years," he said. "While I strongly dispute recent allegations made about me, and I am concerned about a climate in which people are condemned without due process, upon reflection, I believe that my appearance in this production of Macbeth would distract from the hard work of my colleagues both on stage and behind the scenes."
9-20-19 A new sexual misconduct claim against Kavanaugh
Prominent Democrats called for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s impeachment this week after a new allegation of sexual misconduct emerged from his time at Yale University. President Trump, by contrast, branded the story a “smear” and said Kavanaugh should “start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue.” The New York Times reported that Yale classmate Max Stier told the FBI he saw Kavanaugh’s friends push his penis into a female student’s hand at a “drunken dorm party.” Stier’s account echoes that of Deborah Ramirez, another Yale classmate who said Kavanaugh thrust his penis at her during another college party. A third woman, Christine Blasey Ford, has accused Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed and tearing at her clothes in high school. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) were among several Democratic presidential candidates to call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment, with Harris describing his confirmation as “a sham.” Republicans strongly criticized the Times for not noting in its initial story that the woman Stier says he saw Kavanaugh assault declined interviews with the paper’s reporters and has reportedly said she does not recall the incident. Capitol Hill Democratic leaders also resisted the impeachment demand, calling it unrealistic. In addition to presenting the new charge, the Times story, which was based on a new book by two of its reporters, questioned the FBI’s investigation of Ford’s and Ramirez’s allegations, saying the FBI didn’t interview 25 potential witnesses. The Times also said the FBI didn’t interview Stier, and “at least seven people” contemporaneously heard about the incident with Ramirez, despite Republicans’ claim during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing that “no corroboration” existed.
9-20-19 First sexual experience
About 6.5 percent of American women, or 3.3 million, say that their first sexual experience was rape, according to a new study. The average victim was 15 years old.
9-17-19 Universities 'failing' victims of sexual misconduct
Dozens of students who reported sexual assaults to their university have said they were failed by complaints processes that left them traumatised. A BBC investigation found universities received more than 700 allegations of sexual misconduct during the past academic year. Students accused their universities of being paralysed by fear of reputational damage and not offering proper support. Universities UK said institutions were making progress in handling complaints. But students said they had to go through "traumatic" and lengthy complaints procedures, with one saying she "felt like the one on trial" and another calling it "a waste of time". Freedom of Information responses obtained by File on 4 from 81 UK universities found more than 110 complaints of sexual assault and 80 allegations of rape were made last year. In a number of cases students and universities also reported the alleged attacker to police. However, there are no mandatory guidelines on how universities should investigate or record such complaints. The result, campaigners and survivors say, is a "patchy" system that is failing students. One student, who reported a violent rape to her university and police, was repeatedly forced to see her alleged attacker around campus because of a loophole in the university's safe-guarding procedure. Women from multiple universities have also been dissuaded from coming forward on the grounds that the reporting process would be "traumatic". One student said she was told by her university to spend the night in the library, after she told them she could not return to her accommodation out of fear of another attack. Another described her experience as "like being 'gaslit' [a term for psychological abuse where victims are made to constantly doubt themselves and reality] on an institutional level".
9-16-19 One in 16 US women were forced into having sex for the first time
One in 16 US girls and women were forced into their first experience of sex, either physically or through other kinds of pressure. The figure comes from an analysis of a regular national survey of health and family life carried out by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Laura Hawks of Harvard Medical School and colleagues analysed the responses from 13,000 women aged between 18 and 44 who answered the survey in the past eight years. About 6.5 per cent said that their first experience of vaginal sex with a man wasn’t voluntary. The researchers used the term “forced” for those who answered “not voluntary”. About half of these respondents said they had been held down. About a quarter had been physically harmed and a quarter physically threatened – although there was overlap between the groups. About half reported being verbally pressured, such as being told the relationship would end unless they had sex, and a fifth said they had been given alcohol or drugs. Even when no physical coercion was used, the average age of women forced into sex was 15 and the average age of men was 27, says Hawks. “You’re automatically getting a picture of a huge power imbalance,” she says. There was less of an age difference for those who first had sex voluntarily: the average age was 17 for the women and 21 for the male partner. Those forced were also poorer and had less formal education on average.A previous version of the survey in 1995 found a slightly higher prevalence of forced first-time sex at 9 per cent. This research involved a younger age group of 15 to 24 year olds and the question was worded slightly differently. “We have known for decades that the prevalence of coercive sex is really high,” says Petra Boynton, a social psychologist based in the UK, who wasn’t involved in the work.
9-16-19 Brett Kavanaugh: Trump defends judge amid new misconduct claims
US President Donald Trump has angrily defended Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who is facing fresh allegations of sexual misconduct. A former university classmate of Justice Kavanaugh's has said he exposed himself at a student party and engaged in other inappropriate behaviour there. Mr Trump condemned the media and opposition Democrats. He suggested Justice Kavanaugh should sue for libel - or that the US justice department should "rescue" him. Christine Blasey Ford testified before Congress that he had sexually assaulted her in the 1980s, while Deborah Ramirez told The New Yorker magazine that he had waved his penis in front of her face at a 1980s dormitory party. They were made by Max Stier, who was at Yale University with Justice Kavanaugh and now runs a non-profit organisation in Washington DC. Mr Stier said he had seen his former classmate "with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student". Democrats have called for the judge to be investigated. Senator Amy Klobouchar, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who was involved in a tetchy exchange with Justice Kavanaugh during his confirmation, described the process as a "sham". "I strongly opposed him based on his views on executive power, which will continue to haunt our country, as well as how he behaved, including the allegations that we are hearing more about today," she told ABC.
9-16-19 Bob Hewitt: South Africa stops early release of rapist former tennis star
South African officials have stopped the early release of convicted rapist and former tennis star Bob Hewitt following a public outcry. The 79-year-old was jailed for six years in 2015 for raping two girls and sexually assaulting a third while he was a coach in the 1980s and 1990s. He was set to be released on parole later this month but, on Monday, that decision was suspended. Hewitt's case will now be referred to the country's parole board for review. Proper procedures regarding the decision to grant him parole were not followed and his victims were not consulted, the Department of Justice and Correctional Services said. "The [justice] minister noted with grave concern the lack of participation by the victims of crimes in the parole consideration process," it added. The former tennis player was a multiple Grand Slam doubles champion in the 1960s and 1970s. He initially played for Australia, but later moved to South Africa and took citizenship there. He was suspended from the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012 after abuse allegations. During his trial for rape, the prosecutor said Hewitt deserved a harsh sentence because he had failed to show remorse and had breached the trust of children.
9-13-19 March against femicide
Hundreds of people marched silently through the Mexican capital this week to protest an epidemic of violence against women. Family members of missing and murdered women held up signs reading “We won’t stop until we find you!” Ten women are murdered every day in Mexico on average, many having first suffered a sexual assault, and some 9,000 more have vanished without a trace in recent years. The United Nations says that four of every 10 Mexican women will experience sexual violence during their lifetimes. Last month, women doused Mexico City’s police chief with pink glitter to protest a string of alleged rapes by police officers. “We want a political response that reflects the scale of this national emergency,” said activist Yndira Sandoval.
9-13-19 South Africa sexual violence protesters target stock exchange
People campaigning over the high levels of violence against women in South Africa have taken their protest to the financial heart of the country. Hundreds have gathered outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to call on the country's big firms to do more to tackle gender inequality. Protests have been triggered by the rape and murder of 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana in Cape Town last month. Over 41,000 people were raped in South Africa in the year from April 2018. (Webmaster's comment: In the same time there were 126,000 rapes in America!) That amounts to more than one rape every 15 minutes in South Africa. (Webmaster's comment: There is more than one rape every 6 minutes in America!) Police statistics also show that eight women are murdered every day in the country. Last week's news cycle was littered with stories of the rape and murder of women and children in several parts of the country. It left many women asking: "Am I next?" The rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana was a moment that made women feel vulnerable and scared. There was a sombre mood at the protest, which brought traffic to a standstill in Johannesburg's Sandton district. Tears were rolling down the women's faces as they started singing "Senzeni na?", which loosely translated from Zulu means "what have we done to deserve this?" The latest crime statistics released on Thursday revealed that women are justified to fear for their lives because murder, rape and sexual assaults have all increased. But with the South African police overstretched and often accused of turning away victims who are desperate for help, it remains to be seen how the country plans to tackle this very real and disturbing problem. Among the protesters' demands were that all companies listed on the stock exchange should set aside 2% of their profits to go towards tackling violence against women. "We really are suffering [from] femicides and we need all hands on deck and business [in] South Africa is not exempt from that," Mandisa Khanyile, one of those organising the march, told the BBC's Newsday programme. She said one of the things that needed funding was an education programme to get people to move away from the "toxic masculinity" that allows men to think that violence against women is acceptable.
9-12-19 Sexual violence in South Africa: 'I was raped, now I fear for my daughters'
South Africans have been outraged by a spate of gruesome rapes and murders of women in recent weeks - including that of a schoolgirl who reportedly had her head staved in, and a university student who was bludgeoned to death. The rapes and murders have led to street protests, the #AmINext campaign on Twitter, and an online petition signed by more than 500,000 to demand the reinstatement of the death penalty in a nation battling to curb high levels of crime. South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised a series of measures to tackle the crisis - including making public a register of offenders, increasing the number of "dedicated sexual offences courts", and harsher sentences. Photographer Sarah Midgley, a 37-year-old mother of two who lives in the main city Johannesburg, is still recovering from the trauma of being raped almost a decade ago. She told BBC Africa Women's Affairs reporter Esther Akello Ogola about her ordeal. I was raped by my ex-boyfriend in 2010, just around the time the football World Cup was taking place in South Africa. My ex-boyfriend had been physically and emotionally abusing me for close to 18 months before I got the courage to leave. I had threatened to leave many times before but every time I tried, he would get more violent. He would kick, sometimes choke and bite me. He constantly threatened to rape my daughters and kill them in front of me if I dared to leave him. He even tasered me once. I did not share this with anyone because I was embarrassed and ashamed that I could not stand up for myself. I was also isolated from friends and family because coming right off a divorce, my self-esteem was not at its best and my ex-boyfriend convinced me that friends and family did not care about me. I also believed he would hurt my babies. When I did get the courage to leave, I did so secretly. However, 10 days later, he was standing at my door. To say I was shocked that he had found me would be an understatement. He said he was only there to ask for a favour for the last time. He claimed to have no money or means to get to his uncle's farm, which was around 25km (15.5 miles) from where I lived. He promised that he would walk out of my life completely, if I gave him a ride. I believed him. For many years after the rape, I blamed myself for having believed that he would let me go scot-free.
9-11-19 NFL star Antonio Brown accused of rape by personal trainer
American football star Antonio Brown has been accused of rape by his former personal trainer. Britney Taylor, who decided to forgo anonymity, said Mr Brown sexually assaulted her on three occasions, according to a civil lawsuit she filed. The 31-year-old has denied the allegations. Mr Brown's new team, the New England Patriots, said that the National Football League (NFL) was also launching an investigation. The complaint says that the two met at a bible study class at Central Michigan University in 2010. Mr Brown later hired Ms Taylor, who is a gymnast, in 2017, to improve his ankle flexibility. However, according to the lawsuit, he sexually assaulted her twice in training sessions in June 2017, and she stopped working with him. On one occasion, she says Mr Brown assaulted her while the two were streaming a church service on Ms Taylor's iPad in Mr Brown's Miami home. The lawsuit reads that Mr Brown "reached out to Ms Taylor, expressing contrition, begging forgiveness and pleading with her to train him again". She reluctantly agreed but in May 2018 he raped her, according to the court papers. Her lawsuit says that Mr Brown later sent her "astonishingly profane and angry text messages" bragging of his alleged sexual assault against her. In a statement, Ms Taylor said "deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision" and that she has "found strength in my faith, my family, and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault". "Speaking out removes the shame that I have felt for the past year and places it on the person responsible for my rape," she said, adding that she will "co-operate with the NFL and any other agencies".
9-7-19 Femicide: The murders giving Europe a wake-up call
On 1 September, a resident of Cagnes-sur-Mer in the south of France spotted a foot sticking out from a pile of rubbish, branches and an old quilt. It was the disfigured body of a woman, the victim of a brutal attack. Her partner denies her murder. Salomé, 21, was France's 100th victim this year of "femicide" - usually defined as the murder of a woman by a partner, ex-partner or family member. The day after Salomé's body was found, a 92-year-old woman was caned to death by her 94-year-old husband. Number 101. Within hours, the French government announced a raft of measures to protect women from domestic violence. Other European countries have already reacted to a crime that knows no borders or social class, but the picture across the continent is mixed. President Emmanuel Macron launched the French campaign at a national domestic violence hotline centre, but received a reality check when he listened in on a call. A woman, who had endured decades of abuse from her violent husband, had finally built up the courage to leave him. She had asked a police officer to accompany her home so she could collect some belongings, but the officer refused, insisting he needed a judicial order to intervene. He was wrong, but the helpline had no legal authority and the operator could only direct the victim to a support group. President Macron shook his head in frustration. "Does that happen often?" he asked the operator. "Oh yes," she responded, "More and more." Homicides by intimate partners are overwhelmingly committed by men against women. According to the most recent figures of such murders, the French rate is far from the highest in the EU. But as Viviana Waisman from Women's Link Worldwide explains, violence against women cannot be simplified by numbers. "Violence against women is an issue that transcends borders, class and socio-economic status. It impacts women and girls in all societies," she says. "There may be more or less stigma about talking about it in certain societies but it is present in all societies." (Webmaster's comment: 100! That's nothing! There have been 750 women murdered by their domestic partners so far this year in America!)
9-4-19 Stanford sexual assault: Chanel Miller reveals her identity
She was known as Emily Doe when her victim impact statement, read out in the sexual assault trial of Brock Turner, went viral. Now, she has revealed her identity as 27-year-old Chanel Miller as she prepares to have her memoir published. The case sparked controversy when Turner, then a Stanford University student, was sentenced to six months in jail. He served three. Ms Miller's book, Know My Name, is being released later this month. The memoir's publisher said it would "change the way we think about sexual assault forever" Ms Miller, a writer and artist from California, was known by the pseudonym Emily Doe during the trial of Turner, a former star swimmer from Ohio, in San Jose, California, for the 2015 assault. He had attacked her while she was unconscious on the ground outside a university fraternity house party. Two Swedish students, cycling past, challenged Turner when they realised Ms Miller, who was found partly dressed near a dumpster, was not moving. In 2016, a jury would find Turner - then 20 - guilty of three charges: sexually assaulting an intoxicated victim, sexually assaulting an unconscious victim and attempting to rape her. He was sentenced to six months and three years' probation. Prosecutors had sought a six-year sentence. The trial sparked a national debate about sexual assault and whether white men from wealthy backgrounds were treated more favourably by the US justice system. At Turner's sentencing, Ms Miller addressed him directly with her statement, beginning with the words: "You don't know me, but you've been inside me, and that's why we're here today." (Webmaster's comment: Three months in jail for raping an unconscious woman. It should have been 10 years with no parole!)