9-18-21 Robert Durst convicted: US millionaire found guilty of first-degree murder
US real estate heir Robert Durst, subject of HBO crime documentary The Jinx, has been convicted of killing his best friend Susan Berman. Durst was found guilty of killing Ms Berman in 2000 to stop her talking to police about his wife's disappearance. Then aged 55, she was found shot in the head in her Beverly Hills home. In The Jinx's final part, Durst is heard muttering to himself: "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." Hours before the last episode aired, authorities arrested Durst in New Orleans for Ms Berman's murder. Jurors were played the clip during the trial. Prosecutors called Durst, 78, a "narcissistic psychopath". It now looks likely he will die in jail. Susan Berman was a crime writer, and had acted as a spokesperson for Durst when he became a suspect in his wife's disappearance. At an earlier hearing, Durst's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, objected to jurors also being shown clips from All the Good Things, a 2010 film about his marriage starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. The film was directed by The Jinx's filmmaker Andrew Jarecki and depicts the life of the tycoon, showing him as a murderer. Durst's wife Kathleen McCormack, a medical student, went missing in 1982 and is presumed dead. Shortly after Friday's verdict, her family issued a statement urging prosecutors in New York's Westchester County to prosecute Durst. "The justice system in Los Angeles has finally served the Berman family. It is now time for Westchester to do the same for the McCormack family," they said. Prosecutors argue that Durst actually murdered three people - the third being an elderly neighbour, Morris Black, who discovered Durst's identity in 2001 while he was hiding out in Texas. Durst was acquitted of murdering Mr Black, successfully arguing he had killed him on the grounds of self-defence before cutting up the body.
9-17-21 Papers can be served on Andrew's US lawyer - judge
A judge has ruled that Prince Andrew's US lawyer can be served with legal papers in a sexual assault case filed by Virginia Giuffre in New York. It follows a dispute over whether the prince has been formally notified of the civil claim against him. New York judge Lewis Kaplan ruled Ms Giuffre's lawyers could take the US route to serve papers on the prince. Ms Giuffre, 38, claims she was sexually assaulted by the prince at three locations including New York City. Prince Andrew, the Queen's 61-year-old second son, has consistently denied the allegation. Separately, the High Court in London has given the prince's lawyers until next Friday to appeal against its decision to serve papers on him in the UK. Serving of documents is the critical first stage in any claim for damages - it means that a defendant has been made fully aware of the allegations against them by receiving all of the papers in the case. If a defendant does not take part in the case after they have been served, they risk automatically losing. Judge Kaplan, whose ruling emerged in public court records overnight, said that given the dispute over whether the papers had been served in London, it was now entirely lawful for him to order that they should be sent to the prince's Los Angeles-based lawyer Andrew Brettler. Mr Brettler spoke for the prince in a telephone hearing on the case earlier this week - but he was not formally designated as a lawyer who was authorised to accept service for him and pass the material on. But Judge Kaplan ruled: "Service on the defendant's US counsel is reasonably calculated to bring the papers served to the defendant's attention, regardless of whether his US counsel is 'authorised' to accept service on his behalf." The judge noted that Ms Giuffre's lawyers had already proceeded with an attempt to serve the case on Prince Andrew in London under an international convention between the US and UK courts. This request to intervene and assist in handing the documents to the prince was accepted earlier this week at the High Court.
9-16-21 Simone Biles: 'I blame system that enabled Larry Nassar abuse'
Elite US gymnast Simone Biles has testified before the Senate about abuse she suffered at the hands of disgraced former team doctor, Larry Nassar. Former teammates Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney also appeared before the committee, along with FBI Director Christopher Wray. The committee is examining shortcomings in the FBI's investigation into Nassar, later convicted of sexually abusing girls. He is serving a life sentence in jail. "I blame Larry Nasser, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated [sic] his abuse," said Ms Biles, the most decorated Olympic gymnast of all-time. "If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe," she added. Gymnast Maggie Nichols - the first victim to report her abuse to USA Gymnastics - also testified. In emotional testimony on Wednesday, the four women told the Senate Judiciary Committee they had "suffered and continue to suffer" from the abuse they experienced and its bungled handling. Four-time Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles - one of the most famous figures in world sports - called for the agents involved to be federally prosecuted. "How much is a little girl worth?" she asked. Aly Raisman, who served as captain of the 2012 and 2016 US Olympic gymnastics teams, expressed disgust that she was "still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability" more than six years after first reporting her abuse. "Over the past few years it has become painfully clear how a survivor's healing is affected by the handling of their abuse," she testified. She criticised the FBI investigation as being "like guesswork", warning that not addressing its serious flaws would result in a recurring "nightmare" for many more women. McKayla Maroney, who won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games, described the experience of being interviewed by the FBI as replete with "silence and disregard for my trauma". "They chose to fabricate, to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester," she told senators. "What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer?"
9-15-21 Ex-models demand change over French sex abuse laws
A group of former models have called on French lawmakers to abolish the law which determines how long victims of sexual assault have to report to the authorities. The women, including former supermodel Carré Otis, claim to have been sexually assaulted or raped by their French model agents more than 20 years ago. French law says they have run out of time to start criminal proceedings. But the women have said "rape should not have an expiration date". (Webmasters Comment: And I agree!) Some of them travelled to Paris to give testimony at the French senate, saying "the law needs to change". In the meeting with Senator Nathalie Goulet, the women, including Lesa Amoore, Thysia Huisman and Laurie Marsden, called for the time given for sexual assault to be reported to authorities to be "expanded or thrown away entirely". Otis told the senators that it had taken her "decades to come to terms with what happened to me and decades to speak publicly" about her alleged rapes by the former European head of Elite model agency, Gerald Marie. He strongly refutes all the allegations. She told the hearing the "criminal justice system has not always served the interest of survivors" and said that the "laws in the US and around the world must reflect the science and lived experience of sexual abuse". Nathalie Goulet said she was interested in a possible French version of the New York Child Victim Act, which allowed a one-year "look-back window", of which old claims past their statute of limitations could be brought back. The day before the window closed last month, Otis brought a lawsuit against Gerald Marie. "We have a station in the next two weeks on the justice law, so maybe it will be an opportunity to put an amendment and try to discuss this subject," Goulet told the women. "We all feel the same, this statute of limitations, we have to work on it."
9-10-21 Former member of Afghan parliament: 'The Taliban would've killed me if they found me'
Naheed Farid says she left Afghanistan over fears the Taliban could kill her and for the safety of her children. Farid still "feels part of Afghanistan" and wants to "stand for the freedom of women". The former member of the Afghan parliament spoke to the BBC's Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet.
9-9-21 Jerome Boateng trial: German football star denies assault in court
German footballer Jerome Boateng has appeared in court in Munich over allegations he assaulted his ex-girlfriend in 2018. The defender is accused of injuring the mother of his twin daughters, named as Sherin S, during a dispute on holiday. Prosecutors have accused the former Bayern Munich defender and 2014 World Cup winner of wilful bodily harm. Mr Boateng, 33, has denied the allegations. If convicted, he could be fined or jailed for up to five years. Wearing a dark blue suit, Mr Boateng was escorted by bodyguards as arrived in court with his lawyer Kai Walden on Thursday morning. Ahead of the trial prosecutors accused Mr Boateng of throwing a lamp and a small cooling box at his former partner during the alleged assault in the Caribbean in July 2018. Mr Boateng allegedly insulted her, hit her and pulled her hair, prosecution spokeswoman Anne Leiding told reporters. In court, Mr Boateng said he did not assault his ex-girlfriend and described a different version of events. He said he and his ex-girlfriend had an argument after tensions escalated during a game of cards. Mr Boateng said his former partner had become aggressive and insulting, injured his lip and hit him. When he tried to push her away from him, she fell, Mr Boateng told the court. He said he threw a pillow against a table, and the lamp fell to the floor. The court will hear testimony from four witnesses, German TV channel RTL reported. A verdict could be delivered on Thursday, the only scheduled day of proceedings. The hearing was due to take place in December but was postponed because a witness was unable to appear. A prominent name in the world of football and on social media, Boateng has had a decorated career for club and country. He won 22 trophies at Bayern, including the Champions League twice and the Bundesliga nine times and moved to French Ligue 1 team Lyon on a free transfer in the summer after his contract at Bayern expired. In February Mr Boateng's ex-girlfriend, 25-year-old model Kasia Lenhardt, was found dead after taking her own life at a flat in Berlin.
9-9-21 Nxivm sex cult co-founder Nancy Salzman sentenced to prison
Nxivm co-founder Nancy Salzman has been sentenced to over three years in prison for her role in the suspected sex cult. She pleaded guilty to racketeering offences in 2019. Investigators say Nxivm was a sex-trafficking operation disguised as mentoring group. Salzman, 66, admitted in court to stealing the email addresses and passwords of Nxivm critics. The group's spiritual leader, Keith Raniere, was sentenced to 120 years in prison in October 2020. He was convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking, child pornography and other crimes. In a Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday, Salzman said she was "horrified and shamed" to have ever promoted Raniere. She was quoted by the New York Daily News as saying Raniere is a "narcissistic sociopath". For years she mistakenly believed him to be an "oddly quirky, socially awkward, gifted genius", she said. Salzman's attorneys said she now appreciates "the full weight of her wrongdoing while she served as Keith Raniere's collaborator and enabler" of the cult. Federal judge Nicholas Garaufis, however, said that Salzman left "trauma and destruction" on her victims during her time with Nxivm. In the sentencing memo from August, Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar said that Salzman "disparaged or humiliated women and blamed victims of abuse" by helping spread Nxivm teachings. "You never rejected [Raniere]. The door was always open but you never left," the New York Daily News quoted the judge as saying. Salzman also admitted to altering videos of herself that were to be used in a lawsuit against anti-cult "deprogrammer" Rick Alan Ross. She will report to prison in January 2022. The delay is intended to allow her time to recover from an unspecified medical procedure.
9-8-21 Somali feminist: Facebook is being used to silence me
"We didn't kill you in Somalia and now you have freedom in the UK, but we will silence you on Facebook" - this warning was given to a UK-based Somalia-born women's rights activist. Hanna Paranta (known as Hanna Abubakar online), who helps rape and domestic violence survivors via her Facebook page, says she received the phone call a year ago from one of those campaigning against her work. She says Facebook's report function, created to ensure a space on the internet that is free from abuse, is being weaponised to do the opposite. Her Facebook page has more than 130,000 followers, but she believes that Somalis who are against greater female equality have reported her to Facebook in an effort to get her page shut down. Facebook says each report is treated seriously and investigated. Now living in the UK, Ms Paranta, 44, moved from Somalia to Sweden when she was around seven years old. It was there that she became a social worker and for the past decade she has been a women's rights advocate. She started helping victims of domestic violence and rape in the large Somali diaspora - and is also well known in Somalia where she is involved in various charities - something that has upset more conservative groups in the Muslim nation. When she goes to Somalia she always travels with bodyguards for her protection and on her last visit in September 2020, somebody tried to poison her food at her hotel in the capital, Mogadishu. Thanks to a tip-off she did not eat the meal, but then an armed gang tried to kidnap her - the bodyguards intervened and the men escaped. On her return came the phone call and since then her Facebook page has frequently been disabled or restricted by the social media giant - and she believes those behind the complaints want to shut her down completely. Despite raising the issue with Facebook she thinks the company has been unable to identify and regulate these false reports. And Ms Paranta thinks that she has become the victim of a co-ordinated mass attack.
9-7-21 Saipul Jamil: Row over sex offender appearing on Indonesian TV
A famous Indonesian singer and convicted sex offender has caused outrage in Indonesia after appearing on a number of TV shows following his release from prison earlier this month. A petition asking to keep Saipul Jamil off TV screens has been signed by nearly 500,000 people. One channel, Trans TV, has now apologised for inviting the singer on to a talk show after his release. It was the first station to invite him on, leading to heavy criticism. The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission has now instructed broadcasters not to carry items that celebrate the singer's release. Complaints posted on social media said such celebrations were ignoring the suffering of Saipul Jamil's victim. Film director Angga Sasongko has said he is dropping talks on distribution contracts for two of his shows with Trans TV because of the station's decision to feature the singer. He wrote on Twitter that the decision was in response to the TV station's move to "present Saipul Jamil on television in a disrespectful way for the victim", adding that Trans TV "doesn't share the same values with our works which are kid-friendly". Saipul Jamil was sentenced to three years in prison in July 2017 for molesting a teenager. On appeal, his sentence was raised to five years. He was also found guilty of trying to bribe a court clerk 50m rupiahs ($3,500; £2,550), and sentenced to three years in prison for that offence. The combined sentences The combined sentences were later reduced for good behaviour. The head of the Cipinang penitentiary, where Saipul Jamil served his sentence, said the dangdut singer had changed significantly during his time in jail. Dangdut is described as an Indonesian cross between techno and Bollywood, with influences from Indian, Arabic and Malay music.
9-5-21 Afghanistan: Taliban accused of killing female police officer
Taliban militants in Afghanistan have shot dead a policewoman in a provincial city, relatives have told the BBC. The woman, named in local media as Banu Negar, was killed at the family home in front of relatives in Firozkoh, the capital of central Ghor province. The killing comes amid increasing reports of escalating repression of women in Afghanistan. The BBC has asked Taliban authorities for comment. The local Taliban promised to investigate, the family says. Details of the incident are still sketchy as many in Firozkoh fear retribution if they speak out. Relatives supplied graphic images showing blood spattered on a wall in the corner of a room and a body, the face heavily disfigured. The family say Negar, who worked at the local prison, was eight months pregnant. Three gunmen arrived at the house on Saturday and searched it before tying members of the family up and shooting her in front of them. The intruders were heard speaking Arabic, a witness said. Since taking power on 13 August, the Taliban has sought to portray itself as more tolerant than its reputation, but incidents of brutality and repression are still being reported in parts of the country. Human rights groups have been documenting revenge killings, detentions and persecution of religious minorities. The Taliban has said officially that it will not seek retribution against those who worked for the former government. Women's education was banned under the Taliban's previous period of rule in the 1990s, but they have now issued guidance on teaching in universities. Women will be allowed to attend, but classes will be segregated by sex, and female students must wear and abaya, or robe, and niqab, or face veil, AFP reports. On Saturday, Taliban officials broke up a demonstration by dozens of women in Kabul demanding the continuation of rights built up since the end of the Taliban's previous spell in power. The group say the Taliban targeted them with tear gas and pepper spray as they tried to walk from a bridge to the presidential palace.
9-5-21 Afghanistan: Taliban break up women's rights protest in Kabul
Taliban officials have broken up a demonstration by dozens of women in Kabul demanding rights following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. The group say the Taliban targeted them with tear gas and pepper spray as they tried to walk from a bridge to the presidential palace. But the Taliban maintain the protest got out of control, according to Afghan media outlet Tolo News. It's the latest of several protests by women in Kabul and Herat. The women were calling for the right to work and to be included in the government. The Taliban say they will announce the make-up of their administration in the coming days. The Taliban have said women can be involved in government, but not hold ministerial positions. Many women fear a return to the way they were treated when the Taliban were previously in power, between 1996 and 2001. Women were forced to cover their faces outside, and harsh punishments were meted out for minor transgressions. "Twenty-five years ago, when the Taliban came, they prevented me from going to school," journalist Azita Nazimi told Tolo. "After five years of their rule, I studied for 25 years and worked hard. For the sake of our better future, we will not allow this to happen." Another demonstrator, Soraya, told Reuters: "They also hit women on the head with a gun magazine, and the women became bloody." On Saturday, US General Mark Milley questioned whether the Taliban would be able to transition from an insurgent force to a government, saying there was a "good probability" of civil war. "That will then in turn lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of Al-Qaeda or a growth of Isis [Islamic State group]," he told Fox News. Meanwhile the UK's Head of the Armed Forces, General Sir Nick Carter, defended military intelligence over criticism it failed to predict the Taliban's advance, saying even the Taliban themselves were surprised at how easily they took control. He told the BBC "a lot of money changed hands as they managed to buy off those who might have fought for them". Clashes have continued over the weekend in the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul, where resistance fighters have been thwarting efforts by the Taliban to exert control.
9-2-21 Yves de M'Bella: Ivory Coast TV host sentenced for promoting rape
A prominent television presenter in Ivory Coast has received a 12-month suspended sentence for promoting rape during a live broadcast. Yves de M'Bella had invited a man described as an ex-rapist to demonstrate on a mannequin how he had assaulted women. Widespread outrage followed and M'Bella was suspended from TV and radio. Women's Affairs Minister Nassénéba Touré said Monday's broadcast had undermined efforts to eradicate rape. The court fined the presenter $3,600 (£2,600) and has banned him from leaving the country's main city, Abidjan, the Reuters news agency reports, quoting an official. The guest, Kader Traoré, was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $900, also for promoting rape. He, however, told the court that he had previously been convicted of theft and not rape. The segment of the programme, broadcast at primetime on a private TV channel, was supposed to be about condemning sexual assault, the AFP news agency reports. But M'Bella appeared to laugh and joke as he helped Traoré lay the mannequin on the floor. Afterwards the guest was invited to give women advice on how to avoid being raped. An online petition demanding that M'Bella be punished had got nearly 50,000 signatures by Wednesday evening. Bénédicte Joan Ouamba, who campaigns against gender-based violence, said that "as a survivor, it was very hard to see this scene". One of Ivory Coast's best known sports stars, sprinter Marie Josée Ta Lou, tweeted: "Have you thought about all the people who have been raped?" On Wednesday, there was a small demonstration outside the offices of the Nouvelle Chaine Ivorienne (NCI) TV station, calling for more action. Some people are now saying that M'Bella should have got a harsher sentence including prison time for what they saw as the trivialisation of rape, the BBC's Lalla Sy reports from Abidjan. Rape cases in the country are often not reported by victims who fear stigmatisation and are discouraged to press charges because of how difficult it is to prove in a court, she says.
9-1-21 Afghanistan: Female journalist who interviewed Taliban flees country
Beheshta Arghand, an anchor for Tolo News, made headlines when she interviewed the Taliban just days after they took control of Afghanistan. Two weeks later, she has fled the country amid fears for her life. Arghand spoke to the BBC's Christian Fraser about the fears she has for her country's future.
8-31-21 Can apps move the #MeToo movement forward?
Gretchen Carlson is as composed as you would expect a former news anchor to be, remembering the day just over five years ago when she became the news. "I had been at Fox [News] 11 years. It was my dream job. I do not think any woman or man ever expects to find a toxic workplace situation. But that is what ended up happening to me". Mrs Carlson shocked the world when she filed a lawsuit against Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, on July 16, 2016, alleging she had been fired for refusing his sexual advances. According to Mrs Carlson's complaint, Mr Ailes had told her: "I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago. You'd be good and better, and I'd be good and better". Mr Ailes denied this exchange ever happened. But when more than a dozen other women came forward with similar complaints, he was forced to leave the network, and Mrs Carlson was awarded what was reported to be $20m (£14.65m) in compensation. "We regret and apologise for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve," 21st Century Fox, which owns Fox News, said at the time. The lawsuit also triggered an extraordinary response, Mrs Carlson says. She received thousands of messages of support, many from women from all walks of life alleging similar harassment from their workplace colleagues and bosses. The story also formed the basis for a Hollywood movie, "Bombshell", starring Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman in the role of Mrs Carlson. She says she enjoyed the movie, but regretfully not much else. She was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) by Fox as part of the settlement. "I had no way of knowing back then that we would be in this cultural revolution right now. I was the first to jump off the cliff on July 6, 2016, and now the world has been awakened. There is no turning back."
8-30-21 In India, growing clamour to criminalise rape within marriage
In India, a society rooted in patriarchal traditions, marriages are sacrosanct and it is not a crime for a man to rape his wife. But in recent weeks, courts have given conflicting rulings on marital rape, leading to renewed calls from campaigners to criminalise rape within marriage. On Thursday, Justice NK Chandravanshi of the Chhattisgarh high court ruled that "sexual intercourse or any sexual act by a husband with his wife cannot be rape even if it was by force or against her wish". The woman had accused her husband of "unnatural sex" and raping her with objects. The judge said the man could be tried for unnatural sex, but cleared him of the much more serious offence of rape since Indian law does not recognise marital rape. The ruling met with outrage on social media, including from gender researcher Kota Neelima who asked "when will courts consider the woman's side of the story?" Many responded to her tweet saying the archaic rape laws must be amended - but there were many contrary voices too. One wondered "what sort of a wife would complain of marital rape?"; another suggested "there must be something wrong with her character"; while a third said "only a wife who doesn't understand her duties would make such a claim". It's not just social media, the contentious topic of marital rape also appears to have divided judiciary. Just a few weeks back, the high court in the southern state of Kerala ruled that marital rape was "a good ground" to seek divorce. "The husband's licentious disposition disregarding the autonomy of the wife is marital rape, albeit such conduct cannot be penalised, it falls in the frame of physical and mental cruelty," Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath said in their 6 August order. They explained that marital rape occurred when the husband believed that he owned his wife's body and added that "such a notion has no place in modern social jurisprudence".
8-26-21 Ron Jeremy: US adult film star indicted on 34 sex crime charges
US adult film star Ron Jeremy has been indicted on 34 counts of sexual crimes involving 21 women, spanning more than 20 years, Los Angeles prosecutors say. Prosecutors allege that Mr Jeremy assaulted the women, who ranged in age from 15 to 51, between 1996 and 2019. He faces over 300 years in jail. Mr Jeremy, 68, pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday. He is one of the biggest names in the adult film industry and has featured in over 1,700 films since 1979. The 19 August indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday, accuses Mr Jeremy of 12 counts of rape, including that of a 17-year-old girl in 2008 and a 15-year-old girl in 2004. The most recent charge is from 1 January 2020, with a 21-year-old woman alleging she was raped and sodomised. His lawyer said on Wednesday that Mr Jeremy maintains he is completely innocent. Mr Jeremy, whose real name is Ronald Jeremy Hyatt, remains in jail on $6.6m (£4.81m) bail. To avoid a public preliminary hearing that would include witnesses testifying in open court, Los Angeles County prosecutors presented their case to a secret grand jury to obtain the indictment. A similar tactic was used in the case of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Last June, Mr Jeremy appeared in court on charges he raped two women and sexually assaulted two others between 2014 and 2019. At the time, his lawyer denied the charges, claiming that Mr Jeremy had been "a paramour to over 4,000" women" and that "women throw themselves at him." While no trial date has yet been set, Mr Jeremy is due in a Los Angeles court on 12 October for a pre-trial conference. Mr Jeremy is one of a small number of men, along with Mr Weinstein, who have been investigated by a Los Angeles District Attorney's task force set up to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in Hollywood in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
8-26-21 Afghanistan: 'The pain of watching my country burn from afar'
The Taliban's swift takeover of Afghanistan - and the group's announcement that it will impose Sharia or Islamic law - has millions of young Afghans concerned about their future. These young people grew up with considerable freedom compared to their parents. But they fear that all of that could easily be reversed under the Taliban. Hundreds of Afghan students and other refugees from the country live in India - and they are anxious about what the future holds for them and their families back home. They tell the BBC's Anshul Verma about how helpless and frustrated they feel watching their country suffer from afar.
8-26-21 Aryana Sayeed: Afghanistan returns to miserable time for women
Afghan singer Aryana Sayeed fled the country on a US army plane after the Taliban took control of the country’s capital Kabul. She told BBC World News: “It's very sad, very unfortunate that Afghanistan is all the way back to 20 years ago when life was so miserable for a lot of women in Afghanistan." Ms Sayeed said that if the Taliban remain in control then she could not see a time when singers would be able to go and perform in the country. More than 82,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul airport since the Taliban took over.
8-26-21 Female octopuses throw things at males that are harassing them
An analysis of footage of octopuses off the coast of Australia “throwing” shells and silt suggests that they intentionally target – and often hit – other octopuses. In most cases, it is females that do the throwing, often at males that are harassing them. In 2015, Peter Godfrey-Smith at the University of Sydney and his colleagues filmed several common Sydney octopuses (Octopus tetricus) interacting at a site in Jervis Bay dubbed “Octopolis”. It is one of the few places in the otherwise sandy sea bottom where octopuses can make dens, so there are an unusual number of the animals in a small area. The cameras captured fights, matings and an extraordinary behaviour that the team calls throwing. “It’s hard to know how best to describe it,” says Godfrey-Smith. The octopuses hold silt, algae or objects such as shells under their bodies in their tentacles, then angle their siphons and shoot a jet of water at the projectiles, propelling them up to several body lengths. This throwing behaviour was known to be used for discarding the remains of meals or for excavating dens, but the videos also revealed many instances where octopuses hit other individuals with thrown objects. When Godfrey-Smith described this behaviour in a 2015 talk, he wasn’t sure whether they were intentionally targeting the other octopuses or just accidentally hitting them. Now the team has more footage, and detailed analysis has also revealed differences between the throws targeting others and those used for den clearing, suggesting the octopuses are indeed deliberately targeting others. In 2016, for instance, one female octopus threw silt 10 times at a male from a nearby den who was attempting to mate with her. She hit him on five occasions. “That sequence was one of the ones that convinced me [it was intentional],” says Godfrey-Smith.
8-25-21 India woman who accused MP of rape dies in self-immolation
The death of a 24-year-old Indian woman, who had set herself on fire last week after alleging harassment by police and judiciary at the behest of an MP she had accused of rape, has once again put the spotlight on the shameful treatment of women in India. The woman and a male friend did a Facebook live on 16 August before sprinkling petrol on themselves and lighting the fire. They were taken to hospital with severe burns. The man died on Saturday. The woman succumbed on Tuesday evening. The duo had travelled from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh to the capital, Delhi. Their desperate act, outside India's Supreme Court, to attract attention to their plight has stunned the country. The woman had accused Atul Rai, an MP from the regional Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), of raping her at his home in Varanasi city and registered a police complaint against him in May 2019. Mr Rai, who denies the accusation, was arrested a month later and has been in jail for the past two years. Last November, his brother registered a police complaint accusing the woman of forgery. She had called the accusation "false" but earlier this month, a court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against her. In the video recording of the Facebook live, the young woman is seen accusing the MP of using his influence to harass her. She and her friend name several police officials and even a judge, accusing them of colluding with Mr Rai. "We have reached the destination they wanted us at. They made efforts for the past year and a half to push us to this point," she says. "The authorities have been forcing us since November 2020 to die. We want all of you, the citizens of Uttar Pradesh and the country, to hear this," her friend says. "The step we are going to take is painful and frightening. We are also a little scared, but this fear is meaningless," he adds, minutes before they self-immolate.
8-21-21 Jeopardy! host Mike Richards quits after sexist comments surface
TV presenter Mike Richards has stepped down as the new co-host of the US quiz show Jeopardy! after sexist comments that he made on a podcast resurfaced. His exit comes just nine days after his new role was announced. Pressure grew after a report by The Ringer dug up disparaging comments he made on his podcast The Randumb Show in 2013 and 2014. Mr Richards, who is also the executive producer of the show, said he would be stepping down "effective immediately". "It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter," he wrote in a statement announcing his decision. "Over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show," he added. Mr Richards had been appointed to replace host Alex Trebek, who died last year after more than three decades on the show. But The Ringer article said that Mr Richards "repeatedly used offensive language and disparaged women's bodies" as well as made jokes about Jewish and Asian people. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called for an investigation into his behaviour, stating that his "disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter". In the statement announcing his decision, Mr Richards said: "I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence." There is no indication that he will be quitting as the show's executive producer.
8-20-21 Sheryl Sandberg, Kate Winslet, and others sign open letter to Biden administration: 'Do not abandon Afghan women and girls'
A large group of women's rights and gender equality advocates, policy experts, celebrities, and NGO leaders signed an open letter Friday titled Do Not Abandon Afghan Women and Girls, calling on the Biden administration to "act immediately to protect and support Afghan women," Axios reports per a Vital Voices press release. Among the letter's many signatories are 2020 inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, actress Kate Winslet, former 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. In the face of the "mounting crisis" in Afghanistan, the letter, organized by NGOs Vital Voices and Women for Women International, requests the White House "immediately" take four "concrete steps" to help Afghan women most at risk: provide evacuation flights for women "under imminent threat," expand special immigrant visa coverage to include at-risk women, allocate resources for "livelihood assistance and resettlement," and "protect and invest" in those women still in Afghanistan, per the press release. Those most at risk include women's rights activists, journalists, educators, and human rights defenders, among others. "We cannot stand by and watch as a humanitarian tragedy unfolds in real time," the group writes. "There are moments in history when we will be judged by whether or not we did the right thing. This is one of those moments." Read more at Axios and Vital Voices.
8-20-21 BHP sacked 48 over sexual harassment and assaults at Australian mines
Mining giant BHP says it has fired at least 48 workers for sexual assaults and harassment at its Western Australia mining camps since 2019. Australia's richest mining companies are facing intense scrutiny over the treatment of women at their isolated sites. Recent court cases have prompted a state government inquiry into sexual harassment at mining locations. Several companies have admitted the problem and pledged to make changes. Other miners, including Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals, also reported allegations but did not disclose if they had sacked workers. The companies run large operations in the remote Pilbara region, to unearth iron ore and other minerals. Thousands of workers are flown in each season and housed in village camp-style accommodation. Critics say a hard-drinking, male-dominated culture has been allowed to flourish for years. BHP - Australia's largest miner - told the inquiry that it recognised sexual harassment in its camps was a problem. Between 2019-2021, it received 18 reports of sexual assault and 73 of sexual harassment among its 13,500-strong workforce. All had been reported to police. Internal investigations had "substantiated" allegations of two rapes, one attempted rape, and three cases of forced kissing or groping, the miner said. Three other sexual assault allegations were still being investigated. Female workers had endured unwanted touching and advances, and inappropriate texts and pictures from colleagues, the company added. "We are deeply sorry and apologise unreservedly to those who have experienced, or continue to experience, any form of sexual harassment in our workplaces," said BHP in its submission. It said it encouraged employees to report other incidents. BHP said it had invested A$300m (£157m; $214m) since 2019 into making camp sites safer, but added "we must and will do more".
8-20-21 Taliban and women: Kabul university student on fears for future
In Kabul, university students should be getting ready for the start of a new term. Instead, many are destroying evidence of their previous lives as the Taliban patrol the streets outside. For one student - a woman, and a member of the persecuted Hazara minority, which in recent years has faced abductions and killings at the hands of the Taliban - the men outside pose even more risk. Here, she tells the BBC how the dreams she hoped to fulfil have been replaced by fears for her future survival in just a matter of days. It's something that I can't put into words, honestly. Everything, everything that I dreamed of, everything that I ever worked for. My dignity, my pride, even my existence as a girl, my life - they are all in danger. Who knows how long it would take them to come and search house-by-house and take girls - probably rape them. I may have to kill myself when they come to my home. I've been talking to my friends, this is what all of us, all of us, are planning to do. Death is better than being taken by them. We are all scared and we are scared to our bones. Two months ago my only focus was on my degree. I was planning how to study for the fall semester, what to do, what not to do, making schedules, trying to make everything correct. Various people were scared as the Taliban were taking provinces, but I and others never thought they would take Kabul. My life was normal until they took Mazar-i-Sharif (a large city north-west of Kabul, that was an anti-Taliban bastion). That day I realised we were finished. Then they got to Kabul. There was some gunfire in the city and we heard that the Taliban were in every neighbourhood. Then, nothing was normal. All of my family stayed home. The shops were closed, prices were going higher by the hour, and the exchange rate was changing quickly. I burnt all of my university papers and documents. I burnt all my notes of achievements and certificates. I did it on our balcony. I have a lot of books, lovely books, that I was reading. I have hidden them all. I deactivated my social media accounts. I was told it was too dangerous to have posts on social media or even to be on social media anymore. Apparently the Taliban check posts and find us through them. Facebook was the main problem because I was active there. I had old posts saying that the Taliban couldn't do anything, that I will stand up to them, that they cannot stop my right to education, they cannot lock me up at home. I called them terrorists. They were offensive posts to them, surely. And obviously they have done it all in a few days. It makes me feel devastated, terrified, sad.
8-14-21 Nicki Minaj and husband Kenneth Petty sued by sex assault victim
Rapper Nicki Minaj and her husband, Kenneth Petty, are being sued by a woman he was convicted of attempting to rape in 1994. The woman, now 43, has filed a lawsuit alleging that the couple harassed her to try to make her take back her claims, US media report. Petty served four-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted rape of the then teenager. Last year he was arrested for failure to register as a sex offender. In the lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the woman alleges that Ms Minaj offered her $500,000 (£360,000) via an intermediary in return for recanting her accusations against Petty. The lawsuit claims that, shortly after Petty's arrest in 2020, the intermediary gave the rapper the woman's number. Ms Minaj is alleged to have called her and offered to fly her and her family to Los Angeles if she could "help" her. The offer was declined, the lawsuit says. The woman also claims that she turned down Ms Minaj's offer to have her publicist draft a statement recanting the allegation. According to the lawsuit, the woman is said to have told Ms Minaj: "I need you to know woman to woman, that this happened." The woman further claims that within days of rejecting the offers, she and her family "suffered an onslaught of harassing calls and unsolicited visits". The woman said she had not been able to work since May 2020 "due to severe depression, paranoia, constant moving, harassment and threats" from the celebrity couple and their associates. The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, says she is living in hiding as she fears retaliation. The musician's legal team has not yet responded to the accusations, according to US media. Ms Minaj and Petty began dating in 2018 and announced a year later that they were married. The couple have an 11-month-old son.
8-11-21 Johnny Depp's film festival awards insulting, domestic abuse charities say
Leading domestic abuse charities have criticised two major European film festivals for deciding to honour Johnny Depp at their forthcoming events. Depp, who lost a libel case last year over an article that called him a "wife beater", will be feted at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival later this month. The US actor and director is also due to receive the San Sebastian Film Festival's Donostia award in September. The Women's Aid Federation said this was disrespectful to abuse survivors. Solace Women's Aid, one of its member organisations, said such awards were "misleading" and "insulting". The San Sebastian Film Festival in northern Spain announced on Monday that Depp would receive its "highest honorary award" on 22 September. It hailed Depp as "one of contemporary cinema's most talented and versatile actors" with a reputation for playing "almost always misfits". On Tuesday, the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic said it would pay its own tribute to the actor's "extensive career and lasting legacy". It described him as a "multifaceted artist" and "icon of the contemporary cinema" whom it was "thrilled" to honour at the festival, which runs from 20 to 28 August. Depp denied assaulting his ex-wife Amber Heard, but a High Court judge last year ruled that The Sun newspaper's article was "substantially true". It was not a criminal trial. Sophie Francis-Cansfield, campaigns and policy manager at Women's Aid, said: "When a perpetrator is celebrated, allowing them to continue to garner success and public approval suggests that abuse is acceptable and does not matter. "Survivors must be believed and supported. It is crucial that survivors know that their experiences will be taken seriously and that abuse will not be tolerated by anyone." In her response to the Spanish announcement, Solace's public affairs manager Erin Mansell said: "When perpetrators of domestic abuse are lauded for their professional achievements in spite of evidence they have assaulted current or former partners, it sends a misleading message to survivors that the abuse doesn't matter.
8-10-21 Virginia Giuffre: Prince Andrew accuser files civil case in US
A US woman who alleges she was brought to the UK aged 17 to have sex with the Duke of York has filed a civil case in New York claiming he abused her. Virginia Giuffre, who was an accuser of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, claims she was sexually assaulted by Prince Andrew in London and New York. A spokeswoman for Prince Andrew, 61, said there was "no comment" on the case, which was filed under New York's Child Victims Act. He has consistently denied the claims. The case alleges the prince sexually abused Ms Giuffre - then known as Virginia Roberts - at the London home of Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and at Epstein's homes in Manhattan and Little St James in the US Virgin Islands. It claims the prince engaged in sexual acts without her consent, knowing how old she was and "that she was a sex-trafficking victim". The case also says the "extreme and outrageous conduct" continues to cause Ms Giuffre, now 38, "significant emotional and psychological distress and harm". "In this country no person, whether president or prince, is above the law, and no person, no matter how powerless or vulnerable, can be deprived of the law's protection," the documents read. "Twenty years ago Prince Andrew's wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her. It is long past the time for him to be held to account." Speaking about Ms Giuffre's allegations in 2019, Prince Andrew said they "never happened". "It didn't happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," he told BBC Newsnight. In a later statement, Prince Andrew said: "I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. "His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. "I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."
8-10-21 Andrew Cuomo: Time's Up leader resigns over ties to governor
The leader of gender equality group Time's Up has resigned due to her alleged efforts to discredit a woman who accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. A report released last week alleged lawyer Roberta Kaplan reviewed a draft letter questioning the complainant's character. The same report found that Mr Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women. Mr Cuomo, 63, denies any wrongdoing and has so far resisted calls to resign. The report by Attorney General Letitia James's office found that Mr Cuomo's alleged behaviour against women had violated state and federal law. The investigation took months and involved interviews with almost 200 people, including staff members making complaints against him. Time's Up was founded during the #MeToo movement by Hollywood women to fight sexual harassment. Ms Kaplan's resignation as chair of the group's board of directors "is the right and appropriate thing to do", it said in a statement. Last week's report found that Ms Kaplan had reviewed a draft of an unpublished op-ed letter that was aimed at attacking the character of Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Mr Cuomo who was the first to publicly accuse him of sexual harassment. "Unfortunately, recent events have made it clear that even our apparent allies in the fight to advance women can turn out to be abusers," Ms Kaplan wrote in a letter submitting her resignation from the group, according to the New York Times. "We have felt the raw, personal and profound pain of that betrayal." Her resignation came after past supporters of Time's Up penned an open letter on Monday calling for an investigation, stating that the group's leaders "align themselves with abusers at the expense of survivors". Mr Cuomo has so far resisted calls to resign, including one from President Joe Biden, but may soon face impeachment by state lawmakers. He denied specific allegations to investigators and said in a statement last week that he had "never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances". On Sunday his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, announced her resignation.
8-9-21 Andrew Cuomo: Top aide to governor resigns amid scandal
A top aide to New York state's Governor Andrew Cuomo has resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal involving her boss. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to Mr Cuomo, announced her resignation on Sunday. She said working for the people of New York "has been the greatest honour of my life". A report released last week claimed Mr Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women. Mr Cuomo denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to stay in office but he could soon face impeachment. The report by the state's Attorney General Letitia James found that Mr Cuomo had sexually harassed multiple women and violated state and federal law. Ms DeRosa was mentioned in the report 187 times in the 168-page report. It accused her of efforts to cover up the governor's actions and retaliating against one of his accusers. Her statement on Sunday did not address the allegations. "Personally, the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented colleagues on behalf of our state," she said. Investigators spent five months speaking to nearly 200 people, including staff members and some of those who made complaints against him. Tens of thousands of documents, texts and pictures were reviewed as part of the inquiry. After its release, President Joe Biden called for Mr Cuomo to resign. On Monday, the New York State Assembly/s Judiciary Committee is set to meet to address potential impeachment proceedings.
8-9-21 Andrew Cuomo: Accuser Brittany Commisso says governor broke law
An executive assistant to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has broken her anonymity and called for accountability over his alleged sexual harassment. Brittany Commisso's claims were first detailed in a report which found Mr Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women. "What he did to me was a crime," Ms Commisso, 32, said about alleged instances of groping while she worked under the governor. Mr Cuomo, 63, denies any wrongdoing and has so far resisted calls to resign. An inquiry by Attorney General Letitia James's office last week found that Mr Cuomo's alleged behaviour against women had violated state and federal law. The investigation took months and involved interviews with almost 200 people, including staff members making complaints against him. Ms Commisso, referred to in the report as Executive Assistant #1, told investigators that the governor made increasingly suggestive comments about her appearance and relationship status after she began working with him. She said he had inappropriately hugged her - and once kissed her on the lips without her consent. She also accused the governor of touching her bottom while the pair took a photograph together and alleged that on another occasion put his hand up her blouse and grabbed her breast. Speaking about her experience in the interview to be aired on Monday, Ms Commisso said she had not spoken out at the time because she had not thought she would believed. "I was afraid that if I had come forward, and revealed my name, that the governor and his 'enablers' [as] I like to call them would viciously attack me, would smear my name as I had seen and heard them do before to people," she said. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple previously confirmed that a criminal investigation has been opened against Mr Cuomo, with Ms Commisso identifying herself as the complainant. Mr Cuomo has so far resisted calls to resign over the allegations, including from President Joe Biden, but may soon face impeachment by state lawmakers. He denied specific allegations to investigators and said in a statement last week that he had "never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances". On Sunday his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, announced her resignation.
8-9-21 Alibaba to sack manager accused of rape, according to memo seen by BBC
Chinese technology giant Alibaba will sack a manager accused of rape, according to a memo seen by the BBC. In the letter sent to employees of the firm, chief executive Daniel Zhang said two other bosses who failed to act on the allegation have resigned. Alibaba is working with police after a female worker said her male boss raped her in a hotel room while she was unconscious after a "drunken night". Her allegations have been widely shared on Chinese social media. Mr Zhang said the manager accused of rape had admitted that "there were intimate acts" while the woman was "inebriated". The letter went on to say: "He will be fired and never be rehired. Whether he has committed rape or indecency that violates the law will be determined by law enforcement." The memo also highlighted that Alibaba would take responsibility for the woman's wellbeing, saying: "We will do everything we can to take care of her." On Sunday, police in the eastern city of Jinan, where the incident took place, said they are investigating the allegations. The woman's account of the incident, which was published in an eleven-page document, has prompted a social media storm on China's Twitter-like platform, Weibo. The woman alleged that her manager coerced her into travelling to the city of Jinan, which is around 900km (560 miles) from Alibaba's head office in Hangzhou, for a meeting with a client. She has accused her superiors of ordering her to drink alcohol with co-workers during dinner. She said that on the evening of 27 July the client kissed her. She then recalls waking up in her hotel room the next day without her clothes on and with no memory of the night before. The woman said she obtained surveillance camera footage that showed her manager had gone into her room four times during the evening. Alibaba said it is "staunchly opposed to forced drinking culture" in its memo to employees.
8-8-21 Executive assistant who accused Cuomo of groping her says he must be 'held accountable'
Brittany Commisso, one of the women who has accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexual harassment, is publicly sharing her story for the first time, telling CBS This Morning that Cuomo "needs to be held accountable." Last week, the New York attorney general's office released a report detailing allegations of sexual harassment made against Cuomo by 11 women, and stated that he was in violation of federal and state law. In the report, Commisso, referred to as "Executive Assistant No. 1," accused Cuomo of grabbing her multiple times and forcing her into "close and intimate hugs." The governor has denied any wrongdoing. Commisso told CBS This Morning that what Cuomo "did to me was a crime," adding, "He broke the law." Her allegations are the first ones detailed in the attorney general's report, and she believes that is "due to the nature of the inappropriate conduct that the governor did to me," she told CBS. "I believe that he groped me, he touched me, not only once, but twice." Commisso said it started with hugs and "kisses on the cheek. Then there was at one point a hug, and then when he went to go kiss me on the cheek, he'd quickly turn his head and he kissed me on the lips." The governor's mansion is surrounded by state troopers, and Commisso said they "are not there to protect me" but rather Cuomo, and that is why she didn't come forward with her accusations earlier. "I felt as though if I did something to insult him, especially insult him in his own home, it wasn't going to be him that was going to be fired or in trouble," she added. "It was going to be me." Commisso has also filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo, triggering an investigation by the Albany County Sheriff. Her full interview with CBS This Morning will air on Monday.
8-7-21 Tokyo attack: Knife-wielding man injures 10 on train
A man attacked fellow passengers with a knife on a Tokyo commuter train late on Friday, injuring 10. The suspect, 36, allegedly told police he became angry when he saw women who "looked happy" and wanted to kill them, according to local media reports. One victim, a female student, is said to be seriously injured, while the others suffered less severe injuries. Violent crime is rare in Japan and tight security measures are in place in Tokyo, which is hosting the Olympics. The man attacked passengers on a train near Seijogakuen station at about 20:40 (11:40 BST) on Friday. The train was brought to an emergency stop by the driver after they heard noises coming from inside the carriages. According to investigators, the suspect jumped onto the tracks and fled. Train crew guided the passengers along the tracks to the nearest station. One witness, who was on the train, told NHK news that people suddenly started running towards him, fleeing from one car to another. The suspect later walked into a convenience store and told staff that he was "the suspect in the incident reported by news media" and was tired of fleeing. Tokyo Metropolitan Police confirmed early on Saturday they had seized a man in his 30s but did not confirm reports of his arrest or give any further details. Nine out of the 10 injured were taken to hospital while the other walked away from the scene. Despite Japan being one of the safest countries in the world, there have been a number of knife attacks in recent years. In 2019, a man attacked a group of schoolchildren waiting for a bus in Kawasaki. Two people were killed and at least 18 were injured.
8-5-21 Trump is attacking the U.S. women's soccer team again
Trump is picking a fight with Megan Rapinoe again. Former President Donald Trump released one of his signature bizarre "statements" on Thursday, a rambling opinion released via his website and to the press in place of his old Twitter account — this time, he's complaining about the U.S. women's soccer team. The team earned a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, beating out Australia on Thursday. Even though third place in the Olympic Games is unquestionably a major athletic achievement, Trump felt it necessary to assert that if the U.S. players were less "woke," they "would have won the gold medal." Accusing "the woman with the purple hair" (Rapinoe) of playing "terribly," despite Rapinoe scoring two of the team's four goals against Australia, Trump insisted it was the "radical left politics" that brought the team down. After Trump's previous criticism of Rapinoe, she sank two goals that led the U.S. national team to the World Cup semifinals, and a poll found that she would beat the ex-president in an election, so this may have just been Trump's half-hearted attempt at revenge.
8-4-21 Delhi rape and murder: Indians protest over Dalit girl's forced cremation
Protests are continuing for the fourth day over the alleged gang rape, murder and forced cremation of a nine-year-old girl in the Indian capital, Delhi. The girl's parents have accused a Hindu priest and three others of attacking her when she had gone to fetch drinking water from the crematorium's cooler. Her mother said the gates were shut and she was threatened when she objected to her daughter's cremation. Police have registered a case of gang rape and murder and arrested the men. The girl's parents are Dalits - formerly untouchables - who make a living by begging outside a Sufi Muslim shrine located just across from the cremation ground in Delhi's Nangal area. The girl was their only child. Her mother told me that on Sunday evening, she had sent her daughter to fetch water from the crematorium, just a few metres from their shanty. "When she didn't return for over an hour, I went searching for her. At the crematorium, I found her lying on the ground. Her lips were blue, there was blood under her nose, she had bruises on her hands and arms and her clothes were wet." She said the priest and the three men advised her not to call the police, saying "they would insist on an autopsy and steal her organs and sell them". She alleged that they shut the gates to prevent her from leaving, threatened her and even offered to bribe her. The child's father said that by the time he, along with about 150 villagers, reached the crematorium, their daughter's body was mostly burned. The villagers said they called the police and doused the pyre with water, but could only retrieve her legs - which means a post mortem exam to confirm rape would not be possible. A senior police official said that based on the information from the parents, a case of gang rape, murder and forced cremation had been registered against the accused.
8-4-21 Andrew Cuomo: Biden says governor should resign over harassment report
President Joe Biden has called on Andrew Cuomo to resign after a damning independent inquiry found the New York governor had harassed multiple women. Mr Biden's condemnation of Mr Cuomo came hours after the state's Attorney General Letitia James said the governor had violated state and federal laws. In response, Mr Cuomo denied touching anyone inappropriately and vowed to stay in office. Mr Cuomo could now be impeached, and is also facing a separate criminal probe. "I think he should resign," Mr Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. "I understand that the state legislature may decide to impeach. I don't know that for a fact. I have not read all that data." The attorney general's investigation was commissioned last year after several women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the governor. Investigators spent five months speaking to nearly 200 people, including staff members and some of those who made complaints against him. Tens of thousands of documents, texts and pictures were reviewed as part of the inquiry. "The independent investigation has concluded that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law," Ms James said. Mr Cuomo, she said, had engaged in "unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments". In one case, Mr Cuomo and his staff retaliated against a former employee who accused him of wrongdoing, according to Ms James. Other women described being groped, kissed or sitting on the governor's lap. Mr Cuomo allegedly reached under the blouse of an assistant to touch her breast, while another aide said he asked her if she was open to sex with an older man. The governor stood behind a state trooper in a lift, running his finger down her neck and saying "hey you", according to investigators. On top of the allegations of harassment, Mr Cuomo is accused of presiding over a "hostile and toxic work environment".
8-3-21 Andrew Cuomo's goons
The attorney general's report makes it clear how much the governor has relied on aides and advisers to enable his behavior. On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Tish James published a bombshell report on her office's investigation into sexual harassment allegations leveled against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The investigators conclude "that the governor engaged in conduct constituting sexual harassment under federal and New York state law," and present evidence regarding 11 different accusers. The report is utterly devastating and should spell the end of Cuomo's political career. As I have previously written, Cuomo is not just a sexual harasser — he is also an appallingly inept and corrupt leader whose horrible policy decisions led directly to the unnecessary deaths of thousands of New Yorkers. Many top Democrats have already called for Cuomo to resign. This is good and correct. But another thing made clear in James' report that should not be lost is the large number of corrupt goons who worked in Cuomo's office, aiding and abetting his abuses. These accomplices, who are all too common in professional Democratic circles, should face accountability as well. The report goes into detail about how Cuomo created a horribly toxic culture around his office, and argues persuasively that this was a key factor in why he was able to get away with what he did for so long. The investigators write that the Executive Chamber (the governor's office) was "rife with fear and intimidation and accompanied by a consistent overlooking of inappropriate flirtations and other sexually suggestive and gender-based comments by the governor," which enabled harassment because victims rightly feared retaliation if they said anything. "Several state employees, including those outside of the Executive Chamber, told us that they believed their careers in New York state government would be over if they were to cross the governor or senior staff, including by reporting any misconduct," they write. For instance, Charlotte Bennett, a former aide and one of Cuomo's alleged victims, said the office "was controlled largely by his temper, and he was surrounded by people who enabled his behavior[.]" A woman anonymized as Executive Assistant #1, who alleges that Cuomo harassed her and groped her breast, "repeatedly testified that she felt she had to tolerate the governor's physical advances and suggestive comments because she feared the repercussions if she did not." Another woman called Trooper #1 in the report was added to the governor's security detail seemingly because Cuomo thought she was attractive, even though she didn't meet the qualification requirements at the time. This allegedly led to harassment and unwanted touching on her belly, which she hesitated to report in part because when she mentioned previous inappropriate sexual comments from the governor to the commander of the security detail, he replied the conversation "stays in truck" — which she took to mean she should not mention it again. Every other victim spoke of similar worries — and these fears of retaliation were justified. When Lindsey Boylan wrote on Twitter in December 2020 that Cuomo was an abusive boss, Cuomo's top aide Melissa DeRosa asked Alphonso David (previously the chief lawyer in Cuomo's office and now the president of the Human Rights Campaign) for dirt. David thus gave Cuomo aide Rich Azzopardi confidential legal documents regarding Boylan's time working for Cuomo. Then, when Boylan wrote a few days later that she had been sexually harassed, Azzopardi used Wite-Out to hide the names of everyone but Boylan on the documents and sent them to various reporters, arguing that they contradicted her account. Cuomo's team then drafted an op-ed smearing Boylan, though they ultimately decided against publishing it. (The investigators conclude that this behavior constituted criminal retaliation.)
8-2-21 Idaho lawmaker defends sharing identity of rape accuser on social media and in newsletter
Idaho state Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R) told the legislature's ethics committee on Monday that she doesn't think she was wrong to share an article on social media and in a newsletter to constituents that named a young woman who accused a lawmaker of rape. After the young woman, an intern at the statehouse, made the rape allegation against former state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger (R), the ethics committee found he engaged in "conduct unbecoming" a lawmaker. Von Ehlinger, who said he had consensual sex with the intern, resigned. The allegation was made public in April, and not long after Giddings posted and shared an article from a right-wing website that included the accuser's name, photo, and details about her personal life, The Associated Press reports. The woman said after her identity was revealed, strangers started harassing her. Two dozen Democratic and Republican lawmakers filed two ethics complaints against Giddings, and the ethics committee found there was probable cause she engaged in "conduct unbecoming a representative, which is detrimental to the integrity of the House as a legislative body." During the hearing on Monday, Giddings, who is running for lieutenant governor, argued she was protected under the federal First Amendment right to free speech, and claimed the bipartisan ethics complaints were politically motivated. When asked if she thought the woman was entitled to privacy under Idaho's crime victim laws, Giddings responded, "You're way out of the park right now because there is no victim, so that doesn't apply at all." Giddings had several supporters in the audience during the hearing, including militia members and people involved with an anti-vaccination organization, AP reports. Lawmakers who signed the ethics complaint spoke on Monday, including state Rep. Brooke Green (D), who said it is up to lawmakers to ensure that sexual assault victims can have their right to privacy, and state Rep. Julie Yamamoto (R), who stated that "you can do whatever you want, you can say whatever you want, but you need to be willing to accept the consequences." On Tuesday, ethics committee members are expected to decide whether to recommend the House censure, reprimand, or expel Giddings.
7-26-21 Former Sen. Barbara Boxer assaulted, robbed in Oakland
Former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was assaulted and robbed in Oakland, California, on Monday, a representative said on Twitter. Boxer was in the Jack London Square neighborhood when the assailant "pushed her in the back, stole her cell phone, and jumped into a waiting car," the tweet stated. "She is thankful that she was not seriously injured." Boxer, 80, served in the Senate from 1993 to 2017, and before that was a member of the House of Representatives. The incident took place at about 1:15 p.m., the Oakland Police Department told ABC News, and is under investigation, with police officers gathering surveillance footage taken in the area. A spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff said she contacted Boxer's family "to extend her well wishes for a speedy recovery and was relieved to learn she was not seriously injured."
7-22-21 Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to LA sexual assault charges
Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault charges in a Los Angeles court. He appeared in court in a wheelchair after being extradited from New York, where he is serving a 23-year jail sentence for similar crimes. The 69-year-old faces 11 counts of sexual assault in California relating to alleged incidents with five women. He maintains his innocence and has said any sexual activity was consensual. The incidents are said to have occurred in hotels in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles between 2004 and 2013. The charges include forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint, and sexual penetration by use of force. If convicted, Weinstein could face a maximum sentence of 140 years. Wearing brown prison overalls and a face mask, Weinstein only spoke only to say "thank you" to Judge Sergio Tapia after she wished him "good luck". His lawyer said the charges were not credible. "They are baseless, they are from long, long ago, they are uncorroborated," Mark Werksman said after the hearing. Weinstein is appealing against last year's conviction in New York. More than 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct, and some of the accusations date back several decades. Allegations reported in 2017 contributed to the rise of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged people to share experiences of sexual harassment and assault. However, very few of the allegations have led to criminal charges. The pandemic and procedural delays meant Weinstein's extradition to California took well over a year. During the hearing, Mr Werksman requested the former movie mogul have a health examination. "He's going blind in one eye," he told reporters. Weinstein has produced several hit movies including Shakespeare in Love, which won the Oscar for best picture in 1999.
7-21-21 Nigeria secures release of 100 kidnapped mothers and children
The authorities in north-west Nigeria say they have freed 100 women and children - mainly mothers nursing infants - who were seized by bandits. The group were abducted on 8 June in Zamfara state. Four people were also killed during the incident. The Zamfara state government said they were released without any ransom being paid, but gave no further details. The group will now be given medical checks and debriefed before they return to their homes. A spate of kidnappings has taken place in the region during recent months. Since December 2020, more than 1,000 people have been abducted. Most have later been freed, reportedly after ransoms were paid, but some have been killed. Authorities have blamed the incidents on bandits, a loose term for kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle rustlers and other armed militia operating in the region who are largely motivated by money. Since the well-publicised abduction in 2014 of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok secondary school by Boko Haram Islamist militants in Borno state, more armed groups have resorted to mass abduction of students. President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the military to flush out criminals in Zamfara and the neighbouring states of Kaduna and Katsina. Earlier this week, during a raid against a criminal gang, a Nigerian air force plane was shot down on the border of Zamfara and Kaduna states. The pilot survived the attack by ejecting from the plane and fleeing to safety.
7-19-21 Kris Wu: Brands drop China star over teen sex allegations
Several brands in China have cut ties with top Chinese-Canadian celebrity Kris Wu after he was accused of luring young girls, including underage teenagers, into having sex with him. The allegations, by a woman claiming to be one of his victims, have provoked a huge outcry in China. Many online have called for Wu to quit entertainment and leave the country. Wu, a popular singer and actor, has denied the accusations and said he has filed a defamation suit. In recent weeks, 19-year-old university student Du Meizhu had been posting allegations online that Wu had lured teenage girls into having sex with him, by promising lucrative opportunities in the music or acting industries which never materialised. On Sunday, Ms Du gave an interview with the NetEase site, saying that she knew of at least eight victims, including herself. Two of them were minors, she added. In China, the age of consent is 14. She claimed she first met him when she was 17 years old, and had been invited to his home along with other girls where they were pressured to drink alcohol. The next day she woke up in his bed, she said. She also claimed that Wu would pay other women he had slept with to introduce more girls to him. Ms Du alleged that Wu had paid her 500,000 yuan ($77,130, £56,100) to "keep quiet", but decided to speak out now as she wanted to be "the last victim". She said she was repaying the money and was ready to face legal action. Wu's management team has denied the allegations and has accused Ms Wu of fabricating the story. On Monday, Wu wrote on microblogging platform Weibo: "I didn't respond earlier because I didn't want to interfere with judicial proceedings... but I cannot bear it anymore." The 30-year-old said he had met Ms Du once at a friend's party but denied other details of her account. "If I've done any of the things (alleged), I will go to jail myself," he said.
7-17-21 Bianca Devins: Family sue NY officials over video footage of murdered teen
The mother of a 17-year-old girl who was killed in 2019 has filed a lawsuit accusing officials of sharing sex and murder videos with the media. The death of Bianca Devins prompted widespread media attention when images posted by her murderer went viral. Now her family's lawsuit alleges that explicit footage recorded by her killer was given to documentary makers. The family is suing Oneida County in New York State and officials including local District Attorney Scott McNamara. The filing alleges they "acted unconscionably and lawlessly" toward the victim with "reckless dissemination of evidence" to media producers seeking to cover the case. The lawsuit claims Kimberly Devins, Bianca's mother, was shattered to learn videos taken by Brandon Clark had been shared. She now fears the material of them having sex will also go viral online, like the other images he shared of her daughter's murder. It also accuses officials of breaking federal child pornography laws, because the evidence included video footage of Bianca having sex with Brandon Clark before he killed her. The BBC contacted Oneida County District Attorney's Office and Mr McNamara, but both are yet to respond. Bianca Devins was killed in July 2019 by Clark, 21, who stabbed the teenager in his car as they were driving home from a concert in Queens, a borough of New York City. He documented the attack online - posting graphic images of Bianca's body to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, as well as a Discord server used by her friends. He attempted to take his own life after the murder, but survived. He was prosecuted and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in March this year. Images Clark posted of Bianca Devins' body spread rapidly on social media in the aftermath of her murder. The public nature of her killing led to rapid growth in both her and her killer's Instagram accounts, with impersonators popping up and reposting the images to take advantage of the morbid interest. Kimberley Devins has said she still receives online abuse and graphic photographs of her daughter's body from trolls.
7-16-21 Chrissy Teigen says she's depressed after bullying accusations
Chrissy Teigen says she feels "lost" since being accused of bullying several people on Twitter. The US model wrote a blog post last month apologising for past tweets, including one telling TV star Courtney Stodden to take her own life. In a post on Instagram, Teigen explains how she's felt since. She says: "Going outside sucks and doesn't feel right, being at home alone with my mind makes my depressed head race." Teigen, who's married to singer John Legend, has built up a huge online following with more than 13m followers on Twitter and 34m on Instagram. When her old posts resurfaced she was dropped by some brands who sponsored her. She also stepped down from her voiceover role on Netlfix's Never Have I Ever last month. Her part has been replaced by US model Gigi Hadid in the show's second series. At the time she said she was not seeking sympathy, and she was "no longer the person who wrote those horrible things" after getting married, having kids and attending therapy. In her most recent Instagram post she says: "Cancel club is a fascinating thing and I have learned a whole lot. "Only a few understand it and it's impossible to know until you're in it. "And it's hard to talk about it in that sense because obviously you sound whiney when you've clearly done something wrong. It just sucks. There is no winning." She says she made the post to show she wasn't "pretending everything is okay". "I just needed an honest moment with you because I'm just... tired of being sick with myself all day. "If you or someone you know has also been cancelled please let me know if there is a cancel club reunion because I could use some time off my couch!"
7-15-21 'My husband was an angel - then he raped me'
Women in Egypt are breaking down the walls of silence surrounding sexual abuse. Now one of the latest fightbacks is against marital rape, an issue which until recently has been largely taboo. On her wedding night, 34-year-old Safaa was raped by her husband. The attack left her with injuries to her groin, wrist and mouth. "I was on my period and wasn't ready to have sex that night," she says. "My husband thought I was evading having an intimate relationship with him. He beat me, handcuffed me, muzzled my voice and raped me." Safaa, however, refused to file a police report against her husband out of fear of social stigma. Victim-blaming culture is common here in what is a patriarchal society, particularly if the victim is a woman. But a turning point came in April, when a scene in a television series called Newton's Cradle that was broadcast during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan showed a scene of a husband forcing himself on his wife. For many women, the episode evoked bad memories but it also gave them the courage to take to social media and share their experiences. In a few weeks, hundreds of testimonies appeared online, including more than 700 on a Facebook page called Speak Up. Among them was that of 27-year-old Sanaa. "He was an angel. One year on from our marriage, I was pregnant and about to deliver," she says in a message to the page. "We had a fight over a trivial thing and he decided to punish me. "He forced himself on me and raped me. I had a miscarriage." Sanaa fought a lonely battle for divorce and is now separated from her husband but continues to grieve for her baby. Forced and violent sex is prevalent in many parts of Egypt, particularly on the wedding night. The growing debate about it got even more heated when an ex-wife of a famous singer took to Instagram to tell her alleged story of marital rape. Appearing in tears, her video went viral and made headlines. The husband rebuffed the allegations as "baseless" in a video he posted on Instagram in response. His ex-wife called for changes to the legal system to criminalise the practice. (Webmsters Comment: In America about 1/3 of white males beat and rape their wives and children!)
7-14-21 Australian campaign to improve education about sexual consent
A campaign for major changes to Australia's sexual consent curriculum has highlighted that many young people understand little about the issue. The petition by activist Chanel Contos drew thousands of stories from students sexually assaulted by fellow pupils. And while some say the scale and nature of the testimonies is shocking, others are not surprised. Politicians are taking notice, while some schools are pledging to tackle the crisis head on. But is school the right place to learn about an often explicit and awkward issue? Filmed, produced and edited by Simon Atkinson. Interviews by Shaimaa Khalil. Warning: this video contains sexual references and descriptions of sexual assault. If you are feeling emotionally distressed by this report, support is available in the UK at: www.bbc.co.uk/actionline In Australia, support can be found at https://bravehearts.org.au Internationally, there is support at: www.befrienders.org
7-7-21 Mila affair: Eleven sentenced over online abuse
Eleven people have been found guilty of sending abusive messages to a French teenager who posted videos criticising Islam online. "We have won and we'll win again," Mila said after the suspended sentences of between four and six months were announced on Wednesday. Mila was 16 when her first Instagram clip went viral. She has since received 100,000 hate messages, her lawyer says, and lives under 24-hour police protection. The young woman, known as Mila, has now turned 18 and was forced to withdraw from school over the abuse. Her anti-Islam comments came after she was called a "dirty lesbian" by a Muslim blogger after speaking about her sexuality on Instagram. Her story has revived debate about freedom of speech and blasphemy in the country, as well as protection for schoolchildren from online bullying. Ten men and three women aged between 18 and 30 from different areas of France went on trial for online harassment at the beginning of June, with some accused of sending death threats to the teenager. However, the case against one was dropped due to lack of evidence while another was released due to a procedural problem. The other 11 defendants were given suspended sentences and so will only serve time in prison if they are convicted for other crimes. Some will also have to pay €1,500 ($1,773; £1,287) in damages to the teenager, as well as €1,000 for her legal fees. The judge said the tweets were part of a campaign of "harassment which had a psychological and physical impact" on Mila. "In the street, one would refrain from insulting or threatening or insulting someone whose attitudes and words we dislike," he added. "The same goes for social media." Speaking to the media after the sentences were announced, Mila said: "I don't ever want victims to be blamed again." In October, a 23-year-old was sentenced to three years over online death threats against the teenager.
7-5-21 Bill Cosby defends TV wife Phylicia Rashad after she celebrated his release
Bill Cosby's on-screen wife is at the centre of controversy after tweeting her support for him when his sexual assault conviction was overturned. Phylicia Rashad, who starred in The Cosby Show, tweeted on Wednesday that "a terrible wrong has been righted". The tweet was then removed. A follow-up post said she "fully supported sexual abuse survivors coming forward". Cosby has defended Rashad after Howard University, where she is a dean, said her first tweet "lacked sensitivity". The university, based in Washington DC, issued a statement that read: "Survivors of sexual assault will always be our first priority. "While Dean Rashad has acknowledged in her follow-up tweet that victims must be heard and believed, her initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault. "Personal positions of university leadership do not reflect Howard University's policies." Rashad played Clair Huxtable in hit 1980s TV series The Cosby Show. In 2018, Cosby was found guilty of drugging and molesting ex-basketball player Andrea Constand. But the 83-year-old left prison last week after serving more than two years in jail when his conviction was overturned by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court. The judges said there had been a "process violation" by the prosecution, but admitted their ruling was unusual. In response, Rashad tweeted: "Finally. A terrible wrong is being righted - a miscarriage of justice is corrected." She faced criticism on social media, with some saying she shouldn't stay in her post at Howard University, which appointed her dean of its recently re-established College of Fine Arts last year. On Friday, CNN reported that she had sent a letter to students and parents, offering a "most sincere apology". In it, Rashad reportedly said she plans "to engage in active listening and participate in trainings to not only reinforce university protocol and conduct, but also to learn how I can become a stronger ally to sexual assault survivors and everyone who has suffered at the hands of an abuser".
7-2-21 'Coercion and rape': Investigating my yoga school
BBC journalist Ishleen Kaur was a passionate yoga teacher with Sivananda, one of the biggest yoga movements in the world, until a disturbing social media post led her to uncover multiple allegations of sexual abuse spanning decades, right up to the present day. Since I discovered yoga in my mid-20s, it had become a huge part of my world. Like many devoted yogis, it was not just an exercise class for me, but a way of life. I didn't just teach classes at my local Sivananda centre, I volunteered to cook and clean there too. Sivananda teachings influenced every aspect of my existence. But then in December 2019, I received a notification on my phone. It was a post in my Sivananda Facebook group about the movement's late revered founder, Swami Vishnudevananda. A woman called Julie Salter had written that Vishnudevananda had sexually abused her for three years at the Sivananda headquarters in Canada. She wrote that when she finally found the strength - decades later - to report this to the Sivananda management board, "the reactions ranged from silence, to the attempt to silence". I have now interviewed 14 women who allege abuse at the hands of senior Sivananda teachers, many of whom have not spoken about this to family and friends, let alone made it public. I have also spoken to a former staff member who says her concerns were not addressed by the Sivananda board. My investigation has exposed claims of an abuse of power and influence within the organisation I once held so dear. I vividly remember my first day at the Sivananda ashram in Kerala, southern India, where I trained as a yoga teacher in 2014. On the wall was a magnificent photo of Swami Vishnudevananda, Sivananda's late founder, and the man Julie would go on to expose. His teachings were so powerful that many yogis renounced all worldly connections and dedicated their lives to the organisation. I could understand why. I was going through a very challenging time and Sivananda gave me a new-found peace. The asanas - or postures - gave me physical strength; Sivananda's principles of karma, positive thinking and meditation nourished my soul.
7-1-21 Bill Cosby: Accusers speak of shock and anger after conviction overturned
US comedian Bill Cosby's release from prison after his sexual assault conviction was overturned has led to an outpouring of anger and shock. His 2018 conviction for drugging and molesting ex-basketball player Andrea Constand was overturned on Wednesday. Judges said there had been a "process violation" by the prosecution, but admitted their ruling was unusual. Many have expressed concern that the decision could deter women from coming forward in the future. The decision "is not only disappointing but of concern in that it may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant," Ms Constand and her attorneys said. Upon his release, Mr Cosby tweeted: "I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence." Mr Cosby is best known for starring in the 1980s TV series The Cosby Show and was once known as "America's Dad". Dozens of women have publicly accused Mr Cosby of sexual assault, but he was only tried criminally for the incident against Ms Constand. His conviction in 2018 was widely seen as a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement. In a verdict issued on Wednesday, Pennsylvania's highest court found there was a "process violation" because Mr Cosby's lawyers had made an agreement with a previous state prosecutor that he would not be charged in the case. The former actor appeared frail as he slowly walked to waiting media outside his home, shortly after being released from prison. Among Mr Cosby's accusers to speak out against the ruling was Patricia Leary Steuer. She told CNN: "There were more than 63 of us who came forward in the end. I'm wondering what the purpose was of the 43 years of this ordeal and the trauma that I had and the trauma that my family endured as a result." Janice Baker-Kinney, who accused Mr Cosby of giving her pills and raping her in the 1980s, told WPVI-TV: "I am stunned, I am shocked and my stomach is in a knot ... One legal ease can overturn this when so many people came forward."
7-1-21 High-profile women want action to stop online abuse
More than 200 high-profile women have signed an open letter asking for concrete action to tackle abuse on social media platforms. The letter - signed by women including former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, ex-US tennis player Billie Jean King and British actresses Thandiwe Newton and Emma Watson - has been published at the UN Generation Equality Forum. Ms Gillard told the BBC: "As prime minister of Australia, like other women in the public domain, I regularly received highly gendered and ugly social media, including the circulation of pornographic cartoons." She added that it made her "angry and frustrated that women still face this kind of abuse". The letter was addressed to the chief executives of Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter, and asked them to "urgently prioritise the safety of women on your platforms". In response, the social media chiefs said that they will commit to improving systems on reporting abuse, and filter what users see and who can interact with them online. However, some campaigners have expressed concerns that these commitments do not go far enough. "These abstract statements offer tech companies a good PR opportunity, but these aren't real commitments," says Lucina Di Meco, co-founder of #ShePersisted Global, which tackles online attacks against women. "They aren't specifically offering to look at content moderation or algorithmic preferences that will reward bad behaviour. So far, we are still putting the burden on women." The letter reads: "The internet is the town square of the 21st Century. It is where debate takes place, communities are built, products are sold and reputations are made. "But the scale of online abuse means that, for too many women, these digital town squares are unsafe. This is a threat to progress on gender equality." The letter also pointed to a 2020 study of more than 4,000 adult women by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which found that 38% of them in 51 countries have had direct experience of online intimidation. And it also emphasises online abuse is worse for marginalised groups and black, Asian, Latin American and mixed-race women.
6-30-21 Bill Cosby shows how the legal system works for the wealthy
Due process costs money. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Wednesday that Bill Cosby, who has served about two years of a 3-10 year prison sentence for sexual assault, be released on a technicality. Cosby's story makes for an interesting contrast with another person who was recently released from prison: Yutico Briley. As Emily Bazelon writes in a fascinating piece for The New York Times Magazine, back in 2013 Briley was sentenced to 60 years in prison for an armed robbery that he did not commit. After eight years behind bars, he was finally set free. Together, the two cases show one way the American legal system is rigged. Here's the background. When Cosby was originally accused of assault in 2005, then-Montgomery County prosecutor Bruce Castor (who would later go on to defend President Trump in impeachment proceedings) declined to prosecute. The reason, he said, was so he could coerce Cosby into testifying into a civil case, where he would not be able to invoke the Fifth Amendment. Castor supposedly also agreed that he would never prosecute Cosby, and that this decision would also be binding on all future prosecutors in the state. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court bought this argument, despite the fact that the agreement was not written down or mentioned in contemporaneous press releases, and that Pennsylvania law requires that non-prosecution agreements be approved by the court. When "a prosecutor makes an unconditional promise of non-prosecution, and when the defendant relies upon that guarantee to the detriment of his constitutional right not to testify, the principle of fundamental fairness that undergirds due process of law in our criminal justice system demands that the promise be enforced," the judges wrote. This seems a little far-fetched to me, though then again I am not a legal expert. But two things can be concluded. First, even if we grant that Cosby's rights were violated, a poor or working-class person would never get this kind of sweetheart non-prosecution agreement. Second, Cosby's vast wealth allowed him nearly limitless access to well-resourced lawyers who could search for some loophole or another to get him out of jail, which non-rich people also do not get. Consider the Briley story. At about 2 a.m. on November 27, 2012, someone robbed a man called Benjamin Joseph at gunpoint in New Orleans. Later that evening, a passing police car noticed Briley and stopped him. Briley, then 19, was carrying a gun, in violation of his parole (stemming from a drug conviction two years previously). Despite the fact that Joseph previously told police the culprit had a slim build and was wearing a pullover, and Briley was stocky and wearing a zip-up hoodie, police brought Briley for a "show-up." This is where a suspect is presented to a witness alone for an identification (as opposed to the traditional lineup) — which tends to inherently bias towards a positive result. Joseph indeed said Briley was the robber. But Briley insisted he hadn't done it. He said he had been at a motel at the time of the robbery, and that this could be proved with video surveillance. He asked James Williams, a lawyer who had represented him previously, if he could get the tape. Williams said he'd need a retainer of $2,500 and payment of past bills just to get started. (Cosby, by the way, recently paid $2.75 million in legal fees stemming from just one trial.)
6-30-21 Yemeni model facing unfair trial by rebel authorities - rights group
A Yemeni actress and model accused of an "indecent act" and drug possession is facing an unfair trial by rebel authorities, Human Rights Watch says. Intisar al-Hammadi, 20, who denies the charges, was detained by the Houthi movement's forces in Sanaa in February. Her lawyer alleged she was physically and verbally abused by interrogators, subjected to racist insults, and forced to sign a document while blindfolded. Prosecutors also allegedly threatened her with a forced "virginity test". Her lawyer told HRW that he had been prevented from seeing Ms Hammadi's casefile and was stopped from representing her when she appeared in court twice earlier this month. The Houthis, who have been fighting a war against Yemen's internationally recognised government since 2015, have not commented on the case. Ms Hammadi, who has a Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother, has worked as a model for four years and acted in two Yemeni TV series. She sometimes appeared in photographs posted online without a headscarf, defying strict societal norms in the conservative Muslim country. Her lawyer said she was travelling in a car with three other people in Sanaa on 20 February when rebel Houthi forces stopped it and arrested them. Ms Hammadi was blindfolded and taken to a Criminal Investigations Directorate building, where she was held incommunicado for 10 days, he added. "Her phone was confiscated, and her modelling photos were treated like an act of indecency and therefore she was a prostitute [in the eyes of Houthi authorities]," the lawyer told HRW. According to HRW, Ms Hammadi told a group of human rights defenders and a lawyer who were allowed to visit her in prison in late May that she was forced by interrogators to sign a document while blindfolded. The document was reportedly a "confession" to several offences.
6-25-21 Valérie Bacot: French woman who killed abuser husband should go free, says prosecutor
Valérie Bacot, a woman accused of murdering her violent husband, should be shown clemency and allowed to leave jail, a French court has heard. On the final day of the trial, the prosecutor said Ms Bacot should be given a one-year jail term with an added four years suspended, which meant releasing her because of time served. Ms Bacot said she was abused from the age of 12 by Daniel Polette, first as her stepfather and then as her husband. She has admitted killing him. More than 700,000 people have signed a petition calling for her release. She has spent a year on remand, French media say. She collapsed in tears and fainted in court on Friday after the prosecuting lawyer said she should be allowed to leave court a free woman. "A criminal court stands for civilised values - foremost among which is the protection of life. If people take justice into their own hands, then everybody is at war with everybody else," prosecutor Eric Jallet told the court in Chalon-sur-Saône. Nevertheless, imprisoning Ms Bacot would not provide anyone any greater protection and the risk of her committing any crime was minimal. The session was adjourned to allow the defendant to recover and her lawyer then told the court that she had killed her husband because she feared he would start abusing their daughter. Valérie Bacot's lawyers had earlier said she had been driven to kill her husband because of "the extreme violence that she suffered for 25 years and the fear that her daughter would be next". Her case bears similarity to that of another French woman, Jacqueline Sauvage, who was jailed for shooting dead her abusive husband after 47 years of abuse. She received a presidential pardon after receiving a 10-year jail term. Polette, who was 25 years older than Ms Bacot, spent two and a half years in jail for assaulting her in the 1990s, but later returned to the family home and made her pregnant when she was 17.
6-21-21 Valerie Bacot: French woman goes on trial for murder of abuser
The trial has started in the case of a French woman who shot dead a man she says abused her years - first as her stepfather then later as her husband. Valerie Bacot was just 12 when Daniel Polette began raping her. He was jailed but later returned to the family home and allegedly resumed the abuse. She alleges he forced her to marry him and fathered her four children. Ms Bacot admits killing him in 2016 but more than 600,000 people have signed a petition calling for her release. She says she shot Polette dead during an encounter in which he had allegedly been forcing her to work as a prostitute. Ms Bacot hid the body with the help of two of her children but was arrested in October 2017 and confessed to the killing. The trial is a major news story in France and has galvanised public debate about violence against women. The case bears similarity to that of another French woman - Jacqueline Sauvage - who was jailed for killing her abusive husband but later received a presidential pardon. Ms Bacot's lawyers said "the extreme violence that she suffered for 25 years and the fear that her daughter would be next" had driven her to carry out the killing. Last month, a book about the 40-year-old's life story was released in which she wrote that she was "afraid all the time" and "had to put an end to it". Ms Bacot says Polette, who was 25 years her senior, began sexually abusing her when she was only 12. He spent two and a half years in jail for the assaults in the 1990s, but later returned to the family home and first made her pregnant aged 17. Ms Bacot says Polette married her and became physically abusive, later forcing her to prostitute herself from a vehicle. She admits shooting him dead with his own pistol after an incident involving a client in March 2016. Prosecutors will argue that the killing was pre-meditated while the defence say Ms Bacot felt she had to kill him to protect herself and her children. (Webmaster's comment: Any person has the right of self-defence when being physically abused or threatened! There is nothing wrong with that!)
6-16-21 'I was humiliated': The continuing trauma of South Korea's spy cam victims
Kyung-mi (not her real name) was mocked online, sneered at by social media bullies and interrogated for hours by police and prosecutors after accusing her K-pop star boyfriend of filming her while they were having sex. She was the victim of a digital sex crime but she told the BBC that "no one was there to listen". "I was in school, young and very lonely. There was no one on my side," she said. "I really wanted to die, but I couldn't," she told us. "If I died, no one would know the truth about Jung Joon-young." Jung Joon-young rose to fame through a TV talent show and had a large base of K-pop fans across east Asia. Kyung-mi described him as an attentive, considerate boyfriend - until he filmed the couple having sex without her permission. She first went to the police in August 2016, but she said officers failed to get hold of his phone and she eventually dropped the case. She knew bringing charges against a high profile figure would be tough but she didn't expect to be treated like the accused rather than the accuser. "The police officer told me not to report it. She said it was difficult to bring charges against a celebrity. "The prosecutor then called me, not him, in for questioning. They kept asking me, 'weren't you filmed because you liked it?' "I was humiliated, intimidated, and I started wondering if I had actually filed a case against an innocent person." It took another three years before the shocking truth about the TV personality was presented to a judge. Police received a tip-off about videos on his phone in 2019 and finally issued a warrant to seize it. They found he had secretly filmed images of 12 women, including Kyung-mi, and had shared them on a chatroom with his celebrity friends. He is now serving five years in jail. A police spokesperson has also told the BBC that the officers involved in Kyung-mi's case are being investigated.
6-16-21 Airbnb reportedly pays tourist $7m after rape
Airbnb paid a tourist $7m (£5m) after she was allegedly raped at knifepoint at a rental property in New York City, according to media reports. Bloomberg News reported an Australian traveller received the payout after an attack on New Year's Eve in 2015. The victim and her friends picked up the keys to the property from a nearby shop that evening, it says. The report suggests the suspect had made a copy of keys to the apartment, which he accessed before an attack. The traveller returned shortly after midnight, as the suspect, 24-year-old Junior Lee, allegedly hid in the bathroom, Bloomberg reports. Mr Lee has been charged with predatory sexual assault. He has pleaded not guilty, but remains in custody. The Legal Aid Society, which is representing Mr Lee, declined to comment when approached by BBC News. After the alleged attack, an Airbnb safety team contacted the local police department to offer its assistance and put the victim in a hotel. It also offered to pay for costs such as counselling and flew her mother overseas from Australia. Bloomberg said that, as part of the $7m settlement, the victim cannot blame or sue Airbnb or the apartment host where the incident took place. It says it was reached two years after the alleged attack. But Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit told the New York Post: "In sexual assault cases, in the settlements we've reached, survivors can speak freely about their experiences. This includes the NYC case." Airbnb's prospectus, released before the company floated the business last December, states that for hosts and guests based in the US, it conducts "online background checks" including criminal and public records. "In some instances, we re-run these checks periodically thereafter," it said. "We also conduct host background checks in India prior to the first transaction. We check all of our hosts and guests against certain regulatory, terrorist, and sanctions watchlists to increase safety for all parties."
6-16-21 US judge rules Harvey Weinstein can be extradited to California to stand trial
Disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein can be extradited to California to face additional sexual assault charges, a New York judge has ruled. The former Hollywood mogul is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York, having been found guilty of rape and sexual assault last year. Weinstein's defence team had argued that he should remain in New York to receive appropriate medical care. A lawyer for Weinstein told US media they would appeal the ruling. Weinstein, 69, who was once one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood, has denied having non-consensual relations with anyone. He is expected to be moved to California by mid-July, where he faces an 11-count indictment on charges that he attacked five women in Los Angeles between 2004 and 2013. It is not yet clear when a trial would take place in that city, as Covid-19 shutdowns have stalled most criminal trials there. The decision follows a months-long effort by Weinstein's team to block the transfer. On Tuesday, Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case rejected arguments by Weinstein's lawyers that Los Angeles prosecutors had not appropriately filed paperwork to claim custody of the former producer. Defence attorney Mark Werksman told Reuters news agency: "We are disappointed by the judge's ruling." Mr Werksman said that his team has filed a petition to prevent Weinstein from being transported "until he can receive the medical care he needs in New York". Weinstein's defence team has said he has two surgeries scheduled in New York to address a number of undisclosed medical issues. Previously, his lawyers have said he is nearly blind. Last November, the mogul's representatives said he was unwell and being "closely monitored". In a statement, Erie County prosecutors defended the judge's ruling and their own legal procedures. Prosecutors added it was "incumbent" on Los Angeles County prosecutors to extradite Weinstein to California. Weinstein's February 2020 conviction was seen as a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement against the sexual abuse and harassment of women.
6-10-21 Tokyo 2020: Olympic swimmer Madeline Groves withdraws from trials over 'perverts' in sport
An Australian swimmer has withdrawn from upcoming Olympic trials, citing "misogynistic perverts" in the sport. Madeline Groves, 26, said in 2020 she had complained "a few years ago" about an unnamed person in the sport who had made her feel uncomfortable. Announcing her decision to withdraw on Wednesday, she said: "Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts... and their boot lickers..." Swimming Australia said it takes sexual misconduct allegations seriously. It also said it had contacted Groves about her initial allegations, made last November and December, but that she had declined to provide further information and that it had no record of any previous complaints. Groves won silver medals in 200 metres butterfly and 4x100 medley at the 2016 Rio Games. In the social media post on Wednesday explaining her decision to withdraw, she added: "You can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus. Time's UP." She said she was not quitting the sport and is still planning on racing in competitions later in the year. In November and December 2020, she detailed her previous complaint on Twitter, saying she had raised concerns about a man who stared at her in her swimsuit and made her feel uncomfortable. In response to the allegations, Swimming Australia, the sport's national governing body, said: "Swimming Australia reached out to Maddie in December 2020 to enquire about a tweet sent by her that referenced potential abuse by someone connected with swimming. "Maddie declined to provide further information, nor do we have any previous complaints on record from Maddie. "All allegations concerning child abuse or sexual misconduct are taken seriously by Swimming Australia. We consider the welfare, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as paramount, and we have a duty to make inquiries to uphold the standards of our sport."
6-7-21 Afghan policewomen abuse: US and EU urge inquiry
The US and EU are calling for an immediate investigation into the "shocking" claims of sexual harassment and rape of Afghan policewomen. It follows a BBC investigation which revealed female officers faced widespread abuse by their colleagues. A number of women told the BBC they were too scared to report the attacks, which were often by their superiors. The Afghan government says it is committed to change, but rights groups say perpetrators are rarely punished. "Afghan women who choose to serve their country as police officers are courageous patriots," Ambassador Ross Wilson, the US Charge d'Affaires to Afghanistan, said in a statement. "They face formidable cultural, social, political and security barriers, and we and all Afghans should honour and support their service. These reports? are shocking, and we urge their prompt investigation by Afghan authorities." The US also said the women who waived their anonymity to speak in the documentary must be given protection from further mistreatment. The EU said it had "a zero tolerance policy for such cases" and "strongly advocates" for cases to be fully investigated when they arise. The bloc had "intensified the work for a coherent reform of police anti-harassment policies", Nabila Massrali, spokeswoman for the EU's foreign affairs and security policy said. She added that the bloc would "take stronger measures should the situation not improve in the near future". The introduction of female police officers is a relatively new phenomenon in Afghanistan, and was seen as a sign of progress in the deeply conservative country. There are now 3,900 female officers in its force. However the BBC investigation found serious problems - from how women were treated, to how complaints were handled. In some cases, women have been sexually assaulted while trying to report attacks, or trying to get to safety shelters, the BBC investigation found. Momena Karbalayee said she was raped by a police chief after refusing an order to spend the night with officials. A court found the defendant not guilty. (Webmaster's comment: The same things happen to women in the US military, but we never hear about that!)
6-4-21 Brittany Higgins: Australia rape accuser in hospital amid 'pressure'
An Australian woman who spoke out about her alleged rape in parliament - triggering #MeToo protests nationwide - is receiving care in hospital for her mental wellbeing. Brittany Higgins, 26, entered hospital last Thursday her partner said. David Sharaz told news outlets she was taking time to recover after "months of unrelenting political pressure". Ms Higgins's case has sparked anger over a culture of sexism and misogyny in Australian politics. Since speaking out in February, she has called for reform to parliament culture and inspired other Australian women to report their allegations of sexual assault. In March, it led to tens of thousands of people around the country joining protests against the sexual abuse and discrimination of women. A number of lawmakers in federal and state parliaments have been accused of sexual assault and misconduct this year, including government minister Christian Porter, who has strongly denied accusations he raped a girl when he was a teenager. Mr Porter on Tuesday dropped his lawsuit against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for their report on the allegations. Despite political pressure, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declined to investigate the claims against Mr Porter, after police ruled out a criminal investigation because the alleged victim had passed away. Mr Morrison has also been widely criticised for his government's response to the allegations from Ms Higgins, a former staff member for two ministers. Ms Higgins has alleged she was raped by a colleague in her boss's office in 2019, and when she reported the rape to then Defence Minister Linda Reynolds she was side-lined, given little support and pressured to leave her job. Ms Reynolds later apologised to Ms Higgins, after reports emerged she had called her a "lying cow" over the allegations she made about workplace support. Mr Morrison has also been under pressure to explain why he was unaware of Ms Higgins' alleged rape, when several members of his cabinet knew about it.
6-4-21 The Afghan policewoman facing abuse at work
A BBC investigation has revealed widespread allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in the Afghan Police Force. After months of research, the BBC has spoken to a number of women who say they were raped or assaulted by their superiors or colleagues. Human rights groups say the majority of the attacks go unreported. Momena waived her anonymity to talk to the BBC about what happened to her. She is still working as a policewoman, although she has changed departments. Hosna Jalil is no longer Deputy Interior Minister. She says she believes she was removed because she had been "a loud voice". This report from the BBC’s Kawoon Khamoosh is part of the documentary Policing the Police in Afghanistan.
6-2-21 Belgium gang rape: Five arrested over assault on teenager
Five teenagers have been arrested in Belgium over the alleged gang rape of a 14-year-old girl, who died less than a week later. According to Belgian media, images of the attack were shared online. The victim took her life four days later. Prosecutors say that three of the suspects, who are minors, are in a youth facility, while two men aged 18 and 19 have been arrested and are due to appear in court on Wednesday. The prosecution has only confirmed that they are being investigated for "acts that occurred shortly before the death of the victim". According to Belgian media reports, the girl had arranged to meet a male friend at a cemetery in Ghent on 15 May. However, he allegedly arrived with the four other suspects and assaulted the victim. Images from the attack were also uploaded to social media. "These images were the last straw for her... her entire world collapsed," her father told Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. The mayor of the family's hometown who also knew the victim spoke of his shock at the case. "You don't think something like this could happen in your municipality," he said in an interview with Belgian website Het Laatste Nieuws. The case has led to a strong response from Belgian politicians, with Secretary of State for Equality Sarah Schlitz vowing to take action to prevent images of sexual assault being shared online. "The distribution of such images on social media is not just intolerable, but also totally illegal. It should simply not be possible," she said, adding that her team would meet with representatives of social media companies to discuss moderation policies. "Horrible. There are no words," Belgian Justice Minister Vincent van Quickenborne wrote on Twitter. "I call on victims of sexual violence: file a complaint," he said, noting that help was available and that the justice system would "do everything" to find and punish perpetrators, as well as those who shared images of sexual assault. Liesbet Stevens, an expert in gender equality, told VRT News that the assault "is unfortunately not an isolated case", noting that around 200 gang rapes are reported in Belgium every year.
5-29-21 Ex-US airline pilot admits lewd act in cockpit mid-flight
A former US airline pilot has admitted committing a "lewd, indecent, or obscene act" during a flight last year. Michael Haak, 60, exposed himself to the female first officer in the cockpit and watched pornography on a laptop, prosecutors said. As the Southwest Airlines flight continued, Haak engaged in further "inappropriate conduct" in the cockpit. A judge in Maryland sentenced him to one year's probation and ordered him to pay a $5,000 (£3,500) fine. The incident happened during a flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Orlando International Airport on 10 August 2020, the court heard. When the flight reached cruising altitude, Haak got out of the pilot's seat, "intentionally disrobed" and watched pornographic media on a laptop. "Haak further engaged in inappropriate conduct in the cockpit, as the first officer continued to perform her duties," federal prosecutors said in a statement. Haak had never met the first officer prior to the flight, they added. Assistant US Attorney Michael Cunningham said the co-pilot "had a right not to be subjected to this kind of behaviour, regardless of what may have motivated it or prompted it", the Associated Press reported. Haak was charged in Maryland because it was the state that the plane was flying over at the time. He pleaded guilty to intentionally committing a lewd, indecent or obscene act in a public place. In a statement via video link, Haak apologised for his behaviour, adding: "It started as a consensual prank between me and the other pilot. I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years." US Magistrate Judge J Mark Coulson told Haak that his behaviour had had a traumatic effect on the first officer and could have affected the safety of passengers. Haak, of Longwood, Florida, was a pilot with Southwest Airlines for 27 years before retiring at the end of August last year. In a statement, the airline said it did not tolerate "behaviour of this nature and will take prompt action if such conduct is substantiated". A spokesman said the company had only learned of the incident after Haak had voluntarily left the airline. It said that, as a result, it had ceased paying him any benefits he was entitled to following his retirement.
5-28-21 Nike says it split with Neymar over sexual assault investigation
US sportswear giant Nike says it stopped working with Brazilian footballer Neymar because he "refused to co-operate in a good faith investigation" into an allegation of sexual assault against an employee. The alleged incident happened in 2016 and was reported to Nike in 2018. Nike said its investigation was inconclusive. A spokeswoman for Neymar said he denied the sexual assault and split with Nike last year for commercial reasons. "Neymar Jr will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far," she told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) newspaper, which first reported the news. Nike parted ways with Neymar in August 2020, ending one of its most high-profile sponsorship deals. The company gave no reason for the split at the time. In its statement on Thursday, it said: "It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts." But it added: "Nike ended its relationship with the athlete because he refused to co-operate in a good faith investigation of credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee." Nike said the employee reported the allegations in 2018 but initially wanted to avoid an investigation and keep it confidential. It said it commissioned an independent investigation into the matter the following year, when she expressed an interest in pursuing it. The alleged victim has not been named, with Nike saying: "We continue to respect the confidentiality of the employee and also recognise that this has been a long and difficult experience for her." Neymar currently plays for French side Paris Saint-Germain. He previously denied accusations of rape in 2019, in a case that was eventually dropped.
5-22-21 Lady Gaga had a 'psychotic break' after sexual assault left her pregnant
Lady Gaga has revealed she suffered a breakdown as a result of sexual assault that led to pregnancy. The star was 19 when she was raped by a male music producer, who had threatened to burn her music if she did not take her clothes off. She says her alleged rapist then "dropped me off pregnant on a corner... because I was vomiting and sick". Years later, she had "a total psychotic break" and was in an "ultra state of paranoia" as a result of the trauma. Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, was speaking on the first episode of Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry's new Apple TV+ series, The Me You Can't See, which tackles the stigma around mental health. She broke down in tears as she described her assault, which took place in her early days in the music industry. "I was 19 years old, and I was working in the business, and a producer said to me, 'Take your clothes off,'" she recalled. "I said no and I left, and they told me they were going to burn all of my music. And they didn't stop. "They didn't stop asking me, and I just froze and I... I don't even remember." Now 35, the singer said she would never name her attacker. "I understand this #MeToo movement, I understand that some people feel really comfortable with this, and I do not," she continued. "I do not ever want to face that person again." Gaga first discussed her rape in 2014, and addressed it in songs such as Swine and 'Til It Happens To You - which soundtracked The Hunting Ground, a documentary about sexual assault on US college campuses; and was nominated for an Oscar in 2016. She said her breakdown came years later - and was still going on when she accepted her Oscar for A Star Is Born in 2019. It began when she was admitted to hospital for acute pain and numbness, and was surprised to be sent to see a psychiatrist. "I [couldn't] feel my own body," she recalled. "First I felt full-on pain, then I felt numb, and then I was sick for weeks after. "I realised that it was the same pain that I felt when the person who raped me dropped me off pregnant on a corner, at my parents' house, because I was vomiting and sick. Because I had been being abused, and I was locked away in a studio for months." The star added that trauma had changed her as a person, and would never leave her.
5-21-21 Tarun Tejpal: Indian former editor cleared of raping colleague
An Indian court has cleared Tarun Tejpal, the former editor of Tehelka magazine, of charges of raping a colleague. His unnamed accuser had alleged that he assaulted her in an elevator at a Tehelka event in Goa in November 2013. He was arrested and spent seven months in jail until the Supreme Court granted him bail. Mr Tejpal had consistently denied the accusations against him. The prosecution said they would appeal. In a statement on Friday, Mr Tejpal requested privacy for his family as "we try and reclaim our broken lives". "The past seven and a half years have been traumatic for my family as we have dealt with the catastrophic fallout of these allegations on every aspect of our personal, professional and public lives," he said. Mr Tejpal also paid homage to his lawyer Rajeev Gomes who died of Covid-19 last week. On Friday morning, the trial court in Mapusa in the western state of Goa threw out all the charges against Mr Tejpal. Police had filed charges running into nearly 3,000 pages, accusing him of "wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, assault, sexual harassment and rape by a person in position of authority or control". He had denied all the accusations and pleaded not guilty. The prosecution had put forward a list of 156 witnesses, but in the end, about 70 were cross-examined. The trial was held "in-camera" which meant journalists were not allowed to be present in court. One of India's most prominent journalists, Mr Tejpal launched Tehelka in 2000 after decades of working in some of the country's best-known newspapers and magazines. Tehelka soon became known for breaking some of the biggest investigative stories in Indian journalism. It specialised in "sting operations" - with its reporters posing as someone else and using secret filming to unearth corruption in public life.
5-20-21 PIP implant victims 'elated' by compensation win
Thousands of women who were victims of the PIP breast implant scandal should receive compensation, a French appeal court has decided. Women involved in the case say they are elated and exhausted after 10 years of fighting for justice. The court also upheld an earlier judgement finding German safety body TUV Rheinland negligent. TUV said it had acted "diligently", and that women must prove they had a PIP implant to be entitled to compensation. It awarded safety certificates for faulty breast implants made by French company Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP). The court decision could have far-reaching implications for thousands of other victims around the world. Jan Spivey, one of 540 British women involved in the case, was given PIP implants after she had a mastectomy due to breast cancer. After hearing the decision, she said she was "elated and exhausted". "It's been a very long journey," she said. "We've been in and out of court, and that's been really difficult for women. We've got health issues and we've got lots of other responsibilities too - PIP has had an impact on the whole of our lives. "It's been an inescapable issue." Jan developed aching joints, pain and fatigue after having the implants, and once they were removed it was clear they had been leaking silicone into her body. "My PIP implants from 20 years ago are still impacting on my life and my health and my wellbeing, even today," Jan said. "I think I've been angry every single day for the 20 years I've been affected by PIP." Olivier Aumaître, the lawyer representing Jan Spivey and around 2,700 others in the current case, said it was an historic day for the victims and for women's rights. He said the company would now have to fully compensate all the women judged to be victims. "I'm very happy for all the women I represent who have waited for such a long time for this decision and suffered for such long periods," he said.
5-13-21 Pierre-Charles Boudot: Top French jockey under investigation for rape
A French champion jockey has been placed under formal investigation for rape. Pierre-Charles Boudot, 28, is accused of assaulting a woman at a party in February. He denies any wrongdoing. Mr Boudot, who won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2019, has been released on €50,000 (£43,000; $60,000) bail. Another jockey, Pierre Bazire, is also being investigated for failing to report a crime. Mr Bazire does not appear to have publicly commented. The governing body of the sport in France, France Galop, said that while both men were presumed innocent, it had decided to suspend them for two days due to the seriousness of the charges. Mr Boudot, who has also been named France's top jockey three times, had been due to take part in a race at the Longchamp racecourse in Paris on Thursday. The formal investigation was announced by prosecutors in Senlis, in northern France, on Wednesday. The complainant's lawyer Justine Devred told AFP news agency that the alleged assault took place at a party on 17 February. "It's highly likely she was made to drink or administered substances to make her incapable of consent," she said. "She has flashes, long periods, moments when her body was no longer responding." Mr Boudot's lawyer, however, told AFP that her client "categorically" denied the accusation, and said that the encounter had been consensual. Mr Boudot has also been named as a witness in another rape investigation dating back to 2015. He has maintained his innocence in the case, in which the woman also alleged she was drugged before being raped.
5-6-21 Jarryd Hayne: Ex-Rugby League player jailed for 2018 sex assault
Former Australian Rugby League player Jarryd Hayne has been jailed for five years and nine months for sexually assaulting a woman in 2018. Hayne, 33, was found guilty in March of attacking the 26-year-old woman in her house. He had denied the charges. He must serve at least three years and eight months before being eligible for parole. The woman told the court in Newcastle, north of Sydney, she had been damaged by the attack "but I'm still standing". "I felt dirty and violated. He made me feel like an object and was looking straight through me," she said in a victim impact statement on Thursday. In previous hearings, prosecutors said Hayne had assaulted the woman in her bedroom, causing two injuries. The victim's mother was also at the Newcastle home at the time and Hayne left afterwards in a taxi, the court heard. The former National Rugby League (NRL) player insisted that all sexual activity had been consensual and that the injuries had been accidental. But at Thursday's sentencing hearing, District Court Judge Helen Syme said Hayne had been "fully aware that the victim was not consenting and went ahead anyway". "The reliability and honesty of the victim's evidence was tested at length and in my view, her reliability was not in doubt. She said no several times," the judge said, quoted by broadcaster ABC. Hayne was one of the NRL's most high-profile athletes and twice won the player of the year award. He played 11 Tests for Australia, helping them to win the 2013 World Cup. The case was closely watched in Australia amid an intensifying national debate about rape and sexual misconduct. In March thousands of people took part in marches across the country, protesting against the sexual abuse and harassment of women.
5-6-21 Safe Sweden faces up to wave of women's killings
Six women have been killed in just five weeks in Sweden, reigniting debates about domestic violence in a country usually praised for its gender equality. The deaths span three regions and three generations, but in almost all cases there has been a common thread: the arrest of a man they had had a close relationship with. Two of the killings took place in broad daylight: one in a rural town centre in the south of the country, another at a train and bus station in Linkoping, a university city south of the capital. In Flemingsberg, a low-income Stockholm suburb packed with tower blocks clad in primary colours, a woman was stabbed in the apartment she shared with four young children. The man arrested on suspicion of her murder is someone she reportedly knew well. "I think it has to be brought up to the surface more, this violence against women, because it's not OK," says Kristian Jansson, 51, who's out shopping in Flemingsberg with his 18-year-old daughter Emma-Louise. The teenager says the recent killings have amplified wider worries about women's safety in the area, where she rarely goes out alone. "I am not so safe... Because there's so [many] people that kill around here." The recent wave of killings comes amidst growing concerns about violence towards women in Sweden, which has long held a reputation as one of the world's safest and most gender-equal countries. In 2020, 16,461 assault cases were reported against women in a close relationship in Sweden. That is a 15.4% rise on the 2019 figure of 14,261, reported by the National Council for Crime Prevention. Sweden's Gender Equality Minister, Marta Stenevi, says she is "both appalled and upset" by the latest violence, but not surprised. "We have in many ways come quite far in gender equality in Sweden, but we still live with the structures in society that suppress women," she says.
5-3-21 Billie Eilish: Sexual misconduct is everywhere
Singer Billie Eilish has spoken about the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct, describing it as being "everywhere". In an interview with Vogue, she said she doesn't "know one girl or woman who hasn't had a weird experience, or a really bad experience". "And men, too - young boys are taken advantage of constantly," she said. Vogue interviewer Laura Snapes wrote that it also "happened to Eilish when she was younger", but added "the details are hers." The Grammy award-winning, American singer-songwriter, 19, was discussing her new single Your Power, which is about an abuser taking advantage of a minor. "It's an open letter to people who take advantage - mostly men," she said. She also unveiled a new look in her photoshoot for the magazine, using it as an opportunity to hit back at those who discuss what she wears. Describing the look as "classic, old-timey pin-up", the star's signature black and green hair is now platinum blonde (although the blonde colour first appeared a few weeks ago). She said the colour change made her feel "more like a woman, somehow". Eilish's previous baggy style of dress has often been hailed as refreshing when compared with that of other famous women who wear tighter, more revealing clothing, but Eilish told the magazine her dress sense was more about the onlookers' issues than her. "Don't make me not a role model because you're turned on by me," she told Vogue, adding that her body "was the initial reason for my depression when I was younger". "Suddenly you're a hypocrite if you want to show your skin, and you're easy and you're a slut and you're a whore. If I am, then I'm proud. Me and all the girls are hoes. Let's turn it around and be empowered in that. Showing your body and showing your skin - or not - should not take any respect away from you." She said it was a male problem, not a female one. "I really think the bottom line is, men are very weak," she says. "I think it's just so easy for them to lose it. 'You expect a dude not to grab you if you're wearing that dress?' Seriously, you're that weak? Come on!"
5-1-21 Game of Thrones actress sues Marilyn Manson alleging abuse
Game of Thrones actress Esmé Bianco has sued singer Marilyn Manson, alleging sexual assault and battery. The lawsuit claims Mr Manson coerced the British actress with "drugs, force, and threats of force". The plaintiff also alleges the singer and his manager broke trafficking laws by luring her from London to the US with empty promises of work. The artist has rejected multiple allegations of abuse against him as "horrible distortions of reality". He has been dropped by his record label and booking agent since the claims surfaced. In February, Westworld actress Evan Rachel Wood publicly accused Mr Manson of domestic abuse. More than a dozen other women have since come forward with similar allegations. In an Instagram post on 1 February, Mr Manson wrote: "Obviously, my art and my life have long been magnets for controversy but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality. My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners." Ms Bianco, who played Ros on the hit HBO drama Game of Thrones, was among a handful of women who spoke out against Mr Manson earlier this year. Her court filing on Friday marks the first legal action over such allegations against Mr Manson, who is referred to in the lawsuit by his real name, Brian Warner. Ms Bianco says she met the rocker in 2005. The lawsuit says that in February 2009, he invited her to Los Angeles to film a music video. But when Ms Bianco arrived she says she found she was expected to stay at his home and there was no film crew. The plaintiff alleges she was deprived of food and sleep and given drugs and alcohol during her four-day stay. "Perhaps most horrifyingly," the lawsuit continues, "Mr Warner locked Ms Bianco in the bedroom, tied her to a prayer kneeler, and beat her with a whip that Mr Warner said was utilised by the Nazis. He also electrocuted her."
4-29-21 Rapper Kodak Black pleads guilty to assault and battery
Rapper Kodak Black has pleaded guilty to assault and battery in the US. It relates to an incident involving a high school student following a show in Florence County, South Carolina in 2016. 23-year-old Kodak, real name Bill Kapri, had previously denied sexual assault at a hotel. He's been given an 18-month probation and 10-year suspended prison sentence for the lesser charge. The court heard how Kodak Black had tried to have a "romantic encounter" with the alleged victim, which she didn't want and that the rapper had then bitten her. Kodak Black said this was true. He also said sorry in court: "I apologise. I'm hopeful we can all moved forward. I wish her the best in her life." The victim appeared by computer screen and had agreed with the plea and terms. As part of the negotiated plea Kodak Black agreed to counselling. He's best known for his track ZEZE with Travis Scott and Offset and had a number one album in the US in 2018. In 2019 he was pardoned over weapons charges by former President Donald Trump on his last day of office. He should've spent years in prison for giving false information on background forms to buy guns, but was freed over his commitment to helping underprivileged children. The White House praised his philanthropic work. "Kodak Black is a prominent artist and community leader," officials noted. He also had the support of activist Hunter Pollack, whose sister was killed in a school shooting in 2018, and fellow artists Gucci Mane, Lil Pump and Lil Yachty.
4-28-21 Kuwait: Murder spurs demands for greater safety for women
"We told you he'd kill her and he killed my sister!.. Where is the government?" Dana Akbar yells in grief after hearing the news. It was a moment captured on video that unleashed a wave of outrage across Kuwait. Farah Hamza Akbar was murdered in Kuwait last week despite earlier pleas from her family to the authorities to protect her from her harasser. He reportedly abducted her in front of her daughter and niece. A statement from the interior ministry reported that a man had seized Farah Akbar from her car and taken her to an unknown location before leaving her outside the hospital where she was pronounced dead. He was arrested shortly afterwards and confessed to stabbing her in the chest, the ministry said. He has been charged with first degree murder, which in Kuwait is punishable by death. Farah's family told local media that the man was not known to them but that they had previously reported him for harassment. The incident has amplified already growing calls for greater protection for women from violence and harassment in Kuwait. Earlier this year, the social media campaign #Lan_ Asket (I will not be silent) was launched to spotlight the issue of harassment, prompting countless incidents from women. Reports in recent years of a number of women killed at the hands of family members have also underlined the need for legislation and social change in order for women to feel safe. A domestic violence law passed last September is seen as a positive step. It includes plans to set up shelters for women and allows for restraining orders to prevent abusers from contacting victims. But there are many reminders of the long road ahead. Following the murder of Farah Akbar, women and men gathered to express their condemnation at Irada Square, close to the sweeping white building of the National Assembly where an all-male parliament was elected in December last year.
4-7-21 Dubai deports group over nude balcony shoot
A group arrested in Dubai following a nude photoshoot on a balcony are set to be deported, authorities confirmed. At least 12 Ukrainian women and a Russian man were detained after a video posted to social media showed a group posing nude in Dubai's Marina area. They were accused of public debauchery, which carries a sentence of up to six months in prison and a 5,000 dirham fine (£981). Despite being a popular tourist hotspot, Dubai has strict laws. Any person who lives in or visits the UAE is subject to its laws: there are no exceptions for tourists. More than a dozen women and a photographer were pictured on the balcony. The nationalities of the others involved has not been confirmed. Police said the photoshoot did not "reflect the values and ethics of Emirati society". Ukraine's foreign ministry said consulate officials visited the 12 women on Tuesday as well as the head of Dubai's Criminal Investigation Department. Dubai's media office confirmed that the group will be deported. "The public prosecution office has completed investigations on a recently publicised photo shoot, which contravened UAE law. The individuals involved will be deported from the United Arab Emirates. No further comment shall be made on the matter," a tweet from Dubai's media office said. Rapid deportation is rare in Dubai, AP news agency notes. Cases such as these usually go to trial or are settled under adjudication before eventual deportation. The stunt came just days before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins. It isn't the first time foreigners have been arrested while in Dubai. In 2017, a British woman was sentenced to one year in prison for having consensual sex with a man she wasn't married to. The relationship came to light when the woman reported him to the authorities for sending her threatening messages.
4-6-21 Harvey Weinstein appeals against conviction for sex crimes
Lawyers for disgraced US film producer Harvey Weinstein have launched an appeal against his conviction for rape and sexual assault. Weinstein, 69, was convicted in New York City in February 2020 and later sentenced to 23 years in prison. It was seen as a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement against the sexual abuse and harassment of women. Weinstein, formerly one of Hollywood's most powerful figures, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. He has vowed to clear his name. Filed in New York State Supreme Court, the long-anticipated appeal signals the start of what is expected to be a lengthy attempt to have his conviction quashed. His lawyers argue that the judge made several errors that denied Weinstein's right to a fair trial. "With a year behind us and emotions subsided, the transcript of the case confirms what we always believed: that Mr Weinstein did not receive a fair trial," one of Weinstein's lawyers, Arthur Aidala, said in a statement sent to the BBC on Monday. Dozens of women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, including rape, against Weinstein, an Oscar-winning producer. The allegations began to emerge in October 2017, when the New York Times newspaper first reported incidents dating back decades. Weinstein faces further criminal charges, for rape and sexual assault, in Los Angeles, California, where he is due to stand trial. He is currently being held in a maximum-security prison in New York state. He had heart surgery after his February 2020 conviction and tested positive for coronavirus a month later while in jail. Weinstein faced five charges in the New York City trial but was only found guilty of two. The first was a first-degree criminal sexual act against production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006. The second was a third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013. New York jurors acquitted him of the most serious charges, of predatory sexual assault, which could have seen him given an even longer jail term.
4-5-21 Dubai police arrest group over nude balcony shoot
A group have been arrested in Dubai and charged with public debauchery after an outdoor nude photoshoot. Video footage posted online on Saturday shows a group of naked women having their photo taken on a balcony. Eight Russian women are among those detained, the Russian consulate said. The consulate described the charges as "serious". Public debauchery carries a sentence of up to six months in prison and a 5,000 dirham fine (£981). Many of the UAE's laws are based on Sharia Law, and people have been jailed in the past for public displays of affection and homosexual relationships. Roughly a dozen women were pictured on the balcony in the Marina district of Dubai. But Russian media reports say up to 40 people were involved in the photo shoot. "They turned to the Consulate General for help, but it is difficult to do anything here," the consulate said. The organiser of the shoot faces up to 18 months in prison, Ria Novosti reports. Police in Dubai warned that anyone publishing pornographic material or any material that "may prejudice public morals" faces imprisonment and a fine. "Such unacceptable behaviours do not reflect the values and ethics of Emirati society," a police statement said. Any person who lives in or visits the UAE is subject to its laws: there are no exceptions for tourists. There have been a few high-profile cases of tourists getting arrested while on holiday in Dubai. In 2017, a British woman was sentenced to one year in prison for having consensual sex with a man she wasn't married to. The relationship came to light when the woman reported him to the authorities for sending her threatening messages. (Webmaster's comment: A woman is treatened and she is arrested!)
4-4-21 Marwa Elselehdar: 'I was blamed for blocking the Suez Canal'
Last month, Marwa Elselehdar noticed something strange. News had broken about a huge container ship, the Ever Given, that had become wedged across the Suez Canal, bringing one of world's major shipping routes to a halt. But as she checked her phone, online rumours were saying she was to blame. "I was shocked," says Marwa, Egypt's first female ship's captain. At the time of the Suez blockage, Ms Elselehdar was working as a first mate, in command of the Aida IV, hundreds of miles away in Alexandria. The vessel, owned by Egypt's maritime safety authority, runs supply missions to a lighthouse in the Red Sea. It's also used to train cadets from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT), a regional university run by the Arab League. Rumours about Marwa Elselehdar's role on the Ever Given were largely spurred by screenshots of a fake news headline - supposedly published by Arab News - which said she was involved in the Suez incident. The doctored image appears to be from a genuine Arab News story, released on 22 March, which profiles Marwa's success as Egypt's first female ship captain. The picture has been shared dozens of times on Twitter and Facebook. Several Twitter accounts under her name have also spread false claims that she was in involved with the Ever Given. Marwa Elselehdar, 29, told the BBC she has no idea who first spread the story or why they did it. "I felt that I might be targeted maybe because I'm a successful female in this field or because I'm Egyptian, but I'm not sure," she said. It's not the first time she's faced challenges in an industry historically dominated by men. At present, women only account for 2% of the world's seafarers, according to the International Maritime Organisation. (Webmaster's comment: You can always blame a woman for anything and many men will believe it in spite of no evidence whatsoever!)
4-3-21 Deshaun Watson: Houston Texans quarterback being investigated by police amid 21 civil lawsuits
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is being investigated by police amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour and sexual assault. Watson, 25, is the subject of 21 civil lawsuits from female masseuses accusing him of assault or sexual misconduct. On Friday, Houston Police said it had received a formal report from one complainant and is now investigating. Watson has denied any wrongdoing and his lawyer said he welcomed the launch of the "long overdue" investigation. "I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect," Watson said in a statement released in March, before going on to allege one of the women was attempting to extort money from him. One of the latest lawsuits launched against Watson alleges he made "obscene sexual gestures" and exposed himself, before groping his victim and forcing her to perform a sex act on him. Last week, his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said his team had found "strong evidence" that one of the women's stories was false. "Now we will learn the identity of at least one accuser," Hardin said on Friday. "We will fully cooperate with the Houston Police Department." NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said it was "monitoring all developments".
4-1-21 Inside the lives of Asian massage workers: 'How can we not be scared?'
The Atlanta spa shootings have placed a spotlight on a part of the massage industry in the US. Asian massage workers say they often have to deal with the assumption that Asian spas provide sex services. Two female Asian massage workers tell us about the stigma surrounding their profession and the sexual harassment they endure.
3-31-21 Suspect held for repeatedly kicking Asian American woman in New York
Police in the US have arrested a man suspected of attacking an Asian American woman in New York City, kicking her repeatedly in the stomach as witnesses appeared to only watch. The 65-year-old woman was admitted to hospital with serious injuries. CCTV video from Monday appears to show staff of a nearby building watching without intervening. Police said Brandon Elliot had been charged with attempted assault as a hate crime. On Tuesday Joe Biden said he could not be silent "in the face of rising violence against Asian Americans". The president announced additional steps to address anti-Asian crimes. Six of the victims of a gun attack in Atlanta two weeks ago which killed eight in total were Asian women. In the latest incident in New York City, footage shared by police appears to show a man approaching a woman in the street and kicking her to the ground. While she is lying on the floor outside a building entrance, he kicks her again in the stomach and in the face. Several security staff in the building appear to watch the attack while one man uses a telephone. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has condemned the assault as "absolutely disgusting and outrageous". Police said the incident took place in Manhattan on Monday morning and asked for anyone with information to come forward. The suspect had made anti-Asian statements, they said. The managers of the building wrote on Instagram that the staff who witnessed the attack had been suspended while an investigation is carried out. "We are extremely distraught by the horrific attack that occurred outside our building," the Bordsky Organization wrote, adding that it condemns violence against Asian Americans. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was "absolutely unacceptable" that witnesses did not intervene.
3-31-21 The cost of speaking up against China
Women who made allegations last month of rape and sexual abuse in Chinese detention camps have been harassed and smeared in the weeks since. Rights groups say the attacks are typical of an aggressive campaign by China to silence those who speak up. Qelbinur Sedik was making breakfast when the video call came, and the sight of her sister's name made her nervous. Many months had passed since the two had spoken. In fact, many months had passed since Sedik had spoken to any of her family in China. Sedik was in the kitchen of her temporary home in the Netherlands, where she shared a room with several other refugees, mostly from Africa. Two weeks earlier, she and three other women had spoken to the BBC for a story about alleged rape and torture in China's secretive detention camps in the Xinjiang region, where Sedik worked as a camp teacher. Now her sister was calling. She hit answer, but when the picture appeared it wasn't her sister on the screen, it was a policeman from her hometown in Xinjiang. "What are you up to Qelbinur?" he said, smiling. "Who are you with?" In conversations with the BBC over the past few weeks, 22 people who have left Xinjiang to live abroad described a pattern of threats, harassment, and public character attacks they said were designed to deter them from speaking out about alleged human rights abuses back home. According to UN estimates, China has detained more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslims in camps in Xinjiang. The Chinese state has been accused of an array of abuses there including forced labour, sterilisation, torture, rape, and genocide. China denies those charges, saying its camps are "re-education" facilities for combatting terrorism. Among the few who have fled Xinjiang and spoken publicly, many have received a call like the one to Sedik that morning - from a police officer or government official at their family home, or from a relative summoned to a police station. Sometimes the calls contain vague advice to consider the welfare of their family in Xinjiang, sometimes direct threats to detain and punish relatives.
3-30-21 Mexico police under fire after woman's death in custody
Outrage has been growing over the death in police custody of a Salvadorean woman in the Mexican resort of Tulum on Saturday as more details of the incident emerged. A post-mortem examination suggests Victoria Esperanza Salazar's neck was broken after a female officer pinned her to the ground. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said she had been "murdered". The incident comes amid growing protests against femicides in Mexico. The 36-year-old from El Salvador had been in Mexico since at least 2018, when she was granted refugee status for humanitarian reasons. Her mother says she left her hometown of Sonsonate five years ago to escape the violence which El Salvador's notorious street gangs were spreading. Victoria Salazar lived with her two daughters, aged 15 and 16, in the resort town of Tulum, where she worked as a cleaner in hotels. On Saturday afternoon local time, she entered a small supermarket in Tulum. CCTV footage broadcast on Mexican media shows her walking around the store waving a large empty water bottle. The footage suggests most of the customers and staff continued about their business, but it later emerged that the store's manager had called the police. Four municipal police officers, three male and one female, attended the call and detained Victoria Salazar on the street outside for allegedly disturbing the peace. Unverified footage broadcast by news site Noticaribe shows her crying out as a female officer is kneeling on her back while the male officers stand by. The post-mortem examination has revealed that Victoria Salazar died from a broken neck, the attorney-general for the state of Quintana Roo said on Monday. Oscar Montes de Oca said that she had suffered "a spinal fracture caused by the rupture of the first and second vertebrae". He said that the officers had used "disproportionate force" against Salazar. Four police officers have been detained and will be charged with femicide, Mr Montes de Oca added.
3-29-21 Australia PM shifts rape-accused minister in cabinet reshuffle
Australian PM Scott Morrison has removed a minister accused of rape from his role as the nation's chief law officer, after weeks of pressure. Christian Porter will no longer be attorney general but will remain in cabinet in a new portfolio. Mr Porter has strongly rejected an allegation that he raped a girl in 1988 when he was 17. Mr Morrison promoted several female lawmakers as part of a broader cabinet reshuffle on Monday. The prime minister has faced intense pressure in recent weeks to respond to a series of rape, misconduct and sexism allegations which have rocked Australian politics. Mr Porter will be replaced as attorney general and industrial relations minister by Michaelia Cash. He has been allocated the science and technology portfolio. On Monday, Mr Porter said he had to be replaced as attorney general after commencing a defamation lawsuit against the ABC. "[This] does not change anything in respect of the crucial principle that required me to instigate defamation proceedings," he said in a statement. Another senior minister who has faced criticism - Linda Reynolds - was removed from the defence portfolio, but she will also remain in cabinet as government services minister. Calls to fix accusations of a sexist political culture have swept the nation in recent times. A fortnight ago, tens of thousands of people marched in protests against the mistreatment of women in Canberra and wider society. In particular, scrutiny has fallen on the behaviour of male MPs and male advisers within the ruling Liberal Party. The issue was ignited in February, after Brittany Higgins, a former aide, said she had been raped in 2019 by a male colleague in a minister's office. Ms Higgins, 26, reported the allegation to her then boss - Ms Reynolds - but said she had felt pressure not to report it to police. Ms Reynolds has faced intense criticism for her handling of the rape allegation, and for calling Ms Higgins "a lying cow" this year - a slur for which she later apologised.
3-28-21 Bolsonaro: Brazil's president ordered to pay damages to journalist
A Brazilian court has ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to pay compensation to a journalist after he made degrading comments about her. Mr Bolsonaro had suggested last year that Patrícia Campos Mello had offered sex to a source for negative information about him. The judge said Mr Bolsonaro's remarks had damaged the journalist's honour. The president was told to pay her 20,000 reais (£2,500; $3,500) in damages. He can appeal the ruling. In a tweet, Ms Campos Mello, an award-winning reporter for Brazilian daily newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, said the judge's decision was a "victory for all of us women". The Journalists Against Harassment group said the ruling marked a "great day" for female reporters and professional journalism in Brazil. Ms Campos Mello brought legal action against him in response to comments made in February 2020. In its report about the remarks, the Folha newspaper accused Mr Bolsonaro of insulting Ms Campos Mello with sexual innuendo. Mr Bolsonaro said the journalist "wanted a scoop" at "any price against me", the newspaper reported the president as saying. Ms Campos Mello wrote a series of investigative reports about a group using WhatsApp to boost Mr Bolsonaro's campaign by denigrating his rivals ahead of the 2018 presidential election. In January, Ms Campos Mello won an almost identical case against the president's son, Eduardo, who is a member of parliament in Brazil's lower house of Congress. He had suggested in a YouTube video last May that the reporter had "tried to seduce" a source for damaging information against his father. A judge said the comments were an attack on the journalist's honour, and ordered Mr Bolsonaro's son to pay her 30,000 reais in compensation.
3-27-21 Andrew Laming: MP 'steps away from duties' amid harassment complaints
Australian MP Andrew Laming says he is stepping aside from duties to undertake cultural sensitivity training after allegations of harassing women online. Two women accused him of slandering them, with one saying it had left her feeling suicidal. PM Scott Morrison had ordered Mr Laming, a backbencher in his Liberal Party, to apologise in parliament for his "disgraceful" behaviour. Mr Laming has not stepped down as an MP. Any decision that sees him go will have consequences for the government, as it could cost Mr Morrison's coalition its parliamentary majority. In his statement, Mr Laming said: "I will step down from all parliamentary roles effective immediately and complete both the counselling courses I committed to; as well as additional clinical counselling, and ask for privacy while that is completed." He said he would have "more to say on my future" after his awareness training. The episode is the latest challenge to Mr Morrison's government, in a month when a series of rape, misconduct and sexism allegations have rocked Australian politics. The prime minister has faced mounting pressure over his response to the allegations and broader cultural problems within politics. Last week, tens of thousands of people marched in protests against the mistreatment of women in Canberra and wider society. A Channel Nine TV report aired on Thursday heard from two women who said they'd been repeatedly harassed by Mr Laming - who is their local Brisbane MP - on Facebook. Alix Russo said he had targeted her with verbal abuse, and falsely accused her of fraud. The report included screenshots of Mr Laming's comments, many of which attacked Ms Russo and ridiculed her business situation."Unfortunately for you, I make the rules and you follow them," the MP wrote in response to one of her comments. Another woman, Sheena Hewlett, said she and her husband - a local councillor - were also harassed by the MP. Mr Laming apologised on Thursday for his social media posts.
3-26-21 USC to pay $1bn over abuse claims against gynaecologist George Tyndall
The University of Southern California (USC) has agreed to pay more than $1bn (£730m) to patients treated by a former campus gynaecologist accused of sexual abuse. It is the biggest sex abuse-linked pay-out in higher education history. George Tyndall was arrested in 2019 and charged with sexually assaulting 16 female patients, allegations he denies. More than 350 women have spoken out about their experiences as patients of the gynaecologist. Dr Tyndall, now 74, is awaiting trial. In a 2019 statement he said he "remains adamant" he would be "totally exonerated". Lawyers for a final group of 710 women suing the university told a judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court they had settled their claims for $852m. USC had already agreed in 2018 to pay $215m in a class action case. "I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community," USC President Carol Folt said in a statement. "We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much-needed resolution provides some relief to the women." This is the biggest payment of its kind. Michigan State University previously paid $500m in connection with Larry Nasser's sexual abuse of gymnasts and others, while Penn State settled claims related to Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse for more than $109m. The case arose after the Los Angeles Times published accounts from former and current employees about Dr Tyndall's alleged sexual misconduct as a gynaecologist. Hundreds of women came forward to report misconduct by Dr Tyndall, according to police, though not all cases met the requirements for charges. The women claimed he made lewd comments, photographed and groped them during medical examinations. The case saw USC's president step down amid sharp criticism of how the institution responded to the abuse claims. Dr Tyndall worked at the university clinic for 30 years, where he was the only full-time gynaecologist. He left the university in 2017 after an internal inquiry found he had made inappropriate remarks to patients.
3-26-21 Andrew Laming: Australian MP apologises over comments to women
Another Australian government MP is under scrutiny for his actions towards women after he was accused of repeatedly harassing two women online. Andrew Laming, 56, was ordered by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to apologise in parliament for his "disgraceful" behaviour, local media reported. Both women accused him of slandering them online, with one saying it had left her feeling suicidal. Mr Laming said he "unreservedly" apologised to both women. A series of rape, misconduct and sexism allegations have rocked Australian politics in the past month, dominating national debate. Mr Morrison has faced mounting pressure over his response to the allegations and broader cultural problems within politics. Last week, tens of thousands of people marched in protests against the mistreatment of women in Canberra and wider society. A Channel Nine TV report aired on Thursday heard from two women who said they'd been repeatedly harassed by Mr Laming - who is their local MP - on Facebook. Alix Russo said he had targeted her with verbal abuse, and falsely accused her of fraud and other business dealings. The report included screenshots of Mr Laming's comments, many of which attacked Ms Russo and ridiculed her business situation. "Unfortunately for you, I make the rules and you follow them," the MP wrote in response to one of her comments. Another woman, Sheena Hewlett, said she and her husband - a local councillor - were also harassed by the MP. Mr Laming apologised on Thursday for his social media posts. "I want to unreservedly apologise to both Ms Hewlett and Ms Russo and I express my regret and deep apologies for the hurt and distress that that communication may have caused," he said. Mr Morrison said: "I called him into my office yesterday, and told him to apologise and deal with it - and he has." Labor called Mr Laming's comments "shocking" and said he should resign.
3-23-21 Afghanistan: The women killed for working at a TV station.
Women make up a large number of those killed in a deadly campaign of targeted attacks on civil society in Afghanistan by extremist groups opposed to them working outside the home. One television station in the eastern city of Jalalabad has been forced to send all its female staff home for their own safety, after four young female employees were killed in recent months.
3-23-21 Aide fired after Parliament House sex videos shock Australia
The crisis engulfing Australia's politics has continued to grow following the emergence of videos showing staff members performing sex acts in parliament, leading to one senior aide being fired. One video showed the aide performing a sex act on a female MP's desk. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the videos as "disgraceful". It comes after a former staff member revealed how she feared losing her job following an alleged sexual assault. Brittany Higgins alleges she was raped by senior colleague in an office in March 2019, but says she felt pressured not to report the incident to police. It sparked a wave of allegations, and last week, thousands took part in marches to protest against the sexual abuse and harassment of women in Australia. The videos were leaked to Australian media by a former government staff member, who said he had become "immune" to the pictures because of the sheer volume he received. As well as the videos - filmed two years ago - he said people had used the prayer room to have sex and even brought sex workers into parliament. The whistleblower described a "culture of men thinking that they can do whatever they want", describing some of his colleagues as "morally... bankrupt". Mr Morrison told reporters on Tuesday he was "shocked", adding: "We must get this house in order. We must put the politics aside on these things, and we must recognise this problem, acknowledge it, and we must fix it." He has previously been criticised for his response, including for declining to meet protesters last week. He had invited march leaders to meet him in parliament, but they rejected the offer saying they would not meet "behind closed doors". Questions over the government's handling of the crisis were once again raised after backbench government MP Michelle Landry said she "felt sorry" for the fired aide.
3-22-21 Domestic violence: US condemns Turkey for quitting treaty
US President Joe Biden has condemned Turkey for withdrawing from an international accord designed to protect women from violence. He said the move was "disappointing" and a "disheartening step backward" for efforts to end attacks on women. But Turkey said the Istanbul Convention - which seeks to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence - was incompatible with its family values. It had been "hijacked" by people trying to "normalise homosexuality", it said. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government unilaterally quit the convention on Saturday, nearly 10 years after it became the first signatory to the landmark agreement. The move sparked large protests led by women in the country. Women's rights activists say the Istanbul Convention was crucial to combating domestic violence in Turkey. The treaty, signed by 45 countries and the European Union, requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse. Aside from Turkey, the treaty had only been ratified by 34 countries. On Sunday, he issued a statement to express his disappointment, joining a growing chorus of criticism. "Around the world, we are seeing increases in the number of domestic violence incidents, including reports of rising femicide in Turkey," Mr Biden said. "Countries should be working to strengthen and renew their commitments to ending violence against women, not rejecting international treaties designed to protect women and hold abusers accountable." He added: "We all must do more to create societies where women are able to go about their lives free from violence." The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Turkey was sending "a dangerous message across the world" about the rights of women. "We therefore cannot but urge Turkey to reverse its decision," Mr Borrell said. In a tweet, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote: "Women deserve a strong legal framework to protect them."
3-21-21 Pakistan: Two men sentenced to death for motorway rape
A court in Pakistan has sentenced two men to death for a rape which triggered public outrage. Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali Bagga came across a Pakistani-French woman and her two children stranded on a motorway. The men broke into their car, which had run out of petrol on the road near Lahore, robbed them and raped the woman in front of her children. Later comments by a policeman, who questioned why the woman had been out late on her own, led to mass protests. (Blame the Woman!) On Saturday, a special court in the eastern city of Lahore convicted Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali of gang rape, kidnapping, robbery and terrorism offences. Their lawyer said they would appeal against the decision, according to the AFP news agency. On 9 September 2020, the woman - whose name has not been publicly released - ran out of fuel on a motorway leading out of Lahore. Her two children were with her. She called her relatives in Gujranwala who advised her to call the motorway emergency numbers and also set off to help her. According to the complaint registered with the police by one of the woman's relatives, the car was broken into by two men in their early to mid-30s who stole money and jewellery she had on her. They raped her in front of her two children in a nearby field, and then escaped. Police say the woman was traumatised, although she did provide them with some basic descriptions of her attackers. The next day the most senior police official in Lahore, Umer Sheikh, appeared in front of the media and implied that she had been partly to blame. He questioned why she had not taken a busier road, given that she had been alone with her children, or checked her fuel before departing. In several TV appearances he reiterated these points, also adding that the woman, who is a resident of France, seemed to be operating under the impression Pakistan was as safe as France. The reaction was like nothing seen in the country before and came from all quarters. On social media people called him out for his victim-blaming. (Webmaster's comment: We have ''Bad Days'' too, but you don't see us killing white people!)
3-21-21 Enforcing China's domestic violence law is an uphill battle
It's been five years since China issued its landmark national domestic violence law. But not enough people know about the protective orders — not even the police. his month marks the fifth anniversary of China's landmark national domestic violence law. Advocates say that making it actually work for survivors of domestic abuse is an uphill battle. A new pop song is raising awareness about the struggle. When Chinese pop star Tan Weiwei released her single, "Xiao Juan," in December, it shocked people. Pop songs in China usually don't take on difficult topics, but "Xiao Juan," or "Jane Doe," put the spotlight on something that often gets pushed under the carpet — domestic violence. The lyrics reference horrific stories of abuse that have made headlines in recent years in China before leading to a chorus: "Erase our names, forget us, the same tragedy repeats itself over and again." Feng Yuan, a longtime gender equality advocate, said this song opened up the conversation about domestic violence to a broader audience. "Tan Weiwei was able to string together all these incidents of domestic violence and speak out about them bravely. And advocates can use the song as a tool to move the conversation forward," said Feng, who runs a Beijing-based abuse support hotline. That conversation still remains largely unspoken in mainstream media even five years after the anti-domestic violence law was passed. Instead, survivors have been turning to social media to raise awareness and call for help. In 2019, Yuya Mika, a well-known beauty blogger, exposed the mental and physical abuse she suffered from her ex-boyfriend in a video that went viral. Last year, a Tibetan internet star was brutally murdered by her ex-husband while she livestreamed on Tiktok. And just last month, a former journalist used the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat to call out her husband for his abuse of her and her children over the past seven years. These shocking incidents are sounding the alarm on domestic violence, but advocates say there's not enough education on how the anti-domestic violence law works. A core piece of the law allows people to file for personal protection orders against their abusers. But not enough people know about the protective orders — not even the police. Lin Shuang, an anti-domestic violence volunteer in Shanghai who accompanies survivors to the police, said that before the law went into effect, the police saw abuse as a family dispute. "They would say, 'This is your family affair,'" she said. "'You just go back, talk to your husband. We have no reason to get your husband to our station unless he voluntarily comes, and we can talk to him. Otherwise, we have no legal reason to do that.'" Even with the law, Lin said that this response is still common. Before survivors go to make a report, she gives them specific instructions to save the text of the law on their phones so they can show it to police. "You would think now we have the national law, at least the government officials would know about this," she said. "But a lot of them still are not educated or not trained. Or this is not their priority. They just find 1,000 excuses to not do their job." Protection orders can shield victims from their abuser by barring contact with them or forcing them to move out of a shared home, but the barriers to getting one are high, Lin said. In the first three years of the law, less than 6,000 protection orders were issued in all of China. Lin said one woman she helped had to provide police with examples of the documents she needed just so they would know how to make one. "The victim is educating the police and is pushing for the police to do their own job or to even to learn how to do their job," she said.
3-20-21 Domestic violence: Turkey pulls out of Istanbul convention
Turkey has abandoned an international accord designed to protect women, despite objections from campaigners. It signed the Council of Europe's convention 10 years ago at its launch in the Turkish city of Istanbul. The pact seeks to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence. But Turkish conservatives argue its principles of gender equality and non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation undermine family values and promote homosexuality. Turkey's decision was described as "devastating" for efforts to combat domestic violence by the head of Europe's top human rights body, the Council of Europe. "This move is a huge setback to these efforts and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond," Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric said. On social media, Turkey's minister for family, labour and social policies, Zehra Zumrut, said women's rights were protected by the country's constitution. She did not give a reason for withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, which is the world's first binding treaty to prevent domestic violence. Gokce Gokcen, deputy chairperson of Turkey's opposition Republican People's Party, tweeted that abandoning the convention meant "keeping women [as] second class citizens and letting them be killed". Ms Selcuk told the official Anadolu news agency that the authorities would continue their "fight against violence with the principle of zero tolerance". According to Turkey's We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 300 women were murdered in the country last year but the number could be even greater, with dozens more found dead in suspicious circumstances. The rape and murder of 23-year-old student Sule Cet in the capital Ankara in May 2018 struck a particular chord, prompting demonstrations and widespread media coverage. Ms Cet was raped in a high-rise office and her body thrown from a window, with her attackers trying to disguise their crime as a suicide. Two men were jailed for the crime - one for life and the other for 18 years and nine months.
3-19-21 Armie Hammer: US actor accused of rape
US actor Armie Hammer has been accused of raping a woman in Los Angeles in 2017. The woman, a 24-year-old named only as Effie, made the allegations during a virtual news conference on Thursday. Hammer, 34, denied the allegations. His lawyer said they were "outrageous" and Hammer "welcomes the opportunity to set the record straight". Los Angeles police told the BBC Hammer was a suspect in a sexual assault investigation opened on 3 February. The accuser broke down while reading a prepared statement about the allegations against Hammer, known for films including The Social Network and Call Me By Your Name. She spoke alongside high-profile women's rights lawyer Gloria Allred, alleging she first met Hammer on Facebook in 2016, when she was 20. "I fell in love with him instantly," she said. The woman alleged that, as the relationship progressed, Hammer used "manipulation tactics in order to exert control over me". She said he would "test my devotion to him, finally removing and crossing my boundaries as he became increasingly more violent". The woman accused the actor of abusing her "mentally, emotionally and sexually". She said the alleged rape happened on 24 April, 2017. She said: "Armie Hammer raped me for over four hours in Los Angeles, during which he repeatedly slapped my head against a wall, bruising my face. "During those four hours, I tried to get away and he wouldn't let me. I thought that he was going to kill me. "He then left with no concern for my wellbeing. I was completely in shock and I couldn't believe that someone I loved did that to me." She said she was left suicidal by the alleged rape, adding she felt "immense guilt" at not speaking out sooner. In a statement sent to the BBC, Hammer's lawyer Andrew Brettler dismissed the allegations. The lawyer said all of Hammer's relations with the woman had been "completely consensual, discussed and agreed upon in advance, and mutually participatory". That's a snapshot of a country in which the pool of potential heterosexual partners is quite a bit more constricted than it might first appear. A significant chunk of men are averse to becoming involved with the sizable portion of women who vote for Democrats, and a larger percentage of women apparently want nothing to do with men who support a Trumpified Republican Party.
3-19-21 Why Australian women are saying 'enough is enough'
Australia's political scene has frequently been called toxic to women, with a culture beset by accusations of misogyny and sexist intimidation. The BBC's Shaimaa Khalil explains how allegations of rape have now lit the fuse on a wider conversation.
3-19-21 Beware the lonely, angry men
We have so many mass shootings in this country, and so much gun violence in general, that those who come to a sweeping conclusion on the basis of any one massacre are playing a fool's game. Yet the facts wrapped up with Tuesday's rampage at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area nonetheless raise disturbing questions about relations between the sexes in the contemporary United States — and in particular about the complex and ominous interaction of loneliness and rage inside a certain subset of American men. In focusing on the gendered dimension of the attacks, I'm presuming they weren't racially motivated hate crimes, as many assumed in the hours after the shootings took place, so much as homicidal misogyny. It's understandable why people leapt to the other conclusion, given that six of the victims were women of Asian descent and the country has seen a nearly 150 percent spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans over the past year or so. Yet the confession of the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, seems to indicate he didn't explicitly choose his targets out of racial animus. Rather, he targeted women who worked at the spas he frequented, and those women happened to be Asian. Moreover, if the statement by the Cherokee County Sheriff about the perpetrator's state of mind can be believed, the shooting was proximally provoked by an impulse to lash out at the objects of his lust. That would place Long in the vicinity of incels — the "involuntarily celibates" who turn their failures at attracting women into an ideology of virulent misogyny that can inspire real-world acts of violence. Long supposedly frequented these businesses, so he wasn't celibate. But he apparently confessed to being a sex addict — and his actions on Tuesday demonstrate that he reacted to his own compulsion to seek sexual satisfaction in a form of prostitution (rather than in a stable relationship) by harboring and acting out in rage against the women who serviced him for money. Obviously this is the most extreme manifestation of pathological relations between men and women one can imagine. But it's still worth reflecting on more broadly because its murderous toxicity is a function of a combustible mix of emotions (loneliness, frustration, anger) that are experienced in less sociopathic form by plenty of men who don't become mass shooters — and because the distinctive way partisan polarization is interacting with sexual differences in our time is likely to produce quite a lot more of these unfulfilled men over the coming years. Marriage rates have been falling for years. Men and women are both unhappy with the dating scene. There are numerous reasons for both trends. But one of them is the country's growing political divide. Joe Biden won women by 15 points in 2020 while Donald Trump won men by 8 points. When this gender gap is combined with increasing cultural and moral animosity between the parties, the possibility of a couple negotiating a cross-partisan relationship or marriage seems increasingly remote. One especially noteworthy bit of evidence of this difficulty was captured last summer in a poll from the Pew Research Center. It found that 47 percent of single adults on the dating scene definitely or probably would not consider being in a committed relationship with someone who had voted for Trump. Twenty-six percent said the same about dating someone who had voted for Hillary Clinton.
3-19-21 The lies women internalize about the police
Like many white girls in America, I was raised on two myths: That everywhere I went, scary men would be out to get me, and that the police would always be there for me if I were in trouble. And so, when watching Emerald Fennell's five-time Oscar-nominated rape-revenge movie Promising Young Woman earlier this week, I recognized a familiar fantasy: The triumphant summoning of the police by the female protagonist, to put the movie's bad guys behind bars. Others have already remarked upon the unsuitability of this ending. I might've been able to generously read it as in keeping with the indulgent fantasy that is inherent to all rape-revenge films, in which a woman is able to exact a gloriously unrealistic payback on her abusers. But I watched the movie, specifically, on Tuesday — less than a week after a Metropolitan Police officer was charged with the kidnapping and murder of missing Londoner Sarah Everard, and the same evening that, though at that moment unbeknownst to me, a gunman in Atlanta was targeting and murdering Asian women. I don't blame Fennell for internalizing the myth that the police are a woman's deus ex machina, ready to spring forth to protect us from the boogeymen waiting in dark alleys and parking garages. But I do blame Fennell for perpetuating it, especially in a purportedly feminist movie like Promising Young Woman. Society, the media, and entertainment — including projects like Oscar-nominated movies — encourage women to trust that the police will be there for them, and that officers are the only thing standing between us and certain rape and murder at the hands of imagined strangers. Reality, though, tells us the tragic opposite. Most appalling and widely publicized is law enforcement's systematic failure of rape victims, all of which makes the cops' heroic appearance at the end of Promising Young Woman particularly jarring. After all, the police who arrest the rapists at the end of the film are meant to be the same ones who, in the United States, sit on a backlog of as many as 200,000 untested rape kits. Rape victims are sometimes forced to sue to even get police to properly investigate their cases, and describe being humiliated, shamed, or ignored in the process of reporting their trauma. "What the researchers found is a subterranean river of chauvinism, where the fate of a rape case usually depends on the detective's or (less often) prosecutor's view of the victim — not the alleged perpetrator," The Atlantic wrote in a 2019 cover story about this country's "epidemic of disbelief" in assault survivors. Though the myth of the police tells women that officers are here for our protection, it is not uncommon to hear stories about law enforcement making a situation for women far, far worse. In one study, conducted by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, only one-in-five survivors who reached out to the police for help felt "safer" afterwards, while one-in-three felt less safe; two-thirds said that they were "somewhat or extremely afraid to call the police in future." Their fears aren't unfounded, either: "In some cases, the victim [who calls the police for help] is threatened with arrest rather than the offender," The Hotline found. All too common are stories of boyfriends and husbands murdering a woman after her repeated requests for help from the police. Police are also disproportionate perpetrators of violence against women. "Research suggests that family violence is two to four times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population," a 2014 Atlantic report found, concluding that the police have a "bigger domestic violence problem" than the much more publicized one in the NFL. Another study, which looked at national records over a 10-year period, found that "an officer is accused of an act of sexual misconduct at least every five days," while another study discovered that "sexual misconduct is the second-most-frequently reported form of police misconduct, after excessive force," The Washington Post reports (the statistics are even scarier if you're a transgender person).
3-18-21 Australia: Sex consent app proposal sparks backlash
Australians have derided a suggestion by the New South Wales (NSW) police commissioner that an app could be used to register sexual consent. On Thursday, Mick Fuller championed the idea of an app where people could digitally record their mutual agreement to have sex. He said the technology could be used to establish "positive consent". But many people have criticised the proposal as short-sighted and potentially open to abuse. Concerns have also been raised about whether it could be used for state surveillance. In recent weeks, Australians have reignited a national discussion about sexual assault, abuse and harassment of women, and on Monday tens of thousands of people around the nation marched in protest. NSW Police, in introducing the app idea on Thursday, said it was aimed at normalising the act of seeking explicit consent. "You may have a son or a brother and you think this is too challenging but this app... protects everybody," Commissioner Mick Fuller told the Nine Network. He said the need to prove explicit consent was a consistent problem in sexual assault court cases, and that an app's record could help achieve better legal outcomes for victims. He added that the idea had been raised with the NSW government. Less than 10% of the near 15,000 sexual assault cases reported to NSW police last year resulted in police charges, he said. "It needs to be positive consent. How do we do that in this day and age? One option is with technology," he wrote in Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph. But women's advocates have pointed out that the app's use in reality could pose many problems. They said a consent record could be superseded simply if someone changed their mind, or it could be faked. "The abuser can simply coerce the victim to use the app," tweeted the head of the state's domestic violence service Women's Safety NSW. Female lawmakers also criticised the app as inadequate compared to efforts to improve sexual assault laws for victims, and improve awareness.
3-17-21 Demi Lovato says she was raped as a teenager in new documentary
Demi Lovato has said she was raped as a teenager while working for the Disney Channel. The 28-year-old revealed in her documentary Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil that the person faced no consequences after she came forward. The singer does not say who the offender was, only that she "had to see this person all the time" afterwards. Radio 1 Newsbeat has contacted the Disney Channel for comment. The documentary was shown at the South by Southwest virtual festival. This article contains details of an alleged rape. "My MeToo story is me telling somebody that someone did this to me and they never got in trouble for it," says Demi Lovato in it, according to Variety's review. "I've just kept it quiet because I've always had something to say, and I'm tired of opening my mouth." The YouTube docuseries tackles issues in Demi Lovato's life such as trauma, addiction and her relapse into a drug overdose in 2018. She speaks about her alleged rape saying: "We were hooking up but I said - hey, this is not going any farther. "And that didn't matter to them, they did it anyways. And I internalised it and I told myself it was my fault because I still went in the room with him." She says she coped through self-harm, and going through the eating disorder bulimia. In the series, she also talks about a "promise ring" which was worn by some young stars including herself and the Jonas Brothers, as a commitment to only have sex after marriage. "So what, I'm supposed to come out to the public after saying I have a promise ring? Six months later, I'm supposed to say, well I had sex, even though it was rape? Some people aren't going to see it that way." The series also shows the damage Demi's drug overdose had in 2018. She was taken to hospital after being found unconscious at her Los Angeles home. "My doctors said that I had five to 10 more minutes." After suffering three strokes and a heart-attack, she's previously said she had been "left with brain damage and I still feel the effects of that".
3-17-21 Atlanta shootings: Asian women among eight killed at three spas
Eight people, many of them women of Asian descent, have been killed in shootings at spas in the US state of Georgia. Police say the shootings took place at a massage parlour in Acworth, a suburb north of Atlanta, and two spas in the city itself. South Korea later confirmed that four of the victims were of Korean descent. Officials say a 21-year-old man was arrested and is suspected of involvement in all of the attacks. No motive has yet been established, but there are fears the crimes may have deliberately targeted people of Asian descent. Hate crimes against Asian-Americans spiked in recent months, fuelled by rhetoric that blames them for the spread of Covid-19. In an address last week, President Joe Biden condemned "vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated." The first happened at about 17:00 (21:00 GMT) on Tuesday at Young's Asian Massage in Acworth, Cherokee County. Two people died at the scene and three were taken to hospital, where two more died, sheriff's office spokesman Capt Jay Baker said. He later confirmed the victims were two Asian women, a white woman and a white man, and said a Hispanic man had been wounded. Less than an hour later, police were called to a "robbery in progress" at Gold Spa in north-east Atlanta. "Upon arrival, officers located three females deceased inside the location from apparent gunshot wounds," police said. While there, officers were called to a spa across the street, called Aromatherapy Spa, where they found another woman shot dead. Police quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said all four Atlanta victims were Asian women. Investigators who had studied CCTV footage then released images of a suspect near one of the spas. Police said that, after a manhunt, Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, Georgia, was arrested in Crisp County, about 150 miles (240km) south of Atlanta. Capt Baker said investigators were "very confident" that the same suspect was the gunman in all three shootings. The identities of the victims have not yet been made public. Authorities in South Korea said they were working to confirm the nationalities of the four women of Korean descent.
3-16-21 Australia March 4 Justice: Thousands march against sexual assault
Tens of thousands of people have turned out to marches across Australia, protesting against the sexual abuse and harassment of women in the country. They were spurred by a recent wave of allegations of sexual assault, centred around Australia's parliament. The allegations have focused scrutiny on the conservative government.
3-15-21 Australia March 4 Justice: Thousands march against sexual assault
Tens of thousands of people have turned out to marches across Australia, protesting against the sexual abuse and harassment of women in the country. They were spurred by a recent wave of allegations of sexual assault, centred around Australia's parliament. The allegations have focused scrutiny on the conservative government. The protests were organised a week ago, after Attorney General Christian Porter revealed he was the subject of a 1988 rape allegation - which he denies. A separate case - that of Brittany Higgins, an ex-political adviser who alleged in February that she was raped in a minister's office in 2019 - has also fuelled public anger. Protesters feel the government's response to the sexual assault allegations has been inadequate. Ms Higgins spoke to the thousands of protesters outside Parliament House on Monday, saying: "There is a horrible societal acceptance of sexual violence experienced by women in Australia." "My story was on the front page for the sole reason that it was a painful reminder to women that if it can happen in Parliament House, it can truly happen anywhere." The protest rallies - known as the March 4 Justice - formed from noon on Monday across 40 cities and towns in Australia, including the major cities of Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne as well as smaller country towns. Organisers suggested it could be the "biggest uprising of women that Australia's seen". Many attendees carried placards and wore black in protest. In Melbourne, protesters carried a long banner listing the names of women killed in acts of gendered violence in the past decade. Organisers at the Canberra rally also presented a petition to lawmakers with over 90,000 signatures calling for greater accountability over sexist behaviours in parliament. They have also called for Mr Porter - a senior government minister - to stand aside. Police have closed their case against the attorney general, but others have argued for a separate inquiry into the allegation against him.
3-13-21 Mississippi bans trans girls from school sports
Mississippi's governor has signed a law banning transgender athletes from competing in girls' sports at school. Activists say the "Mississippi Fairness Act" is the first law targeting transgender people to pass in 2021. The bill argues that boys and girls have "inherently different athletic capabilities". It is expected to face legal challenges. It comes as a swath of Republican states push back against pro-LGBT measures from the Biden administration. The law requires public high schools and institutions of higher education to "designate its athletic teams or sports according to biological sex". Coming into effect in July, it also calls for protecting schools that maintain separate sports teams from complaint or investigation. Supporters of the bill had argued that transgender women have an unfair advantage over those born female, because they have "categorically different strength, speed and endurance". It cites an article written by a trio of women's sports stars - including tennis champion Martina Navratilova - that said it would be "a denial of science" to ignore that those born male can "beat the best girls and women in head-to-head competition". Ms Navratilova has since established a group that she says will seek a "science-based, ethical approach" to "establish a middle ground that both protects girls' and women's sport and accommodates transgender athletes". She has also proposed a special provision for elite sports. The bill passed through both chambers of the state legislature by overwhelming majorities, the House by 81-28 and the Senate 34-9. Its sponsor, Republican senator Angela Burks Hill, said she introduced the legislation after seeing issues arise in other parts of the country. Opponents of transgender women athletes competing in accordance with their gender identity frequently cite a lawsuit filed against two trans females who were champion sprinters in Connecticut. Ms Hill did not identify any similar local concerns but said "numerous coaches across the state" called to say pre-emptive action was needed. Critics say that examples of transgender girls outcompeting other girls are rare, which is why the Connecticut case is so frequently cited. (Webmaster's comment: Those who oppose LGBQs are full of fear! You can see it their face!)
3-13-21 Sri Lanka to ban burka and other face coverings
Sri Lanka has taken a significant step towards banning the burka and other face coverings in public, on grounds of national security. Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara told the BBC that he had signed a cabinet order which now needs parliamentary approval. Officials say they expect the ban to be implemented very soon. The move comes nearly two years after a wave of co-ordinated attacks on hotels and churches on Easter Sunday. Suicide bombers targeted Catholic churches and tourist hotels, killing more than 250 people in April 2019. The Islamic State militant group said it had carried out the attacks. As the authorities tracked down the militants, an emergency short-term ban on face coverings was implemented in the majority-Buddhist nation. Now the government is moving to re-introduce it on a permanent basis. Mr Weerasekara told reporters that the burka was "a sign of religious extremism that came about recently". He added that it was "affecting national security" and that a permanent ban was overdue. "So I have signed that and it will be implemented very soon," he said. Mr Weerasekara also said the government planned to ban more than 1,000 madrassa Islamic schools which he said were flouting national education policy. "Nobody can open a school and teach whatever you want to the children. It must be as per the government laid down education policy. Most of unregistered schools "teach only the Arabic language and the Koran, so that is bad", he said. Hilmi Ahmed, vice-president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, told the BBC that if officials have problems identifying people in burkas "there would not be any objection from anyone to remove the face cover for identity purposes". He said everyone had a right to wear a face covering regardless of their faith:"That has to be seen from a rights point of view, and not just a religious point of view."
3-12-21 De Blasio: NYC mayor calls on Cuomo to quit over harassment claims
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct. Mr Cuomo, who is already being investigated after five women accused him of sexual harassment, is now facing allegations of assault from a sixth. Mr De Blasio called the women's accounts "absolutely unacceptable". The governor has denied all of the allegations against him, and said of the most recent claim: "I have never done anything like this." Mayor De Blasio, a long-time political rival of Democrat Governor Cuomo, told reporters on Thursday: "The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his, someone who he had power over, called them to a private place and then sexually assaulted her, it's absolutely unacceptable. "It is disgusting to me, and he can no longer serve as governor." Mr Cuomo, whose term in office comes to an end in 2022, was last year praised for his handling of the Covid epidemic in his state. However, this year he has been accused of obscuring the scale of coronavirus deaths in the state's nursing homes. Since the allegations of harassment were made a string of people have called for his resignation. On Thursday, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he had given the go-ahead for an "impeachment investigation" into the allegations made against Mr Cuomo. The investigation, which will interview witnesses and look at evidence, would be the first step towards impeachment. More than 55 Democratic legislators in New York have signed a letter calling on him to step down. In a statement Mr Cuomo called the new claims, reported by the Times Union of Albany on Wednesday, "gut-wrenching". He has previously said that he would wait for the results of an independent investigation into the allegations, which is being overseen by the New York's attorney general Letitia James.
3-10-21 Loujain al-Hathloul: Saudi activist 'loses appeal against sentence'
The Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has lost an appeal against her sentence, her family says. Ms Hathloul was released on probation last month after almost three years in prison, but she is subject to a five-year travel ban and other restrictions. On Wednesday, her sister said a court had upheld her sentence for violating a counter-terrorism law. Ms Hathloul has insisted she committed no crime and vowed to bring to justice officials she accuses of torturing her. The 31-year-old was instrumental in the campaign to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia. She was detained in May 2018, just weeks before the ban was lifted, along with about a dozen other female activists as part of an apparent crackdown on dissent overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. For the first three months, she was held incommunicado, without access to her family and lawyer. Human rights organisations later reported accusations that interrogators had tortured her and at least three other women during that time, including with electronic shocks and whippings, and had sexually harassed them. The Saudi government has denied she was mistreated. Last December, a terrorism tribunal found Ms Hathloul guilty of "inciting change to the basic ruling regime" and "serving a foreign agenda inside the kingdom by using the internet with the objective of damaging public order". Saudi officials said the charges were related to Ms Hathloul's contacts with foreign diplomats, media, and activist groups. But UN human rights experts described the charges as "spurious". While the judge suspended part of her prison sentence of five years and eight months, paving the way for her release, he warned that the suspension would be annulled if she committed any crimes within the next three years. He also banned her from leaving Saudi Arabia for five years. At the first appeal hearing last week, Ms Hathloul was asked by the judge whether she wished to show repentance, according to her brother Walid. "She replied that she had proven in all her defences that she had not committed any crime based on local and international laws. So, on what basis would she present her repentance?" he wrote on Twitter.
3-9-21 Women's Day: Protesters clash with police in Mexico
Police and activists have clashed in Mexico City at a march to mark International Women's Day. Officers forced back protesters with tear gas and riot shields in the capital's main square, the Zócalo. Protesters were calling for the government to address the country's poor record on the murder of women, often referred to as femicide, and gender-based violence. Government figures suggest at least 939 women were victims of femicide in 2020. Thousands of women, some with their daughters, attended the march in the Mexican capital on Monday. One girl was seen carrying a sign reading "They haven't killed me, but I live in fear". At one point, some members of the crowd managed to pull down some of the large metal fencing around the National Palace using hammers and wooden poles. Authorities erected the barrier ahead of the march. It was then covered in the names of femicide victims by women's groups. Some riot officers used their shields to block the protesters from entering the Zócalo. Local paper El Universal said demonstrators set fire to the shields of some of the police officers, "but the flames were extinguished". Police used tear gas and batons to help disperse the crowd. At least 15 officers and four members of the public were injured, according to local media. There are reports of police detaining both journalists and those in the crowd. Clashes between women's rights campaigners and police are becoming more common in Mexico City as activists say it is the only way the government will pay attention to them. They have accused President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of ignoring the problem of violence against women. Last year, Mr López Obrador claimed the issue of femicides had been "manipulated" by critics of his administration. Last November, there was outrage across the country after police in the beach resort of Cancún fired shots during a protest against the killing of women. Two people were injured by bullets and two more protesters were also hurt in the chaos which ensued.
3-8-21 Women's day: Mexico barrier turned into women's memorial
Fencing erected to protect Mexico's National Palace ahead of a planned march to mark International Women's Day has been turned into a memorial. The names of hundreds of victims of femicides - murders of women because of their gender - have been painted on the metal fencing. The three-metre-high (9.8ft) barrier was put up to protect the palace "from vandalism", the government said. Women's groups say the government does not do enough to combat femicides. They also criticised President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for ordering the National Palace and the Palace of Fine Arts to be surrounded by barriers, asking what he as afraid of. The president responded by saying that the barriers were put up "not out of fear, but to prevent provocations and to protect historic buildings". "Last time around, bombs were thrown against this historic building," he said, referring to protests over the brutal murder of a seven-year-old girl in February 2020 in which slogans were sprayed on to the walls of the National Palace and petrol bombs lobbed against a door. The president added women had the right to protest, but he said there was "much provocation, many people infiltrate [the protests] and seek to do damage, they use violence as a form of protest and throw Molotov cocktails, and we don't want anyone to get injured". He also said he was "not a male chauvinist", in response to criticism by women who say he has ignored the problem of violence against women. Women's rights activists say they want to draw attention to the hundreds of women that are killed every year in Mexico. Government figures suggest at least 939 women were victims of femicide in 2020. "We women want to ask for justice and that people understand, and that the president, who lives here, knows that we're fighting because they are killing us," one activist told Reuters news agency. Mexico City officials said thousands of police, including 2,000 female officers, would be deployed across the capital ahead of the planned marches on Monday. Women's groups are planning activities across the country. In Ciudad Juárez, a city infamous for the high number of women who have gone missing from there over the years, relatives of the disappeared held up pink crosses with the slogan "Not one more" in protest over the weekend.
3-8-21 'We women are pushed out of work because of childcare. It's hurtful'
International Women's Day on 8 March has become a date to celebrate how far women have come in society, while also raising awareness of continued inequality. In the US, women say they have been hit hardest at work during the pandemic, with their participation in the workforce at a 33-year low. We hear from two women who lost their jobs early on in the pandemic - and haven't worked since.
3-7-21 Switzerland referendum: Voters projected to ban face coverings in public
Switzerland appears to have narrowly voted in favour of banning face coverings in public, including the burka or niqab worn by Muslim women, following a controversial referendum. Projections by broadcaster SRF, based on partial results, show the measure passing by 52% to 48%. Sunday's referendum was put forward by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) which campaigned with slogans such as "Stop extremism". The government argued against the ban. It said it was not up to the state to dictate what women wear. According to research by the University of Lucerne, almost no-one in Switzerland wears a burka and only around 30 women wear the niqab. About 5% of Switzerland's population of 8.6 million people are Muslim, most originating from Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo. Swiss people are given a direct say in their own affairs under the country's system of direct democracy. They are regularly invited to vote on various issues in national or regional referendums. It is not the first time Islam has figured in a Swiss referendum. In 2009 citizens went against government advice and voted to ban the building of minarets - a proposal also put forward by the SVP which said minarets were a sign of Islamisation. The proposal in Sunday's referendum did not mention Islam directly and was also aimed at stopping violent street protesters from wearing masks. However, the vote was widely referred to as "the burka ban". The latest proposal predated the coronavirus pandemic which has meant all Swiss adults having to wear masks in many settings. Ahead of the vote, Walter Wobmann, chairman of the referendum committee and an SVP lawmaker, described Muslim face coverings as "a symbol for this extreme, political Islam which has become increasingly prominent in Europe and which has no place in Switzerland". "In Switzerland our tradition is that you show your face. That is a sign of our basic freedoms," he said.
3-4-21 India Supreme Court: Calls for Justice Sharad Bobde to quit over rape remarks
Calls have been growing in India for the chief justice of the Supreme Court to resign "without a moment's delay" after his recent remarks in two cases of alleged rape. In an "open letter" to Chief Justice Sharad Bobde, more than 5,000 feminists, rights activists and concerned citizens wrote that they were "outraged" and asked him to retract his statements and apologise. So what did the chief justice say that has angered people so much? He asked two "atrocious" questions. Justice Bobde, who was heading a three-judge bench, asked a 23-year-old man accused of raping a girl whether he would marry her. "If you want to marry (her) we can help you. If not, you lose your job and go to jail," he said. His comments shocked many, especially considering the horrific accusations the girl - who was 16 at the time of the alleged rapes in 2014-15 - had made against the man, a distant relative. According to the letter, he "is accused of stalking, tying up, gagging, repeatedly raping a minor school-going girl, and threatening to douse her in petrol and set her alight, to hurl acid at her, and to have her brother killed". It added that "the rape came to light when the minor school-going victim attempted suicide". The girl's family also alleged that they had agreed not to go to the police because they were promised by the accused's mother that once the girl became an adult, they would marry the two. In a country where victims are often blamed for rape, and sexual assault carries lifelong stigma, her family agreed to the arrangement. But after the accused backtracked from his promise and married someone else, the survivor went to the police. The accused, who is a government employee in the western state of Maharashtra, had been granted anticipatory bail by a lower court after he pleaded that he would lose his job if arrested. But the Bombay High Court called the order "atrocious" and cancelled his bail. The man then approached the Supreme Court - which on Monday granted him protection from arrest for four weeks and where the infamous exchange took place between his lawyer and Justice Bobde.
3-2-21 Andrew Cuomo: Fresh calls for New York governor to resign over harassment claims
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing calls from colleagues in his own party to resign after a third woman accused him of sexual harassment. A photographer told the New York Times that the politician touched her face and asked to kiss her at a wedding. Mr Cuomo, 63, denied touching anyone inappropriately but apologised if his comments were misinterpreted. An investigation has begun after two former staff members also alleged harassment. Following the latest accusation New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice added her name to the list of people calling for the governor, who is one of the most influential Democratic politicians, to resign. New York City councillor Antonio Reynoso echoed her call on Twitter. In the latest allegations, photographer Anna Ruch said that Mr Cuomo put his hands on her back when they met at a wedding in 2019. She said he seemed "aggressive" when she removed his hands, and he went on to touch her face and ask to kiss her. A photograph of the incident was also published in the newspaper. "I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed," Ms Ruch, 33, told the New York Times. In a statement released before Ms Ruch's accusations were published, Mr Cuomo apologised that some things he had done "have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation". On Monday New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the first steps in an external investigation of the allegations by former staff Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett against Mr Cuomo. The governor became a familiar face internationally for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis, but he is now under scrutiny for allegedly hiding the true number of pandemic-related deaths in New York care homes. He has also been accused of bullying colleagues, including by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
2-28-21 New York Governor Cuomo faces fresh claims of sexual harassment
A second former aide has come forward with accusations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Charlotte Bennett, a health policy adviser to Mr Cuomo until November, told The New York Times that he had harassed her last year. Mr Cuomo has denied any inappropriate behaviour and ordered an independent inquiry into the allegations. Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, has previously accused the governor of sexually harassing her. Mr Cuomo, 63, who has been governor for more than a decade, has found himself under pressure on several fronts in recent weeks. He is under scrutiny from the Democratic Party - of which he is a member - for allegedly hiding the true number of Covid-related deaths in New York care homes. Mr Cuomo has also faced allegations of bullying, including from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Ms Bennett, 25, told the New York Times that the governor had asked her numerous questions about her personal life including whether she believed that age made a difference in romantic relationships. She said he had also suggested that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s. Ms Bennett said she believed the comments were clear overtures to a sexual relationship. In the interview, she said that in June last year Mr Cuomo had talked about feeling lonely during the pandemic and had asked her whom she had last hugged. She said she dodged the question by saying she missed hugging her parents, but she believed the conversation had been another overture. "I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared and was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job," she said. Ms Bennett said she informed Mr Cuomo's chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, after the interaction and less than a week later was transferred to another job.
2-24-21 Fashion designer Alexander Wang accused of sexual assault
American fashion designer Alexander Wang is facing further allegations of sexual misconduct. Keaton Bullen, 21, a student at New York's Parsons School of Design, has alleged to BBC News he was assaulted by Mr Wang at a club in the city in 2019. It comes as the high-profile lawyer Lisa Bloom says she is now representing 11 men with misconduct allegations against Mr Wang. Mr Wang robustly denies all the claims made against him. Mr Bullen, then 20, was with a friend at the Fishbowl club in New York City when he says he encountered Alexander Wang on 24 August 2019 at about 11:30pm. He told the BBC they had initially talked about their mutual alma mater, Parsons School of Design in lower Manhattan, where Mr Bullen is currently studying interior design. Mr Wang then invited the pair to his table and and offered them vodka by the bottle before eventually leading him to the dance floor, Mr Bullen said. In the early hours of the morning, Mr Bullen alleged, Mr Wang sexually assaulted him. "All of a sudden he unzipped my trousers, put his hands in my pants and started grabbing my penis in front of a bunch of people," he said. "I completely froze. "He then said: 'I want to take you home with me,'" Mr Bullen alleged. "I felt weirded out... and removed myself from the situation as fast as possible." Paul Tweed, one of Mr Wang's lawyers, said he was currently awaiting CCTV footage of the club from the night which he said "his client believes will totally disprove this allegation". Mr Bullen said he felt a duty to speak out to support others who had come forward with allegations and were being called "liars". He is not taking legal action and said he did not want his photo used, out of concern the public would accuse him of seeking attention. Allegations against Mr Wang previously emerged in December after a British model claimed on TikTok that the designer had groped him during a concert at a New York City nightclub in January 2017.
2-23-21 Disha Ravi: India activist, 22, granted bail by court
An Indian court has granted bail to a 22-year-old climate activist who was arrested for sharing a document intended to help farmers protesting against new agricultural laws. Police said Disha Ravi was a "key conspirator" in the "formulation and dissemination" of a protest "toolkit". They have accused her of sedition and conspiracy - charges she has denied. Activists have called her arrest a warning to those who want to show support for anti-government protests. Tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for three months against new laws, which they say will benefit only big corporations. These protests have come to represent one of the biggest challenges faced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. Ms Ravi, one of the founders of the Indian branch of the Fridays for Future climate strike, was arrested by Delhi police on 13 February from her home in the southern city of Bangalore. She was flown to Delhi where she appeared before a magistrate and was remanded in custody. In a statement posted on social media, police said she had "collaborated" to "spread disaffection against the Indian state". They said she was an editor of a document - "toolkit" - and had shared it with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who had tweeted it. On Saturday, a Delhi court asked the Delhi police whether it had any evidence against Ms Ravi or "are we required to draw inferences and conjectures". The police were opposed to Ms Ravi's bail application. Her lawyer told the court that "having a difference of opinion does not amount to sedition". He asked the court whether, for example, it would be fair to consider someone who preferred "Kung Fu to yoga" a "Chinese spy" as a result. Police said the toolkit suggested there was a conspiracy in the run-up to a huge rally on 26 January, which saw protesting farmers clash with the police. In court, Ms Ravi broke down and told the judge she had merely edited two lines of the document. But police said she had shared the document with Ms Thunberg and then asked her to remove it after it was "accidentally" leaked.
2-20-21 Brittany Higgins: Parliament rape accuser makes complaint
A former political adviser, who alleges she was raped by a senior colleague in Australia's Parliament House, says she will make a formal complaint. Brittany Higgins spoke out in a TV interview on Monday that has prompted shock and outrage over her treatment. In the interview, she said she feared losing her job after the alleged assault in 2019 and had little support from her bosses. Ms Higgins has urged for a "comprehensive investigation". Speaking to Network Ten, she claimed she had told her employer and the minister told her she would be supported if she pursued a police complaint, but she felt pressured not to, believing it would end her career. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised for the government's handling of her complaint and has called for a review into parliament's environment and culture. In a statement on Friday, Ms Higgins said: "I want a comprehensive police investigation into what happened to me ... and for my perpetrator to face the full force of the law." She called on the Australian Federal Police to act swiftly over the alleged attack "in what should be the safest building in Australia". "I believe that getting to the bottom of what happened to me and how the system failed me is critical to creating a new framework for political staff that ensures genuine cultural change and restores the trust of staff." Ms Higgins, who was 24 at the time of the alleged assault, says she was weeks into her new "dream job" with Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds when she went out for drinks with a group including her alleged attacker, an older male colleague. She said the man offered her a lift home at the end of the night, but instead took her to Parliament House where she fell asleep in the minister's office drunk. The 26-year-old said she then woke up to the man sexually assaulting her. "I woke up mid-rape essentially," she told Network Ten. "I started crying... I told him to stop."
2-17-21 Nodeep Kaur: The jailed activist Meena Harris tweeted about
Earlier this month, Meena Harris, niece of American Vice President Kamala Harris, called for the release of Nodeep Kaur - a 25-year-old Indian labour rights activist who's been in prison for more than a month. Her arrest has caused global outrage. Tweeting with the hashtag #ReleaseNodeepKaur, Ms Harris wrote that the activist was "arrested, tortured & sexually assaulted in police custody". A few days later, Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, brought up Nodeep's arrest in the British parliament. Thousands of others have tweeted about her case, and farmers' leaders and student activists in the northern Indian state of Punjab have expressed solidarity with her. On Wednesday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court is due to hear her bail petition. Separately, the court has started another case, asking the police in Haryana state to explain her "illegal confinement" after the chief justice received emails alleging torture in custody. Nodeep was arrested on 12 January as she participated in a protest outside a factory in Kundli Industrial Area (KIA), on the outskirts of the Indian capital Delhi. One of the main reasons why her arrest led to a Twitter storm is the circumstances in which she was picked up and allegations that she was "sexually assaulted and tortured" - accusations that police have strongly denied. "She was beaten by male police officers publicly and they dragged her by her hair into the police van," her older sister Rajveer Kaur told me. "The next day when I met her in jail, she told me she was beaten inside the van and at the police station. She was slapped and punched, and hit with shoes and sticks, including on her private parts, resulting in heavy bleeding for days," she said. Her medical report is yet to be shared with her family. But an official who's seen the report told me that "her injuries indicate that she was tortured and hit on her private parts".
2-15-21 Ethiopia's Tigray crisis: 'I lost my hand when a soldier tried to rape me'
An Ethiopian schoolgirl has told the BBC how she lost her right hand defending herself from a soldier who tried to rape her - and who had also tried to force her grandfather to have sex with her. The 18-year-old, who we are not naming, has been in hospital in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region for more than two months recovering from her ordeal. The conflict in Tigray, which erupted in early November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched an offensive to oust the region's ruling TPLF party after its fighters captured federal military bases, has destroyed her dreams, and those of many of her classmates. Most of them, along with other families in their town, have fled to the mountains - even after Mr Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, declared victory following the capture of Tigray's capital, Mekelle, by federal forces on 29 November. This is because the security forces began an operation to hunt down TPLF members who refused to surrender, which has resulted in allegations of serious human rights abuses being committed against the residents of Tigray. The authorities deny the accusations. The schoolgirl and her grandfather remained in their home in the town of Abiy Addi, about 96km (60 miles) west of Mekelle, because it was difficult for them to travel far. On 3 December, the teenager said that a soldier, dressed in an Ethiopian military uniform, entered their house demanding to know where the Tigrayan fighters were. After searching the house and finding no-one, he ordered them to lie on a bed and began shooting all around him. "He then ordered my grandfather to have sex with me. My grandfather got very angry and... they started fighting," she says. The soldier, she says, took the old man outside and shot him in the shoulders and the thigh and then returned to her, saying that he had killed him. "He said: 'No-one can save you now. Get your clothes off.' I begged him not to but he repeatedly punched me." Their struggle continued for several minutes - though she felt disorientated from the blows - and in the end he became so angry that he turned the gun on her. "He shot my right hand three times. He shot my leg three times. He left when he heard a gunshot from outside." Thankfully her grandfather was still alive, though unconscious, and for two days they remained cowed and injured in their home too scared to seek help.
2-12-21 LGBT+ History Month: Eudy Simelane - the international footballer murdered for being gay
An international footballer, coach and aspiring referee, Eudy Simelane dedicated her life to the sport. She was one of the first openly gay women to live in her township of Kwa-Thema in South Africa and was a well-known LGBT+ activist. But because of her sexuality, Simelane was brutally raped and murdered in 2008, aged just 31. This is the story of her life and how the legacy of her death is still impacting South African society. Simelane was born on 11 March 1977, in Kwa-Thema, a township in the Gauteng province, south east of Johannesburg. Her interest in football started when she was only four years old, demanding her brother Bafana always took her to practice with him despite it not being a sport commonly played by women at the time. Passion soon became dedication as she honed her skills daily. "Five o'clock in the morning, she [would be] at the gym - football was her favourite and her priority", her late mother Mally recalled at a memorial lecture in 2016. Nicknamed 'Styles' because she was left-footed, midfielder Simelane joined her local team, Kwa-Thema Ladies, now known as the Springs Home Sweepers. Speaking to the BBC World Service in 2018 about Simelane's popularity on the pitch, her father Khotso said: "Everyone came to the ground when she played, number six". Springs Home Sweepers has produced a number of stars including Janine van Wyk, South Africa's most capped footballer and captain of the national team, known as 'Banyana Banyana', meaning 'the girls'. Simelane played several times for the national side, coached four local youth teams and wanted to qualify to become her country's first female referee. A campaigner for equality rights and social change, she was one of the first women to come out as a lesbian in South Africa. In the 2020 Eudy Simelane Memorial Lecture, her brother, Bafana said: "In sport she was a diamond, scoring beautiful goals. She was a marvellous person, intelligent, everything. It was a package. Everything you would find in Eudy. Jokingly she was playing, teasing others. That is what I miss about her."
2-8-21 Abducted, trafficked or killed: The life of a sex worker in Sierra Leone
Africa Eye has been investigating the treatment of sex workers in Sierra Leone and uncovered a world where many are abused, trafficked and even killed. In the city of Makeni, a group of sex workers, led by a woman called Lady P, are on a mission to fight for justice and to improve their rights. Although sex work is not illegal in the country, these women are seen as immoral outcasts and receive little support from the government or society. And, as Tyson Conteh reports, their survival has been made even more precarious since the coronavirus pandemic.
2-4-21 Uighur camps: US, UK governments condemn reports of systematic rape
The US government has said it is "deeply disturbed" by a BBC report detailing allegations of systematic rape of Uighur women in Chinese camps. "These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences," a spokesperson said. In the UK parliament on Thursday, government minister Nigel Adams said the report showed "clearly evil acts". According to estimates, more than a million Uighurs and other minorities have been detained in camps in China. An investigation published by the BBC on Wednesday contained first-hand testimony of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture of women detainees by police and guards. China's foreign ministry has denied the allegations, accusing the BBC of making a "false report". The testimony given to the BBC detailed allegations of rape and sexual abuse of Uighur women detained in China's internment camps in the Xinjiang region. One woman told the BBC that women were removed from their cells "every night" and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled the region after her release and is now in the US, said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men. A Kazakh woman from Xinjiang who was detained for 18 months in the camp system said she was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men. The Chinese men "would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates", said Gulzira Auelkhan. "They forced me to take off those women's clothes and to restrain their hands and leave the room," she said. A former guard at one of the camps, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described torture and food deprivation of inmates. Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on China's policies in Xinjiang, said the testimony gathered by the BBC was "some of the most horrendous evidence I have seen since the atrocity began". "It provides authoritative and detailed evidence of sexual abuse and torture at a level clearly greater than what we had assumed," he said.
2-2-21 AOC: Ocasio-Cortez says she is sexual assault survivor
US Democratic politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said she is a survivor of sexual assault. The congresswoman revealed her trauma as she accused Republicans who deflect blame for last month's Capitol riot of using "the tactics of abusers". "I'm a survivor of sexual assault," she said, fighting back tears. "And I haven't told many people that in my life." She is one of the highest profile Democrats in Congress. Ms Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist who represents the 14th district in New York City, is also often a target of conservatives. In an Instagram Live on Monday night, the 31-year-old disclosed little about her sexual assault ordeal, but said: "When we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other." She blasted conservative Republicans like Texas Senator Ted Cruz for denying what she described as their responsibility for the storming of the Capitol complex, which left five people dead. After Mr Cruz last week agreed with Ms Ocasio-Cortez on a policy matter, she lashed out: "You almost had me murdered three weeks ago so you can sit this one out." In Monday night's Instagram Live, she criticised Chip Roy, a Texas congressman, for demanding she apologise to Mr Cruz. "These are the tactics of abusers," she said during the broadcast to 150,000 or so viewers. "Or rather, these are the tactics that abusers use. "And so when I see this happen, how I feel, how I felt was: 'Not again.' I'm not going to let this happen again. I'm not going to let it happen to me again. I'm not going to let it happen to the other people who've been victimised by this situation again. And I'm not going to let this happen to our country. We're not going to let it happen." She also singled out Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, who joined Mr Cruz in challenging the results of November's presidential election amid debunked claims from now-former President Donald Trump that the vote had been stolen. A pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol on 6 January as lawmakers gathered to certify President Joe Biden's election victory, and Ms Ocasio-Cortez described the ensuing mayhem as like a "zombie movie". During her Instagram Live, she said: "We cannot move on without accountability. We cannot heal without accountability. All these people telling us to move on are doing so at their own convenience." She added: "The folks who are saying, 'We should move on,' 'We shouldn't have accountability,' et cetera, are saying: 'Can you just forget about this so we can, you know, do it again?'" Ms Ocasio-Cortez described hiding in her bathroom at her congressional office during the chaos of the Capitol riot last month. "I thought I was going to die," she said.
2-1-21 Saba Sahar: 'I survived a Taliban assassination attempt'
There's been a series of targeted killings of journalists, activists and people in government jobs over the past few months in Afghanistan. One of the few to survive an assassination attempt is Saba Sahar. She is one of Afghanistan's first female film directors, as well as being an actor and police officer. Violence is surging in Afghanistan, even as the government is holding peace talks with the Taliban, and foreign troops are withdrawing. That's left many like Saba worrying about the future of their country.
1-25-21 Keira Knightley rules out sex scenes directed by men
Keira Knightley has said she will not appear in nude scenes for films that have a male director. Speaking to the Chanel Connects podcast, the actress said: "I don't have an absolute ban [on filming nude scenes], but I kind of do with men. "It's partly vanity and also it's the male gaze," the 35-year-old explained. The topic of how actors are treated while filming sex scenes has been put in the spotlight in recent years, particularly since the MeToo movement. Many studios now hire intimacy coordinators to oversee sex scenes and ensure actors feel comfortable and are treated respectfully during shooting. Knightley has previously revealed she has had a "no nudity clause" added to her film contracts since becoming a mother in 2015. During the interview, Knightley also said she felt strongly that she would want to work with a female director if a film focused on female life experiences. "If I was making a story that was about that journey of motherhood and body [acceptance], I feel like, I'm sorry, but that would have to be with a female film-maker," she said. "If it was about motherhood, about how extraordinary that body is, about how suddenly you're looking at this body that you've got to know and is your own and it's seen in a completely different way and it's changed in ways which are unfathomable to you before you become a mother, then yeah, I would totally be up for exploring that with a woman who would understand that. "But I feel very uncomfortable now trying to portray the male gaze." Knightley said she appreciated the need for certain films to feature nude scenes. The actress said: "I don't want it to be those horrible sex scenes where you're all greased up and everybody is grunting. I'm not interested in doing that. "Saying that, there's times where I go, 'Yeah, I completely see where this sex would be really good in this film and you basically just need somebody to look hot', so therefore you can use somebody else.
1-22-21 Julie Payette: Canada governor general quits amid bullying claims
Canadian Governor General Julie Payette has resigned amid claims she created a toxic work environment for her staff. The representative of the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, quit amid reports a highly critical workplace inquiry would be made public. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed he had received her resignation. He had recommended the appointment of the former astronaut in 2017, though her exit has no immediate implications for his Liberal government. The government had launched a third-party investigation of harassment claims after CBC News reported last July that several staff members felt bullied by Ms Payette. "Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances," Ms Payette, 57, said in a written letter to the public on Thursday. "It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. Tensions have arisen at Rideau Hall over the past few months and for that, I am sorry. "From a personal side, this decision comes at an opportune time, as my father's health has seriously worsened in the last few weeks and my family needs my help," she added. Assunta Di Lorenzo, Ms Payette's secretary and a top bureaucrat, is also resigning, CBC News reports. Ms Payette has held a high profile in Canada for many years. In 1992, she was chosen from over 5,300 applicants to become one of four astronauts in the Canadian Space Agency. In 1999, she became the first Canadian to board the International Space Station. As The Queen's representative in Canada, the governor general is the official head of state in her absence. Although the position is largely ceremonial, the governor general presides over important state duties. He or she has the power to give a throne speech and suspend parliament, give royal assent to legislation, swear in the prime minister and is commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. "Every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously," Mr Trudeau said in a statement.
1-21-21 Christine Dacera: Police chief's removal ordered over 'botched' rape probe
An order has been made to remove a police chief of an affluent area of the Philippine capital, Manila, for his handling of a probe into the suspected rape and murder of an air stewardess. The case of Christine Dacera, found dead in a hotel room after a New Year's Eve party, made headlines for weeks. Police quickly said she had been raped and murdered, arresting three men. But the men have now been released while questions have been raised over officers' initial conclusions. The ordered removal of Makati Police Chief Colonel Harold Depositar is the latest development, and comes in the wake of massive criticism for their handling of the high profile case. Critics say the case represents a denial of due process, an issue that has been raised before in relation to their implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte's "War on Drugs." On 4 January, police issued a statement that they had "solved" the death of the 23-year-old flight attendant, adding that she had been raped and murdered. The statement added that police had arrested three suspects arrested while nine others were "still at large". All 12 men had been with her that night. Despite a pending legal medical review of the death, Colonel Depositar confirmed they had "already filed a rape with homicide" case. Initially, outrage. The story exploded on social media and was trending for days. The hashtag #JusticeForChristineDacera went viral following the police statement, although there were those who blamed her for partying with so many men. General Sinas called on the nine "at large" to "surrender within 72 hours or we will hunt you down using force if necessary". Senator, and decorated boxer, Manny Pacquiao offered a reward of US$10,400 (£7.600) for information related to the death. Senator Pacquiao, who is tipped to run for president in 2022, said the case was another example of why the death penalty should be revived in the Philippines.
1-20-21 Greece #Metoo: Women ending silence of sport abuse shake Greece
When former Olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou revealed she had been sexually assaulted by an unnamed Hellenic Sailing Federation (HSF) executive, few realised her powerful testimony would prompt a #Metoo movement in Greek sport. She was addressing a little-advertised online conference after all. But when the sailing federation hit back at her allegations the following day, the whole story exploded. It said it had never received any complaint from Bekatorou and essentially asked her to name the man, since she had "taken the initiative to speak about this unpleasant incident after so many years". Inspired by Sofia Bekatorou's courage and angered by the federation's cynicism, more athletes began going public with experiences of sexual harassment and abuse using the hashtag #metisofia (on Sofia's side). Now the Greek president has praised the former champion for ending a "conspiracy of silence" and the government says her story has shaken not just sport but society as a whole. Bekatorou was 21 when she went abroad with the rest of the Greek sailing team in 1998 to compete in qualifying trials for the Sydney Olympics. The team was joined by a sailing federation executive who celebrated their qualification with them. Now 43 and a mother of two children, she told the online conference she had been subjected to "sexual harassment and abuse" in the official's hotel room. The transcript of her speech circulated online. Bekatorou went on to win two Olympic medals and several world championship golds and was given the honour of carrying the Greek flag at the Rio Olympics in 2016. But she also maintains that the official became an obstacle to her career. Her decision to stay silent so she could keep on sailing took its toll. It took "years with a lot of work and therapy", she said, before she could take responsibility for not speaking out and seeking the man's removal.
1-18-21 Nazi Ravensbrück camp: How ordinary women became SS torturers
"Healthy, female workers between the ages of 20 and 40 wanted for a military site," reads the job advertisement from a 1944 German newspaper. Good wages and free board, accommodation and clothing are promised. What is not mentioned is that the clothing is an SS uniform. And that the "military site" is Ravensbrück concentration camp for women. Today the flimsy wooden barracks for the prisoners are long gone. All that remains is an eerily empty, rocky field, about 80km (50 miles) north of Berlin. But still standing are eight solidly built, attractive villas with wooden shutters and balconies. They are a 1940s Nazi version of medieval German cottages. That is where the female guards lived, some with their children. From the balconies they could overlook a forest and a pretty lake. "It was the most beautiful time of my life," said one former female guard, decades later. But from their bedrooms they would have also seen chain-gangs of prisoners and the chimneys of the gas chamber. "A lot of visitors coming to the memorial ask about these women. There are not so many questions about men working in this field," says Andrea Genest, director of the memorial museum at Ravensbrück, as she shows me where the women lived. "People don't like to think that women can be so cruel." Many of the young women came from poorer families, left school early and had few career opportunities. A job at a concentration camp meant higher wages, comfortable accommodation and financial independence. "It was more attractive than working in a factory," says Dr Genest. Many had been indoctrinated early in Nazi youth groups and believed in Hitler's ideology. "They felt they were supporting society by doing something against its enemies," she said. Inside one of the houses a new exhibition displays photos of the women in their spare time. Most were in their twenties, pretty with fashionable hairstyles. The pictures show them smiling while having coffee and cake at home. Or laughing, arms linked, as they go for walks in the nearby forest with their dogs. The scenes look innocent - until you notice the SS insignia on the women's clothes, and you remember that those same Alsatian dogs were used to torment people in the concentration camps. Some 3,500 women worked as Nazi concentration camp guards, and all of them started out at Ravensbrück. Many later worked in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau or Bergen-Belsen. "They were awful people," 98-year-old Selma van de Perre tells me on the phone from her home in London. She was a Dutch Jewish resistance fighter who was imprisoned in Ravensbrück as a political prisoner. "They liked it probably because it gave them power. It gave them lots of power over the prisoners. Some prisoners were very badly treated. Beaten."
1-17-21 Sofia Bekatorou: Olympic medalist's decision to speak out over alleged 1998 sexual assault sparks public outcry in Greece
Greek Olympic gold medalist Sofia Bekatorou's very public detailing of her alleged sexual assault in 1998 by a high-ranking Hellenic Sailing Federation (HSF) official has sparked an outcry in the Mediterranean country over the way her revelations were initially dealt with. Bekatorou did not name the person she is accusing. On Saturday, Aristides Adamopoulos -- the vice Chairman of the HSF Board -- resigned, according to the Greek sailing body. "It is expected that complaints against me made by a public figure, of great recognition and wide social impact, will gather public interest, create feelings of compassion for the complainant and disgust for the alleged 'perpetrator,'" said Adamopoulos in a statement as he called for due process. Later on Saturday, in a statement posted on the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) website, Adamopoulos said Bekatorou's accusation was "false and defamatory." "Nevertheless, I fully understand that due to the extensive negative publicity of the matter, it is very likely there will be damage to the status of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, which must always remain high for the good of Greek sport," said Adamopoulos. "For this reason alone and fully aware of my responsibility towards the HOC, I declare that from today and until the full clarification of this case by the authorities I will abstain from meetings of the HOC bodies which I am a member and I will generally abstain from the exercise of my duties from any position I hold." CNN does not usually identify people who say they were sexually assaulted, but Bekatorou came forward publicly with her allegations. Bekatorou said the alleged assault took place in 1998 during preparations for the Sydney Olympics, that were held two years later. One of Greece's best-known female athletes, Bekatorou won a sailing gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and then bronze four years later at the Beijing Games. Now 43, Bekatorou said a male official performed a "lewd act" after inviting her to his hotel room to discuss preparations ahead of the Sydney Olympics. The athlete said the act was not consensual.
1-15-21 Rajini Chandy: The 69-year-old Indian actress trolled for ‘too sexy’ photos
When Rajini Chandy posted pictures from her glamorous photoshoot on Facebook recently, she didn't anticipate they would go viral and attract vicious trolls. The photos show the 69-year-old housewife-turned-actress, who's generally seen in colourful elegant saris, dressed in a jumpsuit, long dresses, a pair of distressed jeans, and a short denim dress. In some, she's wearing a crown of fresh white flowers picked from her garden. Described as "bold and beautiful" by the local press in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where she lives, the photoshoot has raised the hackles of many in a conservative state where most women still dress modestly in saris or traditional long skirts. The photoshoot, Mrs Chandy told the BBC, was the idea of Athira Joy, a 29-year-old photographer known for her unconventional work. Ms Joy said what attracted her to the actress was how she was so different from her own mother. "Indian women," she says, "spend their lives caged in this system of marriage and raising a family. Most give up on life once they reach 60. They become nannies to their grandchildren." Her 65-year-old mother, she says, is "a typical Indian woman who suffers from all sorts of health issues that 60 plus women face". "But Rajini is different - she takes care of herself, she's fit, she's bold, she's beautiful, she's fashionable. She's 69, but in her mind, she's 29, just like me." In traditional Keralan society, Mrs Chandy has always stood out. When she returned to Kerala in 1995 after spending decades in Mumbai where her husband worked with a foreign bank, she made heads turn as she stepped out in a pair of jeans or wore lipstick. Once, she tells me, she was reprimanded for wearing a sleeveless blouse. In the past few years, she's made news for her "unconventional choices" - in 2016, at the age of 65, she debuted as an actress in the Malayalam-language comedy-drama, Oru Muthassi Gadha (A Granny's Mace).
1-12-21 Irish government to apologise over mother-and-baby homes
The Irish government is to apologise after an investigation found an "appalling level of infant mortality" in the country's mother-and-baby homes. Established in the 19th and 20th centuries, the institutions housed women and girls who became pregnant outside marriage. About 9,000 children died in the 18 institutions under investigation. The government said the report revealed the country had a "stifling, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture". Taoiseach (Irish PM) Mícheál Martin said the report described a very dark and difficult chapter in Irish history. "As a nation we must face up to the full truth of our past," he said. The greatest number of admissions was in the 1960s and early 1970s. Many children born in the homes were adopted or taken to orphanages run by Catholic nuns. The report said "the women and children should not have been in the institutions" and that many women suffered emotional abuse. The investigators say it appears there was "little kindness" shown to the mothers and "this was particularly the case" during childbirth, which many of the women found "a traumatic experience". The Irish government will apologise for the hurt experienced by the residents of the homes. Mr Martin said "one hard truth" was that "all of society was complicit" in the scandal. "We did this to ourselves as a society - we treated women exceptionally badly; we treated children extremely badly," he said on Tuesday. "We had a completely warped attitude to sexuality and intimacy and young mothers and their sons and daughters were forced to pay a terrible price for that dysfunction. "As a society we embraced judgementalism, moral certainty, a perverse religious morality and control which was so damaging. "But what was very striking was the absence of basic kindness. Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman said the report showed that for decades a "pervasive stigmatisation of unmarried mothers and their children robbed those individuals of their agency and sometimes their future".
11-3-21 Racism in ballet: Black dancer's 'humiliation' at racist comments
Chloé Lopes Gomes says she has faced racial harassment while being a ballet dancer. The French performer is the first black female dancer at Berlin's principal ballet company Staatsballett. Ms Gomes claims she was told she did not fit in because of her skin colour, and was asked to wear white make up so she would 'blend in' with the other dancers. The company has responded by saying her allegation "deeply moves us" and an internal investigation is underway into racism and discrimination at Staatsballett.