Thursday, November 29, 2007

If I could reach you . . .

In commemoration of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, TakeBackTheTech is collecting virtual postcards that portray women's responses to gender violence.

Check out all of the postcards here and submit your own. If you submit one, post it again in our comments!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

TV Rebuff Costs Woman Her Life

Svetlana Orlova was separated from her abusive ex-boyfriend when she was invited to appear on a daytime talkshow.

Svetlana was shocked to find herself face to face with the man who had beaten her for years.

She was further stunned when he produced an engagement ring and proposed. Looking deeply uncomfortable, she shook her head.

The public rebuff cost her her life. Within days she had been stabbed to death and her former lover was under arrest for murder.

This is at least the fourth time that a woman in Spain has been killed after appearing on television to talk about domestic violence in her life. Women’s rights groups expressed outrage last week after a judge gave a reduced sentence to Mariano Navas, who stabbed his girlfriend in 2005, citing his “humiliation” on Patricia’s Daily Show as a mitigating factor.

Monday, November 26, 2007

16 Days of Activism

Sunday marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and was also the kick-off of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international
campaign originating from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:
  • raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels
  • strengthening local work around violence against women
  • establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women
  • providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies
  • demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women
  • creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women
Over 2,000 organizations in approximately 154 countries have participated in the 16 Days Campaign since 1991. We encourage you to visit their website to learn more.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Rape of Your Dreams

Did a 23-year old student from the University of Cincinnati accidentally consent to sex with a 52-year old HIV-positive homeless man near an entrance ramp to a major Ohio interstate?

That is the man's defense, that she gave her consent while sleepwalking.

Ford's lawyer, Jeff Adams, said prosecutors told him the woman takes prescription medication and has a sleepwalking condition, a fact that will likely be the core part of Ford's defense.

"It goes to consent," he said. "How is he to know she is sleepwalking, if it's a dream 'yes' or a real 'yes?'"
The victim was asleep when police responded to the scene, after being summoned by motorists who witnessed the assault. If the police could tell she was sleeping, why couldn't the assailant?

Monday, November 19, 2007

GA Boys Ages 8 and 9 Charged With Rape


ACWORTH, Ga. -- Three boys ages 8 and 9 were being held Monday in a detention center on charges of kidnapping and raping an 11-year-old girl in the woods near a suburban apartment complex, officials said.

The alleged attack happened Thursday and the girl's mother reported it to authorities Sunday, Acworth police Capt. Wayne Dennard said.

"The juvenile victim stated that an 8-year-old boy and two 9-year-old boys that she had been playing with earlier pulled her into a wooded area, where one of the boys raped her," Dennard said.

The three boys were charged with rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment and sexual assault, Dennard told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Their names were being withheld because of their age.

Prosecutors have not decided whether to try the suspects as adults.
For those who would argue that we do not live in a culture that promotes and encourages violence against women, WRC asks you what would compel 8- and 9-year-olds to commit a sex crime. These children very obviously need as much help as the 11-year-old victim, but the idea to perpetrate this crime against a female playmate was given to them somewhere. They didn't just beat her up as they might another boy, but specifically chose to rape her. If this isn't a wake-up call for our community then I don't know what is.

Playboy's Sexiest Sportscasters

Playboy is hosting its second "America's Sexist Sportscaster" poll, and voting is currently underway on their website. ABC Sports Corespondent Suzy Shuster reflects on the ridiculousness of the list, as well as the double-standard to which women in sports-related fields are held. She writes:

That reminds me of one of the most bizarre and consternating moments of my career. On the way to a game at Ohio State a few years back, one of my ABC Sports broadcast colleagues, a former SEC Head Coach says to me out the blue, "Suzy, you think you'd do better in your career if you got a boob job?"

As insane as the question sounded at the time to me and my other partners, maybe he was on to something judging by the tone of the posts. It shouldn't take a $15,000 procedure to get ahead in the world of TV sports, but that seems to be the only thing being debated, not the quality and content of the reporting.
Read the full post here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Marital Rape on Oprah

Sexual assualt by a husband or partner has been long known to advocacy communities as a facet of domestic violence, but it wasn't until 1993 that rape within a marriage became a crime in all 50 states. Before these laws were passed, it was generally believed by the legal system that, once married, a woman gave irrovocable consent to sexual activity of any type at any time with her husband.

"It doesn't matter if you're wearing a wedding ring" says Lisa Bloch Rodwin, an attorney who prosecuted a landmark case in New York where a husband was sentenced to 50 years in prison for raping his wife. "It doesn't matter if he's the father of your children. It doesn't matter if you've been living together for 20 years. If somebody is threatening you or forcing you or you are fearful that you have to do this, it's rape. It's as if somebody pulls you under a bush in the dark with a knife at your throat."
Yesterday, The Oprah Winfrey Show gave national attention to the issue on a show devoted to two women who chose to share their stories of marital rape. You can see clips and transcripts of the show here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Big Brother Africa Airs Sexual Assault

South Africa has the world's highest rate of sexual assault with 1.7 million women sexually assaulted each year, only most of the assaults aren't broadcast on national television. Last week, the popular African version of Big Brother broadcast an episode featuring one cast member penetrating another cast member's vagina with his fingers while she was clearly unconscious and unable to consent.

M-Net, which airs the show to a million-plus subscribers in South Africa, disputes the audience's version of events in the Big Brother house in Johannesburg, saying that if a "non-consensual physical relationship" began there, the producers - Endemol SA - would have intervened. "There is no indication that she was unconscious at the time," said Joseph Hundah, an executive at M-Net.

However, viewers of the incident, which took place on Saturday afternoon after an extended drinking bout which ended in copious vomiting and apparent blackout for Molokwu, remain adamant about what they saw: Bezuidenhout lay down next to the comatose young woman and penetrated her vagina with his fingers. He carried on despite the pleas of another female housemate for him stop. Under the law in South Africa - where, on average, a woman is sexually assaulted every 40 seconds - such an act constitutes rape.

Bezuidenhout, who is married, finally desisted and went off to sit by himself while drunkenly sniffing his fingers. At this point the producers of the show did intervene, sending paramedics into the house and cutting the live feed.

When confronted about his attack, Bezuidenhout responded, "Well, this is Africa."

Friday, November 2, 2007

TV Show Seeking to Exploit Battered Women

We received the following email this morning:

Recently the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence has become aware of a new television show that appears to be seeking to exploit battered women.

Last month GCADV received a fax on letterhead from the Jerry Springer Show endorsing The Steve Wilkos Show, a nationally syndicated television show. In the letter, Mr. Wilkos described himself as a passionate former police officer and military man cares about tough issues such as domestic violence. He stated that he intended to highlight the issues of battered women during DV Awareness Month. He also asked for us to refer to him women interested in telling their stories on national television. The fact that this came on Jerry Springer’s letterhead caused GCADV to elect not to distribute the appeal.

This week, the Steve Wilkos Show sent another appeal (attached). The show now wants to find battered women who have made the decision to leave their batterer. They want to film the entire act of leaving and they want to “confront” the batterer. Producers, allegedly lead one shelter program to believe that during the “escape” the children would be left behind, although this is not evident in the advertisement.

You can get a hint of the Springer-like atmosphere of the show by going to his website and watching a short clip. In his myspace page, it is apparent that Mr Wilkos intends to build his new show around the misfortunes of others and make himself look like a rescuer.

GCADV believes this show can be dangerous for battered women.

In the event you are notified by the Steve Wilkos Show, we encourage you to refuse to discuss helping them find victims (of any sort). We also believe it will be effective for all programs to become pro-active and get as many people as possible to call NBC Universal. The number is 312-321-5936. Ask for Associate Producer April Altenritter. The FAX is 312-321-5363. The Assistant is Tanya at 312-321-5373. Please express disgust over using victims for commercial gain. To be effective, it will take a lot of calls.

If you have any questions or concerns that we can answer or research, please do not hesitate to call GCADV at 404-209-0280.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Suicide - A Solution for Victims?

Many times when we talk to community groups about domestic violence, women insist that they would kill their partners rather than endure prolonged abuse. In the UK we are seeing a different shift: women killing themselves rather than allowing their partners to do it.

A large number of Asian women in Britain are committing suicide by taking to railway tracks, a report has revealed. One third of the total suicides in Britain now happen on a particular stretch of track going through Southall, west London, which has a large Asian community...

A women’s rights organisation, Southall Black Sisters, has claimed that domestic violence is forcing more and more Asian women in Britain to commit suicide on railway tracks. "The high instance of Asian women suicides is linked to abusive practices within Asian families. There is a correlation between these suicides and violence in homes. Psychiatric research has shown there are rarely cases of mental disorders in these cases, suggesting they are the result of social circumstances. These women are often isolated and find it hard to escape."
It is also true in this country that immigrant victims of domestic violence become isolated and are afraid to report abuse because of the risk of police harrassment or deportation. If the victim doesn't speak English, well or at all, this additionally complicates her ability to escape. This truth also applies to other minority populations who do not traditionally trust the police or the court system, and therefore would not seek their assistance if they chose to leave.

We would love to hear comments from our colleagues at Tapestri, Caminar Latino, The Center for Pan Asian Community Services, and others about how members of these often isolated populations can work against domestic violence in their communities.