Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘rape’

I Used To Cry

Mulatto: Daughter of America by Florencia LaChance.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

61I3yFhCTTLOur oldest daughter moved in to our foster home when she was fourteen, and like Florencia, became emancipated at sixteen. She survived a similar childhood as Ms. LaChance, with her biological family. Working through years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, is not easy for anyone, at anytime. In Mulatto: Daughter of Americathe author describes one terrible instant after another. With self-determination, and the help of others, she makes it to college, motherhood, and a successful career.

Florencia’s worst, ongoing perpetrator, was her step-father Jim. He beat her, sexually assaulted her, and demeaned her in every way possible. To top it off, she was growing up in Maine, where people of color are rare and far in-between. “So many kids against me. I used to cry. Run and cry. It was too much – the abuse at home and then coming to cruelty at school. I was always, in Maine, the ONLY black person in any school or town I ever went to. In the whole school!” Shame and not belonging became deeply ingrained in her psych.

Along her journey, Florencia gets support and care from her older brother, Joey, and from different friends and mentors, including: Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Royal, Danielle Hardigan, Melody, and the Goodmans. She becomes a ward of the state, and is cycled through various foster homes for two and a half years. When she finally gets to Boston College, against all odds, she is confronted with how to make a living, raise her son Joshua, and simultaneously go to school – exhausting in and of itself.

Mulatto: Daughter of America is sadly a story that still takes place throughout our country. Abuse (in all forms) is pervasive. Though we think we’ve come a long way, by talking about it and confronting it publicly, it continues to fester in homes everywhere. Like our daughter, who went to University of California, Berkeley, and now has two children, Florencia LaChance is an accomplished technical grant writer and project manager, with insight into her childhood, and the ability to write about it for others.

A Torturous Affair

The Glass Mask: Monsters Lurk Beneath by E. L. DuBois.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

516I5azkDzLThe Glass Mask is a painful book to read. It is an important book to read. It is a well written story about partner abuse, and the intimate torture that often takes place in abusive relationships. If you’ve experienced anything remotely similar in your own life, you will identify with the protagonist, called “Beauty”. If you’ve been fortunate to not have gone through any such trauma, you will be rooting for her survival, and insight into how to escape “The Beast” that threatens to destroy everything she loves, and life itself.

Ms. DuBois notes in the beginning that, “It was Hell. Let me reiterate… a living Hell. Nothing was sure then, except fear. Life was uncertain, death always loomed, and instability was the norm.” She is not exaggerating. It is apparent that the author has lived through many of the scenes described herein, and they are conveyed with honesty, agonizing detail, and perspective. All the mental and emotional things victims believe, and tell themselves (which are reinforced by the abuser), make sense and come to light.

The chapter headings also match well with the contents of that section. For example, “I knew who I was this morning… But I have changed a few times since then.” Happiness is displaced by despair and fear. Loving acts hide brutal retaliation and control at all costs. Someone believing they “own” you, and can do whatever they want with you, are not a fantasy, but too often a reality. Beauty’s boyfriend is aptly named The Beast, and his sister (The Drama Queen). Beauty’s daughter is appropriately known as The Princess.

Anything awful you can think of happening to another human being, is inflicted on Beauty. When you think that there is no way she can keep going, she meets a man (Mr. Knight). Thus, some light returns. Or does it? Not everyone is able to escape, let alone meet a supportive, loving person to help. It is possible, but rare. Many people are killed, or reduced to ruble before they are set free. Others take solace in drugs, or other numbing acts. You’ll have to read The Glass Mask to find out what happens to Beauty.

P.S. A similar book you may find of interest is Kellsey, by Stacy Kells. The primary difference is that Stacy’s is nonfiction, and The Glass Mask is fiction. At times, it is difficult to tell them apart. Read my review of Kellsey. It’s called A Gradual Awakening.

A Gradual Awakening

Kellcey by Kacey Kells51-mxCqbmHL
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Kellcey reads like the personal journal of a teenage girl, and is in fact, the true story of Kacey Kells. Ms. Kells writes this memoir in the first person and describes in detail her happy life as a teenager in Vancouver, Canada, her family, and friends. Later, she must confront family turmoil and an event that shatters her understanding of human nature, and a safe world.

If you want to get inside the head of your teen, and want an honest look at the feelings, thoughts, actions, and insecurities that may exist, read this book. It is frank, sincere, and has no filters about what should or shouldn’t be said. It was also written fairly recently, as the author is still in her early twenties, and close to the age range within which this story takes place.

There is not only a wonderful explanation for the ups and downs, and worries, of a teen, but also some insight into the differences between genders (expectations, biology, and emotions), and what it feels like when you have your first love, and someone says they want to be with you, and will love you forever. As times goes on, it also conveys some of the behavior to look for that may be warnings signs of the possibility of abuse.

Kacey begins to become aware of her boyfriend, Ben, and his friends, and changes in how they treat her at a party. “It is distressing to see how some people can change when they’re under the influence of drugs and alcohol! After the first euphoria, which corresponds to the release of all inhibitions, comes the metamorphose; however, instead of a lovely and innocent butterfly, this is a monster that pops up.”

At first, Kacey is ashamed to tell anyone about the abuse and rape she experienced at the party, and begins to withdraw, and feel completely alone. She trusts no one. Slowly, with lots of support, she tells her friend, her grandmother (Joanna), and her mother. After moving to London with her mother, she gets help, and inspiration, from a doctor, rape crisis center, counselor (Sybill), new friend (Jean), an Afghan war veteran (female), and her college drama class.

Kellcey provides a perspective on violence, and rape culture, which is often missing – the direct effects on a young woman, as experienced, and told, from her perspective. There are no sudden flashes of insight, or knowing all the right things to say, but a gradual awakening to how things are, what we do when something terrible happens, and how we can survive and make choices to love again. By writing her story, Ms. Kells has opened the door for further conversation and provided hope for survivors.

 

No Means No – Not “I do.”

W1403EAWMN1This month, lawmakers in Mozambique will debate revisions to the Criminal Code that would allow a rapist to escape punishment – by marrying the woman he attacked.

No means no – not “I do.” It forces survivors to endure the unthinkable.

If you were a woman or girl in Mozambique, not only could this law greatly increase social pressure to marry your rapist, it would actually prevent police from launching an investigation unless you (or a parent or guardian if you are a minor) made an official complaint.

It’s a gross violation of women’s rights.

Shine a light on this draconian bill and help Amnesty stop it before it becomes law.

Morocco had a law like this. It was repealed in January.

Why? How?

Because of outrage over the case of Amina Filali. She was forced to marry a man whom she said had raped her. In 2012, Amina lost all hope and swallowed rat poison and died shortly afterward.

She was just 16 years old.

When we raise our voices together, we can make a difference. Raise a furor over this bill – take action with Amnesty.

Thank you for standing with women and girls in Mozambique.

In solidarity,

Cristina M. Finch
Managing Director, Women’s Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

Held In Hell

W1312EAIAR3It took Miriam Isaura López Vargas several weeks to piece together what happened to her.

On Feb. 2, 2011, the 30-year-old mother of four had just dropped three of her children off at school when two masked men forced her into a van, blindfolded her and tied her hands. The men drove her to military barracks 50 miles away.

Soldiers raped and otherwise tortured her repeatedly, trying to force her to “confess” to drug trafficking and incriminate other detainees, unknown to Miriam. She was held in this hell, without charges, for 8 months before being released.

Urge Mexico’s Attorney General to conduct a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the torture of Miriam López.

Miriam is not alone. Torture cases have skyrocketed in Mexico.

According to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission Reports, torture and ill-treatment rose an astounding 500 percent in Mexico from 2005 to 2012.

Miriam has identified those responsible, yet no charges have been filed. Even if charges were filed, convictions for such crimes are rare.

December 15 is a key day for Miriam’s case: it marks two years since she filed an official complaint and yet there is very little progress.

Who do you turn to when government soldiers rape with impunity? The massive global human rights force of Amnesty International.

Miriam is one of 10 urgent human rights cases highlighted in Amnesty International’s 2013 Write for Rights campaign, the world’s largest and most effective letter-writing event.

Together, we’ve helped free enough prisoners of conscience to fill Madison Square Garden – twice.

Today, I’m asking you to help Miriam live free from fear. Make your voice heard – demand justice for Miriam.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

I Shouldn’t Speak

W1311EAWMN1“I Shouldn’t Speak”

Being raped, it makes you…a person without rights…every day someone reminds me that I’ve been raped and that I should put myself in a corner, that I shouldn’t speak, I should say nothing.”- Rose, raped at age 15, Haiti

Defend women like Rose.

The first time Rose was raped, her aunt arranged the attack as punishment for an argument. Rose was kidnapped by three men, assaulted, and then abandoned in a remote area. She was 15 years old.

The second time Rose was raped, a thief came into her house and assaulted her while her children were sleeping. She was 20 years old.

We cannot undo Rose’s pain, but Amnesty supporters like you CAN do something to put an end to the violence that robs women and girls like Rose of their rights.

Urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).

IVAWA was just reintroduced in Congress. This bill seeks to end the global epidemic of violence against women and girls, making preventing and ending this human rights abuse a diplomatic and foreign assistance priority for the US government. IVAWA includes:

* Support for organizations working to change the attitude of men and boys about violence against women and girls.

* Specialized training for health care providers to recognize the signs of physical and sexual violence against women and girls
Protections to ensure that girls can go to school safely.

*Focused training for law enforcement and legal personnel to properly respond to incidents of violence.

The rapes to which Rose was subjected prevented her from going to school, which in turn affected her employment opportunities and her ability to live a healthy life – but IVAWA can help women like Rose access critical health care, law enforcement support and legal assistance, and ultimately change the social norms that say violence is acceptable.

Rose’s story bears a horrible truth – that one in three women globally has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. IVAWA has the potential to make the one in three become none in three. But not without your help.

Countries, communities, and families cannot thrive without the contributions and talent of half their populations.

You can take action to end one of the world’s most pervasive human rights abuses today. Tell your Representatives in Congress to support IVAWA.

Let’s get this bill passed.

In solidarity,

Cristina Finch
Managing Director, Women’s Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

“I Demand My Rights.”

“I Demand My Rights.”

Kaia* was eleven years old when she was assaulted and raped on the way to school. A teacher took her to the hospital, but the police demanded bribes for even taking down a statement.

So Kaia did something incredibly brave. She sued the police for failing to protect her. What’s even more incredible is what happened next.

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In Kenya where Kaia lives, a woman or girl is raped every 30 minutes. Police there routinely turn a blind eye, further isolating terrified young survivors and reinforcing the notion that rape is ok.

Kaia and ten other young survivors challenged that. On the day of the case, ignoring threats to their safety and a blockade from court security, they marched from their shelter to the courthouse, chanting “Haki yangu” — Kiswahili for “I demand my rights.” And then the judge issued his ruling: The girls had won!

The amazing advocates and human rights lawyers that worked with Kaia are ready to bring similar lawsuits against police forces across Africa and beyond, but they need funding to do it. We won’t process pledges until we reach our goal, but if just 30,000 of us pledge a small amount now, we can repeat this game-changing victory in other countries, remind police that rape is a crime, and take a powerful step forward against the global war on women:

Click to pledge what you can — we’ll process your contribution only if we hit our goal of 30,000 donors.

When Kaia’s story began, she looked set to become just another of the countless victims of child rape ignored by the police. But Kenyan child rights advocate Mercy Chidi and Canadian human rights lawyer Fiona Sampson joined forces to challenge this injustice in the courts.

The plan was hatched in Kenya by a group of colleagues from Canada, Kenya, Malawi and Ghana — it seemed like a long shot to sue the police force for failing to act, but they stuck with it and took risks… and made legal history. The work has just begun: like any win, it takes time, effort and money to make sure the ruling sticks, and to use it as a springboard to wipe out violence against women.

If we raise enough, here’s how we could turn a huge victory for Kenya into a win for countries across Africa and even the rest of the world:

* help fund more cases like this, across Africa and around the world
* use hard-hitting campaign strategies to make sure these groundbreaking judgments are enforced
* push for massive, effective public education campaigns that strike at the root of sexual violence and help erase it for good
respond to more campaign opportunities like this case — with super smart strategies that turn the tide in the war on women.

Click to pledge what you can to start this important work right away — we won’t process any contributions unless we hit our goal of 30,000 donors.

As citizens, we often appeal to political leaders and other officials to get serious about protecting women’s rights. It’s important to keep doing that, but when they fail to hear their consciences, we need to appeal to their interests, and take them to court. That sends a powerful message: not only that there are new consequences for their crimes, but that the era of unchallenged misogyny in the culture of our societies is coming to end.

With hope,

Ricken, Maria Paz, Emma, Oli, Nick, Allison, Luca and the rest of the Avaaz team

* Kaia is a pseudonym, but her story is real. She is not pictured here.

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