Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘rape’

On the Front Lines

She was a 23-year-old physical therapy student who boarded a bus in Delhi last month. Six men locked the door, and savagely raped her. They dumped her naked in the street, and after bravely fighting for her life, she died last weekend.

Across India, people are responding in massive protests to say enough is enough. In India a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and few see justice. Globally, a staggering 7 in 10 women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime. This horror in Delhi is the last straw — it’s 2013, and the brutal, venal, global war on women must stop. We can start by drawing the line in India.

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The government is currently accepting public comments. We urgently need both stronger law enforcement and a massive public education program to change the grotesque but common male attitudes that permit violence against women. If 1 million of us join the call for action, we can help make this young woman’s horror the last straw, and the beginning of a new hope:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_indias_war_on_women/?bMPbqab&v=20731

The ringleader of the woman’s rapists coldly says she deserved it because she dared to stand up to him. Blaming the victim and other outrageous attitudes are found across society, including in the police who continually fail to investigate rape. Such views repress women and corrupt men everywhere. Massively funded public education campaigns have radically shifted social behaviour on drunk driving and smoking, and can impact the treatment of women. Tackling the root causes of India’s rape epidemic is vital, alongside better laws and faster legal processes.

Advertising in India is relatively cheap, so a significant funding commitment could blanket airwaves in multiple media markets for a sustained period of time. The ads should target male subcultures where conservative misogyny thrives, directly challenging and shaming those attitudes, ideally using messengers like popular sports figures that carry authority with the audience.

We only have days to influence the official Commission set up to find ways to crack down on India’s wave of sexual violence. If we can show real success in shifting attitudes in India, the model can be applied to other countries. The money spent will more than pay for itself by reducing poverty and promoting development, since treatment and empowerment of women has been identified as one of the greatest single drivers of social and economic progress. Click to send a message directly to the Indian government:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_indias_war_on_women/?bMPbqab&v=20731

>From opposing the stoning of women in Iran, to supporting the reproductive rights of women in Morocco, Uzbekistan and Honduras, to lobbying for real action to counter the growing ‘rape trade’ in trafficked women and girls, our community has been on the front lines of the fight to end the war on women. This new year begins with new resolve in India.

With hope and determination,

Emma, Ricken, Luis, Meredith, Iain, Ian, Marie, Michelle, Alaphia, Allison and the rest of the Avaaz team

Rape In Delhi India

Concerning a petition about the gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi.

Dear Gabriel,

This message is from Namita Bhandare who started the petition “President, CJI: Stop Rape Now!,” which you signed on Change.org.

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On Monday morning a small group of us took our petition with 109,000+ signatures to the Justice J.S. Verma Commission at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. We presented the three-volume petition, along with your signatures and suggestions. In case you’d like to write directly to Justice Verma directly his email is: justice.verma@nic.in. The commission will be receiving suggestions and recommendations until January 5.

Meanwhile, we will continue with this campaign and keep it updated. As next steps we are writing to various MPs asking them to put pressure on the Government to give priority to the pending bills relating to women safety.

I wish you all a very happy and safe new year.
Thank you for your support.

Namita Bhandare

View the petition

India’s Daughter

Gabriel –

Trigger warning: this email contains information about sexual assault that may be upsetting to survivors.

She was 23, with dreams of being a doctor. But two weeks ago, she was gang raped by six men, savagely beaten and thrown out of a moving bus in Delhi. The still unnamed woman who has become “India’s daughter” just died of her injuries in hospital.

Namita Bhandare knows the constant fear that goes with living in Delhi, nicknamed India’s “rape capital”. Like others, she long believed that nothing would change. But the outpouring of anger and sadness now has convinced her that this could be a turning point for women like her.

The tragedy has sparked vigils and protests, and over 100,000 Indians have already signed Namita’s petition to the Prime Minister. As the story reverberates around the world, being covered by every major news outlet, there’s a chance for Americans to help show the Indian Prime Minister that their international reputation is on the line if they fail to act.

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Click here to sign Namita’s petition asking the Indian government to actively prosecute rape cases, introduce compulsory sensitivity training for police, and pass two proposed laws to protect women.

The story of “India’s daughter” has sparked deep grief and fury across India. Grief for her horrifying ordeal, and fury that politicians have ignored the huge problem of rape and sexual violence against women for so long.

According to crime statistics, a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and most rapists are never prosecuted. Women are often blamed for their own rapes, police refuse to hear reports from victims, and some women report being harassed by the very authorities they hope will protect them.

Politicians are being faced with some uncomfortable truths. But Namita says that unless people seize this moment of national consciousness, the chance to change anything will slip away. That’s why she’s asking for global support to show the world is watching.

Click here to sign Namita’s petition, and ask the Indian government to do everything in its power to make sure tragedies like this are never repeated.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Kristiane and the Change.org team

“Rape is God’s Gift”

Dear Gabriel,

Last night a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate claimed that raped women should be forced to carry their rapist’s baby to term because their pregnancy — a result of rape — is a “gift from God.”

Tell Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock: Rape is a heinous act of violence, and no politician should tell women that any part of being raped is a gift from God. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Mourdock’s exact words — in the debate with his Democratic opponent — were:

“I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”

Mourdock is a staunch believer that abortion should be illegal even for victims of rape and incest. But even for an anti-abortion Tea Party Republican claiming that any part of of being raped is for the woman a “gift from God” is appalling.

Make no mistake: Tea Party Republicans like Mourdock will stop at nothing to send women back to the Stone Age. And if he wins election in Indiana, he will put Republicans one seat closer to control of the Senate. And that could mean that extreme anti-woman legislation passed readily in the House — defunding Planned Parenthood, redefining rape, blocking access to birth control — would now have a shot at passing the Senate.

Rape is rape. And it is not acceptable for a Republican politician campaigning for one of the highest offices in our government to tell women that if they get pregnant as a result of rape, that it’s a “gift from God.”

Thank you for standing up for women.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Lives On The Line

Dear Gabriel,

Our military women put their lives on the line for our country and they deserve the same care and benefits as other women.

But I was shocked to learn that if servicewoman is raped and become pregnant, our government forces the servicewoman to pay out of her own pocket. This law is unfair, indefensible and must be changed.

Military women, wives and daughters should have the same insurance coverage as federal employees, when facing a pregnancy caused by rape, so that they too can make the decision that is best for them and their families.

This kind of injustice cannot stand. Urge Congress to change this unfair policy and ensure no servicewoman is denied the health care she needs!

Thank you for taking action,

Ellen B.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

A Walk Across the Sun

A Walk Across the Sun
by Corban Addison
Released 3 January 2012
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
New York Journal of Books
22 August 2012

A Walk Across the Sun

“A Walk Across the Sun is the kind of literature that should be celebrated and honored.”

True crime meets literary fiction with a powerful kick to the stomach and the opening of the heart.

Lawyer and human rights activist Corban Addison steps astutely and brazenly into the writing world, delivering a story that navigates cross-cultural romance, family devotion, grief, loss, and modern day slavery into an exciting, disturbing, and provocative tale about surviving the impossible and believing beyond hope.

Two Indian teenage sisters (Ahalya and Sita Ghai) have their world literally washed away when their entire family is killed by a tsunami and they are sold as sex slaves to a man in Bombay.

Just when you think their lives cannot get any worse, they do. Thomas Clarke’s life as an up and coming lawyer in Washington D.C. is falling apart with the recent death of his daughter and his Indian wife Priya, leaving him alone and returning to India.

The way in which these characters’ lives eventually intersect and how their perspectives on life and death evolve are entirely believable in A Walk Across the Sun.

Nothing in this story feels contrived or out of place.

Each character struggles to survive the circumstances they find themselves in. Ahalya and Sita have no control over or voice in what happens to them, but Thomas and Priya are privileged with both choice and the means to manifest their deepest intentions—once they have figured out what those intentions are.

Though Ahalya and Sita are bought and sold for sex (as are thousands of girls and boys throughout the world), it is clear that it is about violence, control and profit. Sex is the conduit by which those that buy and sell others make their money.

By contrasting the love story between Thomas and Priya, the unbreakable devotion and tenderness between the sisters, and those engaging in sex for personal pleasure and profit, Mr. Addison distinctly defines and shows readers the difference between love, passion, and compassion versus sex for sex’s sake (at the expense of another’s wellbeing), without exhibiting any need to delve into a philosophical or theoretical discussion.

There is no ambiguity about rape and the use of the young for profit. Rape is rape.

It is a rare find to discover a work of fiction opening readers’ eyes to an existing horror with such precision and insight. A Walk Across the Sun is such a story.

Providing a treasure chest of prose, culture, nuance, insight, despair, and hope, A Walk Across the Sun is the kind of literature that should be celebrated and honored.

Don’t let this gem slip through your fingers. It will affect you long after you’ve read the last word.

Read more of Gabriel’s reviews at New York Journal of Books.

Because I Was Raped

Gabriel –

The first time the U.S. military betrayed me was when I was raped — twice — by my commanding officer in the Navy.

The second betrayal was when the Veterans Administration (VA) denied me disability benefits for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — which I have because I was raped in the military.

When applying for benefits from the VA, I had to “prove” that my rapes happened, through testimony from eyewitnesses, my ex-husband and others. This is a higher burden of proof than for other veterans applying for the same benefits — and only veterans applying for benefits because of sexual assault have to meet it. Even more, even after I had given it what it wanted, the VA failed to believe that the rapes had occurred or approve my benefits.

Today, I’m fighting back. I recently testified in front of Congress to show elected officials how the VA is failing countless veterans like me. I also started a petition on Change.org to build a nationwide outcry against the VA’s double standard preventing veterans who have been raped and sexually assaulted within the military from getting the benefits they deserve.

Click here to sign my petition now.

As a result of my rapes, I have endured decades of debilitating PTSD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, a sexually transmitted disease, nine miscarriages, suicide attempts, homelessness and an end to my marriage. It took 23 years, in the end, for the VA to give me any benefits at all.

And I’m not alone. By DOD’s own estimates, over 19,000 service members are assaulted in the military each year. For countless veterans like me, a denied VA claim is the second betrayal, and can mean the difference between life and death. And yet only 1 in 3 applicants receives PTSD benefits for military sexual trauma. In comparison, more than half of veterans applying for PTSD benefits linked to other kinds of trauma are approved.

A few weeks ago, I watched another military rape survivor, Lance Corporal Nicole McCoy, start her own petition on Change.org. More than 300,000 people signed it, inspiring me to start my own petition to create change within the VA.

And I know public pressure to change the VA’s broken system can work: it has happened before, when the VA changed the requirements for combat veterans applying for benefits. The same can happen for veterans who are survivors of military sexual assault — but only if thousands of people join me by signing my petition.

My belief is that the VA wants me to fade away as quickly as possible, but I’m not going to let it off the hook. It’s really that simple. I will continue to serve my country and defend the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My campaign today is a part of that.

Please click here to sign my petition now, and call on the VA to eliminate double standards and extra hurdles for veterans suffering from military sexual trauma and seeking the benefits they’re entitled to.

Thank you.

Ruth Moore

Returned to Rapists?

Gabriel –

An unthinkable ordeal: Blanca Medina was raped by five different men in El Salvador before she fled to the United States. Terrified and traumatized, she thought she’d at last found a safe haven to raise her 4-year-old daughter Alejandra (below). But now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants to deport her — potentially back into the hands of her rapists, who were never arrested.

Forced back to certain danger? Blanca fears for her life — and Alejandra’s — if they have to go to El Salvador. None of the men who raped her have been arrested, including her stalker, and she’s terrified of what they’ll do if she’s sent back to El Salvador. But ICE is choosing to ignore this and other evidence.

You can help: Blanca’s lawyer Matthew Muller is appalled at how ICE has treated someone so vulnerable — she’s been refused a female case officer, and intimidated by male agents. But Matthew knows that public support has saved countless people in the past — and he’s sure that if enough people join him, ICE will be forced to reverse its decision and allow Blanca to stay in the U.S.

Click here to sign Matthew’s petition to make sure Blanca and Alejandra are allowed to stay safe in the U.S.

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More information about Matthew’s petition, in his own words:

Could you imagine suffering torture five different times, only to be told that no protection from your torturers was allowed because you missed a deadline to apply? And what if you missed the deadline because you were still recovering from the last attack?

Blanca Medina doesn’t have to imagine what that would be like. She sought safety in the United States after suffering five rapes. Because of medical complications relating to those rapes, Blanca missed a hearing to apply for protection and was ordered deported. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement team tracked Blanca down and detained her, separating her from her four-year-old daughter Alejandra.

Blanca told ICE that she and Alejandra faced severe harm if deported. She asked for permission to at least explain how she and her daughter could be persecuted. ICE used a strange procedural rule to assert that it simply did not have to listen. Under ICE rules, it is free to ignore even conclusive proof that a person would suffer slow death by torture if deported. This “willful blindness” policy could be ended through simple procedural changes by the Department of Homeland Security.

Until the procedure is fixed, Blanca (and thousands of moms like her) face deportation with no hope of finding protection from persecution or torture. Join us in asking the U.S. government to end this policy of willful blindness to torture and persecution, and allow reasonable fear interviews for all who face deportation.

Click here to sign Matthew’s petition to make sure Blanca and Alejandra are allowed to stay safe in the U.S.

From Change.org.

Violence Against Women

From MoveOn.Org

“Violence against women is as American as apple pie. I know, not only as a legislator, but from personal experience.”

Yesterday, Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore spoke of her own sexual assault in an impassioned stand for victims of domestic violence, calling for the immediate reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.1 We need to stand with her today.

The bill to reauthorize the act has enough cosponsors in the Senate to pass, but House Republicans are blocking it—which is why Rep. Moore spoke out so personally and passionately.2

Last year when House Republicans tried to redefine rape as “forcible” rape only, MoveOn members helped spark a public outcry with a massive petition, and House Republicans backed down.3 We need to spark that same kind of outcry right now, in order to keep essential protections in place for victims of domestic abuse.

Tell your Representative: Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act now. No delays, no excuses.

Why the sudden opposition to help for victims of domestic violence? Because some Republicans don’t want protections extended to rural and tribal populations, immigrant women, or LGBT victims of domestic violence.4 But no one deserves to be abused, regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, or immigration status.

Imagine fleeing an abusive partner in the middle of the night, only to find that there’s nowhere to go and no one to turn to. No hotline to call for advice, no shelter to keep you safe, no advocate to help you in court. That could be the harsh reality for victims of domestic violence if House Republicans keep blocking reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

This is just the latest attack in the Republican war on women. From the attempts to redefine rape to limiting women’s access to breast cancer screening and contraception, the war on women’s health and safety is happening across the country.5 But some Republicans are starting to realize the political damage the war on women is doing to their party.

That creates a real opportunity for a grassroots campaign to stop Republicans from limiting protections for victims of domestic violence.

Nicola Geiger: Peace In Hell

Excerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call.

Events that can and often do, devastate us emotionally, can also be used for personal transformation and growth. Some individuals find hope and opportunity in the midst of adversity. They reach out to help others find comfort and healing. Some succeed to change laws, institutions, policies and assumptions.

Born and raised in Germany, Nicola Geiger lived in a young girl’s dream world; a luxurious home, close friends, material goods and parties galore. By the end of World War II she was homeless, without possessions and absent her loving family. Her father, mother and one-year-old son died shortly after the war began. When she was eight months pregnant with her second child she was raped. The child died at birth as a result of the trauma. She was interrogated and tortured in Poland, lost many close friends and her dear husband Rudolf disappeared, never to be heard from again.

Since her losses during the war, Nicola persisted in reaching out to others. Immediately after the war she worked with the International Red Cross and assisted refugees. After studying in England she moved to the U.S., met her second husband, fought against McCarthyism and became involved in the civil rights movement. When they moved on to Japan she became active in visiting the atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima, waged campaigns for world peace and fought for the rights of Koreans who had been enslaved and abused by the Japanese. When her husband died she decided to move to the Philippines. There she fought for democracy and the overthrow of the Marcos regime.

Ms. Geiger: (In picture above, holding photo of husband)

First of all, my two children died. One was a baby and the other was when I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and was raped by twelve Russians. The child didn’t survive. It died right after birth. Fortunately, they found me in these ruins in Berlin. A lady heard me when I cried out for help and she took me to a Red Cross hospital. Then my husband disappeared and I never knew what happened to him. My father died a horrible death at the beginning of the war, which was said to be an accident, but it wasn’t – his legs were cut off while he was visiting a factory. Friends died and the absolute, total destruction of everything from the bombing. It was an enormous amount of simply taking in the losses.

Such losses can never be replaced. You’re totally wiped out . . . your associations and surroundings . . . furnishings that were two hundred years old, furniture, everything . . . so then you realize you are totally alone.

I was very active in helping refugees after the war. I moved to England where I studied theater. I came to America at the time of McCarthyism, where you were better dead than red. I was not going to stay in America one day longer with such attitudes and wouldn’t have if I hadn’t met my second husband. He was a scientist who’d worked on the Manhattan Project. He was really an extraordinary person.

I was very involved with anti-McCarthyism and the civil rights movement. I had never been told, “This is a Jew and this is a German.” I grew up in a socialist family and my father was extremely enlightened, as was my mother. My father was a Buddhist. He sat in the room where I was born and had prepared a meditation mat next to him so I could be put beside him upon birth.

I was very involved in the civil rights movement during the fifties and sixties and I worked a great deal with children in theater in order to empower them. I find theater to be a tool that is very useful. During the Vietnam War I continued in the civil rights movement. We lived in Philadelphia. There were sit ins from Baltimore up to Washington, women strike for peace and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. I was really involved with my whole heart then. When my husband went on sabbatical we went to Hiroshima Japan where he did research on atomic bomb victims, whom I worked with as well.

The Japanese had resettled two provinces in Korea and brought Koreans to Japan as slave laborers. In 1905 America and Japan made a treaty in which America took over the Philippines and Japan took over Korea. The Koreans were very badly treated, so I worked a great deal with Koreans in the Hiroshima area and in Kyoto after my husband died. I worked extensively with the Japanese peace movement and with the liberation people in Korea. For a couple years I moved to the Philippines because of my health. I lived with European journalists there and entered into the movement to oust the Marcos regime.

There was never a time when I wasn’t involved. It hasn’t been from an intellectual place. It really came from my own deep understanding of what life is about. The work I did was because I wanted to be in this world. I wanted to live in that light which takes away the occasion of all wars cruelty and control. I really understood, through my Buddhism, that I am the one that must work on myself . . . my ego. This is what I successfully did, in great part because of my experience with suffering.

Two of the major exercises which were brought to me when I was young, were to go over my day at night and decide what was harmonious and what was not. My parents did not speak of bad and good; they spoke of harmony and disharmony. They presented it in a way, because I was very small, that I was very much empowered. If I had done something, thrown a stone or fought with someone, I could go to that person and make it right or more accurately, harmonious.

My parents always used the bell. (She rings bell) The bell was used for settling down. My mother was not a Buddhist, but she saw how its values worked and she and father’s parenting was always together. There was also an enormous group of friends with whom we’d celebrate the change of the year. People would come together. Every weekend there would be music and poetry. It was an extremely interesting and wonderful life I grew up in.

I don’t really know how I managed to survive (the war), but I can tell you what happened. When I was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, I thought, “I can change the world!” Don’t we all think that? I was nineteen when my father died on September 6, 1939, just six days after the war began. Then there was the attack on Poland and a few of my friends were killed. Then began the registration of food and nobody could travel on trains. Everything was regulated. My father was against Hitler and had voted against him in the election. Did you know he came into power with only thirty-three percent of the vote? A year after Hitler became chancellor he assassinated five thousand people, many who were homosexuals, gypsies (and political opponents). Five thousand people in two days! They were all rounded up.

When these things happened I really understood that I had no power; that I had been living in a fantasy; thinking my life could make a difference. I really understood that I was quite powerless, even though I knew many important people. I could go to them but they could not help me. I couldn’t say, “Let’s stop the war.” Then from my own view of the world, because of Buddhism, I really grasped, not so much understood, it really was a grasping, that I was responsible for myself and how I would live and what I would do in the midst of all that was going on. From 1943 on, when the totally destructive air raids came, I really lived day to day.

Why didn’t I have any feeling of revenge? I think this is fascinating. I thought it was futile to do so. I felt that to have these emotions were only hurting me. They didn’t give me any peace. I had feelings, not so much of revenge, but of anger and more anger. I wanted to lash back. But I began to understand very quickly, to grasp, that that would only hurt myself. I had to fight to really center down and my bell helped me with that. I centered down and did my Metta practice every day. Metta is a Buddhist meditation for loving-kindness. That was the thing to do. In many ways it’s a great mystery that I could do it. I think it had something to do with all the wonderful people I’d encountered through the years. The German people were not bad people. The people I’d been born in to were fine people. In human kindness and helpfulness I encountered many wonderful people.

So, I did my Metta practice. I didn’t deny my grief. Indeed, I felt it! I tried to commit suicide on my birthday on August 3rd, 1945. I took pills and my friends with whom I was staying came back home after I’d taken them. Luckily they’d forgotten something. I don’t speak of it very often. I was tired. I was so tired of knowing about evil. I was so tired that I wanted to rest forever. It’s really amazing all the things that went on around the world.

When I recovered, woke up and was back in the present, I was really grateful that I had lived! My time was not yet up. Indeed, I realized that I had a task. And each time someone died that was close to me; I carried them with me in their spirit. It’s like they’re marching with me. I’ve demonstrated and manifested in my life what most of the people who died would have done.

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