The Global Persecution of Women
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
”Peacekeeping's Unsavory Side,” Peacewomen, 15 June 2003.
June 9, 2003 – (UN Wire) Among the uglier stories surrounding international peacekeeping in recent years is that U.N. operations too often fuel booms in local prostitution, frequently involving women abducted or duped by criminal trafficking gangs to be forced into brothels. Sadly, there are also documented cases of peacekeepers -- a minority, to be sure -- who sexually abuse local people whom they are sent to protect.
Rod Mickleburgh, “Ellison gets house arrest for sex crimes,” Toronto Globe and Mail, 27 Jan. 2007.
VANCOUVER — Tom Ellison, the good-looking, charismatic former leader of a high-school outdoor adventure program here, was spared jail yesterday for a series of sexual trysts with his female students as long as 30 years ago.
Judge Mark Takahashi said he was offering Mr. Ellison a mercy he did not show his teenage victims, as he sentenced the 63-year-old ecotourism guide to house arrest of two years less a day on five sex-related crimes.
"This was not an easy decision, and it will probably not be without controversy," the judge observed.
Prosecutor Ralph Keefer had sought a prison sentence of two to three years in a federal penitentiary for Mr. Ellison, calling his behaviour "deliberate, manipulative and predatory.
"This was not a mistake [by Mr. Ellison]. It was not a one-off. When an action becomes serial, a substantial period of incarceration must follow," he told the judge.
Several of the complainants had earlier read heartfelt victim impact statements to the court, attesting to the emotional scars and psychological trauma they experienced for years after their encounters with Mr. Ellison.
But in delivering his judgment late yesterday afternoon after a full day of sentencing submissions, Judge Takahashi said "mercy can be given to the undeserving .ƒ|.ƒ|.
"Revenge is a visceral response to the dramatic, but in the long term it is unsatisfactory."
As the lean, long-limbed ex-teacher stood before him, head bowed and hands clasped, Judge Takahashi noted the scores of letters from friends and other former students attesting to Mr. Ellison's exemplary behaviour in the 20 years since he left teaching.
He added that Mr. Ellison also has a 10-year-old son who is said to "adore and respect you. If you went to jail, it would change all that, and I can't see what good it would do."
Mr. Ellison, head of the Quest program during the late 1970s and early 1980s at Prince of Wales High School in an affluent west-side neighbourhood, was originally charged with 16 sex-related crimes involving a dozen students.
The case and the riveting three-week trial last fall drew enormous public interest, with the courtroom often packed with both supporters and intense critics of Mr. Ellison.
In December, Judge Takahashi found the former teacher guilty of two counts of indecent assault, one of assault and four of gross indecency, two of which were immediately stayed.
At the time, the judge gave Mr. Ellison a verbal tongue-lashing, labelling him a narcissistic manipulator, who gave little thought to anyone but himself.
Most of the sexual encounters, which almost always stopped short of intercourse, took place with sexually inexperienced teenagers aboard Mr. Ellison's sailboat.
During the trial, court heard that he would often tell the students they were "special" and that he was preparing them "the right way" for subsequent sexual relations.
Mr. Keefer and defence lawyer Richard Peck painted two dramatically different views of Mr. Ellison's character during their submissions.
The prosecutor described him as a serial, sexual predator whose "deliberate and manipulative" behaviour was directed against children.
But Mr. Peck painted a vivid picture of someone who has saved lives in courageous ocean rescues, worked tirelessly to preserve large tracts of B.C. wilderness, and, since leaving teaching, led a life that was "to the benefit of the people of this province."
He pointed to the contrasting views of Mr. Ellison presented to the court.
"We have the one picture based on events that took place 25 years ago, and we have this picture," said Mr. Peck, referring to his positive assessment that was so flowery it seemed at times to move his client to tears.
"What we have here is nothing more than an acknowledgment of the foibles of human nature."
Arguing for a conditional sentence, Mr. Peck said Mr. Ellison has already paid a heavy price from the "vast stigma" on him from the headline-grabbing case.
"I can't remember where one individual has been subjected to so much adverse attention in the media. . It's a scarlet letter. He's been pilloried," the lawyer said.
In her victim impact statement, Denise Tupman, who has waived her privacy rights in the case, addressed Mr. Ellison directly.
"Tom, what kind of a teacher do you think you were? You took away my innocence and my ability to trust," she said, as her former teacher stared impassively at the courtroom table in front of him.
Describing herself as a "mixed-up 17-year old, the one you took advantage of," Ms. Tupman said that only now has she been able to put behind her the guilt and shame that has troubled her life for years.
"That burden of guilt and shame that I carried for so many years is now placed on you, Tom, the abuser," she told Mr. Ellison.
"I have often wondered how things would have been different in my life, if I had not encountered Mr. Ellison," said one woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban.
When she began the Quest program, the mother of two teenage daughters said, she was a "naive, sexually innocent and vulnerable 16-year-old" who fell under the sway of someone "who had clearly mastered the art of seducing the vulnerable."
After she eventually ended their sexual relationship, the woman said she felt "shameful, guilty and disillusioned."
A third woman, who had only one encounter with Mr. Ellison which she stopped after he — unbidden — massaged her breasts and digitally penetrated her vagina, said that afterward she felt "totally violated, overpowered and shocked" by the incident.
It caused her "great emotional and psychological trauma. It's an event I can still recall as if it were yesterday."
This may not be the end of the Ellison matter. The Crown is appealing his acquittal on five other gross indecency charges, and police are continuing their investigation into the once-lauded Quest Program, as more complainants come forward.
Joe Friesen, “Pair held teen girls as sex slaves,” Globe and Mail, 15 Nov. 2006.
WINNIPEG -- Lynnette Traverse listened in stunned disbelief yesterday as a Manitoba judge told her she would be free in a matter of hours despite having been convicted of one the province's most shocking sex crimes.
Her mouth agape, she threw her hands up to her face, and then looked over at her co-accused, Terry Ladouceur, who smiled back at her.
As the convicted couple were led from court in shackles, members of the victims' families exploded in anger, shouting "Pig" at a grinning Mr. Ladouceur, and uttering threats against Ms. Traverse.
The pair, who have been compared to Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, were found guilty of abducting and sexually assaulting girls of 12 and 13 years old and holding them as sex slaves.
Ms. Traverse was described in court as an active participant in the sexual assaults who held one young victim by the shoulders while Mr. Ladouceur raped her. She played no part in the abduction, but was guilty of forcible confinement, the judge said.
She was sentenced to four years in prison, but was granted two-for-one credit for the two years she had spent in pretrial custody. The Crown had been seeking a sentence of six to eight years.
Mr. Ladouceur was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but Mr. Justice Gerald Jewers of the Court of Queen's Bench gave him only three years' credit for two years in pretrial custody, based in part on his "somewhat appalling bad behaviour" in prison.
The Crown had sought a sentence of 16 to 18 years in his case. The judge said neither of the accused had a significant prior criminal history, which mitigated against a longer sentence. "There's a large disparity between what the Crown asked for and what the court imposed," said Crown lawyer Jill Duncan.
"Certainly, with the male accused, he got a significant period of incarceration. With the female, unfortunately she's a free woman today. When you read in particular the psychological report of one of the young girls, her life has been devastated. The irony of course is that she will have to pay for this with her whole life."
Mr. Ladouceur, 34, and Ms. Traverse, 25, lived together in a house in Winnipeg's Point Douglas neighbourhood.
The first assault occurred in 1999, on a girl who was 13 at the time. The initial indictment said the assaults were repeated, although only one count was proved in court. The victim, now 20, eventually became pregnant with Mr. Ladouceur's child. Her life subsequently spun out of control through acts like drug use and prostitution, and the baby was eventually seized by Manitoba's child and family services division.
The second victim was 12 when she was assaulted in the spring of 2004. In a medical report filed in court, one of the victims said Mr. Ladouceur used to stalk her on her way to school. She even tried taking circuitous paths to avoid him and would often skip class, pretending she had slept in.
"It's unfathomable the damage that this girl has undertaken," Ms. Duncan said. "What his lordship found was that the young woman was twice abducted off the street, one where she was actually thrown in the trunk of the car. She was taken to the house, she was bound, she was violated in every way that a young girl can be violated."
The medical report says the episodes lasted several days.
In one case, the girl was tied with plastic strips at the ankles and wrists and raped by Mr. Ladouceur while Ms. Traverse held her down. She was also given drugs and alcohol.
A social worker's report filed in court describes the devastation wrought on the victim, now 14. It says she feels depressed, isolated and has difficulty trusting adults. It also says she wishes she had not come forward, and blames herself for the subsequent deterioration of her family. She was placed in foster care, but is often missing. The report notes that the girl "articulates having no hopes, no dreams, no plans and no wishes. She says she doesn't care what happens to her, always adding she just wants to live at home." The report continues: "She continues to put herself at considerable risk by going AWOL, using drugs, being beaten up and associating with street people. As of this writing I do not know where she is."
As they waited for yesterday's sentencing to begin, Mr. Ladouceur and Ms. Traverse chatted amicably while sitting in the prisoner's box. Mr. Ladouceur, his black hair swept back in a ponytail, draped a tattooed arm over the back of the box, while Ms. Traverse, wearing small, round spectacles, whispered to him.
Although the couple appeared surprised that Ms. Traverse would be freed yesterday, they had plotted in their prison letters to spend as much time as possible in pretrial custody. In a letter to Ms. Traverse dated June 24 this year, Mr. Ladouceur ran through a detailed plan to attempt to delay sentencing until May of 2007.
On the day of the sentencing hearing, he wrote, "just refuse to come to court." In circumstances like that, the judge would then have to issue an order to force her out of her cell, and new court dates would have to be established. She could also fire her lawyer, imposing delays that could cut their time in prison by as much as a year. In a postscript, Mr. Ladouceur said: "This letter won't self-destruct when you're done reading it, so you'll have to destroy it so we don't get obstruction charges."
The letter also reveals intimate details of their relationship.
Mr. Ladouceur talked of buying a house in the country, away from nosy neighbours, and did some soul-searching that would not sound out of place on a TV talk show. "Why the charges? Why the conviction? Maybe it was to bring you and I back together. We had a lot of good times you and I. I don't know how things got so mixed up." He went on to write: "We lost our together time," and "We stopped working on ourselves." He concluded by saying he wants to start a rock band, and wonders whether Ms. Traverse could be the lead singer, like eighties female rockers Pat Benatar or Joan Jett.
Both Ms. Traverse's and Mr. Ladouceur's names will be included in the national sex-offender registry.
As well, both are prevented from seeking jobs that involve working with children.
”Families irate over sentences in Canadian sex case,” Reuters, 14 Nov. 2006.
A Canadian couple convicted of brutally assaulting two girls, one of whom said she was kept as a sex slave, were sentenced on Tuesday, but the victims' relatives denounced the punishment as too lenient.
Prosecutors had described the couple -- Terry Ladouceur, 39, and Lynnette Traverse, 25 -- as "evil incarnate," and the case evoked memories of the trial of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, who were convicted in the torture killings of two Ontario girls in a notorious sex case in the 1990s.
A Manitoba judge sentenced Ladouceur to 10 years in prison and Traverse, his common-law wife, to four years on charges that included sexual assault, kidnapping and forcible confinement involving the two girls, who were 12 and 13 when the assaults started.
Because of the time the couple spent in jail awaiting trial, Ladouceur will spend only an additional seven years behind bars, and Traverse will be eligible for release almost immediately.
The victims' relatives cursed and cried in the courtroom over sentences that they said were too lenient. They complained to reporters that the couple have never shown remorse for what they had done.
Prosecutors had wanted Ladouceur to spend up to 18 years in prison and Traverse eight years. They called the sentences handed down by the court an irony since at least one of the girls would likely never recover psychologically. "I don't know whether she'll ever have any healing. And one of the individuals who devastated her is a free woman today," prosecutor Jill Duncan told reporters outside the courthouse.
Police said the couple lured girls into their home with promises of free alcohol and marijuana. The victims were attacked and forced to return for more abuse with threats their families would be harmed if they told them what was happening.
Ladouceur's lawyer, Jeff Nichols, defended the sentences, saying they reflected the crimes that the couple were actually convicted of. The judge had acquitted them of charges involving a third girl.
"There was a lot of evidence presented that ultimately, at the end of the day, the court decided not to accept," Nichols said.
He said it was an exaggeration to compare this case with that of Bernardo and Homolka, which involved murder.
Bernardo was sentenced to life in prison. Homolka spent 12 years in prison, but there were complaints her sentence was too light after evidence emerged about her involvement in the crimes.
”Winnipeg couple sentenced for sex assaults on girls,” Sympatico MSN News, 14 Nov. 2006.
A Winnipeg man was sentenced Tuesday to seven more years in prison and his common-law wife was sentenced to time served for sexually assaulting two girls, including a 12-year-old relative.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Gerald Jewers sentenced Terry Ladouceur to seven years in prison - on top of about two years already spent in custody - on eight charges, including kidnapping and sexual assault.
Lynnette Traverse, who was convicted of three charges of sexual assault and forcible confinement, was given credit for the two years she had served in custody and was to be released Tuesday.
Family members of the victims swore and sobbed in the courtroom, saying the sentences were too lenient.
'This girl has no hope ... no dreams'
Court was told that for several years since 1999, Ladouceur and Traverse lured the two girls into their house on promises of free liquor and drugs, then raped them. The assaults started when the girls were 12 and 13 years old.
One of the victims became pregnant with Ladouceur's child.
The relative had testified that she was held as Ladouceur's "sex slave" on a number of occasions over several months, was given pills and alcohol, and was tied to a bed and raped.
Crown prosecutor Jill Duncan told reporters outside court Tuesday that the extent of the depravity and perverseness in the case has rarely been seen, and it has had a profound impact on one of the victims.
"As indicated at the sentencing, there was a psychiatric report saying this girl has no hope. She has no dreams. She has no future. It's unfathomable the damage that this girl has undertaken," Duncan said.
Duncan said the Crown may appeal the sentences.
Sentences not lenient, defence lawyer says
Jeff Nichols, Ladouceur's lawyer, rejected the notion that the sentences were lenient and said his client may appeal.
Nichols called media comparisons of his client and Traverse to the notorious Canadian killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, convicted in the abduction and killings of Ontario teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, a "tremendous exaggeration."
But child advocates said the sentences were not long enough to fit the crime.
Rosalind Prober of Beyond Borders, a Winnipeg-based child advocacy organization, said the courts should not be shy to send the message that sexual exploitation against children will not be tolerated.
"The answer is in the courtroom," Prober said. "Where society hears about cases like this is in the media. The message they're getting is, 'Well, it's not that serious after all ... ' Instead of hearing, 'Nope, no tolerance. You do this, you pay a price.'"
Winnipeg Police Det. Harmen Wouda, the lead investigator on the case, said Tuesday that it was one of the most horrific sexual assault cases he had ever seen, particularly when it came to one of the victims.
"She was, at various times over a period of several months, manipulated to attend the residence, fed medications to make her become unconscious, fed alcohol ... when she was unconscious, she was ... basically victimized to a horrific extent," Wouda said.
”Cop in jail for rape,” Fiji Sun, 30 September 2006.
A police support officer was jailed for five years after he pleaded guilty to raping a woman during a drinking party. Timoci Satala 42 of Lautoka was sentenced by Magistrate Maika Nakora in the Lautoka court. Ms Nakora said rape was a very serious offence and the starting point for rape of a child was ten years and the rape of an adult was seven years in jail. The victim was assaulted by Timoci before being raped. Ms Nakora said the accused should have known better because he was a police support officer.
”Defiler wants marriage,” Fiji Daily Post, 25 Jan. 2006.
A 25-year-old man who defiled a 15-year-old girl and had sexual intercourse with her on four separate occasions told the court that he was willing to marry her. Koresi Wainiqolo of Newtown in Nasinu pleaded guilty to defilement of a girl between the age of 13 and 16 years before Nasinu Magistrate, Eparama Rokoika. In mitigation, the accused told the court that he had apologised to the victim’s family traditionally and that the victim was willing to marry him. However, Magistrate Rokoika replied that the girl was under the legal age for marriage and told the accused that he would be sentenced according to the charges laid against him.
”Fiji,” DOS Report 2005.
The women's rights movement pressed for more severe punishments for rape. Sentences varied considerably. Rape cases heard in the lower magistrates' courts typically resulted in shorter sentences. Women's groups continued to urge that all rape cases be heard in the High Court, where lengthier sentences are available. The Court of Appeal has ruled that 10 years is the minimum appropriate sentence in child rape cases. Women's activists continued to press for criminalization of spousal rape. At year's end a new domestic violence bill, including a provision criminalizing spousal rape, was under discussion in draft form but had not been formally considered by Parliament.
”Fiji,” DOS Report 2001.
The women's rights movement also pressed for serious punishment for rape. Courts have imposed sentences that vary widely but generally were lenient. For example, a grandfather charged with raping a 10-year old girl was given a suspended sentence in January, but in another case in February, the guilty party was given a 3-month jail term. Women's groups continued to push to have all rape cases heard in the High Court, where sentencing limits are higher; however, the accused decides where the case will be heard. Only one case in the last 5 years has been sent to the High Court.
FJI36016.E, "Fiji: Whether Indo-Fijian women have been targeted by ethnic Fijian men since the May 2000 coup; ion available for Indo-Fijian women (May 2000 - January 2001)," 16 Jan. 2001. Ottawa: IRB, 2001.
In 14 January 2001 correspondence with the Research Directorate, the coordinator of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre in Suva provided the following information:
2. Actually things have deteriorated since [the coup]. In the few cases that were reported to the police, the complaints of a sexual assault did not even show up in the final statement and needless to say, the women preferred to ignore this. Many sexual assaults have been reported but given the state of the judiciary currently in Fiji, crimes against women have taken a back seat.
Crimes against property are taken more seriously than crimes against women and children. Though recent cases have elicited appropriate condemnatory comments from magistrates, the sentencing does not reflect this.
The Police in the country are a major problem in pursuing cases of crimes committed against women.
The State never was too committed in protecting women in the best of times and with the situation in Fiji now, the commitment is barely there. The NGOs (like us) have put up a hard lobby and we continue to monitor the situation closely. ...
In Fijian culture, the custom of bulubulu can take the decision out of a woman's hands and prevent her from reporting. If she does still report the rape and the case goes to court, bulubulu, if it has been made, can be used as a mitigating factor in court, in the rapist's favour. So, the court may pass a lighter sentence - because bulubulu has been made.
FJI35364.E, " Fiji: Protection available to women, especially single, divorced or widowed women victims of domestic abuse by relatives; police procedures at the scene of the incident/crime; availability of restraining orders and shelters; protection offered by criminal or civil courts; attitudes of the public, police, government etc. (1999-2000)," 4 Oct. 2000. Ottawa: IRB, 2000.
Another major flaw in Fiji's rape legislation is that the victim/survivor has to prove that she has been raped. The "Law of Corroboration" requires that she proves rape by independent evidence. This independent evidence may be a witness, her own physical injuries, or medical evidence. Fiji law also allows a rape victim's/survivor's past sexual history to be raised in court whereas the accused rapist's past, such as previous convictions, cannot be raised in court until after the verdict.
In many cases, rape trials are held in an open court. Although it is possible for a trial to be held in a closed court, this has to be requested well in advance and is seldom granted.
Rapists receive very light prison sentences ranging from eighteen months to five years. Under Fiji law, the accused rapist has the option to ask that his case be heard in either the Magistrates Court or the High Court. The Magistrates Court has the jurisdiction to pass sentence for only a maximum of five years whereas the High Court can pass the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. A request for the latter has yet to happen.
According to Fiji-police statistics, there has been an increase of rapes and attempted-rapes from 19 percent in 1982 to 30.5 percent in 1994. Rape and attempted-rape cases increased by 53.2 percent from 1993 to 1994. Official statistics, however, do not provide an accurate picture of the actual incidence of rape in Fiji. In truth, the general perception is that police figures grossly underestimate rape cases. Moreover, the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre statistics show that only 45 percent of rape victims/survivors calling on the centre reported their cases to the police.
The reluctance of victims/survivors to report a rape can be attributed to the following:
Society's tendency to blame the victim for the sexual assault quite often, the victim is suspected of provoking the assault by having dressed or behaved "provocatively."
The judicial and medical processes can be traumatic, often requiring the victim/survivor to recall the smallest details of the rape. Furthermore, the lack of sensitivity during police interrogation, the medical examination, and the cross-examination in court are strong deterrents to rape cases being reported.
The publicity often surrounding rape trials many women are not able to cope with the stigma of being labeled "rape victims" or of having their sexual history brought up in open court.
Fear of revenge or reprisal from their assailants, particularly in family-related rapes. The FWCC statistics show that there are more family-related rapes each year than are reported to the police. In fact, this category of rape is the most underreported.
Culture--or the use by the offender of traditional methods of reconciliation in Fijian culture, bulubul, to obtain forgiveness for his actions and render him free from prosecution. Indian girls are even less likely to report a rape because of the emphasis put on chastity and virginity before, and fidelity during, marriage.
"Palestinian trio get death for rape, murder Reuters," Gulfnews.com, 14 April 2004.
A Gaza court sentenced three Palestinians to death yesterday for the rape and murder of a teenage girl, a crime that has contributed to fears of a slide into lawlessness accelerated by conflict with Israel.
A fourth defendant received a life sentence in the case, which shocked the Palestinian society, where rape has long been a taboo topic. Gazans knew the 16-year-old girl was abducted as she left school in August and was found strangled 48 hours later in a garbage bin.
But not until late February, when the four suspects were arrested, did police confirm she had also been raped.
"The court finds all defendants guilty," Hassan Al Jadba, the presiding criminal court judge, told the four taxi drivers, who are aged 22 to 24. Relatives of the dead girl cheered after the ruling. Women ululated and men shouted, "Long live justice".
Colonel Majed Abu Shammala, the chief investigator, said the suspects had confessed under questioning. It was not known if they would appeal against the death sentence, issued after several hearings in which they had access to lawyers.
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has the power to commute death sentences to life.
”Jennifer Temkin: Womens' advocate,” Guardian, 5 Dec. 2006.
The leading academic expert on the law of rape tells Chris Arnot what some judges have failed to understand
Professor Jennifer Temkin may have a family home in Hampstead Garden Suburb but she's well aware of what's going on in less sedate parts of the realm. She is, after all, a university lecturer, and students are part of the binge-drinking culture affecting almost every town centre in the UK. As the country's leading academic expert on the law of rape, she has seen more than enough evidence that prodigious consumption can leave unwary women vulnerable.
That does not mean that some women are "asking for it", as jurors and police officers have been known to put it. "I don't think anyone asks to be raped," she says, crisply. But she concedes binge drinking is adding further complications to an area of law in which securing a conviction is already fiendishly difficult. "So many issues can arise," she goes on. "There's the situation where a woman has had one too many and agrees to have sex with someone she wouldn't consider otherwise. The fact is she did consent. If she regrets it afterwards, that's too bad. At the other end of the spectrum is the woman who has passed out through drink. The law has been clear on that for over 100 years. An unconscious person cannot consent. And once she passes from consciousness to unconsciousness, consent disappears.
"That principle is not spelt out in the 2003 [Sexual Offences] Act as perhaps it should have been," she says. "Drink is one of those areas where the law needs a little tweaking." In other respects, however, she regards current legislation as "quite good". Which is, perhaps, not surprising as she was a member of the external review group that took part in the Home Office's sex offences review between 1999 and 2000. In other words, she helped to pave the way for the act. "The trouble is," she adds, "the law in action is not living up to the law on the statute book."
One problem is that defence barristers have frequently ignored rules, brought in six years ago, about bringing up a defendant's sexual history in court. And judges have allowed them to get away with it. "I interviewed 17 judges in depth," says Temkin, "and half of them didn't know that the use of such evidence is outlawed save in exceptional circumstances."
Well, they should know now. Temkin's report on the issue of sexual history misuse, commissioned by the Home Office, was published online in July. "From what I gather," she says, "the government is going to make changes to the criminal procedure rules that will address this particular problem."
And how has the bar responded? "Not very kindly to the press reports," she concedes. She's a trained barrister herself and law is very much the family business. She is married to Graham Zellick, head of the Criminal Cases Review Commission. Both their children are lawyers; both her parents were lawyers, as is her brother.
Jennifer Temkin was born three years after the war, which meant that she arrived at the London School of Economics in the late 60s, when the "baby boomer" generation was making its voice heard. The LSE was a hotbed of revolutionary politics. "I was an observer of the phenomenon from the sidelines," she says. "From the point of view of my studies, the sit-ins were very disruptive."
She did well enough, however, and went on to achieve a distinction in her masters degree and was called to the Middle Temple in 1971. But she never went on to practise. "I preferred the academic side of the law," she says, "and I was offered a lecturing job at the LSE." Her specialism came some years later. "Two male colleagues decided to launch a course on women and the law. I was happy to participate and, once I started swotting up on the laws of rape, the injustices leapt out at me. When we look back at the way rape trials were conducted in those days, I think they will be viewed as one of the most shameful aspects of 0ur legal system. At least the profession has now registered that. Judges and barristers will admit that it was bad. But that's not what they were saying at the time."
Changing attitudes in the public is an altogether more complex and long-term problem, she feels. Along with social psychologist Professor Barbara Krahe, from the University of Potsdam in Germany, Temkin is writing a book on social prejudices and how they are linked to what she calls the "justice gap" - the yawning chasm between the number of rapes reported and the number of convictions. Only 5.6% of British women who take their complaint to the police see their assailant convicted. Many more decide to keep quiet rather than go through the humiliation of being interrogated in the dock.
"The police are excellent at dealing with issues when the spotlight is on them," Temkin says. "But they're not so good at seeing change through. They brought in sexual assault referral centres, staffed by women officers, but they're not everywhere and the investigation of the crime itself is still likely to be carried out by male officers with no training. Many women testify to having a horrible time. That's why, though record numbers of rapes are being reported, few go as far as the courts."
For those cases that do, the UK conviction rate is little over 20%, the lowest of any European country except Ireland. Jurors, Temkin says, are as prone to the influence of what she calls "myths and stereotypes" as anyone else. Male jurors in particular. "Judges," she says, "believe it's women jurors who're responsible for acquitting defendants in rape cases. But the studies show it's men's attitudes that haven't moved on as much as one might have thought. While researching our current book, we've interviewed quite a few law students and you'd be surprised at the differences that still persist between male and female attitudes." Which does not bode well for the long-term narrowing of the justice gap.
Fears over Haiti child 'abuse,'” BBC News, 30 Nov. 2006.
A BBC investigation commissioned as part of Generation Next - a week of programmes focusing on people under 18 - has uncovered fresh allegations of the sexual abuse of children by United Nations peacekeepers. Mike Williams reports from Port au Prince, Haiti.
The heavily armoured United Nations patrol rolls through the dusty streets of Cite Soleil - the most dangerous and deprived part of a very dangerous and deprived country.
UN peacekeepers crouch low in the turrets of the armoured cars, their rifles tracking the rooftops and alleyways. They come under fire every day in this part of the capital, Port au Prince.
The week before I arrived, two of the peacekeepers were killed there.
There are about 9000 peacekeepers in the UN mission to Haiti, most of them soldiers who come from 19 different nations. Most of them have come to help. They work hard in dangerous conditions to bring security and aid to the desperate people.
But there are some peacekeepers who are willing to use their advantages to exploit some of the most vulnerable people in this troubled society.
I spoke to a 14-year-old girl who told of the peacekeeper who offered her jelly, sweets and a few dollars for sex with her and her friend - a child of just 11 years.
Half of the population of Haiti struggle to survive on just a dollar a day and the streets are filled with people selling whatever they can to raise a little cash. At nighttime, those who have nothing to sell, sell themselves.
Among the UN soldiers and civilians, they can find willing buyers. One UN official told me that a great many of the girls who work the streets are children and, in the dark streets of the capital Port-au-Prince, we watched UN officials picking up young prostitutes and driving off with them.
Sarah Martin, of Refugees International, has studied the problem in UN missions across the world.
"To prey upon the very populations that you are sent to protect is one of the worst forms of violation and betrayal that there is," she says.
Sarah (not her real name) is a fragile looking girl of 16. She says that two years ago, she was raped by a Brazilian soldier serving with the UN mission there.
She stared at the ground while we talked and, almost in a whisper, she explained what happened: "He held me down by the arms and held both my wrists, twisting them back and we struggled together. And then he raped me."
Her mother cried while she recalled that day: "When I found her I didn't recognise my own child," she says. "She had the face of a dead person - I started to cry out, she couldn't tell me what had happened."
The family have been seeking justice from the United Nations but officials at the local UN mission say that justice was done. Three internal inquiries found there was insufficient evidence against the man and he was sent back to his unit in Brazil.
Soldiers serving with the UN have immunity from local laws and it's up to their home countries to discipline them. More often than not, they're simply repatriated and the UN has little information about what, if anything, happens to them then.
"The UN has to be absolutely vigilant that those troops that are conducting these practices are dismissed," says Anna Jefferys of Save The Children. "It has to ensure that those member states that are deploying these troops are somehow shamed within the UN system so that the stigma becomes too big to do it again."
The UN is holding a conference in New York on Monday 4 December, at which officials will hear from victims, NGO workers and researchers in the field.
The assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Jane Holl Lute, says they need find ways to control the exploitation and she admits that the organisation has a very serious problem.
"My operating presumption that this is either an ongoing or potential problem in every single one of our missions," she says.
"All of our missions are in areas that are economically deprived, where societies have been torn by conflict and war, where habits like prostitution of very young children is seen as a matter of course.
"We need to bring every resource we can to bear to make that not the case when a peacekeeping mission is in place."
Ms Lute said the UN's inability to impose punishments was a shortcoming in the system and she admitted that the organisation does not have a system of justice that everyone would recognise as fair and equitable.
Sarah, the girl who claims she was raped by a peacekeeper would probably agree.
”Woman rejects rapist marriage bid,” BBC News, 4 May 2005.
An Indian woman who was raped has rejected a marriage proposal from the rapist, calling the idea "horrible".
She had been asked in court whether she would accept the proposal from her attacker who had hoped it might lower his sentence.
The convicted rapist said he was offering to marry the woman because the stigma of rape in India meant no one else would.
Following the rejection, the court sentenced the rapist to life in prison.
Women's groups expressed disgust at the request and disappointment that the court had allowed the petition to be made.
The man was convicted last month of raping and seriously injuring the 22-year-old nurse in September 2003 at the hospital where they both worked.
Minutes before sentencing was due on Tuesday, the man issued his marriage proposal.
The judge postponed sentencing until Wednesday, when the rape victim told the court she had rejected the petition.
She told reporters: "I will not marry him.
It is horrible, audacious.... he should be given the severest punishment.
"He should be hanged so that such a horrendous act is not repeated with any other girl.
" She said the man had been found guilty and was now trying to save himself with a bogus proposal.
Brinda Karat, general secretary of the All India Democratic Women's Association, said the request and the actions of the court were highly objectionable and demeaning to the victim.
She said it could set a dangerous precedent.
The man was arrested after the rape in a bathroom of one of the private rooms in the hospital.
The woman suffered a gouged eye and facial scarring, for which she has undergone surgery four times.
The man's lawyers said he was planning to appeal to a higher court against his conviction.
Delhi witnessed more than 300 sexual assaults in 2004, but women's groups say there are many more because victims fear social discrimination if they admit they have been raped.
Randeep Ramesh, “Women's revenge against rapists,” Guardian, 9 Nov. 2004.
Women from the slums in Nagpur in central India have attacked alleged rapists who they say are walking free from court, often with the connivance of the authorities.
At the weekend a mob, dominated by 50 women and led by a rape victim, burnt down the houses of three alleged rapists who had reportedly attacked residents with impunity for months.
The past few months have seen a series of incidents in Nagpur in Maharashtra state in which "people's justice" is administered by mobs.
Police in the city described it as the worst form of "vigilantism" although they acknowledged its popularity.
"We have all waited for police to act, but nothing happens. The molestations and rapes go on and nobody does anything," said Madam Chandra, a women's rights activist in Nagpur. She said police had charged 60 people involved in the latest incident, including a rape victim, for "destruction of property".
The razing of the alleged rapists' homes followed a series of high-profile cases which began in August when Akku Yadav, a gang leader who faced 24 criminal charges including murder, was stabbed and stoned to death in a court by a mob led by women. According to the women, he had raped young girls and pregnant women and sent his henchmen to extort money.
Despite repeated arrests, Yadav always walked out of jail and continued to terrorise the neighbourhood. Local people feared he would be released on bail again.
Police detained five women after the August attack but released them because of a public outcry.
Prominent among their supporters were 100 lawyers based in Nagpur who issued a statement saying the women should not be treated as the accused, but as the victims.
A report by a former top police officer in the city blamed his former colleagues for a serious failure in law enforcement. In another case last month two men accused of extortion and sex abuse were killed after demanding a local woman hand over cash for protection. When she refused they tried to strip her. Before they could leave the area, both were attacked by a group of women. One man died instantly, the other in hospital.
Experts said at the heart of the problem lay India's decrepit legal system, creaking under the weight of unheard cases. At the last count there were 20m awaiting a hearing.
"A combination of judicial delays and police inaction is really at the bottom of all this," said Flavia Agnes, a lawyer and columnist for the Asian Age newspaper. "Rape cases can last for years without a verdict and people feel that they get no justice. So they decide to take the matter into their own hands."
Their desperation showed just how weak the state has become over the past 20 years, said Sunita Narain, who campaigns on social issues. "Through deliberate abuse or apathy we have see the role of the Indian state as protector being whittled away," she said.
” Iran: Fatemeh Haqiqat Pazhuh awaiting execution,” Women in the Middle East, No. 42, March and April 2006.
Iran's Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty for a 35-year-old woman, Fatemeh Haghighat pazhuh who killed her husband, Bahman, after he raped her 15-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. Only the intervention of Iran's supreme leader, Seyeed Ali Khamenei can now save her from execution by hanging.
A letter from Haqiqat Pazhuh's daughter to Iran's judicial authorities obtained a reprieve for her mother while the case was referred to the Supreme Court. A lower court had granted Bahman's family its request that Haqiqat Pazhuh be sentenced to death by hanging as retribution for his murder - as Iranian criminal law allows. Three other women, two of whom were minors at the time they committed their crimes, have been sentences to death in Iran and are awaiting execution by hanging.
”Amnesty International - Iran: Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh,” Women in the Middle East, No. 42, March and April 2006.
The stay of execution granted to Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh on 12 October 2004 has been rescinded by the Supreme Court. Her execution is reportedly scheduled to take place on or before 1 April 2006.
Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh was sentenced to death for the murder of her husband. She alleged that her husband was a drug addict who had tried to rape her daughter from a previous marriage, who was 15 years old at the time. Apparently he had previously told her that he had lost the girl in a gambling match. Amnesty International does not know when she was arrested, but she may have been tried in 2002.
The Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, had stayed Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh's execution after reading a letter written to him by her daughter, entitled "Don’t render my hopes hopeless", in which she appealed for clemency for her mother. Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh was then held in Evin prison in the capital, Tehran, whilst her case was sent to the second Division of the Supreme Court for review. According to a report in the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri on 15 March 2006, the Court has confirmed the death sentence against Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh and has reportedly approved the execution. Her lawyer was reported to be intending to ask the Head of the Judiciary to use his powers to issue another stay of execution.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party. Article 6 of the ICCPR states: In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.
In 2005, Amnesty International recorded at least 94 executions in Iran, although the true figure may be considerably higher.
“Study: Leniency allows violence to increase,” El Universal, 14 January 2005.
A new study by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) released Thursday claims lenient laws against crime allow violence against women to increase. The study, which compiled data from across Mexico, found that Tlaxcala, Mexico, Quintana Roo, Tamaulipas and Yucatan states have the highest levels of crimes against women in the country.
José Antonio Ortega Sánchez, one of the study's consultants, said Quintana Roo has some of the highest incidents of violence because crimes are often unpunished. In contrast, Michoacan state, where crimes are often punished, violence remains at low levels.
The study also found that, out of almost 90,000 reported rapes between 1997-2003, 75 percent of the suspected rapists were not convicted.
In Chihuahua state which includes Juárez, a border city infamous for a string of female homicides 48 percent of convicted rapists received sentences of less than five years.
"The type of legislation allowed in some states invites criminals to commit crimes, encourages them not to be reported, and encourages criminals to commit them again," said Rocio Bedolla, vice president of the commission.
"Israeli President Faces Rape Charges," Feminist Daily News Wire, January 23, 2007.
Israeli Attorney General Meni Mazuz announced this morning that he intends to charge Israeli President Moshe Katsav for rape, sexual harassment, and the abuse of power. Attorney General Mazuz will decide whether to indict the president after Katsav presents his case. Katsav is denying any wrong-doing, but his lawyers have indicated that he will resign if indicted, the Associated Press reports.
The charges are a result of complaints by four women who have worked with Katsav, both during his presidency and his time as Cabinet minister. According to the AP, the complete list of charges includes rape, harassment, sexual relations involving the abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and illegally accepting gifts.
The Israeli police started their investigation of President Katsav in August 2006, after two former female employees accused him of forcing sex on them.
Sharon LaFraniere, “Sex Abuse of Girls Is Stubborn Scourge in Africa,” New York Times, 1 Dec. 2006.
SAMBAVA, Madagascar — Thirty miles outside this down-at-the-heels seaside town, Justin Betombo tends his vanilla plants and cheers the local soccer team as if he had not a care in the world. And in fact, what was once his greatest worry has been almost magically lifted from his shoulders.
In the local prosecutor’s office, a file filled with accusations that he had sodomized his 9-year-old niece has vanished. Mr. Betombo was arrested in 2003 after the girl, Kenia, said he had savagely assaulted her. The police obtained his confession, which he later recanted, and a doctor’s certificate that Kenia had been sexually violated, rendering her incontinent and anorexic. Twice they sent the case file to the prosecutor.
There matters ended. Mr. Betombo attended one hearing in the prosecutor’s office, but Kenia’s parents say they were not told about it. The records are nowhere to be found. And Mr. Betombo walked away a free man. Kenia’s parents, distressed by what they saw as a travesty of justice, asked that her name be published, hoping that her case would set an example.
Among sub-Saharan Africa’s children, such stories are disturbingly common. Even as this region races to adopt many of the developed world’s norms for children, including universal education and limits on child labor, one problem — child sexual abuse — remains stubbornly resistant to change.
In much of the continent, child advocates say, perpetrators are shielded by the traditionally low status of girls, a lingering view that sexual abuse should be dealt with privately, and justice systems that constitute obstacle courses for victims. Data is sparse and sexual violence is notoriously underreported. But South African police reports give an inkling of the sweep of child victimization. In the 12 months ending in March 2005, the police reported more than 22,000 cases of child rape. In contrast, England and Wales, with nine million more people than South Africa, reported just 13,300 rapes of women and girls in the most recent 12-month period.
“The prevalence of child rape in South Africa goes from really, really high to astronomically high,” said Dr. Rachel Jewkes, a specialist on sexual violence with South Africa’s Medical Research Council.
Africa is not unique in its high rates of abuse. While a survey of nine countries last year by the World Health Organization found the highest incidence of child sexual abuse in Namibia — more than one in five women there reported being sexually abused before age 15 — it also found frequent abuse in Peru, Japan and Brazil, among other nations. Relatives are frequent perpetrators in Africa, as in much of the world. But this continent’s children face added risks, especially at school. Half of Malawian schoolgirls surveyed in 2006 said male teachers or classmates had touched them in a sexual manner without their permission.
The number of abuse cases is rising in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone and other African countries, statistics show. Whether that means more children are being victimized or more are coming forward — or both — is impossible to determine, experts say.
Researchers cite various reasons that abuse is so common: poverty, which makes it harder for parents to keep children safe; a legacy of violent, oppressed societies, and cultural mores that allow offenders to escape criminal punishment, often by marrying their victims or compensating their victims’ families.
But, ultimately, said Dr. Jewkes, of the Medical Research Council, the vast gap between the status of men and boys and that of women and girls explains much of the climate of relative tolerance. “If I had to put my finger on one overriding issue, it would be gender inequality,” she said.
Increasingly, African nations are openly acknowledging the problem, partly because AIDS has made children more likely to fall ill or die from sexual abuse. Campaigns against abuse are under way in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Kenya, Sierra Leone and elsewhere.
The impact is apparent in Zimbabwe, where a child rights group estimates that at least 2,000 child rape victims have died of AIDS since 1998. “Literally for the first time in Zimbabwe’s history, child abuse is no longer a taboo subject,” said James Elder, a Unicef spokesman.
That said, the response is minuscule compared with the extent of abuse, said Pamela Shifman, a child protection specialist at Unicef headquarters in New York. “We see huge numbers of girls affected,” she said. “These crimes are still treated as the fault or the problem of the victim.”
South Africa is perhaps furthest along in developing the specialized courts, medical treatment and counseling that have long been standard fare in the West. But even there, Dr. Jewkes said, appalling police work — for example, not verifying the addresses of suspects and accusers — routinely dooms prosecutions.
Beyond that, said Joan van Niekerk, national coordinator of Childline, which runs South Africa’s child crisis hot lines, children regularly complain that coping with the criminal justice system is worse than the sexual abuse itself.
Like much of the region, Madagascar, an island of 18 million off Africa’s southeastern coast, is making headway, but still falls short of even South Africa’s low standard.
Since 2000, Unicef has set up 11 child-protection teams of doctors, educators and judges to inform the public about sex abuse and assist victims. Hassan Mouigni, who leads vice investigations at the main police station in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital of 1.4 million, sees some results. This year, he said, the station has investigated 95 cases, compared with 40 in all of 2003.
But medical and legal authorities say the vast majority of families still hew to a tradition of accepting payment from perpetrators. The few who press charges are plunged into a criminal justice process that Mr. Mouigni calls deeply frustrating.
He can offer victims who arrive at his station little more than an officer behind a typewriter — no counselors, no video cameras to record testimony, no toy-filled rooms or friendly intermediaries. Instead, girls as young as 5 are expected to confront their tormentors face to face. Perhaps most daunting, poor families must produce at least $15 to cover investigation costs like gloves and paper for medical exams.
That was nearly enough to deter Claudine Ravoniarisoa, who appeared at Mr. Mouigni’s station one recent Thursday with her 15-year-old daughter. Wringing her hands nonstop, the girl told officers that a neighbor had raped her while her mother was hospitalized. “He destroyed my life and my body,” she said.
But once her mother learned of the costs, she decided to identify the perpetrator only as “Mr. X.”
“I have no money to pursue this,” she protested, while an officer tried to persuade her to do so.
In another room, Domoima Rahamtanirima pressed a case against her brother-in-law in the molestation of her 5-year-old, Menja. For two weeks afterward, Mrs. Rahamtanirima said, the girl cried when she urinated.
Mrs. Rahamtanirima borrowed money for the required medical exam. Nothing was left to buy the medicine the doctor had prescribed for Menja. Her file complete, the little girl traipsed in her frilly white dress to a courthouse as packed with accusers, accused and their supporters as a New York subway station at rush hour. She waited four hours, then sat down at a table before them all and, in a tiny voice, identified her uncle, seated across from her, as her assailant.
“We had to do it,” said her mother, who said that everyone in her village knew about the case and asked that her daughter’s name and picture be used. “Everybody should be aware that things like this should not happen to children.”
A Quest for Redress
Kenia’s parents, Antoine and Joazandry Moravelo, are equally passionate about the need for justice for their daughter. But after four fruitless years, they have all but given up hope. Though her photograph and name have appeared in local newspapers, they say, no one has been held accountable.
Kenia, the sixth of eight children, moved in with her aunt and uncle Lydia and Justin Betombo at the age of 8 after they promised to educate her. Sharing child care is common in Africa, and the Betombos, who lived 45 minutes away, had more than the Moravelos: a car and a two-room, tree-shaded house with sheet metal walls instead of the Moravelos’ thatched-roof reed hut.
But Kenia said the house was no haven. She said, “my uncle showed me his penis whenever he had a chance, and I always ran away.” Her aunt’s stock response, she said, was, “Don’t talk about that.”
One night in mid-2002, when her aunt was out, Kenia said, her uncle summoned her to his bed. “Because I refused, he came over to my bed,” she said. Afterward, she said, he told her, “If you talk about what happened, I will kill you.” She said she told her aunt anyway, and was instructed to keep quiet. The physical consequences of the attack, however, were hard to hide.
Kenia lost control of her bowels, had to quit school and was increasingly homebound. For six months or more, her only treatment was from a traditional healer who told her to boil herbs and wash with them. Finally, emaciated and weak, Kenia approached a neighbor. “She said, ‘I am sick; I am sick,’ and she was crying,” said the neighbor, Suzanne Mboty, who knew Kenia’s parents.
Hours after the neighbor reached his village, Mr. Moravelo retrieved Kenia. “She was so thin, so thin, I couldn’t believe it,” he said. Her mother said Kenia could not even sit down. “I opened her bag, and I saw all her underwear full of feces,” she said. “I said, ‘My God, what is this?’ ”
Kenia refused to say. But at the local health clinic, the nurse held up scissors and threatened to operate if Kenia did not talk.
That began nearly four years of medical procedures for Kenia, including a colostomy, two operations to close it, and repeated hospitalizations for wasting, incontinence and anorexia. Her mother said she sometimes refuses to eat because defecation is painful. Medical reports indicate that the muscle controlling defecation has been largely destroyed and her anal canal is heavily scarred.
The family is rent: Kenia’s parents had to sell their rice field and move to Diego-Suarez in the north for her treatment. Most of their other children remained behind, in the care of elder siblings. Kenia, now 13, is temporarily in Antananarivo, where a doctor is trying to treat her with a special diet.
A surgeon who recently examined her said a full recovery was unlikely. The uncertainty preys on Kenia, her mother said. “Sometimes she tells me, ‘My body is hurting. I have so many problems. I don’t go to school. I just feel this sickness all around me,’ ” she said.
The family’s legal efforts have met even less success. Mr. Moravelo lodged a complaint with the cash-short police, but the officers had no car; he hired a taxi so they could pick up Mr. Betombo for questioning. Frightened and sobbing, Kenia confronted her uncle at the chaotic station.
Mr. Betombo and his wife denied Kenia’s account. But ultimately — after the police beat him, Mr. Betombo said — he signed a confession, was arrested and carted off to the prosecutor’s office in nearby Antalaha.
Kenia’s father said that was the last he heard until a few days later, when friends told him that Justin Betombo was “free and happy” back in his village.
Mr. Betombo said he had convinced the prosecutor that his confession was false. Kenia’s parents say they were never summoned to contradict him.
“I took this girl in as my daughter,” Mr. Betombo said. “I really can’t understand why they say that I could have done such an awful thing to her. I think they were jealous of me and they wanted to ruin my life.”
Sambava’s police department again sent the file to the prosecutor’s office months later. But Sophie Ramahakaraha, the prosecutor in charge, now says that she has no record or memory of it. Real instances of child rape are rare, she said. “Very often the parents are poor and they use this procedure to get money,” she said.
But to Daul Randriamalaza, a Sambava police inspector, there is no question about who was the victim here.
“I don’t want to talk about corruption here, but that is what could have happened in this case,” he said as prisoners watched from the station’s tiny cell.
“I have children myself. How can I be happy about this?”
Mary Jordan, “In Mexico, an Unpunished Crime,” Washintgon Post, 20 June 2002.
REYESHOGPAN, Mexico -- These gorgeous mountain slopes in central Mexico, blooming with black pepper plants and golden cornstalks, camouflage the sorrow of the two silent sisters. Antonia and Isabel Francisco Melendez, who were born deaf, are nine months pregnant, and the doctors treating them say they were raped.
The sisters, who cannot speak, cry and crumple, and literally fold up, when asked how they got pregnant. Their babies are due at the same time, within a week or so. Do they know the man? Did it happen in the fields on their way home from school? Isabel seemed to try to answer once, to her grandmother, by pointing to a spot high on a mountainside before tears streamed down her face and she turned away again.
Antonia is 13 years old, and Isabel 16. Perhaps if they were older, the pregnancies would have been easier to keep secret, the way rapes and beatings of women are usually dealt with in Mexico. But in this little town of fewer than 500 people, a place where the church bells toll every afternoon at 5 to call everyone to say the rosary, the reality is hard to hide. The girls' tiny frames swell more each day. Their backs and legs are sore -- not from playing tag with schoolmates, but because their bodies are telling them they will soon be mothers.
"This is a crime and there should be an investigation," said Juana Maria Diego Victor, a community leader in this village 85 miles northeast of Puebla city. "Someone should protect these girls."
Mexico is struggling to modernize its justice system, but when it comes to punishing sexual violence against women, surprisingly little has changed in a century. In many parts of Mexico, the penalty for stealing a cow is harsher than the punishment for rape.
Although the law calls for tough penalties for rape -- up to 20 years in prison -- only rarely is there an investigation into even the most barbaric of sexual violence. Women's groups estimate that perhaps 1 percent of rapes are ever punished. Although the two girls' medical charts say their pregnancies were the "product of rape," no police authority has looked into the case.
In recent decades, Mexico has made strides to improve women's rights and opportunities. Mexican women still have much higher illiteracy rates than men, but that is slowly changing as young girls are staying in school longer. During the 1990s, laws that trampled women's rights were abolished, such as those that said married women needed their husband's permission to hold a job outside the home.
But in the country that made the term "machismo" famous, where women were given the right to vote only in 1953, women's rights advocates said rape and other violence against women are still not treated as serious crimes. And they said police, prosecutors and judges often show indifference or hostility toward women who claim rape -- such as in the case of Yessica Yadira Diaz Cazares.
Diaz testified that three police officers raped her in 1997, when she was 16, as she was on her way home from school in the northern city of Durango. She then did a rare thing: She tried to punish her attackers.
When she went to the police station with her mother, she was jeered and then jailed overnight. They forced her, as is mandatory in Mexico, to have a physical vaginal exam by a government doctor. They made her submit to eight separate blood tests, telling her, falsely, that the tests would determine whether she had been raped. But no one ever told her what the lab results were.
When the teenager did not back off, even after her family received death threats, a prosecutor told her that to identify the officers who attacked her, she must physically lay her hand on them. It was not good enough to point out her attackers. She needed to touch them, she was instructed. When she reached out and touched an officer, he taunted her and told her she was crazy.
Finally she gave up. She told her sister she was tired of seeking justice. Three months later, the young girl with big brown eyes and long, wavy hair killed herself with an overdose of prescription drugs. After her burial, the national human rights commission took up her case and helped convict two officers of rape.
"They make the few women who dare to report rape give up," said Yessica's mother, Maria Eugenia Cazares, who said her daughter's rape and death shattered the family's life. After her daughter's suicide, she moved her family to Canada where, she said, there are more enlightened laws to protect women.
"In 90 percent of the cases of rape, the Mexican police blame the women," she said in an interview. "In the few cases where they know the man is guilty, they let him 'fix' it with money."
She said she believes that a "machismo culture," instilled through what is learned in the home, school and church, has allowed many men to "believe they are superior and dominant, and that women are an object." She said that mind-set has contributed to making many men -- including policemen, prosecutors, judges and others in positions of authority -- believe that sexual violence against women is no big deal.
"The thinking is 'she's a woman, so she deserved it,' or 'he's a man, so what do you expect?' " said Cazares.
Rape in Mexico is prosecuted at the state level, and state laws vary. A review of criminal laws in all 31 Mexican states showed that many states require that if a 12-year-old girl wants to accuse an adult man of statutory rape, she must first prove she is "chaste and pure." Nineteen of the states require that statutory rape charges be dropped if the rapist agrees to marry his victim.
"What message is this? That the crime is not serious," said Elena Azaola, author of "The Crime of Being a Women," a book about how the Mexican justice system discriminates against women.
In order for a woman to file a criminal complaint alleging rape, she must submit to a medical exam by a doctor assigned by the prosecutor's office. Patricia Duarte, president of the Mexican Association Against Violence Against Women, said these exams, routinely conducted in the prosecutor's office, are often carried out with little sensitivity or privacy. The exams, she said, are an obstacle to reporting rape that contributes to "impunity of rapists" in Mexico.
Fighting Old Customs
Whatever problems women face in the cities and towns, they are compounded in small villages where old customs are still the only true law. Ten million Mexicans are indigenous, as are most of the people in these highlands of the Sierra Madre. In Mexico's march toward modernity, there is great tension here between protecting women from violence and honoring indigenous customs.
In many of the thousands of indigenous communities, by longstanding custom, women are essentially servants of their fathers, brothers and husbands. In many villages around Reyeshogpan, women are forbidden to go out after dusk without their husband or their husband's permission. After 7 p.m., streets in village after village are populated by men only, many of them drunk. Alcoholism is another problem that contributes to violence against women.
Town elders who act as judges in local criminal matters are invariably men. In one village in Guerrero state, elders were recently asked how they punish rape. The six men looked confused, as if they did not know what the term meant. When it was explained to them, they all laughed and said it sounded more like a courting ritual than a crime.
When they stopped laughing, they said a rapist would probably get a few hours in the local jail, or he might have to pay the victim's family a $10 or $20 fine, but that all would be forgotten if he and the victim got married.
In the case of a cow thief, they said, the robber would be jailed. And, unlike the rapist, a cow thief would be brought before the elders for a lecture about the severity of the crime.
In the southern state of Oaxaca last summer, the one-year-old, government-funded Oaxacan Women's Institute persuaded the legislature to pass heavy criminal penalties against a practice known as "rapto." Laws in most Mexican states define rapto as a case where a man kidnaps a woman not for ransom, but with the intent of marrying her or to satisfy his "erotic sexual desire." The new law championed by the women's group established penalties of at least 10 years in prison.
But in March, the state legislature reversed itself and again made the practice a minor infraction. A key legislator -- a man -- argued for the reduction, calling the practice harmless and "romantic."
Human rights groups disagree. They say it is not charming for a man to spot a woman he fancies sitting in a park, pick her up and carry her away to have sex with her. Yet to this day, that is still how some women meet their husbands. The attorney general's office said there have been 137 criminal complaints of rapto in the state of Puebla since January 2000.
Complete statistics are impossible to find, because most cases are settled between the two families involved and never reported. Because rapto implies that the girl was taken away for sex, her parents want to avoid the shame associated with making a public complaint to police.
In some cases, the girls voluntarily go with the man as a way to elope to avoid wedding expenses. But Gabriela Gutierrez Kleman, a lawyer with the Oaxacan Women's Institute, said in many cases the women are taken against their will.
Gutierrez said it is hard to ask girls to complain about rapto, to buck a system that has changed little since their great-grandmother's time. If they do, she said, the family or the community often "treats them as outcasts."
Marriage as a Remedy
The regional maternity hospital in Zacapoaxtla caters to women and children from scores of villages in the highlands here in the northeast corner of Puebla state. White-coated doctors and nurses scurry about among the crying children, past brightly painted walls decorated with basic information about nutrition, breast-feeding and sanitation.
About 220 babies are born there each month, many of them to mothers who are children themselves. Hospital officials said babies are born there frequently to girls as young as 12, many of whom do not understand that intercourse caused their pregnancy.
The pregnancy of a child that age implies a crime: In Puebla, it is illegal to have sex with a person younger than 18. But only rarely are rape charges filed in these cases.
Teresa Arrieta Martinez, 13, petite and hugely pregnant, cringed as a nurse took a blood sample as part of her prenatal care. Her boyfriend, Eliazar Hernandez Martinez, a 20-year-old grocery store manager, stood outside in the waiting room.
About seven months ago, when Teresa was 12, Hernandez had sex with her and she became pregnant. Because of her age, the law says that Hernandez committed statutory rape. But it was not the police who came after him; it was Teresa's mother, Maria Juana Martinez.
"He could go to jail. If he doesn't carry through on his promise to marry her, I'll have to report him," she said. "I'll sue him if he fails her."
In most states marriage is a legal remedy for statutory rape. Women's groups say if the penalties were harsher, statutory rape cases would not be so common. As it is now, a man can agree to a wedding to avoid going to jail, and then abandon the woman. Social workers say many unhappy, abusive marriages begin with statutory rape.
Any day, Antonia and Isabel, the two deaf sisters, are due to deliver their babies at the same hospital. Antonia, the 13-year-old, lives with her mother in a small house near the main road of Reyeshogpan, a tiny village with little more than a church, basketball court and general store. Antonia is carrying her baby in the breach position, so her doctors expect a difficult delivery.
Isabel, 16, lives with her 95-year-old grandfather in a small wooden house nearby. It is at the bottom of a ravine lined with cornstalks, a challenging 30-minute climb straight down from where her mother, stepfather and sister live. No one seems quite sure how Isabel will be able to make the climb up to get to the hospital once she is in labor.
Isabel passes her days sitting on a log at her front door, staring off into the cornfields or embroidering. She wears her silky brown hair neatly tied up, her white dress and apron are impeccably clean and she folds her hands nervously over her huge belly.
The girls' mother, Ventura Melendez, 35, communicates with them using rudimentary sign language and drawings. When she asked Isabel if she had any pain, the girl put her arm against her lower back. She nodded when asked if she is scared about being such a young mother.
Melendez said she prefers not to dwell on how they got pregnant. "What happened to them happens to a lot of girls," she said. "We don't want justice. We don't want trouble."
But Diego Victor, the neighbor who has known the girls since they were born, said she is angry that what happened to the girls will never be punished.
"They deserve better," she said.
”Musharraf: 'No need to apologise,'” BBC News, 17 September 2005.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has denied that he accused rape victims of using their situation to make money in a newspaper interview.
But, one of the authors of Tuesday's article in the Washington Post told the BBC News website that the president had been quoted "verbatim" in the article.
The article quoted Gen Musharraf as saying that rape had become a "moneymaking concern" in Pakistan.
Women's groups held protests in Pakistan on Friday against the remarks.
During a press conference at the offices of Time magazine, Gen Musharraf said that he was not insensitive enough to accuse raped women of using their situation to make money.
He said the newspaper had misinterpreted what he had said and had misquoted him.
But Glenn Kessler, co-author of the Washington Post article, told the BBC News website: "The president's comments were tape recorded and they were quoted verbatim and in context."
"The article did not try to sensationalise the quotes and in fact they were not the main focus of the article," he said.
In the second half of the article, Musharraf is quoted as saying "You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a moneymaking concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped."
He made the comments in the context of a question about the treatment of high-profile rape victim Mukhtar Mai.
The Women's Action Forum in Pakistan described the president's reported comments as "outrageous".
Last week President Musharraf told a conference on violence against women in Islamabad that Pakistan should not be singled out for its treatment of women.
He also lashed out at rights groups for their role in highlighting cases such as Ms Mai's outside the country. Leading rights groups called the conference a "farce".
The president's critics say he pays only lip service to cracking down on the abuse of women, hundreds of whom are raped and murdered every year in so-called honour cases in Pakistan.
Despite government protestations that it is doing much to help women, many of those who try to register cases of rape and violence find it as hard as ever to do so, campaigners say.
Aamer Ahmed Khan, “Pakistan’s real problem with rape,” BBC News, 8 Sept. 2005.
These [recent] cases either involve allegations of rape against policemen or accusations that the tribal bodies [or jirgas] have perverted the course of justice.
Earlier this week, a young woman alleged that she had been gang raped by four policemen in Rawalpindi. One officer was arrested and three others are missing.
The woman said the policemen barged into her house, locked her husband and uncle in a room and raped her.
She was supposedly punished for failing to pay a bribe of 100,000 rupees ($1,674) demanded by the police for the release of her husband.
Last week, a 23-year-old woman from Faisalabad went public with her accusations against police in the city.
She said her husband had been arrested on charges of preparing forged documents for stolen cars.
She was raped allegedly on the orders of the Faisalabad police chief for seeking to publicise her husband's arrest.
The officer has been suspended but not arrested.
A week before that, a married woman with two children in Karachi said she had been gang raped by four local men but a jirga prevented her from reporting the matter to the police.
Instead, the jirga members imposed a fine of 150,000 rupees ($2,500) on the accused. Even that money never reached her, she said.
Hurdles to justice
Apart from the alleged crime, what is common to these women are the problems they have had to confront in their quest for justice.
In the case of one woman from Karachi, the police refused to register a case of rape for over a month - during which time she says she was repeatedly threatened by her rapists.
By the time she managed to have the case registered, it was too late to conduct a medical examination on her.
In most rape cases in Pakistan, the crime is established almost entirely on the basis of medical examination of the complainant.
Eventually, a case was registered but all the accused were awarded bail despite the fact that the woman identified her rapists before the judge. She eventually had to play what is known in Karachi as the "ethnic card".
She is a Mohajir - a name given to Urdu-speaking migrants from India at the time of partition - while her rapists were native Sindhis.
She went to the headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) - an influential Mohajir-dominated party - with her case.
It was only after intervention from the MQM's home minister in Sindh that the police launched a fresh hunt for the accused, three of whom had disappeared by then.
Two of them are still at large.
The case of the woman from Faisalabad is even more striking.
She barged into Pakistan's parliament wearing a veil similar to the ones worn by women representatives of religious parties.
She says she was hoping to find an MP who could help her.
Instead, she was returned to Faisalabad as a criminal who had caused a major security breach.
It was not until her story was given airtime by a private TV channel that the accused officer was suspended.
Even then, while three separate inquiry committees were set up, a formal case has yet to be registered.
Her lawyer and rights activist Asma Jehangir has described the multiple inquiry committees as "an attempt to subvert justice".
For its part the government says its commitment to improving the lives of women is illustrated by their move to pass a law requiring one-third of elected members in all representative bodies - from the National Assembly to local governments - to be women.
In the Faisalabad case, too, it points to the immediate suspension of the accused police officer and simultaneous inquiries at the parliamentary, judicial and administrative levels.
Besides, the government argues, violence against women is worse in many other countries than in Pakistan.
Pakistan's minister for women's affairs, Nilofer Bakhtiar, says the fight for women's rights is making progress.
"We have a strong policy and programme here which the government is putting across very successfully to combat violence against women," she told the BBC.
But in reality little has been done about removing procedural difficulties - which means that rape victims must either rely on the media or non-governmental organisations to secure justice.
There is no institutional infrastructure in Pakistan to help rape victims, no trauma centres or legal aid bodies.
Rape in Pakistan became a high-profile crime after one of the victims, Mukhtar Mai, decided to speak out.
Ms Mai was gang raped allegedly on the orders of a tribal council as punishment for a sexual crime attributed to her brother.
Her case is still pending in the courts but her courage has inspired many rape victims to go public with their stories.
So far the government's response, observers say, has been limited to isolated action in certain cases.
Aamer Ahmed Khan, “Pakistan's justice system in spotlight,” BBC News, 3 March 2005.
Three years ago, it was the brutality of the event that left human rights campaigners in Pakistan, and indeed the rest of the world, aghast.
Now there is concern at the acquittal of five of the six men found guilty of gang-rape and sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in August 2002.
In February 2002, 23-year-old Mukhtar Mai, a resident of the remote southern Punjabi village of Meerwali, was allegedly gang-raped on the orders of a tribal council.
Realising the enormity of the case, Pakistani authorities sent it to an anti-terrorism court.
Pakistani law allows exceptionally serious crimes to be tried in anti-terrorism courts which are mandated to speed up trial procedures to ensure rapid delivery of justice.
In August that year, six of the 14 accused were found guilty and sentenced to death.
They all went to appeal. Now, two-and-a-half years down the road, all but one have won their freedom.
In the short order that reversed the trial court's verdict, the appeal court observed that the convictions could not be upheld for reasons of "insufficient evidence" and "faulty investigations".
While a detailed judgment is still awaited, observers in Pakistan say the two reasons mentioned in the short order say enough about the state of Pakistan's criminal justice system.
Khawaja Naveed Ahmad, a noted lawyer in Karachi who deals mostly in criminal cases, says that often the reasons behind what appear to be miscarriages of justice have little to do with the courts.
"In high profile cases such as that of Mukhtar Mai, the police find themselves under immense pressure - both from the government as well as influential people who may be supporting the accused," he told BBC News Online.
In some cases police come under pressure to ensure an acquittal and so create contradictions within the case.
One way of doing that is through shabby and inconsistent record keeping, explains Mr Ahmad.
Such inconsistencies may include incorrect descriptions of the scene of the crime and the physical state of the victim, the number of witnesses and their relationship with the accused and so on.
Second, the police often ask the victim to produce witnesses instead of themselves trying to identify the right witnesses and ensuring they are produced before the court.
In many cases, witnesses are illiterate and cannot even read their own statements when they are asked to sign them.
Witnesses themselves can be extremely reluctant to get involved in what could be very lengthy trials.
And then there is the pervasive problem of language, given that the country's criminal justice system is based on Anglo-Saxon law.
Most witnesses testify in the vernacular but their statements are recorded in English. According to Mr Ahmad, the real testimony in many instances is lost in translation.
These issues can still be dealt with at the level of the trial court.
"It is relatively easier for the trial judge to reach the right conclusion as they are interacting with all the characters - the alleged victim, the accused and the witnesses - on a one-to-one basis," explains Mr Ahmad.
It is common for trial judges to ignore minor contradictions because such anomalies can always be weighed against the conduct of those involved, he adds.
The appeal court, in contrast, looks only at the recorded evidence with nothing to weigh it against.
Mukhtar Mai's case was probably among the most high-profile rape cases to have emerged in recent times.
Its speedy disposal in 2002 won the government of President Pervez Musharraf much acclaim both locally and abroad.
But the reversal on Wednesday has in the same way delivered a blow to Gen Musharraf's liberal reform agenda.
”Acquittals in Pakistan gang rape,” BBC News, 3 March 2005.
Five men sentenced to death in a high-profile gang-rape case in the Pakistani province of Punjab have been acquitted on appeal.
Judges in Lahore said there was insufficient evidence. A sixth man had his sentence commuted to life in jail.
A Pakistani tribal council allegedly ordered the rape of Mukhtar Mai in February 2002 as punishment for a rape falsely attributed to her brother.
The case shocked rights groups in Pakistan and overseas.
The two judges of the Multan bench of the Lahore High Court criticised faulty procedures in the police investigation of the alleged rape.
A total of 14 men originally stood trial in a special anti-terrorism court in Dera Ghazi Khan in August 2002 but only six of them were convicted - four alleged rapists and two panchayat (tribal council) members.
Defence lawyer Mohammad Salim said: "Justice has been done. The verdict of the anti-terrorism court in August 2002 was largely influenced by media hype and government pressure."
Ms Mai broke down on hearing the appeal verdict.
"I will go to appeal. I will go anywhere, wherever is necessary... to get my right," she told the Reuters news agency.
Human rights lawyer, Hina Jilani, said there should have been a retrial.
"It was much more desirable to ensure that justice is done to the victim and the impunity that prevails in the country with regard to how gang rape cases are dealt with," she said.
The panchayat in Meerwala, southern Punjab, had found Ms Mai's younger brother, Shakoor, guilty of raping a girl from the village's powerful Mastoi clan.
It was later revealed in a conventional court that the 12-year-old had in fact been kidnapped and sexually assaulted by the same men who later made up his jury.
It was alleged that Ms Mai was then taken away to be raped in revenge for her brother's supposed crime.
None of the 150 men present responded to her pleas for mercy, she said.
Ms Mai became famous after the rape for human rights work and pursuing the case through the courts, although she said she faced threats from her alleged attackers' supporters.
She built two schools in her village with the $9,400 compensation money she was awarded.
"Education will play a very, very important role in changing the minds of men. Without these schools, my life would be nothing," she told the BBC news website last year.
"Even if I don't succeed in my struggle," she says, "I'll keep trying until my death."
Tribal courts are effectively the only system of justice in many rural areas of Pakistan, traditionally relying on resolving disputes between whole families.
Women often suffer "honour punishments" to pay for crimes attributed to relatives.
"Pakistan," DOS Report 2005.
During visits to New Zealand in June and the United States in September, President Musharraf criticized domestic and international women's organizations for highlighting the issue of rape and violence against women in the country. In an interview with the Washington Post, the president stated that rape was becoming a "money making concern," and "a lot of people say that if you want to go abroad and get a visa from Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped." He made similar remarks during a government-sponsored conference on women's rights in Islamabad in September. ...
Security force personnel reportedly raped women and children during interrogations. ...
Authorities established special women's police stations with all female staff in response to complaints of custodial abuse of women, including rape. The government's National Commission on the Status of Women claimed the stations did not function effectively in large part due to a lack of resources. Court orders and regulations prohibit male police from interacting with female suspects, but male police often detained and interrogated women at regular stations. ...
On June 9, the government assigned a security detail to Mukhtiar Mai (aka Mukhtaran Bibi), at her request. Ms. Mukhtiar was concerned for her safety following the court ordered release of five men convicted in her 2002 gang rape that a village council had ordered because of an alleged infraction committed by her brother. Human rights groups claimed that when the government learned Ms. Mukhtiar wished to travel abroad to speak publicly of her experience, the protection detail controlled her movements and communication,such that she was under virtual house arrest. ...
At the trial level, ordinary criminal courts hear cases involving violations of the Hudood ordinances, which criminalize nonmarital rape (see section 5), extramarital sex, gambling, alcohol, and property offenses. The Hudood ordinances set strict standards of evidence, which discriminate between men and women and Muslims and non-Muslims, for cases in which Koranic punishments are to be applied (see sections 1.c. and 5). For Hudood cases involving the lesser secular penalties, different weight is given to male and female testimony in matters involving financial obligations or future commitments. ...
Although rape was widespread, prosecutions were rare. It is estimated that rape victims reported less than one-third of rape cases to the police. Police were at times implicated in the crime. ...
On May 3, police allegedly abducted Sonia Naz and detained her for 10 to 12 days, during which time she claimed that the SHO, Jamshed Chishti, raped her on the orders of Abdullah Khalid, Faisalabad Superintendent of Police for Investigation. On April 21, the speaker of the national assembly ordered the arrest of Naz for illegally appearing on the floor of the house to seek assistance for her husband, who the same police officials had allegedly harassed in connection with an investigation into stolen vehicles. The Speaker ultimately withdrew his complaint on October 7. Police originally refused to file rape charges against the accused, but following a Supreme Court order, on October 12, they arrested the officers for rape. After an initial investigation into the rape incident resulted in conflicting conclusions, including one accusing Naz of falsifying the rape claim, the Supreme Court established a new investigation team of more senior officials that began its work on October 26. Courts cancelled initial bail for Abdullah and Chishti, and the two men surrendered to police on October 18 and 19 respectively. In September the Punjab chief minister suspended both from the police force.
Many rape victims were pressured to drop charges. Police and prosecutors often threatened to charge a victim with adultery or fornication if she could not prove the absence of consent, and there were cases in which rape victims were jailed on such charges. The standard of proof for rape set out in the Hudood Ordinances is based on whether the accused is to be subjected to Koranic or secular punishment. In cases of Koranic punishment, which can result in public flogging or stoning, the victim must produce four adult male Muslim witnesses to the rape or a confession from the accused. No Koranic punishment has ever been applied for rape. The standards of proof are lower for secular punishment, which can include up to 25 years in prison and 30 lashes. Such punishment was applied frequently. Courts, police, and prosecutors at times refused to bring rape cases when Koranic standards of evidence could not be met.
Police often abused or threatened the victim, telling her to drop the case, especially when bribed by the accused. Police requested bribes from some victims prior to lodging rape charges, and investigations were often superficial. Medical personnel were generally untrained in collection of rape evidence and were at times physically or verbally abusive to victims, accusing them of adultery or fornication. Women accused of adultery or fornication were forced to submit to medical exams against their will, even though the law requires their consent. Judges were reluctant to convict rapists, applied varying standards of proof, and at times threatened to convict the victim for adultery or fornication rather than the accused for rape. Families and tribes at times killed rape victims or encouraged them to commit suicide.
On January 2 in Sui, Balochistan, an unknown person broke into the bedroom of and raped Dr. Shazia Khalid, an employee of the Pakistan Petroleum Company. Dr. Shazia was unable to identify her rapist, but Baloch nationalist leaders claimed that frontier corps personnel committed the rape and accused the government of a cover-up. The government maintained that DNA tests ruled out thesuspect. In February a tribal jirga determined that Dr. Shazia's rape had dishonored the tribe and that she should be murdered. In March Dr. Shazia and her husband departed the country. At year's end the government made no progress in the investigation.
On March 3, the Lahore High Court overturned the conviction and death sentence of five of the six persons convicted in the gang rape of Mukhtiar Bibi and commuted the sentence of the 6th to 25 years in prison. On March 11, the Federal Shariat Court stayed the high court ruling and ordered the defendants released on bail while it reviewed the case. On March 13, the Supreme Court issued a stay on both the high and shariat court rulings but allowed the defendants to remain at large. In early June Mukhtiar announced that she intended to travel overseas to address an international women's rights conference. In response, the government, on the order of President Musharraf, placed her on the ECL, pressured her not to travel, and attempted to block her from obtaining necessary visas. The prime minister ultimately removed Mukhtiar from the ECL on June 15, although she did not travel. On June 28, the Supreme Court decided that it would take jurisdiction of the gang rape case and ordered the five convicted held without bail for the duration of the trial. On the same day, the government ordered the eight originally acquitted in the case held under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance as a threat to Mukhtiar Bibi. In October Mukhtiar traveled abroad without incident.
Husbands and male family members often brought spurious adultery and fornication charges against women under the Hudood Ordinances. Even when courts ultimately dismissed charges, the accused spent months, sometimes years, in jail and saw her reputation destroyed. The government's National Commission on the Status of Women advocated the repeal of the Hudood Ordinances. On January 4, President Musharraf signed a bill into law that requires senior police officials to evaluate the merits of adultery and fornication allegations and requires a court order before a woman can be arrested on such charges. The percentage of the female prison population awaiting trial on such Hudood charges declined significantly to approximately 33 percent.
"Pakistan," DOS Report 2003.
Women face difficulty at every level of the judicial system in bringing rape cases to trial. Police are reluctant to take the complaint and sometimes are abusive toward the victim; the courts do not have consistent standards of proof as to what constitutes rape and what corroboration is required; and judges, police, and prosecutors are biased against female rape victims. Judges on the whole reportedly were reluctant to convict; however, if there was some evidence, judges have been known to convict the accused of the lesser offense of adultery or fornication (consensual sex).
Women also face problems in the collection of evidence: doctors tasked to examine rape victims often believe that the victims are lying; they are inadequately trained and equipped for the collection of forensic evidence pertaining to rape; that they do not testify very effectively in court; they tend to focus on the virginity status of the victim; and, due either to an inadequate understanding of the need for prompt medical evaluations or to inadequate resources, they often delay the medical examinations for many days or even weeks, making any evidence that they collect of dubious utility.
Medical examiners and police personnel sometimes are abusive physically or verbally during these exams, especially in cases where a woman is charged with adultery or fornication (for which an exam may be requested) and does not wish to be examined (such women, despite the fact that by law they should not be examined without their consent, have been examined, and even have been beaten for their refusal to be examined).
Police and doctors often do not know that a woman must consent to this type of exam before it can be performed, and judges may not inform women of their right to decline. If they report rape to the police, women's cases often are delayed or mishandled, and police or the alleged perpetrators frequently harassed women to drop the case.
Police sometimes accept bribes from the accused rapist to get the victim to drop a case; however, in other cases, police will request bribes from the victim to pursue the case against the accused rapist. Police tend to investigate the cases poorly, and may not inform women of the need for a medical exam or may stall or block women's attempts to obtain one.
"Women arrested protesting stoning sentence," Off Our Backs, August 2002.
[Zafran Bibi, see following story] was convicted of zina, a word that encompasses adultery, fornication, rape, and prostitution. Zina can be charged by parents, husbands, or other relatives based on very little cause. For instance, parents can accuse their daughter of zina if she marries a man of whom they do not approve, or a man can charge an ex-wife who unknowingly remarries after an invalid divorce. A woman who declares herself a rape victim under the rubric of zina faces a high burden of proof, as she must supply four upstanding male citizens as eyewitnesses to the crime. If she cannot, her reporting of the rape becomes a confession of zina to be used against her as it was against Bibi.
Zina falls under a notorious set of Islamic laws known as the Hadood Ordinance, first introduced to Pakistan by military dictator Ziaul-Haq in 1979. The ordinance was part of an ongoing campaign for the Islamization of Pakistan's legal and political systems, and was meant to encourage the development of "pure and chaste" Pakistani people.
Since 1979, religious conservatives have continued to push for the state to be increasingly tied to religion, hoping to use the military to enforce a state-sponsored ideal of Islam. Many supporters of shari'a, or religious law, recognize that there have been abuses and injustices in practice, but claim that the law itself ensures a safe and moral society. While most moderate Pakistanis do not believe that such strict Islamic codes belong as part of the country's system of government, the state has not taken action to try to revoke them. The regimes that have governed the country for the last two decades fear the strength of conservative religious groups and disregard the weak societal position of the poor and of women, who are most adversely affected.
The conflict over the validity of the laws is embodied in the way the courts deal with cases under the Hadood Ordinance. Lower courts, whose judges tend to be citizens from lower and middle classes with usually more conservative religious viewpoints, routinely convict citizens and sentence them to extreme punishments, such as stoning. In contrast, the superior Federal Shariat Court, whose upper-class judges have often been educated in a more western tradition, rarely upholds these convictions. Many see this as a compromise of sorts, allowing the laws to remain on the books without being fully applied. This precedent partially explains the overturning of Bibi's sentence.
Nevertheless, this "compromise" is considered unfair by feminists and human rights activists, who point out that the falsely accused must spend time in jail before they are freed and will then face the social stigma associated with zina once back in their communities. In Bibi's case, she may be killed by her husband once he gets out of jail because she has been touched by another man. In this instance the Hadood Ordinance has failed to protect the victim of a violent crime and indeed opened the door for more violence.
Hannah Bloch, ”Blaming the Victim,” Time Asia , 20 May 2002.
Can a raped woman be stoned for adultery? In Pakistan, it's possible
When a young, illiterate housewife named Zafran Bibi went to the police last year, pregnant and claiming a fellow villager had raped her while she was cutting grass, she didn't expect that she'd be the one to get punished. But last month, a judge in Pakistan's ultra-conservative Northwest Frontier province convicted her of adultery. "I hereby convict and sentence the accused Zafran Bibi to stoning to death," wrote Judge Anwar Ali Khan, "and that she be stoned to death at a public place."
If Pakistan is sometimes a bizarre blend of the modern and the archaic, nowhere is the archaic more powerful than in the way the country's legal system treats women who accuse men of rape. The problem lies in the so-called Hudood ordinances, a series of Islamic decrees that are enforced in tandem with the country's secular legal system. Human rights activists say these laws blatantly discriminate against women. For a rapist to be convicted, for example, his crime has to be confirmed by four adult male Muslim eyewitnesses, or the rapist must confess. If the court rules that there was consent, the woman can be convicted of adultery. Sentences under the Hudood ordinances include amputation for theft, flogging for drinking alcohol and stoning for adultery. And, while the medieval punishments are never carried out, convicted adulterers often spend years in prison. At least half of the women in Pakistani prisons are either awaiting trial or have already been convicted under the Hudood laws.
The case of Zafran Bibi, 28, is unusually complicated. At least five lawyers have been involved in her defense, though none wants to take responsibility for what has happened to her. "It is a horrible story of manipulations by her family, lawyers, police and even by the court," says Afrasiab Khattak, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which estimates that a woman is raped every two hours in the country. Zafran Bibi's husband, Naimat Khan, claims his own father used Zafran Bibi to settle a score with another villager. Khan, who until last year was in jail himself on a murder rap, says his father forced Zafran Bibi to make the rape accusation against a man who had refused to marry one of the elder Khan's daughters. After her trial began, Zafran Bibi confessed that she had accused the wrong man, and said she had actually been raped by her brother-in-law.
"We are not aware of the law but I have complete trust in almighty Allah," says husband Khan, waiting with his two little boys, as temperatures reached 37°C, to visit his wife at the Kohat prison where she remains incarcerated along with the baby girl she gave birth to seven months ago. Khan says Zafran Bibi actually became pregnant after a conjugal visit to him in jail, an assertion that, if accepted by a court, could clear his wife of the adultery charge, though not the shame of the whole affair. "It will be justice for me if my wife is handed back to me," he says.
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has emphasized his commitment to women's rights, but his government hasn't tried to modify or scrap the Hudood ordinances, which were put in place more than 20 years ago by a previous military dictator, Zia ul-Haq. Human rights activists say the laws, and their abuse, help promote the very extremism that Musharraf is trying to fight in Pakistan. When Musharraf first learned of Zafran Bibi's case during a meeting with foreign reporters in Islamabad earlier this month, he was startled. "Is that the law? Now? I don't even know," he said. But he promised that Zafran Bibi would not be stoned to death and, two weeks ago, a Peshawar court temporarily suspended the sentence. Human rights activists say this isn't enough. "As long as such laws are on the books, people will suffer," says Khattak.
Musharraf concedes that he has no plans to do away with the Hudood laws. Tampering with this code would enrage Pakistani religious conservatives, with whom Musharraf is engaged in a delicate dance of challenge and accommodation. "He cannot change it," says Malik Hamid Afridi, a former prosecutor in Kohat. "There is no force other than God. There is no change to the Koran. There are no amendments." But near the Kohat court, a prosecutor who reluctantly helped to convict Zafran Bibi disagrees. "Of course women suffer more because of our customs, because there is no freedom for women," he says. "Actually, it is not the fault of the judge. It is the fault of the law. The law should be amended."
"Religious Intolerance in Pakistan," Dakha Daily Star, 11 Feb. 2001.
Women have particularly suffered under the Hudood Ordinances, as they are frequently (and wrongfully) charged for sexual misconduct such as adultery. Approximately one-third of the women in jails in Lahore, Peshawar, and Mardan in 1998 awaited trial for adultery. Although most women tried under the ordinance are eventually acquitted, they must then endure the stigma of having been under suspicion.
Both the regimes of Prime Minister Sharif and General Musharraf have ignored the recommendations made in 1995 by the UN's Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance. The Rapporteur advised that the Government "authorities should check that Hudood ordinances are compatible with human rights and urges that Hudood penalties, because they are exclusively Muslim, should not be applied to non-Muslims." Now, in fact, the Hudood Ordinances are stronger than ever.
United States Department of State, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2000.
The martial law era Hudood Ordinances criminalize nonmarital rape, extramarital sex, and various gambling, alcohol, and property offenses. The Hudood Ordinances reportedly are based on Islamic principles and are applied to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Some Hudood Ordinance cases are subject to Hadd, or Koranic, punishment; others are subject to Tazir, or secular punishment. Although both types of cases are tried in ordinary criminal courts, special rules of evidence apply in Hadd cases. For example, a non-Muslim may testify only if the victim also is non-Muslim. Likewise, the testimony of women, Muslim or non-Muslim, is not admissible in cases involving Hadd punishments. Thus, if a Muslim man rapes a Muslim woman in the presence of women or non-Muslim men, he cannot be convicted under the Hudood Ordinances.
For both Muslims and non-Muslims, all consensual extramarital sexual relations are considered a violation of the Hudood Ordinances; thus, if a woman cannot prove the absence of consent in a rape case, there is a risk that she may be charged with a violation of the Hudood Ordinances for fornication or adultery. The maximum punishment for this offense is public flogging or stoning. According to a police official, in a majority of rape cases, the victims are pressured to drop rape charges because of the threat of Hudood adultery charges being brought against them. A parliamentary commission of inquiry for women has criticized the Hudood Ordinances and recommended their repeal. It also has been charged that the laws on adultery and rape have been subject to widespread misuse, with 95 percent of the women accused of adultery being found innocent in the court of first instance or on appeal. This commission found that the main victims of the Hudood Ordinances are poor women who are unable to defend themselves against slanderous charges. According to the commission, the laws also have been used by husbands and other male family members to punish their wives and female family members for reasons that have nothing to do with sexual propriety. Approximately one-third or more of the women in jails in Lahore, Peshawar, and Mardan in 1998 were awaiting trial for adultery under the Hudood Ordinances. However, no Hadd punishment has been imposed since the Hudood Ordinances went into effect. Human rights monitors and women's groups believe that a narrow interpretation of Shari'a has had a harmful effect on the rights of women and minorities, as it reinforces popular attitudes and perceptions and contributes to an atmosphere in which discriminatory treatment of women and non-Muslims is accepted more readily.
Human Rights Watch, "Pakistan: Women Face Their Own Crisis," Human Rights Watch, 19 October 1999.
Women who report rape or sexual assault by strangers fare marginally better than victims of domestic violence. Victims who are persistent and determined sometimes succeed in registering complaints. However, reflecting the institutionalized gender bias that pervades the criminal justice system, women alleging rape are often disbelieved and treated with disrespect, indeed harassed outright, by officials at all levels. They must contend with abusive police, forensic doctors who focus on their virginity status instead of their injuries, untrained prosecutors, skeptical judges, and a discriminatory and deficient legal framework. "Only the most resilient and resourceful complainants can maneuver such hostile terrain," said Burney, "And those who do seldom see their attackers punished."
“Saudi Gang Rape Victim Punished,” Feminist Daily News Wire November 6, 2006.
A Saudi victim of gang rape was sentenced to 90 lashes for being alone in a car with a male friend who was not her husband prior to her rape. Seven men reportedly followed the victim and her friend to their car, kidnapped them, and took them to a farm where they raped the woman, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports. Four men, all married, were convicted of the crime and received sentences ranging from one year in prison and 80 lashes to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes. A fifth man who videotaped the rape on his cell phone still faces investigation, and two other men alleged to have participated in the kidnapping and rape escaped arrest, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
The victim and her male friend both received 90 lashes for being alone together. The victim's husband and family are not disputing these sentences, but announced that they will appeal for harsher penalties for the assailants, FOX reports.
Katharine Houreld, “First the women are raped, then they are jailed, fined,” Toronto Globe and Mail, 5 March 2005.
Assaults in Sudan are used deliberately to fragment community, aid worker says
BENDISI, SUDAN, Mar 5, 2005 — Fatima was 15 when she was gang-raped in front of her mother. Seven months later, the heavily pregnant schoolgirl was arrested by the Sudanese police and charged with fornication. They threatened to whip her if she didn’t pay a fine.
“They asked me who was the father of my baby," she said, twisting a piece of paper between her fingers. "I told them I didn’t know. There were seven men on horses. Three of them raped me and four of them beat my mother. We had gone to get onions from our farm."
After she had spent three days in prison with no food and nothing to sleep on but the bare earth, Fatima’s father collected money from relatives. Last week, he finally paid 12,000 ($60) of the 20,000 dinars that the police demanded. "The police said he must pay the rest by the time my baby is delivered or I will be whipped."
Since 2003, when local African tribes took up arms against perceived neglect and discrimination by the central government, thousands of women have been raped. Many of the victims have been branded to ensure that they never escape the stigma.
Most of the women simply identify their attackers as janjaweed, a generic term for the nomadic, Arabic-speaking gunmen who often work in concert with the Sudanese armed forces.
The nomads have a history of conflict with the African tribes over land rights but the government’s twin gifts of impunity and automatic weapons escalated traditional tensions into all-out war.
Médecins sans frontières (Doctors without Borders) has treated nearly 400 Darfur women for rape in the past six months, although they say the stigma of being victims prevents many from reporting the crime.
"Rape is being used as a deliberate way to fragment the family and community," said one local aid worker, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Many of these women are raped by soldiers and police as well [as the janjaweed]."
In Bendisi, a town in the west, hundreds of women like Fatima have been jailed after they became pregnant by their attackers. The police typically demand fines ranging from 15,000 to 25,000 dinars. Often, they rape the women again while they are held in prison, under the pretext of interrogating them.
"The police told me that I could pay 15,000 dinars or I could be raped 40 times," said one 18-year-old, huddled in a corner. "They will take my money now but they never heard my cry when the janjaweed came for me."
Other women confirmed that the police had had sex with them while in prison, promising shorter sentences or smaller fines.
During the day, the prisoners are often forced to work as domestic labour, carrying water, cooking or cleaning for their jailers. The women are charged with having extramarital sex, despite the fact that under Islamic law, a woman who is raped is not considered guilty of a crime.
Some of the women, their houses destroyed and their family dead, have no one to help them. Sixteen-year-old Hawa, gang-raped by three men while collecting firewood, cradles her two-month old son Hamoudi in a ragged green blanket. Her own shawl has several holes in it. She is sleeping rough after her grandmother threw her out because she became pregnant.
"The police held me for 10 days in a cell. They didn’t give me any food and there was nowhere to sleep," she whispered, tucking the blanket around the face of her sleeping son.
"I told them I have no money. They whipped me on my chest and my back. I was bleeding a lot." She was eight months pregnant, and terrified.
Even after her punishment, Hawa’s troubles are not over. The police are still demanding 20,000 dinars. Four times a week, with her son strapped to her back, she and a group of other women in the same predicament walk several kilometres over a mountain to find gravel.
They load heavy buckets filled with stones onto their heads and return to make cement to sell in the marketplace. So far, Hawa has made 2,000 dinars in two months.
Every time she leaves the confines of the town she is vulnerable again. Many of these women have been raped several times: once when their village was attacked and later when they venture out of the town to gather water or firewood.
"The janjaweed came to my village in August, 2003," said 25-year-old Nadifa. "During the fight, four men came to my tukel [hut]. They said you can choose, we can kill you or we will rape you. Then four of them tied my hands and legs so I was spread-eagled between two beds. They raped me and left me tied up for the whole day. They kept coming back. At the end of the day they let me go and burnt my house."
Still traumatized by the attack in August of 2003, Nadifa joined the other 1.85 million people displaced by the conflict. She fled to nearby Bendisi for security, but last July, she was raped again as she gathered firewood on the outskirts of town.
After she became pregnant, the police arrested her and kept her in a cell for two days. Her neighbours, themselves displaced and impoverished, scraped together 15,000 dinars to release her but the police have kept her name on a list. They promised to visit her again once her baby has been born.
At least some officials in the Sudanese government are aware of what is going on. When a judge visited from Garsila, a nearby town where similar cases have been reported, he merely cautioned the officers to stop recording women’s names lest the list should be used as evidence against them. Yet the arrests, the fines and the whippings continue.
"Who will want to marry me now?" asked Fatima, her young eyes filling with tears. "Maybe an old man, more than 50. I am destroyed. I have lost my chance in life."
”Sudan: Another woman sentenced to 100 lashes,” Women in the Middle East, No. 24, May 2004.
The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Sudanese Organisation against Torture (SOAT), a member of the OMCT network, that a 22 year old woman has been sentenced to 100 lashes of the whip on charges of adultery in Sudan. Ms. Razaz Abaker, 22 years old, was sentenced to 100 lashes of the whip for committing Zina, illegal sexual intercourse. The sentence was handed down by the Nyala Criminal Court on 13 March.
The 27 year old man who was charged with having had sex with Ms. Razaz was acquitted by the same court on the basis of insufficient evidence against him. This case was brought based on claims that Ms. Razaz gave birth to a child three years ago outside of marriage, after having had sex with a 22 year old man. A policeman brought the case to the attention of the Attorney General.
On the same day, the Attorney General interrogated Ms. Razaz and she confessed to having had sex with the man in question. She claimed that he raped her and had promised to marry her. On the same day, Ms. Razaz was convicted by the court and sentenced to 100 lashes of the whip, which was carried out immediately, with no possibility of legal assistance or appeal. In Sudan, the Penal Code provides that a person can be convicted of Zina if (1) four witnesses testify to the act, (2) a person confesses to the act, or (3) for women, if they are pregnant and unmarried.
OMCT expresses its grave concern for the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Razaz and unreservedly condemns the use of corporal punishment, which clearly violates international human rights standards that prohibit the use of torture. OMCT is also gravely concerned about the immediate infliction of punishment with no opportunity for appeal or legal consultation. OMCT would like to recall that the government of Sudan is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits torture. Sudan has failed to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, a signal of the government's failure to adequately protect women's rights. www.omct.org
”Rape Victim Jailed, Denied EC After Reporting Crime,” Feminist Daily News Wire, 31 January 2007.
A Florida college student was arrested over the weekend after reporting her rape to the police. The woman, who has requested to remain anonymous, was taken into custody when police officers found a warrant for her from 2003 that accused her of failing to pay restitution for theft, which was described as a "paperwork snafu" by the victim's mother, FOX reports. While under arrest, the woman was unable to receive her second dose of emergency contraception (EC) because of a jail worker's religious beliefs, the AP reports.
"Shocked. Stunned. Outraged. I don't have words to describe it," said attorney Vic Moore, the AP reports. "She is not a victim of any one person. She is a victim of the system. There's just got to be some humanity involved when it’s a victim of rape."
According to Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, a new policy is now in place where anyone who is suspected of a misdemeanor is not taken into custody if they are a victim of a sex crime.
The Global Persecution of Women