Category Archives: Abuse of Power

Sexual Harassment in the Sciences

Amazon.com: Pinsanity Science Not Silence Enamel Lapel Pin: Jewelry

Image courtesy of Pinsanity Store

  • Nancy Hopkins, PhD, a geneticist and cancer researcher who served as Professor of Biology at MIT for 40 years [1], was sexually harassed by Nobel Prize winning British molecular biologist, Francis Crick OM FRS, one of the two men credited with discovering the structure of DNA [2][3A]. Crick casually placed his hands on Hopkins’ breasts while inquiring about her research, as if that were a normal thing to do.
  • Jane Willenbring, PhD, a geomorphologist and Assoc. Professor of Earth Sciences at Stanford University, winner of the prestigious Antarctica Service Medal [4][5], was sexually harassed by glacial geologist, David Marchant, PhD after whom the Matataua Glacier was originally named [3B][6][7]. Marchant expressed open hostility toward Willenbring, repeatedly referring to her by such derogatory terms as “slut”, “whore”, and “cunt”; denigrating her work; tormenting her with painful practical jokes; and ultimately denying her funding.

As of 2017, women constituted only 29% of the STEM (science/technology/engineering/mathematics) professionals in the United States [3C].

As research has now objectively demonstrated, major factors in this are the implicit and explicit gender discrimination and sexual harassment women face in these male dominated fields.

False Assumptions

The assumption has been that the sciences are apolitical, and free of bias; that sexual harassment does not exist in the sciences.  The assumption has been that women are simply unsuited for STEM; that they lack the necessary interest, dedication, and intellect to succeed; that their very biology makes them somehow inadequate to the task.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, bullying, Justice, Law

NXIVM and Other Cults

DOS brand as per Government Exhibit GX-352 in US v. Raniere, Source https://www.courthousenews.com/former-slave-master-describes-sex-cult-branding-ritual/, Author US Attorney’s Office, EDNY (PD as work product of federal govt.)

And Jesus answered and said to them:  ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many’ ” (Matt. 24: 4-5).

NXIVM is old news.  Keith Raniere has joined the ranks of such infamous cult leaders as Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs, and David Koresh [1].

But the NXIVM phenomenon has lessons for us.  Here are a few:

1.  A charismatic leader may not be what he claims. 

All that glitters is not gold.

Though venerated as a virtual god, Keith Raniere was originally an Amway distributor [2A].  The self-proclaimed guru and life coach called himself the “smartest man in the world” when, in fact, he had difficulty completing college.

2.  The endorsement of celebrities is no guarantee of an organization’s trustworthiness.

NXIVM was supported by Seagrams heiresses, Clare and Sara Bronfman, to the tune of some $85 million [2B].

Among the celebrities who once endorsed NXIVM were actresses Allison Mack, India Oxenberg, and Sarah Edmondson [3].  Keith Raniere even appeared with the Dalai Lama.

3.  Hierarchy and ritual are no guarantees of an organization’s spirituality.

NXIVM had both.

4.  Finances often reveal the true nature of an organization.

Actions speak louder than words.  Lofty sounding goals are not enough.

Keith Raniere promised his followers they would change the world [2C].  Instead, Raniere’s actions confirmed his desire for sex, money, and power.

Legally, NXIVM was comprised of dozens of shell corporations, their finances dubious [2D].  Functionally, NXIVM was little more than a pyramid scheme, designed to bilk Raniere’s followers of their savings [2E].

A seemingly endless series of classes were heavily promoted. All promised self-knowledge and self-improvement, albeit at a cost.  Meanwhile, members often went unpaid for their labor.

Raniere’s earlier venture, Consumer Buyline (a multi-level marketing company) was shut down in 1993 after being investigated for fraud by 20 states.

5.  Excessive control is a major red flag.

There is a fine line between indoctrination and brainwashing; that line must not be crossed.

New members were introduced to NXIVM’s philosophy of “rational inquiry” at intensive, 14 hour-per-day seminars lasting more than 2 weeks.

Loyalty to NXIVM was emphasized over loyalty to family.  The dress, diet, and life decisions of members were all closely regulated by NXIVM.  Even the weight of members was monitored.

Other tactics employed at NXIVM included sleeplessness, isolation, starvation, corporal punishment, and coercion via blackmail.  Cult leaders Jim Jones and Charles Manson, also, used “love bombing” – excessive displays of attention and affection intended to overwhelm [5]. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, Justice, Law, Religion, sex trafficking, Slavery

Forbidden Music

Afghan women, Author Eric Draper (PD as federal work product)

Many fear the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan will place in jeopardy the advances girls and women have made there in the past 20 years [1].

If the Taliban resumes control of the country (as now seems inevitable), women are likely again to be penalized for infractions such as failure to wear a burka, leaving home unaccompanied by a male, and adultery [2].  Even music will again be forbidden, since the Prophet Muhammad is thought by some to have criticized the use of musical instruments [3].

Punishments have, in the past, ranged from beating or flogging, by religious police, to death by stoning [4].

Radical Islam v. Christianity

The Taliban argues that the harsh restrictions placed on women are meant to revere and protect them.  Taliban leaders have, however, been known to engage in human trafficking, selling women into slavery and forced prostitution [5].

The contrast between Radical Islam and Christianity could not be more clear.

When Christ was confronted with a woman caught in adultery, He defended her against her accusers, then instructed her to go and sin no more (John 8: 3-11).

He…said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first’ ” (John 8: 7).

[1]  CNBC, “US withdrawal of troops puts Afghan women’s education in peril” by Richard Engel, 5/3/21, https://www.cnbc.com/video/2021/05/03/u-s-withdrawal-of-troops-put-womens-education-in-peril.html.

[2]  Wikipedia, “Women in Afghanistan”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Afghanistan.

[3]  Wikipedia, “Islamic music”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_music.

[4]  Radio Free Europe Radio Library, “Afghan Rights Group Investigating Video of Woman Being Stoned to Death” by Frud Bezhan, 2/3/20, https://www.rferl.org/a/afghan-rights-group-investigates-video-of-woman-being-stoned-to-death/30414665.html.

[5]  Time Magazine, “Lifting the Veil on Taliban Sex Slavery” by , http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,201892,00.html.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Sexual Harassment in India

MeToo: Priya Ramani acquitted in defamation case filed by MJ Akbar - The Week

MJ Akbar (left), Priya Ramani (right), Image courtesy of The Week https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/02/17/metoo-priya-ramani-acquitted-in-defamation-case-filed-by-mj-akbar.html.

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Earlier this year, an Indian court acquitted journalist, Priya Ramani, in a criminal defamation case by former government minister, MJ Akbar, for accusing him of sexual misconduct [1].

Ramani had alleged in a social media post that she was sexually harassed by Akbar in 1993, when called to a Mumbai hotel for a job interview.  Following Ramani’s allegations, over 20 other women came forward to make similar allegations against Akbar.  As a result, Akbar was forced to step down, though not before he filed suit. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Justice, Law, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

Rape as a Weapon

Femicides in Mexico: Impunity and Protests | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Protester holding sign which reads:  “Don’t Kill Us!”
Photo: ROCIO VAZQUEZ/AFP via Getty Image
WARNING:  Graphic Images

Rape is being used as a weapon in Mexico against women and girls protesting femicide and other gender violence [1].  Women who dress in black or cover their faces – even as a hygiene measure against COVID-19 infection – are viewed as suspect.

Femicide in Mexico

The World Health Organization defines femicide as the intentional murder of women because they are women.

Nearly 3500 femicides were committed in Mexico in 2019 alone [2].  Approximately 10 women are killed everyday by strangulation, suffocation, stabbing, and drowning.  Some 93% of crimes are either not reported or not investigated.

The inaction of Mexico toward this situation has drawn criticism from around the world.

Media Demonization

Women taking part in protests have been demonized by the media.  In this way, authorities have undermined the legitimacy of protest.  To further assure that women know their place, law enforcement uses violence to punish women who dare to take to the streets.

Human Rights Violations

More than two years after a judgment in the case of Women Victims of Sexual Torture in Atenco v. Mexico by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Mexico has made little progress in preventing human rights violations against women demonstrators. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Law, Rape, Violence Against Women

A Rape Victim’s Triumph – Artemisia Gentileschi

“Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting” by Artemisia Gentileschi (c. 1638), British Royal Collection (Accession No. RCIN 405551) (PD)

“My illustrious lordship, I’ll show you what a woman can do.”

-Artemisia Gentileschi

The Baroque artist, Artemisia Gentileschi is not known for a light and frothy style.  By any standard, Artemisia’s paintings are powerful, her imagery striking.

To begin with, she often chose as her subjects strong women – whether from myth or the Bible.  Among the best-known are Susanna, Esther, Judith, and Mary Magdalene [1].  But Artemisia’s own story is compelling.

Born in 1593, Artemisia was introduced to painting by her father, Tuscan artist Orazio Gentileschi [2].

Rape and Trial

In 1611, Artemisia was raped by fellow artist, Agostino Tassi.

In the expectation that they would be married to restore her honor, Artemisia continued to have sexual relations with Tassi for nine months.  When it became clear Tassi would not or could not marry her, Artemisia’s father pressed charges against him. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Justice, Law, Rape, Violence Against Women

Palm Oil – The High Cost of Beauty

Female palm oil workers, Author benkataro, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil on earth, widely touted for its health and beauty benefits.

Palm oil is used in such everyday products as lipstick, shampoo, ice cream, chocolate, margarine, instant noodles, and pizza dough [1][2]. Claims are made that palm oil can prevent cancer, stem heart disease, treat dementia, slow aging, and aid weight loss [3].

The uncontrolled clearing of rain forests for palm oil plantations has led to a significant loss in these bio-diverse habitats.  Now, an investigation by the Associated Press has confirmed that the mistreatment of female palm oil workers in Malaysia and Indonesia is commonplace [4A]:

  • Many women work without pay to help their husbands or fathers meet unrealistic daily quotas.
  • Women routinely perform some of the industry’s most physically taxing jobs, sometimes carrying loads so heavy they can cause uterine collapse. Infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirths are the result.
  • Women, also, spray dangerous pesticides without protective gear. Activists say some have lost their sight, as a consequence.
  • Added to this, women frequently face sexual harassment. This can range from suggestive comments to outright rape.  In fear for their jobs, victims rarely report such abusive interactions.  Families may actually force victims to marry their rapists, if a pregnancy occurs.

Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, Rape, Religion, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

Gatekeepers – Sexual Harassment in the Music Industry

Lady Gaga interviewed for NFL Network (2016), Author SMP Entertainment, Source Vimeo: SB50 Lady Gaga Interview https://vimeo.com/159307047 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Noel Fisher a/k/a Detail – a Grammy Award-winning music producer and songwriter who worked with the likes of Beyonce, Maroon 5, Jennifer Lopez, and Nicki Minaj – was last month arrested on 15 charges of sexual assault and 5 additional charges of felony assault [1A].

The charges stem from incidents between 2010 and 2018.  Bail was set at $6.29 million.

In her song “Gatekeeper”, Jessie Reyez (co-author of the hits “One Kiss” and “Promises”) described in graphic terms being harassed by a producer she later identified as Fisher:

“Oh I’m the gatekeeper/Spread your legs/Open up/You could be famous/If you come up anywhere else, I’ll erase you.”

-Jessie Reyez, “Gatekeeper” [2A]

Reyez maintains Fisher disparaged her for not having sex to advance her career.  Singers Bebe Rexha and Tinashe had similar experiences with Fisher [2B].

In 2018, Janae Knox, a Fisher assistant, filed suit alleging he asked her to shower with him and demanded sexual favors [2C].  Isabella Mack, another Fisher assistant, filed suit alleging she was forcefully held against her will while Fisher masturbated [2D].  Fisher, also, demanded Mack pose for nude pictures and videos.

In 2019, model Kristina Buch was awarded $15 million in a suit alleging Fisher raped her [1B].

But allegations of sexual assault in the music industry are nothing new. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, Justice, Law, Rape, Religion, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

Turkish Inequality

Anti-femicide memorial in Chile, Author En.el.cielo.con.diamantes, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/kamelia/2055714461/ (CC BY-SA 2. 0 Generic)

Women in Turkey have rallied in large numbers due to concerns that country may withdraw from the Istanbul Convention [1].  The Convention deals with systemic violence against women, and the state’s role in preventing domestic abuse.

Citing the erosion of family values and traditional gender roles, a small but determined group has lobbied Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to withdraw the country.  What seems behind the effort is an anti-Western sentiment, and the desire to revoke gender-based protections.

Turkey has a long history of femicides, the killing of women and girls by men because of their gender [2A].  Even with the Istanbul Convention in place, 417 Turkish women died as the result of domestic violence last year.  Thus far this year, 205 have been killed.

The murder of 27 y.o. Pinar Gultekin by her former boyfriend ignited the Turkish women’s protests [2B].  Anti-femicide protests have, also, taken place in France, South Africa, Mexico, and Chile in recent years.

Meanwhile, Poland, Serbia, and Croatia are considering abandoning the Convention. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Law, Rape, Religion, Violence Against Women

Gynecological Abuse

Feet Stirrups Image & Photo (Free Trial) | Bigstock

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A 73 y.o. gynecologist is alleged to have raped a total of 21 women, during the course of his employment at the University of Southern California [1].  George Tyndall is said to have sexually penetrated his victims while they were unconscious.  He has pleaded not guilty.

The women, who range from 17 y.o. to 31 y.o., were being seen at the campus health center.  That Tyndall would have taken advantage of women in this setting is despicable.  That he did so while these women were under anesthesia was particularly craven.

His actions obviously violated the Hippocratic Oath Tyndall had sworn to uphold.

Not the First

But Tyndall is not the first gynecologist to have abused his patients.  Columbia University gynecologist, Robert Hadden, is accused of having sexually assaulted over 75 patients – Evelyn Yang, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, among them [2][3]. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Justice, Law, Rape, Sexual Assault