Category Archives: Abuse of Power

Mea Culpa

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Southern_Baptist_Convention_logo.png

Guidepost Solutions has issued a scathing report accusing leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination, of routinely stonewalling claims of clergy abuse for the past two decades [1].

Convicted child molesters were allowed to continue in ministry without warning to their current congregations across multiple states.

This revelation is akin to the Catholic Church sex scandal in severity.  It confirms that pride and sexual sin are not limited to a single denomination (or linked to a vow of chastity). Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault

“A Mother’s Love” by Kelly Fratamico

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/Mary_Cassatt_-_Mother_and_Child_%28The_Goodnight_Hug%29.jpg

“Mother and Child (A Goodnight Hug)” (1880) by Mary Cassatt, Source https://www.wikiart.org/en/mary-cassatt/mother-and-child-1880 (PD)

Readers of my other blog A Lawyer’s Prayers will be familiar with Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia https://www.clcphila.org/, a non-profit whose predecessor I had the opportunity of co-founding.

Through the efforts of volunteer Christian attorneys and paralegals, CLCP provides the poor of Philadelphia with legal services at no charge.

This is one story [1]:

“In 2016 Maria, a native of the Dominican Republic, sent her two young sons, to live with their father in the US.  She could not afford to come with them, so stayed behind…Maria made this sacrifice so her sons could receive a better education and not be influenced by violence in their town.

Maria was finally able to join her sons and their father in the United States…in the summer of 2021.  However, their father became abusive with Maria and tried to keep the boys from her.  With the help of the police and her sister, she was able to retrieve her sons and move into a place of her own.  However, Maria…was scared that he would use the court system to take  her sons from her.” Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Law, Poverty, Religion

Evil Never Rests

Evil eyes Royalty Free Vector Image - VectorStock

The past two years have been eventful for the world.  First, Covid dominated the news. Now, the tragic war in Ukraine (with 115 children killed, 140 injured, an untold number orphaned, and 1.5 million made refugees) is a major focus [1][2].

The following events have, also, taken place. They demonstrate that evil never rests:

  • Incest — Gucci heiress, Alexandra Zarini, has alleged that her stepfather, Joseph Ruffalo, sexually abused her between the ages of six and twenty-two. Her lawsuit has fractured the family, and confirmed that wealth is no safeguard against child abuse [3].
  • Catholic Church Sex Scandal — Retired Pope Benedict XVI (former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) has asked forgiveness from victims for his mishandling of four Catholic Church sex abuse cases [4]. Ratzinger did not in so many words apologize or accept blame. He continues to deny personal responsibility for the rapes and sodomy perpetuated by his failure to curtail the ministries of pedophile priests when complaints first surfaced [5].

Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Politics, Rape, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse

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