Category Archives: Sexual Assault

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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Spring

Daffodils, Author Bernard Spragg. NZ, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/volvob12b/34423824293/, (PD)

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and…all the trees of the forest sing for joy” (Ps. 96: 11-12 NIV).

Spring, the season of hope and new life, is here again.  The trees are in bloom, the first tender shoots pushing their way out of the soil, and the children decked out in their Easter finery.

Greeting cards may giddily proclaim the equinox, as if God had not ordained it.  But Spring is more than just our chance to air out the house, lay down mulch, and pull the patio furniture from storage.  It the season that points us toward resurrection, the victory of life over death.

That has special meaning for abuse victims.  We are all too familiar with death and darkness.  The battle with evil is fought (or re-fought) everyday.  It has been part and parcel of our lives for as long as we can remember.  If the abuse has passed, we continue to wrestle with its scars.

Which is why we are astonished by the beauty of daffodils.  Light and life may be foreign to us, but we long for them the way a seed buried in the ground longs for the sun it has not seen.

“ ‘He is not here; for He is risen, as He said’ ” (Matt. 28: 6).

Only one Man in history conquered sin and death.  But He conquered them – absolutely and irrevocably – for the rest of us, even the abuse victims.  Most especially the abuse victims, the outcast, the downtrodden, the poor, the abandoned and forgotten.

We commemorate Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death at Easter.  There is no celebration more profound.  Christ arose from the tomb – once and for all time – to offer us hope and life eternal.

Little wonder that the earth, itself, sings for joy!

Originally posted 3/27/16

Happy Easter!

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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Fractured Lives, Part 2

Prince performing at Coachella Music and Arts Festival (2008), Author penner, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/penner/2450784866 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

We continue our look at the lives of rock stars who have spoken publicly about their abuse.

Prince

“My mom had stuff in her room that I could sneak in and get…books, vibrators.  I did it.  I’m sure everybody does…”

-Prince [1A]

Prince Rogers Nelson a/k/a Prince called the film Purple Rain (the story of a tormented boy with an unhappy homelife) his “emotional biography”, but was contradictory when speaking about the abuse he endured as a child [1B][2].

Prince’s epilepsy was viewed as sinful, and an embarrassment by his parents.  Exposed to pornography early in life, he was thrown out of the house at age 12 when his father, John Nelson, found him in bed with a girl.

“Don’t abuse children or else they turn out like me.”

-Excerpt from the song “Papa” by Prince

Musically, Prince was a perfectionist, driving all the musicians with whom he worked hard [1C].  The musical polymath, known for sexual lyrics, is thought to have bedded dozens of women during his lifetime.  He died at age 57 of an accidental fentanyl overdose [3A].

Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in 2016 [3B].  Many artists including Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Usher, and Alicia Keyes have cited him as an influence [3C].

Continue reading

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Fractured Lives, Part 1

Axl Rose, Author Dineshraj Goomany, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgoomany/7334557068/ (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

What do Axl Rose, Sinead O’Connor, Prince, and Madonna have in common?  As their fans know, these acclaimed artists have all experienced abuse of one kind or another.

Axl Rose

“I feel that child abuse and sexual abuse…is kind of the key to why there are so many problems in the world today.  The more books I read on it, and the more work I do on trying to overcome the problems that I had in my childhood that I accepted…I knew it was crazy, but I accepted it as normal behavior for my life, and I realize now that it wasn’t normal behavior, and it’s caused me to act in many ways because it’s what I was trained, it’s what I was taught, it’s what I saw.  My formative years were very ugly.”

-Axl Rose [1]

William Bruce Rose, Jr. a/k/a Axl Rose – frontman for the band Guns N’ Roses – had a troubled childhood [2][3].  Sexually abused at the age of two by his biological father, Rose was later physically abused by his stepfather.

Understandably, Rose developed difficulties with authority, becoming a delinquent in his teens.  He was often self-destructive, intentionally overdosing on painkillers in 1986.  His personal relationships have been tumultuous.

Musically, Rose sometimes exercised suffocating control over the bands with whom he sang.  For a time abandoning his career, he spent years in near isolation.

Despite all this, Rose was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.  Guns N’ Roses have sold more than 90 million albums worldwide. Continue reading

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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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Purity and Virginity Testing

“The Virgin in Prayer” by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (c. 1645), National Gallery (Accession No. NG200), London, Author/Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, PD-Old-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Clinics in Britain offer controversial but ineffective tests for virginity which can place lives at risk [1].  Young women who “fail” such tests may be subjected to violence or sexual assault, starvation, banishment from their communities, and – in extreme cases – honor killings.

Shame and Dishonor

In a few cultures, the loss of virginity prior to marriage is still viewed as bringing shame and dishonor on the family and community as a whole.  For that reason, virginity testing is often required for marriage.

Of course, it is always the woman’s virginity called into question.

Forced Testing

Women may be forced by parents, potential partners, or future in-laws to submit to virginity testing.

Virginity tests are, also, at times carried out on sexual assault victims to verify that rape has taken place.  Needless to say, the testing is equally ineffective for that purpose, though it is traumatic. Continue reading

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Gender-Based Violence

Sukuma women and children of Tanzania, Author paulshaffner, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The following is excerpted from an article by Lynn Monahan titled “Fighting Gender-Based Violence” in the June 2020 edition of Maryknoll Magazine:

“When she was only 8 years old, Ghati was sold by her older brother to a 55-year-old man, who put the orphan girl on a motorcycle and rode to his house… There the man raped her.

After two weeks of daily assaults, Ghati escaped while the man was working in his fields…The man was later arrested and eventually sentenced to prison.

Ghati, a pseudonym to protect her identity, was…placed in a shelter [in Tanzania] under the care of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.

‘What the center does is support vulnerable children,’ says Sister Annunciata Chacha, the director of the shelter called Jipe Moyo, a Swahili term meaning To Give Heart.

Jipe Moyo, a program of the Musoma Diocese, cares for children who have been living on the street, children who run away from domestic violence, children who flee from female genital mutilation (FGM)…sometimes called female circumcision, and girls escaping from child marriages…At the center, the children receive care, counseling and education…”

Continue reading

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The Sins of the Fathers

“Shipwreck: the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm” by William Joy (1859), Photographer/Source Christie’s Auctions, (PD-Art, PD-Age)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

We close 2020 on a tragic note:  the sexual assault and battery of a newborn by a 14 y.o. boy living in the same Florida foster home [1A].

Assailant Sexualized as a Toddler

The teenage assailant is thought to have been sexualized as a toddler, when his biological mother exposed him to pornography and engaged in sexual activity in his presence.

History of Prior Assaults

“If someone is predatory, they are going to focus in on someone that is vulnerable.  Putting a young child in a situation like that is beyond shocking.”

-Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Thomas Dikel [1B]

The couple who fostered then adopted this boy (the Kleins); the non-profit responsible for overseeing child welfare locally (Kids Central); and the entity providing case management services (The Center) were all aware of the boy’s dangerous proclivities, since he had sexually assaulted other children.

Nonetheless, Kids Central and The Center continued to send foster children to the Kleins’ home. Continue reading

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Sex and Teenage Boys

Teenage boys, Author Bmdehan (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Bridget Sipera, a teacher at Camden Catholic High School in New Jersey, has been charged with sexually assaulting a male student less than half her age [1].  The two repeatedly had sex over an 18 month period.

Western society tends to view sexual activity among teens as part of the natural process of development.  We bombard teens with sexual images.  Discouraging sex seems repressive to us.

While we may be protective toward our daughters, some of us actually cheer our sons on.  Sex with a teacher is seen as the ultimate fantasy.

But there are serious dangers associated with early sexual activity.  And sex between an adult and child is as damaging to boys as it is to girls.

Risky Behaviors

Teens who engage in sex are likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors in adulthood [2].

They are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, and less likely to use condoms. This increases their chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or HIV, and having an unwanted pregnancy.

Ten million of the sexually transmitted diseases newly reported each year are acquired by young people between the ages of 15 and 24 [3].  It bears mention that the brain is not fully developed till age 25.

Sexual Addiction

Early exposure to sexual content can, also, give rise to sexual addiction [4A].

Best estimates are that 3% – 6% of American men suffer from sexual addiction [5][6].  However, women can fall prey to sexual addiction, too.

Sexual addiction can destroy relationships, compromise finances, and contribute to criminality.

Typically, sexual addiction is characterized by one or more of the following [4B]:

  • compulsive masturbation;
  • reliance on pornography and/or prostitutes;
  • an endless succession of meaningless sexual encounters;
  • use of fetishes in place of human interaction;
  • voyeurism/exhibitionism; and
  • sexual sadism or masochism.

Addicts persist in these behaviors despite the negative consequences. Continue reading

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Fighting Back – Hunting Child Predators

Marisol Nichols at 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, Author Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The TV series Law and Order:  Special Victims Unit and Riverdale could hardly be more different.  The first is a gritty crime drama.  The second is a teen melodrama based on the Archie Comics.

The two, however, have something in common:  a remarkable actress who takes part in real life FBI and other police “sting” operations targeting child predators [1].

Employing her acting skills, Marisol Nichols collaborates with law enforcement – sometimes in the role of a child, sometimes in the role of a distraught parent – to combat sex trafficking.  Texts and phone calls lure child molesters to motel rooms, where they can be arrested.

Nichols was, herself, sexually assaulted at 11 years of age.

The actress has since established a non-profit called Foundation for a Slavery Free World https://www.slaveryfreeworld.org.  Her non-profit produces Hollywood events to raise awareness of sex trafficking, and recognizes groups and individuals for their work in this field.

For her own work, Marisol Nichols received the President’s Distinguished Volunteer Service Award in 2017.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion” (Prov. 28: 1).

[1]  E!, “Riverdale Star Marisol Nichols’ Story of Hunting Child Predators Is Being Turned Into a TV Show” by Lauren Piester, 8/31/20, https://www.eonline.com/news/1183800/riverdale-star-marisol-nichols-story-of-hunting-child-predators-is-being-turned-into-a-tv-show.

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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