Category Archives: Violence Against Women

Same-Sex Violence

leeway-lgbt-blog - UK SAYS NO MORE

Image courtesy of UK Says No More https://uksaysnomore.org/domestic-abuse-and-the-lgbt-community/leeway-lgbt-blog/.

In 2010, Annamarie Cochran was killed by her domestic partner, Cara Rintala [1][2].  Cochran was strangled, beaten, thrown downstairs, and covered in paint to destroy evidence.

The Massachusetts couple (both EMTs) evidently had disputes over money and infidelity.  Despite a tumultuous relationship, they continued to live together until the murder.

Rintala was convicted in 2016 after two mistrials.  She was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.  In 2019, Rintala’s request for a new trial was denied [3].

Domestic violence within the LGBTQ community is not often addressed.

Prevalence rates are difficult to come by, since heterosexual women are primarily targeted for intimate partner violence screening and intervention [4].  However, LGBTQ rates are believed to be slightly higher than those among heterosexual couples [5]. Continue reading

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Equal Rights Globally

African women discussing the progress of their community, Author Mailabari (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

The following is excerpted from an article in The Hill titled, “Only 10 countries consider women equal – that must change” [1]:

“Discriminatory laws affect every aspect of a woman’s life – from where she lives and works, to when and whom she marries, to whether she can open a bank account, inherit property or apply for a passport [not to mention access the courts, in the event of domestic abuse].

In Senegal the decision of where a married couple lives legally rests with the husband.  In Jordan only men can be the legal head of a household and in Mali a woman legally owes obedience to her husband…

[I]t is also true that important legal reforms have been made…

In the last year alone, Vietnam removed all job restrictions for women, Madagascar toughened domestic violence penalties, Suriname introduced paid leave for new parents and New Zealand enhanced laws mandating equal pay for work of equal value…The United Arab Emirates removed some travel and movement restrictions and became the first and only country in the region to offer paid parental leave.”

Continue reading

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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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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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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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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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Help Delayed = Help Denied

University of Utah, Author University of Utah (CC 3.0 Unported)

Lauren McCluskey, a 21 y.o. student athlete at the University of Utah, was murdered by a former boyfriend despite having complained to campus and Salt Lake City police over 20 times [1].

Lauren met her murderer, 37 y.o. Melvin Rowland, in a bar.  The co-ed ended their brief, month-long relationship on learning Rowland was a convicted sex offender who had lied about his name and age.

Calls for Help

Over the next two weeks, Lauren reported to police that Rowland was sending her harassing messages and attempting to extort money.  She did, in fact, send him $1000 in the futile hope of securing the return of embarrassing photos.

Lauren’s body was found in the backseat of a car on campus.  She had been shot to death.  Rowland killed himself following a police chase.

Settlement

The University of Utah has settled with McCluskey’s parents for $10.5 million.  A separate $3 million donation will be made to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, and funds raised for an indoor track to be named after Lauren. Continue reading

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“People Pleasing” Behavior, Part 2

Foto Removing the mask. Fotografia tirada por Luciano Moreira inserida na categoria arte-digital
Saved from junior.fineart-portugal.com

Those of us who are “people pleasers” as the result of childhood abuse and/or domestic violence have our reasons.  Deprived of affection, we long for acceptance.  Often cruelly punished when we did not conform to the expectations of others, we fear rejection.

Saying “no” to a request is difficult for us.  Putting boundaries in place, since it was never allowed, feels foreign and selfish.  We may even have been taught that it was “unchristian”.

Unfortunately, “people pleasing” behavior is not productive in the long run.  It is likely to leave us overworked and overwhelmed – often angry with ourselves for having failed to speak out.  Over time, we can lose sight of who we really are.

Inauthenticity drains the joy from living.  How then do we change this behavior?

Continue reading

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