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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Dreams

Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria, Author Diego Delso delso.photo (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Our society urges children to dream big; to follow, even fight for, their dreams.  These are laudable sentiments.  But they presuppose that children can one day transform their dreams into reality.

For some children, reality is so painful that dreams are their only escape from it.  Whether this is the result of poverty or abuse, fantasy seems preferable.

Golden Goblets

Oh, the dreams, themselves, are beautiful.  Every detail is clear.

The dreamers will live in an enormous  palace, on a silver lake.  They will drink from golden goblets, wield magical swords, wear pearl-studded gowns or impenetrable armor, and sleep on satin sheets.

They will become world famous ballerinas, applauded by millions, or physicians who cure disease with the wave of a wand.  They will become race car drivers, and own fleets of flashy limousines.  They will discover the lost city of Atlantis and raise it from the sea, or fly rocket ships to the farthest stars.

Self-Defeating Traps

Tragically, the children dreaming these dreams have no means of achieving them, and no one to show them how to implement such goals.

Rather than a source of motivation, their dreams become self-defeating traps, all too often enhanced and perpetuated by illegal drugs in later life. Continue reading

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Bad Parental Behavior

Juvenile Criminal Law | Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa

Image courtesy of Barnett, Howard & Williams, PLLC

Maryland resident, Cornella Rookard, drove her armed 14 y.o. son to confront another boy.  The teen fired several times at the intended victim from the backseat of his mother’s vehicle with a shotgun.  He was later charged with attempted murder.  His mother was charged with assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and reckless endangerment [1].

We assume parents will raise their children to become good citizens, and teach them right from wrong.  Unfortunately, that assumption is often mistaken.

Parental Impact

Parents have enormous impact on the behavior of their children.  Parental interest and encouragement can increase a child’s self-esteem, motivation, and interest in school [2].  The reverse is, also, however, true.

Children who are rejected by their parents, who are inadequately supervised or grow up amid conflict run the highest risk of delinquency [3A].  Where parents are, themselves, involved in criminal activity, that risk increases exponentially [3B].

Absent Fathers

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5: 8).

It may be painful to hear.  But the absence of a father from the home is considered the single most important cause of crime [4].  Boys who do not share a home with their fathers after the age of 10 y.o. – 14 y.o. are twice as likely to be jailed as those from intact homes.  Boys fatherless from birth are three times as likely to be jailed.

This is not intended to cast aspersions on single or divorced mothers.  It is simply to point out that fathers serve a purpose above and beyond procreation (a concept that seems lost on our society). Continue reading

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Red Carpet

Red carpet at 81st Annual Academy Awards in Kodak Theatre, Los Angeles, Author Greg in Hollywood (Greg Hernandez), Source Flickr (CC BY-2.0 Generic)

Watch Kim Kardashian on the red carpet sometime.  She smiles.  She preens for the cameras, turning this way and that.  She eats up the attention.

Many abuse victims are just the opposite.  We shun the limelight, feel awkward and uncomfortable if the spotlight is turned on us.  Instead, we prefer to go unnoticed, to fade into the background – wallflowers by choice.

Why is this?  Why is the very thought of attending a children’s play, a PTA meeting, or church service daunting?  Why is it difficult for us simply to enter a room full of strangers?

Staying at home seems so much safer.

Rejection

If pressed, we are likely to say that we fear rejection.  Often, this centers around our looks.  Some feature of ours seems less than perfect to us.  Our nose is too large or our hips too wide.  We’ve been trying for the past 20 years to lose the baby weight.

If not that, perhaps something about the way we dress is inadequate, in our estimation – deficient enough so that the entire audience may gasp, and draw back from us in horror.

We do not actually believe that will happen.  But we fear it, all the same.  Fear does not require a rational basis.  Ask any child whether there is a monster in the closet.

Monsters

Still, there is a clue here.  We’ve known monsters.  Been criticized by monsters for “flaws” we did not have.  Been assaulted by monsters, beaten black and blue, for our supposed defects.  Been violated by monsters, in ways we were too young to understand, then blamed for the violation. 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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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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Along Came a Spider – Trafficking at an Elite Eastern College

Platycryptus undatus, jumping spider, found in Virginia, Author Kevincollins123 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Lawrence Ray a/k/a Lawrence Grecco and Isabelle Pollok have been charged in a sex trafficking and money laundering scheme involving Sarah Lawrence College students [1][2][3].  Amazingly enough, Ray was the parent of a student at the exclusive institution.  Pollok was a student there at the time.

Apparently, Ray presented himself as an advisor and confidante to his daughter’s classmates, extorting them after having gained their confidence.  Pollok allegedly abetted the scheme.  Both have pleaded not guilty.

A Father Figure

Against school policy, Ray moved into Sarah Lawrence’s townhouse style, on-campus housing with his daughter and her roommates during their sophomore year in late 2010.  No one, however, reported him to authorities.  According to the indictment, he then began “therapy” sessions with the roommates during which he assumed the role of a father figurre.

Blackmail, Extortion, and Prostitution

Over the course of a decade, Ray and Pollok are alleged to have manipulated students into providing explicit photos, embarrassing personal information, and false confessions.

Five students were then blackmailed, and pressured to perform manual labor.  At least one is said to have been forced into prostitution, with Ray collecting over $500,000 from her over the course of 4 years.  Physical abuse is, also, alleged. 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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