UK Recognizes Children Born From Rape As Crime Victims

UK Recognizes Children Born From Rape As Crime Victims

On January 19, 2023, the Ministry of Justice announced England and Wales are to become the first countries in the world to give legal status to children born from rape as crime victims.

The new legislation will take the form of an amendment to the Victims Bill, ensuring that children born from sexual violence receive support from the criminal justice system. 

A recommendation from the Justice Select Committee catalyzed the government’s decision to acknowledge and meet the unique needs of children born from a felony crime. 

Victims-survivors are often horrified to discover that in addition to rape, they are also victims of reproductive coercion. According to a report by Dr. Kate Butterby for The Center for Women’s Justice (CWJ), “between 2,080 and 3,356, children could have been conceived in rape” in 2021. The numbers are conservative, as 2 out of 3 victim-survivors do not report rape due to threats, stigma, and the appalling fact that less than 1% of sexual assault reports lead to a conviction.

“No child born in these horrific circumstances should be left to suffer alone,” said Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor, and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab MP, “Which is why we must ensure they can access vital support whenever they may need it.”

Since 2010, the government has increased funding to cover the damage caused by men’s sexual violence against women. The new amendment will help children born from rape access mental health support. The new law will apply to children born from rape at any age.


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Harvard Students Protest Return of Professor Guilty of Sexual Harassment

Harvard Students Protest Return of Professor Guilty of Sexual Harassment

AUSTIN SIEBOLD was browsing through Harvard University’s course catalogue when an intriguing subject caught her eye.

“I saw this class, it was on colonialism, post-colonialism and de-colonialism, and I thought that sounded really interesting,” she recalls, “And then I clicked on it and it was taught by John Comaroff and I was like, ‘Holy…'”

John Comaroff is a professor of African and African American studies who was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting several graduate students. The university conducted an internal investigation into the 78-year-old’s behavior and found him guilty of verbal misconduct in violation of its guidelines on sexual and gender-based harassment and professional conduct.

No wonder Austin was shocked to see that Harvard had quietly let the fox back into the hen house.

Rape Culture At Harvard University

“The reality is that our campus promotes a culture of sexual abuse, a culture of misogyny and harassment and discrimination,” explains student activist Rosalie Couture.

Couture’s view is supported by the fact that in February 2022, 38 faculty members including Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Jamaica Kincaid signed a letter questioning the findings of the Comaroff investigation. Its closing paragraph states, “We the undersigned know John Comaroff to be an excellent colleague, advisor and committed university citizen […]”

This is a typical example of the bystander betrayal that marginalizes victim-survivors of sexual assault. The self-serving arguments usually sound like:

  • (S)he’s nice to me so (s)he deserves a pass.
  • (S)he makes money for the company/institution so (s)he deserves a pass.
  • Their work is good so they deserves a pass.
  • Their songs/movies are good so they deserves a pass.

It is also an example of how manipulators excel at grooming their social circles into blindly supporting them, even in the face of glaring evidence of their wrong-doing and convictions.

However, when the facts about Comaroff came to light, the faculty members who supported him were left red faced. A week after the publication of the letter, 34 of the signatories withdrew their support.

Did Rejection Trigger A Rant About Corrective Rape?

Lilia Kilburn told The New York Times that Comaroff kissed her lips without her consent. She informed him that she was in a same-sex partnership to repel further advances from the professor. Instead of backing off, she says Comaroff began ranting that in some parts of Africa she and her parter would be targets for so-called corrective rape or femicide.

For his part, Comaroff’s attorney say that he “categorically denies ever harassing or retaliating against any student.” He acknowledged that he discussed rape with Kilburn but claims to have done so in a paternal way to warn her of the dangers women in same-sex couples might face in Cameroon.

Unsurprisingly, Kilburn and two other graduate students, Margaret Czerwienski and Amulya Mandava are suing Harvard University for dismissing repeated allegations that Comaroff was harassing students and ignoring claims that he leveraged his position of power to frighten the students with threats of sabotaging their careers if they report his aggression.

Students Do Not Feel Safe With Comaroff On Campus

Students were horrified to learn that Comaroff was allowed to return to teach at Harvard for the fall 2022 semester. They launched a protest over his present on campus which Harvard ignored because they welcomed Comaroff back to teach for the Spring 2023 semester.

Harvard is sending a clear message that, when it comes to sexual harassment and assault, the institution will protect itself and its faculty but students are on their own. Ultimately, the student uprising is a demand for the right to study in peace without fear of sexual harassment or assault from those in positions of power.

Student activist Rebecca Araten says, “This man is not safe to interact with undergraduate students.”

Is Harvard University An Abuse Enabler?

Austin spearheaded the second demonstration against Comaroff on February 25, 2023. After she saw his course in the catalogue, she says, “I enrolled in the class and used information I was able to gather from that to help me plan this.”

She alerted Our Harvard Can Do Better, a student association that aims to dismantle rape culture at the school. They collaborated with Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Auto Workers’ Feminist Working Group. The action received support from Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard and the Student Labor Action Movement.

In their official statement, Our Harvard Can Do Better, repudiated Harvard for hiring Comaroff in 2012 despite allegations of sexual misconduct that stretched back to the 1970s. They described the school’s enabling of the disgraced professor as “shameful.” Furthermore, they are accusing Harvard University of being “systematically biased in favor of abusers.”

Taking Matters In To Their Own Hards

Per The Harvard Crimson, over 100 students attended Comaroff’s Colonialism and its Postcolonial/Decolonial Afterlives: Critical Readings class on January 25. As soon as the professor started to speak, the students stood up and shouted in unison, “Justice for survivors!”

As the protesters exited the classroom, Comanoff responded to their demonstration with a smirk. One of the students confronted him and said, “Smile in hell, asshole!”

The students then marched to the Baker Center where Comaroff’s office is located. They taped pages from Kilburn, Czerwienski and Mandava’s lawsuit to his door.

The student activists are demanding Comaroff’s resignation and calling for an end to Harvard’s “cultures of harassment, misogyny, and discrimination.”

Will their calls for justice continue to fall on deaf ears? And, if so, should Harvard University retain it’s status as an elite institution when it is failing to keep students safe and many of its most esteemed faculty members are so barbarously ignorant about rape?

References

  • Boit, D.A.C., Hamid R.D., and Schisgall E.J. (2023, January 25) ‘More than 100 Students Walk Out of Embattled Harvard Professor Comaroff’s First Class of Semester.’ The Harvard Crimson. 
  • Alaimo, K. (2022, February 14) ‘Harvard professors’ initial letter of support for John Comaroff sends a disturbing message.’ Think – Opinion, Analysis, Essays. NBC News.
  • Hartocollis, A. (2022, February 8) ‘A Lawsuit Accuses Harvard of Ignoring Sexual Harassment by a Professor.’ The New York Times.
  • Kim, A.H., Xu, M. (2022, February 10) ’35 Harvard Professors Retract Support For Letter Questioning Results of Comaroff Investigations.’ The Harvard Crimson. 
  • Our Harvard Can Do Better. PRESS RELEASE: 100s of Students Shut Down Abuser’s Class. January 24, 2023.

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Non-Fatal Strangulation Is A Predictor Of Femicide

Non-Fatal Strangulation Is A Predictor Of Femicide

Non-fatal strangulation in intimate partner violence is a powerful predictor of femicide, the main cause of premature death for women globally. A woman who has been targeted for non-fatal strangulation by a partner or family member is 750% more like to be killed by the same perpetrator.

Non-Fatal Strangulation Is A Gendered Crime

Non-fatal strangulation, also known as non-fatal asphyxiation, affects 10 times as many women as men, making it a gendered form of domestic violence. It occurs in 45% of attempted femicides.

Non-fatal strangulation and stalking are considered two of the most serious red flags of escalating aggression that can lead to femicide.

“It actually takes about 7 seconds occlusion of the blood vessels to make someone unconscious,” Gail Starr, clinical coordinator for Albuquerque Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE).

Healthcare Workers Can Be A Lifeline For Victim-Survivors

Informed healthcare professional are often the only hope for women targeted for non-fatal strangulation by current and former intimate partner or family members. It is often overlooked as victim-survivors are often too terrified and disoriented to report the violence they are experiencing at the hands of their partners and family members.

Traces of non-fatal strangulation are only discernible in 50% of the cases. Therefore, learning to identify the signs of non-fatal strangulation is crucial in femicide prevention.

Some physical signs of non-fatal strangulation are:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Brain damage
  • Hoarse voice
  • Paralysis
  • Motor and speech disorders
  • Stroke
  • Bladder or bowel incontinence 
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Seeing dark spots
  • Tunnel vision
  • Memory loss

Non-fatal strangulation can lead to strokse as there is a risk of blood clots forming in the artery. The strokes can occur days or weeks after the act of violence occurred.

Some psychological signs of non-fatal strangulation include:

  • Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Suicidality
  • Dissociation
  • Compliance
  • Amnesia

Legislation Against Non-Fatal Strangulation

So far non-fatal strangulation has been criminalized in England and Wales, where it carries a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

References


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DNA Evidence Links Bryan Kohberger to Moscow Murders

DNA Evidence Links Bryan Kohberger To Moscow Murders

In the early hours of November 13, 2022, four University of Idaho students lost their lives in a brutal knife attack in a rental home near the campus. They were Kaylee Gonçalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20.

*Trigger Warning: This article discusses homicide. 

Bryan Kohberger, a 28 year old Ph.D. student was arrested on charges of first degree murder in connection with the students’ deaths. So far he is the only suspect and law enforcement believes that he acted alone.

The suspect’s DNA was found at the scene of the crime

According to Cathy Mabbutt, the Latah County Coroner, the autopsy showed that the students were stabbed multiple times in their sleep. The students were wounded on their chests and other areas of the upper body. They also sustained some defensive wounds indicating that they tried to resist. The Moscow Police Department confirmed that none of the attacks were of a sexual nature.

Mabutt revealed that the perpetrator used “a pretty large knife.”

Later it emerged that a DNA sample was obtained from the button on a leather knife sheath found near Kaylee and Maddie’s remains. Though the murder weapon has not been found, the sheath had contained a 7-inch Ka-Bar Fighting/Utility knife with a steel clip point blade (see image below).

USMC Ka-Bar Combat Knife | Bryan Kohberger | King Road Homicides
A USMC Ka-Bar Fighting/Utility Knife similar to the one allegedly used in the King Road Homicides.

DNA procured from Bryan Kohberger

The FBI observed Kohberger for four days at his family home in Pennsylvania over the Christmas holiday. At 4.00 am the suspect emerged from the residence to take out some rubbish. He was wearing surgical gloves and disposed it in the trash can at neighboring house. 

The FBI took the items Kohberger had thrown in the trash and had them analyzed for Kohberger’s DNA at the Idaho State Lab. The DNA turned out to be a perfect match for sample collected from the leather sheath found at the crime scene.

References


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