All Articles Tagged "sexual assualt"
At what point does constructive criticism fail to be constructive?
What got me thinking about this was the recent dust up over a story, which happened earlier this month. See, what happened was, two weeks ago, Ebony Digital featured an article called, “Notorious to Glorious: Genarlow Wilson is No Child Molester and Never Was.”
The story, which was written by Chandra Thomas Whitfield, sought to highlight the current happenings of Genarlow Wilson, a man, who along with five other men were convicted of aggravated child molestation against a 17-year-old girl, and a 15-year-old girl. Wilson, who was 17 years old at the time, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime. However, he was released after serving nearly three years in a Georgia prison when a judge ruled that his sentence was ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment. The online story highlighted what Wilson had been up to since his conviction; including being a college student a few credits short from graduating, and discussed how the label of sexual offender had negatively impacted his life.
The story itself was very sympathetic, showing how Wilson had been railroaded by an overzealous justice system, which seeks to give out the harshest punishment to folks with dark skin. However, there were a few problems with the story: For one, Whitfield had incorrectly wrote that Wilson’s conviction was overturned, when in fact, his conviction still stands, although his time in prison was reduced. It also said that the sexual contact between Wilson and the teenage girls was consensual, which is also not true considering that a teenager is legally incapable of consenting to sex. There were also issues with the title itself, particularly the inclusion of the word, “glorious” to describe a man convicted of sexual assault.
Of course, this didn’t sit well with some of the online magazine’s readers, including Gina McCauley, writer and founder of What About Our Daughters, a website dedicated to combating negative portrayals of African American women in the media, who would be one of the first to ring the alarm. After vowing that her “online tactical team” was on the case, McCauley and her supporters unleashed a full fledge campaign not only against Ebony magazine and its advertisers, but also the mostly woman-led editorial staff, who would come to be christened by McCauley as the Ebony 4. In one particular blog post called, “Ebony Magazine Editors Don’t “Condone Rape” – Except When They Do!,” McCauley writes, “If they were honorable and decent, they would present a different perspective from rape and sexual assault survivors, but this isn’t about the truth, this is about a group of Black women who work at Ebony.com needing to be fulfilled by playing Mommy to a FULLY. GROWN. BLACK MAN.. in order to feel important.”
However, McCauley’s sentiment seemed to resonate with many readers of both WOAD and Ebony. The pressure from WAOD resulted in severe backlash prompting Ebony to respond. As of today, the story is gone and so is an editorial response the magazine had release to explain its decision to run the piece. In a statement called Moving Forward Together, the editorial board said the following:
“Your response to our story has further illuminated for us the importance of engaging around issues of sexual violence, of supporting victims, and of empowering our community with relevant knowledge and resources. We deeply regret that the perception of the article about Wilson (published on EBONY.com on July 9, 2012) led some readers to believe that we are less than sensitive to the plight of young women in sexual assault cases.”
In a courageous move, Democratic representative, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, stood before Congress yesterday and revealed her own history with sexual abuse and rape. She did so to show support for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
The act, which originally passed in 1994, has been a point of contention for some Republicans since 2005, presumably because new provisions seek to protect gays, lesbians and illegal immigrant women. Last month, when the Senate voted on the bill, eight republicans, all men, voted against it. Though, the bill has been supported by every Republican woman in the Senate.
Moore, astounded by the stalling of this bill, decided to address Congress and share her own personal story.
You can watch the video of her very passionate, very candid statements below.
Tragically, the story Moore shared with Congress yesterday does not represent half of the abuse she’s endured throughout her life.
In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Moore said,
“I have been a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault for as long as I can remember. I think that men, boys, see it as a right of passage to have sex with girls. Lovers feel it is their right to dominate women in that way. That has been my experience.”
As a child, Moore was sexually assaulted by a distant family member. In high school, she was raped by a classmate, as she mentioned in the video. Amazingly she overcame all of that trauma and went on graduate from Marquette University. But in the ’70s Moore was raped again by a stranger. Moore pressed charges; but to add insult to injury, her rapist challenged her in court. He claimed that she wasn’t wearing any underwear at the time of the rape and that she had a child out of wedlock. As ridiculous and absurd as his testimony was, he was acquitted of all charges and Moore lost her job as a result.
Listening to Moore’s story will make you question God. The fact that one woman has had to endure more abuse in one lifetime than many of us will ever know is unfathomable. But the even greater injustice would be for the story of Moore’s abuse, and the abuse of the women she represents, to continue in Congress.
Another Republican representative, Cathy McMorris Rogers, a woman, told The Daily Beast that Moore and fellow Democrats are pushing the bill now as a political stunt. She claimed that that Democrats have created a “war on women” to distract from the real issues at hand.
It really is disgusting. Violence against women is a real issue, at hand right now. With the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey stating that there are an average of 207,754 rapes, (about one every two minutes), every year, it is a very real issue, right now. Not to mention, those are just the number of rapes which have been reported. With those type of numbers, there’s no doubt we all have either been assaulted ourselves, or know someone who has been raped.
If there’s any bright side to this picture, it’s that rapes in the U.S. have decreased by 60 percent since 1993. This may be a coincidence, but that is exactly one year before the Violence Against Women Act was passed. Whether it’s a leap or not, reducing funding for this act is not a theory we or Congress should be so willing to test.
What do you think of Moore’s story, do you have one like it? Do you think Moore’s remarks will help make the Violence Against Women Act a priority for Republican members of Congress?
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A couple of weeks ago, I was driving home from a party. It was early morning on a Saturday, around 3 a.m. and I was only a few blocks away from home. While at a red light, I took note of a young guy with an Afro, who was standing across the intersection. I don’t know why but I started to get this funny feeling about the dude.
Anyway, he crossed the street and was now standing adjacent to my driver side window. Now I was freaked out but I didn’t want to panic. After all, last thing I wanted to do was subconsciously accuse a young man with being up to no good just because he is standing in the shadows, on a corner, just a few feet away from my car at 3 a.m. in the morning.
Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw him reach into his pants and pull something out. At first I thought he was grabbing a weapon until I turned my head and saw that it was a gun he was holding but rather his penis. There this fool was, out in the open, pleasuring himself beside my driver side window. Instantly, I went from apprehension to disgust to flat out anger. I poked my head out the window, and screamed a few expletives. That seem to have been enough to scare him away and he took off running down the street. Can you believe that? He was the one jerking off in the middle of the street and he had the nerve to be startled?
Anyway, the next morning, still a little disgusted and concerned about the incident I decided to report what had happened to the police. Although I wasn’t physically assaulted, for a brief few seconds, I felt that my safety and security had been violated. Likewise, my concern was that there was a park/playground and two schools in the area. And watching enough Law & Order episodes, I had learned that sexual deviants could escalate pretty rapidly to engaging in other crimes. So I went to the police station and stood at the window, telling the male officer everything that happened. Once I was done my story the officer looked at me, disinterested and sighed, “Is that it? So what do you want to do?”
My response: “Huh? Why are you asking me what to do? Aren’t you the police?” He sighed again, took out a notepad and began writing up a half-A$$ report of my name, address and contact number. Then he said, in a blasé manner, that he would file a report and if anyone had any questions that they would get in contact with me. No one never called.
Now, in a major city of a million and a half folks I didn’t expect the officers to drop what they were doing and run a dragnet across Philly for the pervert with the huge Afro. But if this guy was brazen enough to do that once, I imagine that he has or will likely do it again. And never once did he ask me about what the guy looked like or other pertinent information. Not only that, I was now standing in front of an officer, who was giving me the side-eye for reporting this incident, which made me feel worse. For a second, I thought about: if this was the treatment I was getting, imagine what sexual assault victims must go through to be heard?
I bring this story up because Nafissatou Diallo, the 33-year-old immigrant from Guinea, who is the accuser in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case. Yesterday, it was reported that the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has decided to ask a judge to dismiss the case against the 62-year old former chairman of the International Monetary Fund. According to published reports, the DA is dismissing the case, after determining that Diallo’s credibility as a witness had been compromised due to a series of lies, mostly unrelated to the sexual assault case.
The prosecutor’s office believed that it would be difficult to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Diallo is telling the truth. However, Diallo’s attorney believes that while his client has some character flaws, the other evidence, including forensic evidence, should be enough to at least take this to court. Without any chance of this seeing a criminal court of law, it is no wonder that Diallo has chosen to seek justice in civil court.
Rape and sexual assault has to be the only crime in America where the character and/or behavior of the victim is considered just as pertinent as the actual crime of the accuser. While it is true that some women go into shock immediately after an attack, there are plenty of rape victims who are lucid, angry and very practical. Many even try to go on best with their normal lives. But in no way is there a standard response to rape, let alone a perfect victim. Yet this constant rape victim blaming sends a powerful message that in our society, before you can accuse someone of a crime, you first have to prove that you are worthy of being a victim.
A women’s group in the UK believes that the Strauss-Kahn assault case will make many women, who are victimized by assault less likely to report their attacks. However, I believe that our culture and the nonchalant approach we take to sex crimes have already taken a toll on whether or not a victim will likely report the incident. It is no wonder that that only 37% of all rapes are reported to the police because unless you’re past history is spotless, unless you have never, ever told a lie, and unless it is deemed an important enough act, you can forget about being taken seriously.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(Wall Street Journal) — The sexual-assault case against former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn appeared to be weakening Thursday as prosecutors and his defense team prepared to raise questions about the credibility of the maid who accused him, people close to the case said. Problems with the prosecution’s main witness are expected to be made public at a last-minute court hearing scheduled for Friday morning before State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus. Defense lawyers are likely to ask the judge to end house arrest and electronic monitoring, two restrictive conditions of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s bail. ”There will be serious issues raised by the district attorney’s office and us concerning the credibility of the complaining witness,” said Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer for Mr. Strauss-Kahn.