Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

In the news: April 10 -15

Why dress codes can't stop sexual assault by Mikki Kendall

When news broke that deputy principal Cherith Telford at Henderson High School in New Zealand told female students that their uniform skirts must be knee-length in order to “keep our girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff,” reactions were mixed. Singer Erykah Badu felt that the girls had no business wearing skirts that stopped above their knee to school, while actress Reagan Gomez argued that it wasn’t the responsibility of the girls to avoid being a temptation to grown men.  ...

We’re blind to an epidemic of domestic abuse by Joan Smith

When Helen Titchener stabbed her domineering husband in an episode of The Archers last weekend, it seemed as though everyone wanted to talk about domestic abuse. People who had never heard of “coercive control”, the kind of behaviour Helen has been subjected to in the long-running Radio 4 series, suddenly wanted to know what it was. Some listeners may even have realised, with a mixed sense of horror and relief, that it was an apt description of their own relationships.

The BBC has done a public service in kicking off this conversation even though the scenario it highlighted – a woman snapping and trying to kill her abuser – has more in common with melodrama than real life. Domestic abuse causes fear, anxiety, depression, injury and death in the most extreme cases, but the victim is more likely to die than her abuser. What is extraordinary is not that we are talking about it, but that it hasn’t happened long before now. ...

The vile sex abuse by UN peacekeepers is leaving the United Nations in tatters by Cathy Newman

Sexual violence in war “is as destructive as any bomb or bullet”, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said a couple of years ago.

Now we learn that as he was uttering these words, the UN’s own peacekeepers were themselves carrying out the most appalling abuse. In 2014, when Mr Ban was speaking out on behalf of the victims, three girls in the Central African Republic have alleged they were tied up and forced to have sex with a dog by a French military commander.

This would be abhorrent whatever the circumstances. But when it’s the very soldiers tasked with keeping the peace and helping war-torn countries put themselves back together, it takes the allegations to a whole new level. ...

I tried to warn women about Jian Ghomeshi — and it nearly destroyed my life

When I was five, I watched a neighbourhood boy tear Lanette Ariana limb from limb. I didn’t scream or stop him. I just wept over my beloved, dismembered Cabbage Patch Kid. Once I calmed down, my dad told me not to take shit from any man and toughen up, lest I be eaten alive by the doll-murdering vultures of the world.

Two decades later, I’m failing miserably at heeding this life lesson as I stare at the blue-lit stage below. My petrified body is betraying me. The bandleader sings, “Thought I made a stand, only made a scene,” and I clench my fists to keep them from shaking. When I open them, the bloody half moons on my palms remind me nails can be weapons, but I’m using them wrong.

The man beside me gropes my waist like a stress ball. He’s Jian Ghomeshi, a famous, well-respected Canadian radio host. I’m a writer for a little-known show on Country Music Television Canada. This is our first outing. I say stop. He doesn’t. I escort his hands off my waist. He takes this as an invitation to hold hands. He presses his body into mine. I step aside. He follows. I want to scream and push him off, but his friends are standing around like bodyguards — his. He grabs my ass. I feel sick. I’m afraid and I can’t make him stop, so I tell him my head hurts and leave. He follows. He’s driving me home, no questions asked. I start crying. I blame my headache. I’m worried about hurting his feelings. I’m worried about pissing him off.   ...

The UN's Good vs. Bad Narrative Clears the Way for Sexual Violence and Impunity by Maya Goodfellow

A Blue Helmet’s job is, quite literally, to keep the peace. The UN peacekeepers whose nickname comes from their characteristic headwear, are supposed to protect people in countries torn apart by war. However a steady drip of accusations coming out of the Central African Republic (CAR) suggests it’s Blue Helmets who are the threat to civilian safety.

Three girls in the CAR have told a harrowing tale, in which a French peacekeeper tied them up, along with their friend, stripped them and then forced them to have sex with a dog. This sickening abuse of power is not isolated. Soldiers from France, Gabon, and Burundi have allegedly committed atrocious acts of sexual abuse against women and girls in the CAR. Just last year, peacekeepers reportedly forced refugee children to perform sex acts on them, telling them it was the only way they’d receive food. ...

Why the Panama Papers are a feminist issue  via @openDemocracy

The world is talking about tax this week, so here’s another tax story for you. Asana Abugre has a small shop in Accra, Ghana where she makes and sells batiks and tie-dyed textiles. Asana pays her taxes regularly. Women  like her, working in markets across the city, sometimes pay up to 37% of their income in tax. Tax collectors come to their shops to collect taxes, and there is no chance of them not paying, regardless of how little money they might have made that day.

Of course, this isn’t the tax story that everyone’s been talking about. The release of the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is the biggest data leak in history, and this time it’s some of the world’s most powerful people who have cause to worry, with the spotlight finally falling on their own secretive tax arrangements.

But the two stories are linked. When those at the top of the economic pyramid find ways to pay little or no tax, the impact is felt hardest by those at the bottom - people like Asana.  ...

Women tell judge revenge porn site left them scared, afraid to go out in public by Tony Perry

A 28-year-old San Diego man was sentenced Friday to 18 years in custody after being convicted of operating a "revenge porn" website that included naked and sexually explicit pictures of women posted by angry ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands.

Kevin Christopher Bollaert, a Web developer, posted the pictures and then charged women from $300 to $350 to have the pictures removed. He was convicted in February of multiple felony counts of identity theft and extortion.

Bollaert was ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to his victims and a $10,000 fine. Bollaert will be allowed to serve the sentence in a county jail rather than state prison under the judge's ruling. ..

In Canada, Indigenous women are five times more likely to die a violent death via @WomenintheWorld

The day I found out that my sister Bella had been found dead on the terrace of a high-rise condo near Toronto’s waterfront, without an explanation of why or how she fell, was the day I understood what it feels like to grieve so deeply and so immensely that nothing else matters. It felt like there was no end to the screaming sadness.

When asked what the national epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) in Canada means to me, I think of pain, grief, shock, sadness, and anger. I think of the empty void that families suffer after experiencing the loss of a cherished and loved one in such drastic, traumatic, and violent ways that no woman or girl should ever be subjected to. I think of the ripple effects that families experience after a tragic event like this happens and how a family copes with this trauma. I think of the younger generation in each family, who must try to understand that their mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother has not only been violently taken but continues to be inhumanly disrespected and disregarded after her death, one of the many blights in Canada’s history and present-day reality.

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