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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘rape’

IsraAID Combats Gender-Based Violence in South Sudan

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Israel, as a liberal democratic country dedicated to human rights and women’s rights, seeks to help South Sudan address gender-based violence, a significant problem in that country.

Helen Animashaun, a volunteer working with the South Sudan Women Empowerment Center, wrote in the Huffington Post, “The reality of life for women in the world’s newest country is harsh; it is full of challenges and limited opportunities.” She reports that “[a]ccess to healthcare and education in South Sudan is simply not an option in many places. The statistics speak for themselves: more than 80% of women are illiterate and one in seven women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.” Nevertheless, Animashaun wrote that “the greatest challenge women experience is the social acceptance of sexual and gender based violence.”

According to Human Rights Watch, about 48 percent of young girls in South Sudan between the ages of 15 and 19 are forced into marriages by their families, who are often given generous gifts as dowries in return. If a girl dares to resist, they can face violent actions from their families. In fact, some South Sudanese girls are even murdered or raped for attempting to resist such arranged teenage marriages. In one particularly brutal case, a 17-year-old girl was raped and beaten to death in South Sudan for not submissively accepting her family’s decision to marry her off to a 75-year-old man.

According to Ophelie Namiech, IsraAID’s country director in South Sudan,

After more than 40 years of conflict, displacement and poverty, the people of South Sudan are facing enormous social challenges!…Violence against women is pervasive and has been exacerbated by decades of war that have left many children without a proper family structure, education or health care… A large portion of the population suffers from deep trauma that prevents them from being fully included in the development process.

Namiech claims that Juba, South Sudan’s capital city, has not been spared these challenges facing all of South Sudan. “On the contrary, rapes, human trafficking, and under-aged prostitution have all dramatically increased due to rapid and uncontrolled urbanization,” she claims.

Namiech emphasized that “In particular the children in some slum areas are exposed to appalling and sustained sexual abuse. Sexual pressure is very strong in Juba – especially in the most vulnerable areas of the capital where young girls quickly fall into the cycle of sexual violence and exploitation.”

It is not uncommon to see girls as young as eight years old in Juba raped, Namiech says. “In those areas, those girls are condemned to spend their lives in the street, looking for food in the garbage behind market places and being surrounded by violent drunk and drugged men who abused and mistreat them.”

IsraAID, as an Israeli humanitarian organization seeking to improve the status of women within developing countries in addition to providing pivotal emergency relief assistance, has a program to combat gender-based violence in South Sudan that works with local services such as the State Ministry of Gender and Social Development, the South Sudan Police Service as well as several local community-based organizations to help them better address violence against women in South Sudan. IsraAID trains, mentors, and accompanies these South Sudanese actors so that one day they will better be able to address cases of violence against women on their own.

In 2012 alone, IsraAID trained 172 service providers on gender-based violence, as well as how to design and implement gender-based violence related programs. Nevertheless, despite IsraAID’s best efforts, Namiech claimed, “When we monitor the situation in the slum areas with our local partner Confident Children Out of Conflict [the only local NGO that has a shelter for 35 vulnerable girls] we often find very young girls wandering the slum areas alone without any clothes on, who rapidly become surrounded by abusive men.” Namiech has attempted to help such young girls, yet unfortunately there are many of them. “I have seen those scenes myself. They are heartbroken,” she asserts.

Nevertheless, despite the violent plight endured by way too many women living in South Sudan, IsraAID has been able to make a difference there. According to Namiech, “A few weeks ago, the police and social workers that IsraAID has been training since 2012, have encouraged reporting and succeeded in bringing before court the case of a 14-year old girl victim of rape. This is, in itself, a small successful first step.” In addition, IsraAID has sponsored advocacy sessions on gender based violence within South Sudan involving legal, social and security services as well as members of the South Sudanese community.

IsraAID has also supported awareness sessions on gender-based violence in schools and raising public awareness about this issue in the local media as well as training sessions and workshops designed to increase cooperation between social workers and the police in order to work towards increasing reportage of cases of gender based violence. In February 2013, more cases in fact were brought to courts than previously, although there still is much work to be done on this issue. Yet, what IsraAID is doing by training local South Sudanese on gender-based violence is a step in the right direction towards improving the plight of all South Sudanese women.

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An American Tragedy in Steubenville

Monday, March 18th, 2013

A significant number of American values failures came together to create the tragedy in Stuebenville, where two teenage High School football stars, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl.

Foremost among them is the American tragedy of sexualizing teen girls at an age where they are not yet women. Madonna sexualized herself in her mid twenties. Brittney Spears brought the age down to about eighteen. Not young enough for you? Miley Cyrus reduced it further to sixteen. One wonders when our culture will feel that even sixteen is not a young enough age to sexually exploit girls.

Then there is the issue of sports as an emerging religion where those gifted to be athletes feel a sense of entitlement that often has them crossing lines to their own detriment. The idea that two High School football stars would think it acceptable to post pictures of a nude sixteen year old to their friends on social media shows how they thought the normal rules did not apply them. And this would be true even if there weren’t the far more serious conviction on rape. How sad that two young men have ruined their lives and done so much damage to a defenseless victim.

Next is the growing culture of alcohol abuse by minors. Alcohol played a central role in this unfolding tragedy with the essential argument on the part of the prosecution that the girl in question was so drunk there was no possible way she could give consent. One wonders why our youth are so inclined to heavy drink. Is it mere experimentation or is something deeper at work? Are they already, at so young an age, as unhappy as adults who have been battered by life and are therefore drinking negative emotions away? After all, no one in America really portrays the teen years as a bowl of cherries.

I passed my later teen years in an all-male environment in Yeshiva where the focus of my life was study. I certainly was a lot happier than the co-ed environment in which I was immersed in my early teen years where peer pressure, popularity among the girls, and a general self-consciousness made my life less enjoyable than it should have been.

Then there is the general tragedy of the absence of responsible parenting in America. The biggest question for me in this heartrending story was where were the parents? Where were they when the three teens left one party at 12:30 am to go to another? Where were they to monitor extreme drunkenness on the part of people not old enough to vote?

Many African-American young men are not raised with a father’s guiding hand. I was astonished, therefore, at the honesty displayed by Malik Richmond’s father, Nathaniel, when he said in a CNN interview that he had walked over to his son right after the guilty verdict and told him he loved him, essentially for the very first time. “I haven’t been involved in Malik’s life like I should have been at those early years. And I want to stress that parents should be more involved in their child’s life… be a parent and not a friend.”

No one is better qualified to address this issue than President Obama who also grew up without his father and is by all accounts a very loving and involved parent himself. The President has addressed the subject only lightly, but it’s time that he make this an all-out campaign.

But the greatest tragedy made manifest in Steubenville is the attitude of teenage men toward girls. Immanuel Kant wrote that the definition of immorality is treating a fellow human being as a means rather than an end. The abomination of American slavery was that a white child was taught to see a black child as a walking bale of cotton. Slavery trained a white man to see a black woman as lacking the same spark of the divine that lent him his humanity. When he looked upon the woman, she was stripped of her own dreams, her own opinions, her own aspirations. She was nothing but an extension of the white slave owner’s drives and ambitions. Like a third arm she existed to simply to do his chores.

Censoring Sexual Abuse

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Numerous Orthodox-Jewish websites censor the word “sexual” in the context of discussing sexual abuse. Such censorship sends the message to young people that body parts, sexuality and sexual abuse are so shameful, that adults can’t even mention them in public.

By refraining from using words such as “sex” and “sexual,” Orthodox Jewish websites are unwittingly sending the message that sexual abuse is not something that should be discussed. This only perpetuates the existing shame, secrecy, stigma and fear surrounding the issue of sexual abuse.

Parents of pre-adolescent children certainly have a right to determine the age-appropriate language when discussing sexual abuse with their children, but that is no excuse for websites censoring terms necessary to define abuse.

If children are old enough to be on the Internet, they should be mature enough to hear the word “sex” or “sexual” in the context of discussing abuse.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, recommends “[t]alking openly and directly about sexuality” in order to teach “children that it is okay to talk to you when they have questions.” In a sexual abuse awareness seminar held in Crown Heights, experts explained that a lack of education makes adolescents more vulnerable to abuse.

The lack of discussion around the human body, intimacy and sexual issues, in essence, robs children of the ability to speak because they are not provided with the proper language.

Maintaining Halachic standards of Tzniut (modesty) does not conflict with the necessity of discussing sexual abuse openly and candidly. Tzniut concerns laws related to modesty of both dress and behavior—when dealing with normal, healthy interactions—not when educating the public on the dangers of sexual abuse.

The Talmud relays a story of a student that hid under his teacher’s bed to learn how his teacher was being intimate with his wife. The student commented on the inappropriate language of his teacher to which his teacher exclaimed, “Get out! It’s not proper (for you to be here)!” To which the student replied, “It is Torah—and study it I must.”

In contemporary society, the student might be accused of voyeurism—but this story illustrates the need to rise above the taboos of discussing sexuality. There is nothing shameful, sinful or obscene about having candid conversations about the subject – particularly in the context of educating the public on sexual abuse.

When the language center is shut down, the abuse survivor is less likely to speak, because they are fearful of voicing what is perceived as shameful, and so, sometime, they can’t even articulate their trauma.

Censoring the use of accurate language around sexual abuse perpetuates the notion that such discussions should be secret and such language is shameful. Living in secrecy is painful and damaging to an abuse survivor. We need to empower potential victims to talk openly and candidly about their experience.

Following Brutal Rape, Protest Rally Against Illegal Aliens in Tel Aviv

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

MK Michael Ben-Ari of the Otzma l’Yisrael party led a protest on Monday against the illegal Sudanese and Eritrean aliens living in southern Tel Aviv. Hundred of people participated in the rally.

Ben-Ari and Aryeh Eldad have made the expulsion of the illegal aliens a centerpiece of their political campaign.

The protest called, “Blowing up the Silence” was initiated after an Eritrean alien was caught brutally raping an 83 year old woman. The suspect, who was tied to the assault by his DNA, has reportedly has been arrested a number of time for other sexual assaults.

Jewish Values are the Salvation of the Republican Party

Monday, November 19th, 2012

A ‘malignant weapon’. That was the phrase used by a friend of mine — a national TV host who inclines toward Republicans but this year voted Democrat, to describe how Republicans use religion. “Why has religion made Republicans harsh. Shouldn’t it give them a soft heart?”

The congressional campaign I ran was based on the idea that the economic malaise in America was due to a values erosion. So long as we obsess over abortion, gay marriage, and contraception to the exclusion of any other values, we cannot fix our problems. I ran to start the process of replacing the austerity of some of the Christian social values, which have defined the GOP for decades, with the positive and life-affirming values of Judaism.

I also knew, from my many lectures before women’s groups, that the sexual obsession that has come to define Republican social values could cost the GOP the election. At the start of my campaign, one Republican leader told me, “Americans want to hear about the economy, not values issues.” He was right. But little did he realize that extremist social values rhetoric would wound Republicans. There is now a consensus that the GOP’s alienation of women due to the social sexual obsession, as well as the alienation of Latinos due to their position on immigration, did incalculable harm to the GOP.

Here is what confuses me about Republican Jewish donors. They give the party their money when their values are probably even more relevant at this juncture. Why do those Jews who support the party generously not clamor for a greater infusion of Jewish values that would change the conversation away from values that alienate to values that inspire?

I care about the Republican Party because of its strong emphasis on the dignity that comes from economic opportunity and self-reliance, a robust foreign policy that holds dictators accountable for slaughtering their people, its emphasis on school choice, and strong support for Israel. And anyone who cares about the party knows that it can no longer postpone a serious reexamination of its sexual values obsession. My great teacher, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, advocated a ten point plan for people to start leading more spiritual lives. Only one of those ten was about sex, namely, the laws of Jewish family purity. That’s ten percent focus on sex. But the Republican trifecta of abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, is one hundred percent about sex. How strange is that?

And for those Democrats who are gloating about the Republican loss, with all due respect, at least the Republicans are trying to highlight moral issues, even if they’re misguided. The Democrats do not offend with their values because, with the exception of economic values issues, they barely discuss the subject. Here, then, is what the GOP must do to rebuild itself.

1.     Repudiate the religious extremists who are obsessed with abortion, rape, and sex. If candidates want to speak about legitimate rape or divinely-sanctioned rape, let them do so from an asylum. Not as official representatives of the Republican Party. If they want to obsess over sex and reduce all of America’s greatness to a trifecta of social sexual obsession, they can. They can create the “All-sex-all-the-time Party.” But get this conversation out of the GOP. The Republican Party represents more than opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. Judaism, for the record, allows contraception, believes that sex is for intimacy and pleasure as well as procreation, and has a far more lenient position on abortion than Catholics or Evangelicals. And since the Christian position on abortion is based on the Hebrew Bible, specifically Exodus 21:22, the time has perhaps come for Christians to look to the Jews for a different understanding of this text.

2.     Preach positive inspirational values that lead to altruistic citizenry. Bring the values conversation out of the bedroom and show Americans you’re prepared to talk about values in the boardroom and the living room. Stop talking exclusively about gay marriage and focus on saving heterosexual marriage. Make marital counseling tax deductible. Pass legislation creating a year of national service so America raises generations of more altruistic youth. If the Republican argument is that Democrats are winning elections because they have become the ‘Free Stuff Party,’ then counter by making the GOP into the ‘Serve America’ party. Embrace and co-opt the JFK’s credo of asking more about what we can give to our country rather than take from it.

3.     Embrace the Biblical Teaching of Loving the Stranger. No one should come into this country by breaking the law. But there might be something personally virtuous in a man or woman who steals across the Rio Grande at great risk to feed their babies and send money back to poor families. America has to stop illegal immigration. But that doesn’t mean it has to demonize illegal immigrants. We need to distinguish between those who steal into our country to blow up buildings and those who come in because they regard America as a land of opportunity. Stop ignoring the twelve million undocumented workers who form a shadow economy and who are not paying taxes while benefiting from living here. Mass deportation is unrealistic and immoral. Penalize them for having broken the law, but give them a path to remain here and contribute.

4.     Focus on legal immigration from Latin American countries, as opposed to Europe. As my friend Robert Goldbaum, who was a Romney surrogate, told me, Latin American immigrants want to come to America because they love its opportunities and want to work. This is different from the entitlement-addled economies of Europe whose immigrants are used to, and expect, government programs. Latino immigrants are deeply in sync with American values of hard work and entrepreneurship. The Republican Party should be taking the lead in pushing for far higher quotas for Latino immigrants as opposed to other regions.

5.     Show the black community that Republicans understand the history of adversity African-Americans have faced. There is little chance that many African-Americans will vote Republican right now. But it makes no difference. The Republican Party should undertake a grand gesture to give the lie once and for all that it is a party insensitive to black concerns. This is, after all, the party of Lincoln. The Republican house should sponsor a bill for the construction of a monument on the national mall commemorating the greatest American evil of all, namely slavery, to demonstrate Republicans are attuned to African-American history and suffering. But while we commemorate the past, we move forward to the future. The Democratic Party often takes the Black community for granted, as I saw in my own race where my challenger did not even turn up for the NAACP candidates’ forum. President Obama skipped the NAACP convention as well. Drive home Republican emphasis on school vouchers and how the Democratic Party has caved to the teacher’s unions to put teacher tenure before children’s education. In my campaigning, most African-American parents whom I met strongly supported vouchers, charter schools, and school choice.

6.     Women, women, women, and more women. Destroy the myth that the Republican Party is hostile to women. According to Gallup, the 20-point gender gap in this presidential election set an all-time record. Republicans should stop obsessing on the uteruses of young women and instead pledge to reduce abortion by focusing on the Guttmacher Institute’s data that 85% of all abortions take place outside of marriage. Strengthen marriage, educate men to respect women, and you’ll automatically and significantly reduce the number of abortions. Stop making this a legal battle.

7.    Have more kids. For a party that so strongly opposes abortion, we sure aren’t having enough kids. People believe the Republican Party is the rich people’s party. This is an unfair and inaccurate characterization. But what is certainly true is that while immigrant communities (most of whom vote Democrat) continue to have large families, those who are better off economically have fewer children, statistically. Stop complaining about immigrants. The more Americans the better. But the growth of the indigenous population, of people reared from birth in this great nation, is just as important.

Jane Fonda to Host Holocaust Event on Sexual Violence

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Jane Fonda will host an event in Los Angeles focusing on sexual violence during the Holocaust.

More than 200 people are expected for the invitation-only event on Nov. 8 at the Ray Kurtzman Theater. The event is sponsored by the USC Shoah Foundation and Remember the Women Institute.

Fonda, an award-winning actress and a political activist, was asked to be involved because she is active with programs and charities that deal with genocide and gender, a source familiar with the event told JTA. Fonda will read aloud works from Israeli playwright and author Nava Semel, and also will introduce a reel of testimonial clips from Holocaust survivors discussing sexual violence.

“Sexual violence during the Holocaust is rarely spoken about; many historians and scholars don’t want to address it,” said Rochelle Saidel, executive director of Remember the Women Institute. “It’s hard to have rape documentation of the Holocaust because many of the victims were silenced, since it was against Nazi law to have any sexual involvement with Jews. But the reels being shown are gathered testimonials, and it’s a part of history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Following Fonda’s presentation, a panel will feature Saidel and Stephen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation, moderated by Jessica Neuwirth, president of Equality Now.

Rapist of Holocaust Survivor to Stand Trial

Monday, September 24th, 2012

An Australian man who allegedly raped a Holocaust survivor two decades ago will face trial.

A three-judge panel of the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal rejected claims last Friday by the defense for Robert Paul Webb that he could not receive a fair trial because the complainant could not be cross-examined, according to a report by the Australian Associated Press.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave video testimony to police just months before she died last year. She was 70 at the time of the alleged attack in Sydney in 1991.

The judges allowed the prosecution to admit the video statement into evidence, AAP reported. Crown prosecutor Sally Dowling said the woman, who immigrated to Australia in her 20s, had been the victim of a “calculated attack” and it was in the public interest for Webb to stand trial.

Webb, who was 18 at the time of the alleged attack, was charged in 2011 with two counts of aggravated sexual intercourse and aggravated assault. He was charged when police discovered a semen stain on the ground in the car park where the alleged rape occurred and used it to match his DNA.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/rapist-of-holocaust-survivor-to-stand-trial/2012/09/24/

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