Apr 182014
 
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has released a report on Nonfatal Domestic Violence, 2003–2012 (NCJ 244697) which presents estimates on nonfatal domestic violence from 2003 to 2012.
Domestic violence includes victimization committed by current or former intimate partners (spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends), parents, children, siblings, and other relatives.

Highlights:

  • In 2003–12, domestic violence accounted for 21% of all violent crime.
  • A greater percentage of domestic violence was committed by intimate partners (15%) than immediate family members (4%) or other relatives (2%).
  • Current or former boyfriends or girlfriends committed most domestic violence.
  • Females (76%) experienced more domestic violence victimizations than males (24%).

Source: bjs.gov

Apr 182014
 

Are Trigger Warnings Inherently Anti-Education?

Oberlin College tables its trigger warning policy amid criticism that warnings threaten the mission of higher education.

By Colleen Flaherty

Trigger warnings, which are common in blogs but also have begun to appear on college and university syllabuses, are supposed to signal to readers that forthcoming material may be uncomfortable or upsetting. Trigger-warned subject matter—in literature, films, or other texts—usually relates to sexual assault and other kinds of violence, racism, and the like, and advocates say students have a right to know of sensitive material in advance.

But some critics of trigger warnings say that higher education is rooted in confronting uncomfortable ideas and experiences. And more practically, critics say, it’s nearly impossible in classes with students with differing sensibilities to define what deserves a trigger warning.

Given the lack of consensus on trigger warnings in the classroom, it was perhaps unsurprising that the extensive trigger warning policy Oberlin College published in its Sexual Offense Resource Guide proved controversial earlier this academic year. Faculty members criticized the policy from within, saying it had been drafted largely without their input, even though they stood on the front lines of such a policy.

And criticism flowed in from outside Oberlin as well, with outlets such as the Los Angeles Times and the New Republic questioning the policy’s implications for academic freedom and for the liberal arts, so central to Oberlin’s mission.

Now, Oberlin has tabled the policy, pending additional faculty input.

“What could trigger off somebody in the abstract is almost anything.”

Marc Blecher, Oberlin College

“This section of the resource guide is currently under revision, after thoughtful discussion on campus suggested that some changes could make the guide more useful for faculty,” Meredith Raimondo, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and co-chair of the Sexual Offense Policy Task Force, said via email. “As the resource guide has always stated, the task force values both academic freedom and support for survivors of sexualized violence. We do not see these as contradictory projects, but rather that both are necessary to create an appropriately challenging and effective learning environment.”

Oberlin’s sexual offense policy page for faculty contains a similar message under the heading “How can I make my classroom more inclusive for survivors of sexualized violence?”

Until recently, however, that heading gave faculty members lengthy and explicit guidance on the topic. (Oberlin officials note that the policy was to recommend trigger warnings, not to require them. Critics saw even a nonmandatory policy as raising issues about academic freedom.)

It advised faculty members to “[u]nderstand triggers, avoid unnecessary triggers, and provide trigger warnings.” It defined a trigger as something that “recalls a traumatic event to an individual,” and said experiencing a trigger will “almost always disrupt a student’s learning and may make some students feel unsafe in your classroom.”

“Triggers are not only relevant to sexual misconduct, but also to anything that might cause trauma,” the policy said. “Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression. Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.”

The policy said that “anything could be a trigger,” and advised professors to “[r]emove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals.”

In the event that a work is “too important to avoid,” the policy said professors could issue a trigger warning by avoiding “spoilers” but giving a “hint about what might be triggering about the material,” and explaining its academic value.

For example, it said, “Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read. However, it may trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more.”

The policy also said faculty members may “[s]trongly consider developing a policy to make triggering material optional or offering students an alternative assignment using different materials.”

Marc Blecher, a professor of politics and East Asian studies at Oberlin who has been one of the policy’s most vocal critics, said in an interview that many faculty members were surprised to see the intricate trigger warning policy upon publication. The task force’s work had been mentioned in earlier faculty meetings, he said, but because it bypassed established channels for curricular proposals—elected faculty committees—professors were caught off-guard.

The task force included one vice president who is also the dean of students; three deans, including Raimondo (who was appointed as a faculty member before she was named dean); and three students and two recent alumni.

Beyond questions of shared governance, Blecher said the problem with the policy and trigger warnings generally is that “what could trigger off somebody in the abstract is almost anything.” That means that professors in all kinds of disciplines could have to rethink what they teach and how—and how to warn students about it ahead of time.

Referring to language in the tabled policy, he said, “it had this long list of ‘isms,’ so you’d end up having to fill your whole syllabus with their advice or suggestions, depending on what you’re teaching.”

As to the policy’s alternative reading suggestion, Blecher added, “What are you going to do, have two syllabi?”

Blecher said several dozen professors expressed similar sentiments at a recent meeting for concerned faculty members. Others raised new points, he said, such as whether highlighting sensitive material in advance could worsen its impact on students, and that professors may want students to “feel the shock” of such material for pedagogical reasons.

But not all professors are openly opposed to the policy, and a recent editorial in Oberlin’s student newspaper, the Oberlin Review, called the argument that trigger warnings interfere with academic freedom “flawed.”

“Trigger warnings exist in order to warn readers about sensitive subjects, like sexual violence or war, that could be traumatic to individuals who have had past experiences related to such topics, not to remove these subjects from academic discussion,” the editorial says. “They do not ‘glorify victimhood’; instead, they validate the life experiences of certain members of our community and allow individuals to make informed decisions.”

It continues:

“[W]hen students feel so upset by memories tied to a particular subject that they feel they cannot participate in that dialogue, a process integral to liberal arts education is interrupted. Trigger warnings are a viable method of alleviating these situations. Ideally, individuals who are part of an academic institution should be challenged and forced to articulate and defend their perspectives, but in order to have a fruitful discussion about these topics, as many people as possible need to feel comfortable participating.”

The editorial does, however, acknowledge the “problem of how to effectively create these spaces.”

In his own classroom, Blecher said he’s used verbal warnings about a violent murder in a film he was about to show. So while he’s not categorically opposed to trigger warnings, he said, “I think you just rely on sensitivity and common sense.”

He added: “Trying to codify it is very hard.”

Blecher said it wasn’t yet clear how faculty feedback would be solicited for an amended trigger warning policy, but that Oberlin seemed to be “sincerely” addressing the matter, including through the recent faculty meeting.

Raimondo said that throughout the review process of the offense policy, “the task force has solicited faculty input along with other members of the Oberlin community.”

Source: slate

Apr 182014
 

VIDEO: “I hope you die in prison,” Michigan judge erupts on woman convicted of killing boyfriend

Apr 16, 2014

JACKSON, Mich. – If a judge could throw the book at a woman, he managed to do so on Wednesday.

Not physically, but certainly by his stinging words. He had a lot of words for 31-year-old Camia Gamet, the woman convicted of killing her boyfriend Marcel Hill in March. Gamet claimed it was self defense and showed no remorse.

A First Degree murder conviction by law meant she would get life behind bars. Still, while family members spoke she would only roll her eyes and laugh, but Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John McBain would have none of it.

“You’re gonna shut your mouth or I’m going to have some duct tape put on it,” said Judge McBain.

A jury convicted Gamet for stabbing and beating to death Hill. Her lawyer argued she acted in self defense, because she claimed she killed an unknown attacker in a dark room. The judge wasn’t buying that and called it the worst cold-blooded murder he’s ever seen.

The prosecutor argued Gamet’s actions were premeditated and deliberate. She stabbed Hill 11 times and had a history of violence against him.

Hill told police in March of 2013 she hit him in the head with a hammer.

Family members say justice was served and they hope a lesson was learned about how abuse can come in all forms no matter the gender.

Source: theindychannel.com

Apr 172014
 

What About the Good Guys? How Sexual Assault Awareness Affects College Men

By Charlotte Alter
April 11, 2014

College men are told that communication is key to preventing sexual assault, but also that rape is never a miscommunication. No wonder they’re confused.

One night during my freshman year of college, I was in the room of a male pseudo-friend-pseudo-love interest, doing what college kids do when they’re drunk and into each other (we weren’t playing Settlers of Catan). In the middle of a fully clothed, lukewarm makeout, he suddenly pulled away. “Do you, uh, consent?” he said. We hadn’t even taken our shoes off. “Um, yes?” I said. Frankly, the question was the most shocking thing that happened all night.

I shouldn’t have been so surprised. When 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college, the conversation around rape has veered away from what women can do to protect themselves (advice which can quickly turn to victim-blaming) and has instead focused on what young men can do to make their campuses safer. Since many college men are just as concerned about sexual assault as their female classmates, that’s a step in the right direction.

But there are so many different prevention strategies that sometimes the messages can contradict each other. On the one hand, guys are warned that clear communication about consent can help prevent sexual assaults. On the other hand, they’re reminded that sexual assaults are acts of violence, not misunderstandings. “I don’t think that most rapes are the result of a miscommunication,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. “I think they’re intentional acts in which the criminal knows what he’s doing.”

It’s easy to see how young men might be less than sure-footed. Research shows that only 6% of college-aged men admit to forcing or coercing a girl into sex, and those who do tend to be repeat offenders. But what about men who are not serial rapists but are still steeped in the hyper-nuanced conversation about assault prevention? When boys are told that sexual assault is everywhere, that it’s hard to identify and that everyone is at risk of crossing a line, some of them begin to wonder: could I have done something like this? Or even come close? It’s a minefield of mixed messages and blurred lines, leaving boys wondering where they fit on a spectrum that includes everything from “hookup” to “jerk” to “criminal.”

Dylan Munro, a sophomore applied math major at Harvard, explains it this way: “There is an inkling in your mind, especially when you first start to talk about that, to think ‘oh my god, did I ever do this? Could I have ever made someone feel uncomfortable accidentally?’” he said. “It makes you question things you’ve said to people in the past, whether anything could be misinterpreted.”

“Just being a male, it’s natural to think ‘oh I hope I’m not that kind of guy.’” Munro said. “And then you quickly realize, ‘oh whew, it’s okay, I’m not that kind of guy.’”

The changing definition of “consent” fuels a lot of this anxiety. Ben Murrie, who runs a traveling campus assault education group called Sex Signals, says his program defines consent as “present, active, ongoing, freely given, and sober,” in an attempt to move away from the old “no means no” idea of consent. But to a literal-minded college student, that means anyone who willingly has sex after a couple beers could be a rape victim, and anyone who doesn’t hear “please continue with intercourse” could be a rapist.

Matthew Kaiser is a Washington D.C.-based lawyer who often represents male students who have been accused of sexual assault, and he says there’s “substantial ambiguity” about the definition of crime in college handbooks. “It’s not clear who’s understanding of the moment matters, if you’re in a situation where one person reasonably believes that the other person is consenting, but the other person does not believe they’re consenting,” he said. “In a lot of schools, the student code just doesn’t answer whether that’s a sexual assault or not.”

To add to the confusion, there’s not a lot of common ground between the awkward communication encouraged by campus counselors and the rip-your-clothes-off sex that students see on TV.

Jonathan Kalin is a senior at Colby and former captain of the basketball team who helped found Male Athletes Against Violence and Party With Consent, two organizations that help college-aged men discuss consent and sexual assault prevention. He says he and his friends have noticed that most of the sex in the media is totally wordless, without any conversation at all. “Whether it’s a music video, a song, a movie, pornography, there’s usually an understanding that you have sex and there’s no talking going on,” he said. “Every single person who goes on the screen has signed consent forms, but when we see it it’s just silence.”

But there are times when silence—from either gender—can be just as misleading. In a particularly confusing assault prevention skit we saw freshman year, a girl went to a guy’s room, willingly took off her clothes, and they had (simulated) sex. She had a momentary hesitation, but never said “no,” or offered any kind of resistance, or tried to put her clothes back on. It looked like a regular scene from Sex & the City. When the prevention counselors asked at the end of the skit whether this was sexual assault, the room filled with a resounding “yes” Because the girl had not explicitly said that she wanted to have intercourse, it qualified as non-consensual sex.

So even if young people (kind of) understand the official definition of consent, they’re not always that good at communicating with each other in the moment. And who is? A candid conversation about consent doesn’t match most people’s idea of pillowtalk. Sometimes, especially when it’s just a casual hookup, the situation is awkward enough already, and explicit clarity about consent just makes things weirder. “Who’s job is it to initiate the conversation? There’s no universal for that,” Kalin explained. “It’s a taboo for a guy to just say ‘hey do you want to have sex with me?’”

But even among the mixed messaging and the self-doubt, most college age men want to do everything they can to keep campus safe for their female classmates. “A lot of people who are good guys know they’re good people, but it’s dangerous to get in a self-congratulatory state,” Munro said. “You can be a nice guy, but you also have to be a good ally and a good friend and look out for people who aren’t such good guys.”

That’s why many sexual assault prevention programs are beginning to focus on bystander intervention just as much as consent, to mobilize the majority of “good guys” (and girls) to help stop the bad ones. Murrie says that teaching other students to step up to prevent rape is much more effective than “risk reduction” messages about drinking and self-defense that could make women feel like being raped was somehow in their control. “Those messages are wonderful, but if it comes with the tagline of ‘if you didn’t do this, it’s your fault’ then it doesn’t belong anywhere,” he said.

Murrie’s on the right track, since research shows that bystander intervention programs actually work. A study at UMass found that men who’d had bystander intervention training were 26% more likely to step in to stop an assault than ones who hadn’t. So in the murky bog of sexual assault prevention, the importance of interrupting bad situations (from girls as well as guys) may be one of the only things that’s becoming clear.

Source: time.com

Apr 172014
 

The Messy Case Against the Heisman Winner

KC Johnson
April 14, 2014

This past weekend, the Florida State football team held its spring football game. Most of the media attention focused on quarterback Jameis Winston, who had also spent much of his spring playing for the FSU baseball team.

Winston, of course, is by this point also well-known for events off the football field or the baseball diamond. In the midst of what became a national championship season, local media broke the news that the previous year, when he was a redshirt freshman, a woman had accused Winston of sexual assault.

The alleged event occurred off campus, in a building not owned by Florida State. The Tallahassee Police Department conducted what could charitably be described as a less-than-enthusiastic investigation, and the case went cold. Amidst the sudden media attention, the case was turned over to investigators from the local prosecutor’s office; State’s Attorney Willie Meggs announced that he did not believe that he could obtain a conviction of Winston. More important, he concluded that there was no probable cause to believe a crime occurred. The linkage between the criminal standard of probable cause and the civil standard of preponderance-of-evidence (the requirement of the “Dear Colleague” letter) isn’t exact. But it’s hard to argue that someone whose conduct doesn’t rise to the level of probable cause could be found guilty under a preponderance-of-evidence threshold.

So there would seem to be little reason to believe that through any sort of fair proceeding at FSU, Winston could have been found guilty. Yet according to recent news reports, the ever-aggressive Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an inquiry into Florida State. In at least one respect, this move is absurd: trained law enforcement officers, who conducted a competent if belated investigation, concluded that Winston’s conduct did not rise to the level in which a university tribunal could possibly have convicted him. There are, however, two ways in which the Winston case could be troubling.

First, the somewhat desultory investigation seemingly carried out by the Tallahassee Police could be used (at least by defenders of the academic status quo) to undermine calls for sexual assault cases to be investigated by competent law enforcement officers–for rape to be treated as a crime–rather than untrained or poorly trained college officials, or by college investigators subjected to ideological pressure from the “rape culture” bureaucracy. Second, at least based on available press reports (Deadspin has been the most comprehensive), the Winston affair seems to be an exception to the general rule on campus sexual assault matters.

In general–as we’ve seen at Yale, or Vassar, or St. Joe’s, or Occidental–the ideological climate on campus strongly tilts in favor of excessively aggressive prosecution of sexual assault claims, with minimal or token respect for due process for the accused student. It’s possible, though, to imagine scenarios that go in the other direction–a claim against the son of a major donor, perhaps; or one directed against a star athlete at a school where athletics are very important.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the accuser’s attorney has claimed that Florida State held a disciplinary hearing in the case without informing the accuser, a clear violation of the school’s procedures. (An FSU spokesperson denied the assertion.) Meanwhile, Deadspin has a source claiming that Winston “basically took the fifth” in a disciplinary hearing, thereby (it appears) failing to put up any defense–yet wasn’t punished by Florida State. Just as oddly, two of his (less talented) teammates did receive some sort of punishment from Florida State.

It’s possible that FSU’s handling of the Winston allegations did not conform to the university’s guidelines. It’s also possible that the reporting–driven by sources, it seems, at least somewhat hostile to Winston–has been incomplete. Either way, it’s hard to argue that the Winston case bears much resemblance to how the typical university handles the typical sexual assault claim.

Source: http://www.mindingthecampus.com/forum/2014/04/the_messy_case_against_the_hei.html#sthash.zDOLLRvg.dpuf

Apr 172014
 

Senators Gillibrand and McCaskill Made Bogus Claims about Campus Sexual Assault

SAVE
April 8, 2014

Last week Sen. Gillibrand and McCaskill held a press conference highlighting the problem of campus sexual assault, and requesting that an additional $7 million be allocated to the U.S. Department of Education to address the issue.

Sexual assault is a problem on American campuses. Unfortunately, Gillibrand and McCaskill made a number of claims that are misleading and untrue.

Rapes are Declining, not Growing

Senators Gillibrand and McCaskill claim in their letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee that there is a “growing crisis of campus sexual assault.”

The truth is, there is no evidence that sexual assault is “growing” on college campuses. In fact, rape statistics from the Department of Justice show the exact opposite – rapes have fallen dramatically in recent decades.

College Women are Not at Greater Risk than Non-Students

The letter makes the claim that “college women are at a higher risk for sexual assault than their non-college peers.”

But according to the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, the women at greatest risk for sexual assault are Black females 12-17 years old, who are never married or divorced/separated, and have incomes less than $25,000.

Somehow that doesn’t sound like your average college student.

‘One-in-Five’ a Sham Number

Most troubling is Sen. Gillibrand’s claim that “one in five” college women become victims of sexual assault. This number comes from the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study. But is it really true?

This is what national columnist Cathy Young recently had to say about this deceptive survey:

The vast majority of the incidents counted as assault involved what the study termed “incapacitation” by alcohol (or, rarely, drugs). But …this wording does not differentiate between someone who is unconscious or barely conscious and someone who is just drunk enough to go along with something he or she wouldn’t do when sober.

Three quarters of the female students who were classified as victims of sexual assault by incapacitation did not believe they had been raped; even when only incidents involving penetration were counted, nearly two-thirds did not call it rape.

Think about it – would you ever send your daughter into a situation that exposed her to a one-in-five chance of sexual assault?

Don’t Turn Sexual Assault into a Political Crusade
Despite impressive declines in recent years, sexual assault remains a problem in American society. But rape is too important to turn it in a political crusade rooted in inflammatory rhetoric and bogus statistics.

Apr 162014
 

Sen. Clare McCaskill’s nationwide survey to colleges suggests that affording students accused of sex offenses due process might discourage accusers from reporting

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sen. Clare McCaskill has sent out an extensive survey about sexual assault to 350 college and university presidents. The survey is being promulgated by McCaskill’s Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, which is charged with “ensuring that the federal government spends taxpayer money as wisely and effectively as possible.” What that has to do with sexual assault on American college campuses is anyone’s guess, but in any event, McCaskill has identified herself with the problem of sexual assault in the military and on American college campuses.

It is a worthy impulse to gather information about the ways American institutions of higher education treat serious criminality, but this survey is troubling in several critical respects and should be recalled and rewritten. We will focus on just two problems.

First, the survey repeatedly classifies persons who make accusations of sexual misconduct as “victims,” and in one place, it calls persons merely accused of sexual misconduct “offenders.” That should be unacceptable to all persons of good will.

Words matter, and we can only assume that McCaskill and her staff know better than to brand persons accused of sexual misconduct as guilty merely by virtue of the accusation. This, of course, does a grave disservice to the presumptively innocent who are accused of sexual misconduct. We take offense when newspapers do it (we once complained to the New York Times for calling a rape accuser a “victim,” and the Times reporter immediately removed the word “victim” in the on-line content of the story), and it is all the more offensive when our elected representatives do it. Sen. McCaskill represents not just accusers but persons who are accused as well. The survey should be recalled and, where appropriate, the word “victim” should be changed to “accuser.”

Second, the survey contains a most troubling, and frankly bizarre, query on page 14:
Below is a list of policies and procedures that may discourage victims from disclosing and reporting assaults at some schools

1. Disclosure of offender’s rights in the adjudication process
. . . .
The survey asks the college to identify whether or not it adheres to this policy.

The survey’s clear implication is that it is somehow improper to insure that students accused of serious sexual offenses are aware of their rights. Advising the presumptively innocent of their rights is both a fundamental and immutable aspect of due process long enshrined in the laws of every enlightened civilization. A student’s due process rights should never be considered a candidate for elimination or compromise because they might “discourage” an accuser from making a formal report, and to suggest otherwise is both appallingly insensitive to the young men accused and offensive to long-settled principles of fairness. It should have no place in a survey promulgated by a United States Senate subcommittee.

This survey is but the latest manifestation of hostility to the rights of young men accused of sexual offenses on campus. College administrators, already skittish about federal oversight of their handling of sexual assault, need to be assured by Senator McCaskill and her subcommittee that disclosing the accused’s rights in the adjudication process is not merely acceptable but mandatory.

Source: COTWA

Apr 152014
 

527 potential suspects in French high school rape lead to mass DNA test

April 14, 2014

PARIS –  French investigators began taking DNA samples Monday from 527 male students and staff at a high school — including boys as young as 14 — as they searched for the assailant who raped a teenage girl on the closed campus.

Testing began Monday at Fenelon-Notre Dame high school in western France. All those who received summonses last week were warned that any refusal could land them in police custody, and no one rejected the sweeping request to test the high school’s male population.

The testing of students, faculty and staff at the school is expected to last through Wednesday, with 40 DNA swabs recovered inside two large study halls. Prosecutor Isabelle Pagenelle said investigators had exhausted all other leads in the Sept. 30 rape of the girl in a dark bathroom at the school.

“The choice is simple for me,” she said. “Either I file it away and wait for a match in what could be several years, or I go looking for the match myself.”

While there have been other situations in which DNA samples have been taken en masse, the case is complicated for France, where acceptance is widespread for DNA testing and a national database maintains profiles of people detained for even minor crimes. But children’s civil liberties are considered sacred, especially within schools.

France has stringent privacy protections — Google, for example, has come under legal attack for storing user data, as well as for lapses in images from Street View. Questions of criminality are a different matter — the government’s DNA database has expanded radically since it was first created in 1998, and now encompasses 2 million profiles, or about 3 percent of the population.

“It’s clearly a situation where people do not have a choice,” said Catherine Bourgain, a genetic researcher and author of “DNA, Superstar or Supercop.” “One you have a DNA file it’s very difficult to get that information erased.”

Authorities have promised to discard the DNA collected once a donor is eliminated as a suspect, but Bourgain said she hoped that would also include the profile information, which during the usual course of French investigations is computerized and transmitted to the database.

Police recovered genetic material from the girl’s clothing but found no matches among current profiles.

“This happened during the school day in a confined space,” Chantal Devaux, the private Roman Catholic school’s director, told French media. “The decision to take such a large sample was made because it was the only way to advance the investigation.”

Summonses went out last week to 475 teenage students, 31 teachers and 21 others — either staff or males who were on campus at the time. Pagenelle’s office, which required parental permission for minors, promised to discard any DNA results from people who were eliminated as suspects.

“Even if they have the agreement of their parents they could refuse,” Jean-Francois Fountain, La Rochelle’s mayor, told RTL radio. “I’m trying to put a more positive view of things: If you do this, you clear yourself. There are hundreds of people today who will be cleared.”

Devaux acknowledged that all the results could still come back negative, sending investigators back to the drawing board.

From a legal standpoint, the decision is completely logical, said Christopher Mesnooh, an American lawyer who works in Paris.

“Of the 500 or so men there’s really only one who should have any concern,” Mesnooh said. “What you have to do in this kind of case is you have to balance each person’s right to privacy against what happened to this girl.”

Such testing has occurred in the past. A small town in rural Australia, Wee Waa, tested the entire male population or about 500 men in 2000 after the rape of a 93-year-old woman. It led to the conviction a farm laborer, Stephen James Boney.

English police trying to solve the rape and murder of two teenage girls in the village of Narborough were the first to use mass DNA collection in 1986, sampling 5,000 men in the earliest days of genetic testing. Police found the killer, Colin Pitchfork, after he asked a friend for a substitute blood sample.

France has also used DNA dragnets, including in 1997 when police trying to solve the rape and murder of a 13-year-old British girl ordered testing for about 3,400 men and boys. In 2004, investigators trying to solve the murder of an 11-year-old boy took 2,300 samples. Neither crime was solved.

Last year, a judge in Brittany ordered DNA tests for all 800 men and boys ages 15 to 75 living in a town plagued with arson fires. The man ultimately charged, a local grocer, had been tested but was arrested only after two more fires and more investigation.

When the DNA database was created, French privacy rights advocates said they were comfortable with it because it had clear limitations, said Jean-Pierre Dubois of the French League of Human Rights. Over time, he said, those limits have blurred.

“We are very surprised that the police officers have not been able to be a bit more precise. When you make an inquiry, you have other evidence and other testimony,” Dubois said. “Otherwise, you could say why only the people in the school? Why not all the inhabitants of the town or the region?”

Source: FOX News

Apr 142014
 

Our attitude to violence against men is out of date

In focusing attention on the consequences women face from male-perpetrated violence, have we missed a bigger issue, that the majority of victims of violence are men?

By N Quentin Woolf
09 Apr 2014

Men commit more violent crime than women, by a mile. Around 85-90% of convicted murderers are men, a majority of the reported domestic abusers and pretty much all of those committing sexual attacks. However – and this is the part that gets overlooked – almost twice as many men than women are the victims of violence. While as a society we rightly give lots of attention to protecting women against violence, from warnings about predatory cab drivers to reports on women’s refuges, from the understanding that it’s wrong to hit a woman to walking women home, very little seems to be being done to protect men, or to dissuade anyone from the idea that it’s also wrong to hit a man. Is male life cheaper?

In discussions of domestic violence, it is often noted with alarm that women are killed at a rate of two per week, by usually male partners or ex-partners. But domestic violence is not exclusively male on female: the ONS statistics for 2011-12 show that while 1.2 million women experienced domestic violence, so too did 800,000 men. A 1994 University of Iowa paper by veteran criminal lawyer Alan Dershowitz reported that over 40% of US spousal murders are perpetrated by women (as I write this, police have arrested the ex-girlfriend of British milionaire Andrew Bush, whose body was discovered at his Spanish villa earlier this month).

Anecdotally, there is good reason to think that much female-perpetrated violence in the home goes unreported, for reasons of shame, perceived biases in the family courts, and the readiness of police to assume that the male will always be the aggressor. While none of this is to get away from the baseline fact that the committing of acts of physical domestic violence, including murder, is predominantly male, it’s not nearly as one-sided as all that.

Outside the home, your chances of being attacked or killed are much higher if you’re a man. Men make up over two-thirds of murder victims, 68%. Therefore, of the 540 currently known UK murder victims from 2011/12, whether inside or without the house, 367 were male, and 173 were female. This means that the UK murder rate of men is more than one per day.

Right across the spectrum from global conflicts to solitary depression, violence is committed chiefly against men. The male rate of suicide is three times that of women, and rising. Suicide in men in their forties and fifties has risen 40% in ten years. And here, at least, in the midst of the gloom, a small beachhead of understanding may be being established: slowly, a conversation does seem to be beginning about the pressures unique to men; the cultural expectations that stoke the fire; the harmful terminology (‘man up’, etc) that boxes them in; the disintegration, vilification and ridicule of ‘traditional’ maleness. But there’s precious little sympathy, especially from war-weary feminists, and all but nothing in the way of support, although perhaps a creeping awareness has begun.

And then there’s war. The basic format, long established, continues to be mostly men being required to kill mostly other men. In 2009, the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, published a report, Armed Conflict Deaths Disaggregated by Gender, which found that the number of men who are killed directly – that last word mattering – far outstrips the deaths of women. Women do die and suffer, of course, whether in acts of insurgency, or attacks, including rape, on the civilian population, or from secondary effects, such as diminished hygiene or healthcare. Men, meanwhile, combatants or no, are considered to be legitimate objects of violence. Just consider the values at play when the media reports on terrorist attacks with phrases such as ’20 people were killed, including women and children’. Conscription in times of war has been almost exclusively of men, century after century, and only a small handful of countries, including North Korea, currently conscript women – this may go some way to explaining the IPRI’s findings. Is this bias because we collectively expect men to be good at violence, or because it is their cultural role to die?

The emphasis seems to remain on protecting women from harm, but men are afforded no such protection. On the Costa Concordia, as on the Titanic, women and children were evacuated first, reinforcing the convention that male life is less valuable, or secondary. Surely not every male on board was a family man, putting the safety of his partner and children before his own: some must have been men whose lives were deemed less important than those of the women leaving the ship merely because of their sex.

And yet the gender bias is never spoken of – but why? The fact that men commit violence more than women may be part of it – do we imagine that the higher death rates are somehow just deserts? This would only be true if those individuals committing the crimes also happened to be the victims, which we know is not the case – a glance through the list of victims includes a roll call of good Samaritans, unfortunate bystanders, police officers and so on. And in any case, what sort of callousness is it for a society to choose to let one of its constituent groups rip itself to bits, without questioning the reasons for the phenomenon?

If society is not to keep assuming it’s OK for men to get hurt and killed, we could do worse than start in the cinema. While Helen Mirren is calling for fewer women to be killed on film, it might be worth looking at the male body counts on display. Little attention is paid to the legions of male cops, soldiers, heavies and henchmen I’ve seen slaughtered, without my getting the impression that these deaths were intended to be any more than set dressing. If when I mentioned those categories, you thought anything like, “yes, but they’re the sort of people who are meant to die in films”, we may have hit the core of this problem. Whilst voices are raised, periodically, against movie violence, that its victims tend overwhelmingly to be men never seems to get a mention. I’d encourage anyone interested to keep a tally, to learn what it is they are consuming.

When female stereotypes began to be dismantled, much of what was sloughed off were the outdated cultural assumptions. Although they had long behaved with subservience, as society required, women are not somehow biologically suited to subservience – this much we know. And if that is true, then perhaps men are not naturally predisposed to committing violence, much less to being condemned to suffer its effects.

Is there a concern that recognising that men have these dual, divergent roles in violence – that they are victims as well as perpetrators – risks taking the focus off women? It doesn’t have to, and indeed mustn’t. But compassion is not a zero sum game. Let’s say there are more male burglars than female ones: no-one suggests that police should not attend a break-in at a man’s house.

If we can start to understand that the ultimate distillation of male-on-male violence – male suicide – has causes that can be understood, and that some them are rooted in society’s perpetuation of ideas of what men are, we can perhaps begin to imagine that other facets of male violence – perpetration and victimhood – might similarly be understood as cultural constructs that can be dismantled, rather than as forces of nature. When it comes to male violence, focussing the attention exclusively on women is not merely to misunderstand the problem, but to miss the opportunity to start fixing the problem. No-one will be gladder to put a stop to male violence than men.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

Apr 142014
 

Nigel Evans demands CPS compensation and to name his accusers after ‘witch hunt’

Following his not guilty verdict on rape and sexual assault charges, Nigel Evans asks that his accusers be publically named and opens up about the trial that left him destitute and contemplating suicide

By Georgia Graham
13 Apr 2014

Nigel Evans, the former Commons deputy speaker, has suggested that those who accused him of rape and sexual assault should have their identities revealed after he was cleared of all charges against him.

Mr Evans said that he had been the subject of a witch hunt which had wiped out his life savings and even led him to consider suicide in his “darkest moments”.

The Conservative MP says he has spent £130,000 on the court case, as well as losing the extra £30,000 salary after leaving his post as deputy speaker.

The officials who decided to prosecute him should now be forced to reimburse his legal fees, he said.

Mr Evans, MP for Ribble Valley, was arrested in May after a member of staff accused him of rape following a night of what he believed to be consensual sex.

He was later charged with the attack as well as eight other sexual offences   against young male colleagues between 2002 and 2013.

This week he was cleared of rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted sexual   assault and two indecent assaults at Preston Crown Court.

He told the Mail On Sunday: “I feel cheated by the fact that if my seven   accusers and I walked down the street none of them would be recognised but I   would be because I was the only one who was named.

“And I have been cleared while their allegations have been shown to be   false.”

Mr Evans also launched an attack on the former Director of Public   Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, who has defended CPS decisions to prosecute a   number of famous names over accusations of historic sex crimes.

The CPS, Evans said, should be forced to pay back his legal fees after he was   cleared of all charges.

Mr Evans now intends to campaign for a time limit on historic allegations. He   faced charges going back a decade and some, such as those which were made   against his friend Bill Roache, the Coronation Street actor who was also   cleared at Preston Crown Court, went back even further.

“It’s all very well for him to focus on victims. But they have created a   new set of victims, which Keir Starmer has not addressed.

“The victims are those accused of sex assaults like rape when they   haven’t done it. This imbalance needs to be addressed urgently.

He added: “We need to consider the issue of a statute of limitations and   look at how other countries deal with this.

Prosecutors, he said, should be stopped from trying to “bundle”   together a series of weak cases to make one strong case.

“The police look for similarities, it is all they care about,” Mr   Evans said.

Mr Evans believes that his treatment, by his accusers, police prosecutors and   even other MPs amounts to a “witch hunt”.

Speaking at a friend’s home in his Ribble Valley constituency he said: “I   live there in the foothills of Pendle Hill which was known for one thing:   witch hunts.

“The witches of Pendle were captured there, transported to Lancaster and   executed in public. That is how I feel.”

Mr Evans also revealed that it was his friendships with Coronation Street   stars including Bill Roache that had “supported” him throughout   the trial, saying he planned to invite Roache to Westminster to celebrate   their not guilty verdicts.

He told the Sunday Mirror: “Without my friends being there for me and   giving me hope I would have been a broken man.

“There were very, very dark moments. At times things were bleak and I did   think about taking my own life. But then you get the strength from people   believing in you and giving you the support you need.

“Bill Roache is a long-term friend of mine. He helped me in my first   by-election 23 years ago and over the past few months we’ve been there for   each other. Before his verdict I texted him to say I looked forward to   raising a glass on the terrace of the House of Commons with him when he was   found not guilty.

“He returned the message by saying he looked forward to raising a glass   to me in the Rovers Return. That kind of absolute belief was what kept me   going, not just from famous friends like Bill but from constituents and my   family.

“I’m looking forward to having Bill to Westminster when I get back and,   of course, to that drink in The Rovers.”

Source: telegraph.co.uk