Tales of a child bride: ‘My father sold me,’ Ex-members of Twelve Tribes

July 19, 2016 Comments Off on Tales of a child bride: ‘My father sold me,’ Ex-members of Twelve Tribes

Tales of a child bride: ‘My father sold me for 12 cows’
When she was 12, Grace was abducted and then raped and beaten every day for 11 months.

Features Human Rights 12 July 2016  By Marc Ellison

So common are the practices of abduction, rape and forced marriage of girls in northern Tanzania that a single word is used to encapsulate them all: kupura. It is a word used by people from the Sukuma tribe to describe the snatching of girls in broad daylight as they walk to school; a three-syllabled euphemism that downplays their long-term physical and sexual abuse.

And yet here in the region of Shinyanga, the practice of kupura is validated by the oft-recited motto of Sukuma men: alcohol, meat and vagina.

“This slogan is in their blood and a way of life,” says Revocatus Itendelebanya. “These are the three things they feel entitled to as men.”

Itendelebanya, the legal and gender officer for the local NGO, Agape, says this sense of entitlement, in what is a perennially patriarchal society, also explains why passers-by don’t intervene when they witness an abduction.

“When a Sukuma man is attracted to a girl he will start asking people where she lives, and what her routine is,” explains Itendelebanya.

“Once he finds out these details he might wait for her near the borehole – or whatever he thinks is the best place to get that girl – and then grab her.”

Kupura is so prevalent in the region that when a girl disappears, her parents will suspect what has happened. But rather than calling the police, they will seek the man out not to rescue their child, but to negotiate the dowry – or bride price – in cattle.

Cash cows

For daughters are sadly seen as a short-term investment for poor, rural households – cash cows that can boost a family’s financial position at the expense of a girl’s schooling and wellbeing….

When it comes to child marriage, Tanzania was until very recently a country of contradictions.

The 1971 Marriage Act set the minimum age of marriage for girls at 15 with parental consent – but a girl of 14 could wed where judicial approval was given.

And while the 2009 Child Act did not expressly outlaw child marriage, it did define a child as a person under the age of 18, stating that a parent should “protect the child from neglect, discrimination, violence, abuse, exposure to physical and moral hazards and oppression”.

This contradictory legal Venn diagram was further obfuscated by the Local Customary Law of 1963, which allowed Tanzania’s many ethnic groups to adhere to their customs and traditions.

The Tanzanian government had long made noises about a constitutional review process to address these conflicting laws, but last year’s presidential election campaign, in addition to a lack of consensus in community surveys, had served to stall any political momentum on the issue.

Only in July 2016 did the government finally ban child marriage outright – but will it actually make a difference?

Female genital mutilation was outlawed in Tanzania in 1998, and yet a 2010 government survey found that in remote parts of the Mara region, more than 40 percent of girls and women had been cut…. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/07/tales-child-bride-father-sold-12-cows-160711100933281.html


Twelve Tribes: The Church Preached Child Abuse & Slavery
According to ex-members of Twelve Tribes who spoke to The Daily Beast, children are regularly beaten and leaders preached “slavery is necessary.” Now, an escapee has taken over the Facebook page of the Plymouth bakery run by the commune so he can broadcast its ills.
Luke O’Neil 7.17.16

….It’s been almost eight years since Mathias, now 22, left the Twelve Tribes, the controversial commune and religious sect he was born into, but the memories, and the anger at the way he and his family were allegedly treated is still fresh. He says he—and other members of the sect—were regularly beaten by adults in the commune as a form of discipline.

….The half-dozen former members who spoke to The Daily Beast also allege a culture of systematic child abuse, subjugation of women, and psychological torment.

A couple of years ago, a German documentary uncovered video of children in a local branch being beaten so terribly that the government led a raid and took the children away. In the video, Wolfram Kuhnigk, an RTL journalist, filmed 50 instances of beatings on camera, as the Independent reported. One former member who appears in the film recounts being regularly beaten for such trivial offenses as pretending to be an airplane. According to the group’s teachings, children are not permitted to engage in any type of playing or fantasy.

It’s a pattern of controversial behavior that has persisted in stories about the group for decades. “There are so many teachings that keep you from being who you are. They keep you from being human,” a former member named Joellen Griffin told the Boston Herald in 2001. “You get so absorbed in the teachings that you lose your emotions and your ability to respond to situations. They seem like a tight-knit family, but you just don’t know all the misery behind those eyeballs.”

In 1984, authorities in Vermont undertook a similar raid, liberating over 100 children from a Twelve Tribes compound, according to The New York Times. A judge determined that the raid was unconstitutional and the children were returned. Interestingly, as the San Diego Reader reported, the public defender at the time, Jean Swantko, joined the group soon after.

An investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald in 2013 told similar stories of members who had escaped the group, as did an investigation last year by Pacific Standard, which reported that children were allegedly beaten multiple times per day. In 2001 the New York Post launched an investigation that resulted in some of the group’s New York businesses being cited for violating child labor laws….
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/07/17/twelve-tribes-the-church-preached-child-abuse-slavery.html

Female genital cutting, Sloppy Police Work of Mormon Towns, Internet trolling: teenagers suffered online abuse, Catholic church alleged abuse at UK school, Twelve men jailed for sexually exploiting girl

February 9, 2016 Comments Off on Female genital cutting, Sloppy Police Work of Mormon Towns, Internet trolling: teenagers suffered online abuse, Catholic church alleged abuse at UK school, Twelve men jailed for sexually exploiting girl

– I’m a survivor of female genital cutting and I’m speaking out – as others must too
– Replace female genital mutilation with new rites of passage, says UN chief
– Expert Details Sloppy Police Work of Mormon Towns
– Internet trolling: quarter of teenagers suffered online abuse last year
– Catholic church pays compensation over alleged abuse at UK school
– Keighley abuse: Twelve men jailed for sexually exploiting girl

I’m a survivor of female genital cutting and I’m speaking out – as others must too
Maryum Saifee
My aunt cut my genitals when I was seven years old. The culture of silence surrounding this FGM/C means laws alone won’t stop it
Monday 8 February 2016

Ifor a final, only half-listening to a fellow classmate describe her research project. “Female genital mutilation is the partial or total cutting of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons,” she mechanically described. “The procedure typically take places when the girl is seven years old. The process is usually carried out by an older female relative. And once the ritual takes place, it is almost never discussed.” As she spoke, goosebumps began to form and I sat paralysed in my seat. Memories I had suppressed since childhood came flooding to the foreground….

My aunt was a doctor. So when she led me downstairs to her clinic and instructed me to lie flat on my back on her operating table, I didn’t think to question her authority. With no anaesthetic and very little warning, she performed the ritualised cut. After it was over, we headed back to the party in silence….

When I confronted my parents, they were stunned. My aunt had carried out the ritual without their consent. My father felt a unique betrayal. This was the same little sister he encouraged to pursue medicine in the first place. He had no idea that female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) was even practised within the Dawoodi Bohra community, a Shia subsect from India’s coastal state of Gujarat….

Like other forms of gender-based violence, FGM/C is a manifestation of power and means of controlling the sexuality of women and girls. In recent years, many countries have passed laws to criminalise the practice of FGM/C. Yet, it is an extraordinarily difficult crime to prosecute. Laws alone are not enough. For there to be a sustainable end to this practice, there has to be a radical culture change from the ground up, that promotes zero tolerance to any and all forms of excision….
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/08/victim-fgm-speaking-out-cut-genitals-culture-of-silence


Replace female genital mutilation with new rites of passage, says UN chief

By Sebastien Malo  Mon Feb 8, 2016
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – New, unharmful rites of passage should replace female genital mutilation, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said on Monday after new data showed there were more victims of the custom than previously estimated.

The call by the U.N. Secretary-General was heard by diplomats, campaigners and survivors gathered at the U.N. headquarters in New York to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, which fell on Saturday.

“I am especially inspired by communities that find better ways to mark the rite of passage into womanhood,” said Ban.

He gave the example of young girls in Kenya and Tanzania spending a week away from their families to learn life skills instead of being cut.

The U.N.’s children’s agency UNICEF said on Friday more than 200 million girls and women globally have suffered genital mutilation, far higher than previously estimated….
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-rights-women-fgm-idUSKCN0VH23R

Expert Details Sloppy Police Work of Mormon Towns
By JAMIE ROSS Friday, February 05, 2016 Courthouse News Service
PHOENIX (CN) – The Marshal’s Office in two towns on the Arizona-Utah border failed to investigate claims of child abuse or timely complete reports, an expert witness for the Justice Department testified Thursday during a religious discrimination trial.
Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah are largely made up of followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Department of Justice sued the towns in 2012, accusing them of denying non-church members access to police protection, water and electricity. The sect’s leader, Warren Jeffs, is serving life in prison for sexually assaulting 12- and 15-year-old girls, whom he called his spiritual wives.
Joseph De Lopez, a former deputy superintendent for the Chicago Police Department hired to review policies of the Colorado City Marshal’s Office, told the jury the towns’ Marshal Office did not investigate reports that town members married underage girls.
“Not only should there be an Internal Affairs investigation if it involves an officer, but a criminal investigation,” De Lopez testified.
On Wednesday, the towns’ former Chief Marshal Helaman Barlow testified that the Marshal’s Office ignored claims of underage marriages.
“If it was a church marriage, I as a church member saw it as a valid marriage,” Barlow testified.
On Thursday, De Lopez said this was just one of the Marshal’s Office’s many “deficiencies” in investigating and documenting alleged crimes and failing to train its officers….
http://www.courthousenews.com/2016/02/05/expert-details-sloppy-police-work-of-mormon-towns.htm

Internet trolling: quarter of teenagers suffered online abuse last year
Survey of 13- to 18-year-olds reveals teenagers with disabilities and those from minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to encounter cyberbullying
Four in five adolescents surveyed said they had recently seen or heard online hate.
Aisha Gani Monday 8 February 2016
One in four teenagers suffered hate incidents online last year, a figure described by experts as a “wake-up call” on the impact of internet trolling.

The survey of 13- to 18-year-olds found that 24% had been targeted due to their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability or transgender identity. One in 25 said they were singled out for abuse all or most of the time.

Will Gardner, chief executive of the charity Childnet and director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, which published the study, said: “It is a wake-up call for all of us to play our part in helping create a better internet for all, to ensure that everyone can benefit from the opportunities that technology provides for building mutual respect and dialogue, facilitating rights, and empowering everyone to be able to express themselves and be themselves online – whoever they are.”

The survey also found four in five adolescents had seen or heard online hate during the previous 12 months. Researchers defined such abuse as offensive, mean or threatening, and either targeted directly at a person or group or generally shared online.

Teenagers with disabilities and those from African, Caribbean, Asian, Middle Eastern and other minority ethnic groups were more likely to encounter cyberbullying, the report concluded…..
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/feb/09/internet-trolling-teenagers-online-abuse-hate-cyberbullying

Keighley abuse: Twelve men jailed for sexually exploiting girl
8 February 2016
Twelve men who sexually exploited a vulnerable teenage girl in West Yorkshire have received jail sentences of up to 20 years.

Eleven were jailed at Bradford Crown Court after being convicted of raping the girl in Keighley from the age of 13.

Another man was sentenced for sexual activity with the same girl.

The trial heard how the teenager was repeatedly attacked over a period of 13 months, between 2011 and 2012….
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leeds-35524340

Catholic church pays compensation over alleged abuse at UK school
Leslie Turner was paid £17,000 compensation after claiming two members of Christian Brothers abused him at school in Sunderland in 1960s
Jenny Kleeman and Helen Pidd
Leslie Turner: ‘The abuse was so common it became normal’
Wednesday 3 February 2016
The Catholic church continues to quietly pay out compensation to victims of alleged sex abuse at Catholic schools in Britain while refusing to accept liability.

Leslie Turner, a retired primary headteacher, was paid £17,000 in compensation by the Irish Christian Brothers in 2014, after claiming two members of the Catholic order sexually abused him at school in Sunderland in the 1960s.

Turner, now 66, has waived his anonymity in a film for the Guardian to allege he was molested from the age of 12 by two teachers at St Aidan’s Roman Catholic grammar school in Sunderland between 1961 and 1967. Both are long dead, but he sued after being diagnosed with delayed onset post-traumatic stress disorder in 2012 as a result of what he says he suffered as a child.

“After the abuse stopped was actually worse than when the abuse was taking place,” Turner told the Guardian. “I tried to become invisible. It never occurred to me to tell anybody. When the headteacher has been abusing you, who do you tell? I put it into a cupboard in my head and I shut the cupboard door.”

Turner is speaking out as the film Spotlight, is released in UK cinemas, which tells the story of the Boston Globe’s investigation into sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Boston in 2002. The Globe’s investigation helped unveil a pattern of abuse by Catholic priests on a global scale…..
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/03/catholic-church-pays-compensation-over-alleged-abuse-at-uk-school

Comeback by Cosby Unravels as Rape Claims Re-emerge, What will Bill Cosby’s legacy be?, The sexual exploitation of children: it couldn’t happen here, could it?, Child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, Ritual Abuse, Female Gential Mutilation

November 20, 2014 Comments Off on Comeback by Cosby Unravels as Rape Claims Re-emerge, What will Bill Cosby’s legacy be?, The sexual exploitation of children: it couldn’t happen here, could it?, Child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, Ritual Abuse, Female Gential Mutilation

– Comeback by Cosby Unravels as Rape Claims Re-emerge
– What will Bill Cosby’s legacy be?
– Councils leaving children at sex-abuse risk, says Ofsted
– The sexual exploitation of children: it couldn’t happen here, could it?
– Communities and Local Government Committee – Third Report
– Child sexual exploitation in Rotherham: some issues for local government
– Children first: the child protection system in England – Education RITUAL ABUSE, WITCHCRAFT AND FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
– Child abuse, adversity associated with poor health and employment outcomes later in life

Comeback by Cosby Unravels as Rape Claims Re-emerge
By BILL CARTER, GRAHAM BOWLEY and LORNE MANLY NOV. 19, 2014

….But in recent weeks, his triumphant return to the national stage has fallen apart in the face of a wave of accusations by women who say Mr. Cosby drugged and raped them decades ago. On Wednesday, NBC said it was canceling the pilot project, and the cable network TV Land quietly decided to stop showing repeats of “The Cosby Show.” Less than 24 hours earlier, Netflix said it was postponing the debut of the comedy special. Other scheduled appearances by Mr. Cosby — on David Letterman’s late-night show and Queen Latifah’s daytime talk show — have also been canceled.

….Mr. Cosby’s lawyers have vigorously denied the accusations in recent days, and he has never faced criminal charges. But the troubles have put the star’s comeback in limbo and created awkward situations as he seeks to burnish his legacy. Mr. Cosby’s handlers, for instance, realizing that Mr. Letterman would have to ask Mr. Cosby about the rape claims, decided to scrap the appearance.

The accusations against Mr. Cosby have been all the more striking because his hit TV show, his commercials for Jell-O and his best-selling books about fatherhood helped him present an image of the ideal family man.

….A subsequent civil lawsuit brought by Ms. Constand promised to present testimony from 13 “Jane Does” with similar accounts of sexual assault. Mr. Cosby’s lawyer called the claims false and even preposterous; the suit was settled for an undisclosed sum in 2006.

One of the unnamed women in the suit, Barbara Bowman, a former actress, came forward publicly in The Washington Post last week to describe her experiences in detail…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/business/media/bill-cosby-fallout-rape-accusations.html


What will Bill Cosby’s legacy be?
Andrea Mandell and Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY November 19, 2014

….On Sunday, the second woman in a 10-day span, publicist Joan Tarshis, came forward to tell a story of being sexually assaulted by Cosby. She posted a detailed account on Hollywood Elsewhere of being drugged and abused by Cosby, 77, who has been married to wife Camille since 1964.

It’s a scenario that has now been told by more than a dozen women, all recounting incidents that happened years ago.

….On Sunday, Cosby’s lawyer, John P. Schmitt, issued a statement saying the comedy legend would not “dignify” the “decade-old” claims. http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/11/18/bill-cosby-legacy-forever-damaged-rape-allegations/19176659/ http://goo.gl/sCHGdg

Councils leaving children at sex-abuse risk, says Ofsted   19 November 2014
Vulnerable children in England are at risk of sexual exploitation and abuse because of council failures, the children’s services watchdog has said.

Child sexual exploitation has not been treated as the priority that events in Rotherham and elsewhere suggested it should have been, Ofsted said.

Councils had been too slow to face up to their responsibilities and plans were “under-developed”, Ofsted said.

The Local Government Association said the report was “uncomfortable reading”.

The report – called The sexual exploitation of children: it couldn’t happen here, could it? – was commissioned by Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw.

It comes against a backdrop of allegations, convictions and resignations over organised child abuse and exploitation over sustained periods in locations including Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and Telford.

A separate report published by MPs on Tuesday into the Rotherham cases concluded the local authority had “failed” victims targeted in the town.

The MPs also said Rotherham was not an isolated case, child sexual exploitation was “widespread” and “serious”, and questioned the performance of Ofsted itself…. http://www.bbc.com/news/education-30096187 

The sexual exploitation of children: it couldn’t happen here, could it?
19 Nov 2014 Ref: 140175
This thematic inspection was commissioned to evaluate the effectiveness of local authorities’ current response to child sexual exploitation. The report draws on evidence from inspection and case examination in eight local authorities and from the views of children and young people, parents, carers, practitioners and managers. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/sexual-exploitation-of-children-it-couldnt-happen-here-could-it 

Communities and Local Government Committee – Third Report
Child sexual exploitation in Rotherham: some issues for local government

….Conclusions
37. The Jay Report sets out in chilling detail how the authorities responsible for protecting children in Rotherham against sexual exploitation failed at least 1,400 children. On the basis of this inquiry it is clear that, although there was convincing evidence of organised child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, none of the parts of the system designed to scrutinise or challenge had any perceptible effect in identifying or challenging the prevailing insensitivity to child sexual exploitation within the Council. It was the press which stimulated action. One of the lessons for local government from the Jay Report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham will be the need to improve scrutiny and challenge within council governance. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmcomloc/648/64802.htm


Children first: the child protection system in England – Education
Committee Contents
3  Older children
Vulnerability of older children
RITUAL ABUSE, WITCHCRAFT AND FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

125. Ritual abuse related to accusations of witchcraft and spirit possession occurs in England amongst some communities of African origin. Some child deaths have included elements of ritual abuse, including that of Victoria Climbié and of a headless torso discovered in the Thames.[190] The latest high profile case involving Kristy Bamu and the conviction of his relatives has reignited publicity around the issue. This type of abuse is often linked to a faith setting (church or mosque). Accusations of witchcraft may be made by the church (for example, the pastor) who also professes the solution, usually in the form of a deliverance or exorcism. Once a child has been identified as a witch, often by family members or by a faith leader, different forms of abuse may occur….

126. ECPAT reported in October 2011 that over the last four years, at least 400 African children have been abducted and trafficked into the UK, some for the purpose of ‘juju’ blood rituals. Testimonies from some of the children have described how witch-doctors extracted their blood by force for use in ritual healings.[191] Other estimates about the extent of ritual abuse in the UK are sketchy. Research for the then Department for Children, Schools and Families in 2006 reviewed 74 cases of child abuse which were suspected of connection to spirit possession and witchcraft between 2000 and 2005, and found clear-cut evidence of ritual abuse in 38 of those cases (concerning 47 children). Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB) gave evidence that when a victim of ritual abuse is identified, it is likely that other children exposed to the same informal faith setting may also be at risk.[192]

127. Another form of abuse to which some girls of African origin may be vulnerable is female genital mutilation (FGM, also called female circumcision and genital cutting). It is estimated that approximately 100-140 million African women have undergone FGM worldwide and each year, a further three million girls are estimated to be at risk of the practice in Africa alone.[193] National FGM campaigning organisation FORWARD UK estimate that 24,000 girls under 15 are at risk each year in England and Wales. The most common age at which it occurs is between four and ten, although it appears to be falling…. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmeduc/137/13706.htm


Child abuse, adversity associated with poor health and employment outcomes later in life

People who currently fall into low-income and educational brackets are up to five times as likely to have faced abuse and adversity during childhood as people who fall into higher socioeconomic groups, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis of Allegheny County residents.

The findings, which will be presented Tuesday at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual meeting in New Orleans, support the merit of “whole family” programs that seek to break the cycle of adversity and negative health, economic and social outcomes that persist over generations.

Eliminating childhood abuse and adversity significantly improves health – reducing heart disease by more than 26 percent and serious mental illness by more than 41 percent, the research team determined in a separate study presented Monday.

….People with a low socioeconomic status had 1.7 to 4.2 times higher prevalence for each of the six adverse childhood events compared with people of higher socioeconomic status.

People who reported they were unable to work also reported a prevalence of sexual abuse five times higher than those reporting employment.

The results are consistent with those of similar surveys conducted in other communities nationwide…. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-11-child-abuse-adversity-poor-health.html

Human trafficking epidemic 21st century slavery hits close to home, ‘A Culture of Silence’ speaks for Sierra Leone, Sexual Offences Bill to be published next week

November 14, 2014 Comments Off on Human trafficking epidemic 21st century slavery hits close to home, ‘A Culture of Silence’ speaks for Sierra Leone, Sexual Offences Bill to be published next week

Former journalist says human trafficking an epidemic
21st century slavery hits close to home
By Maddy Lauria  Nov 13, 2014

Rehoboth Beach — The Sussex County Republican Women’s Club received a harsh reality check when veteran journalist Christine Dolan described a human trafficking case that struck close to home.

“Listen up … you don’t have a clue,” Dolan said as she began to discuss her more than decade-long experiences with human trafficking. “Just like the Industrial Revolution, just like the Victorian era, just like the African slave trade, you are living in the digital age of slavery in the 21st century. It is not just on the street. It is over the internet.”

Dolan, who worked for ABC and CNN in the 1980s, was commissioned by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children to study child exploitation in 2000….

Dolan said Easton, Md., shows human trafficking occurs close to home. While many attendees raised their hands to say they were familiar with the town, most audience members voiced surprise that a brothel, operated a few doors down from a Mexican restaurant on Dover Street, was busted just a few years ago, leading to sex trafficking convictions in fall 2013….

Now Dolan is on a mission to spread the word that human trafficking crimes are proliferating throughout the world, which she outlined in her “Tots to Trafficking to Terrorism” presentation during the club’s dinner meeting Oct. 22. She said globalization and increased internet access provide ways for everything from child pornography to trafficking for torture to make a mark on international markets.

“Terrorism is a transnational, transcriminal network. Trafficking is transcriminal, transnational network,” she said. Dolan said groups like al-Qaida and the group known as the Islamic State are trafficking organizations with a hand in sex and labor trafficking as well as torture rituals.

Dolan outlined the main branches of human trafficking to include sex and labor, sex tourism, child pornography, child soldiers, organ trafficking, skin trafficking and ritual abuse torture. Dolan cited an evidence comparison by Interpol that 89 percent of online incidents affect victims between the age of 6 and 12, while 10 percent include victims age 3 and younger. She said there have been great efforts made since 2000, but the demand for younger victims has increased, with a jump from 3 percent in 2005 to the recently reported 10 percent of young trafficking victims….
http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/former-journalist-says-human-trafficking-an-epidemic/1261490

‘A Culture of Silence’ speaks for Sierra Leone
By Peter Keough  Globe Correspondent   November 13, 2014

For most people, the sufferings of African countries such as Sierra Leone, which has endured a hellish civil war only to be confronted with the Ebola epidemic, are regarded as passing news items.

For the documentary filmmaker Raouf J. Jacob, however, Sierra Leone is his beloved homeland. Forced to emigrate to America with his family in 1999 in the midst of the internecine conflict, he returns in “A Culture of Silence” to the place of his birth to see how it has rebounded from its bloody past. He and his partner and fellow filmmaker Lara M. Moreno tour the country with their camera to see how it has confronted its intransigent problems. These include poverty, the exploitation of resources by foreign corporations, cultural misogyny epitomized by the practice of female genital mutilation, and the legacy of war embodied by its most tragic victims — child soldiers kidnapped by warlords and forced to kill….
http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/movies/2014/11/13/movie-review-culture-silence-speaks-for-sierra-leone/ypwHqK9NW73pMBJsysudUK/story.html

Sexual Offences Bill to be published next week, says Minister for Justice
Legislation will strengthen laws on grooming, pornography and harassment
New legislation on sexual offences will strengthen laws on grooming, pornography and harassment, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said.

Fiona Gartland
Thu, Nov 13, 2014,

….“It will include strengthened provisions on age of consent, grooming and harassment,” Ms Fitzgerald said. “And it will strengthen offences of acquiring pornography online.”

The department received approval from the Cabinet to draft the legislation last December. It had been described as “long overdue” by organisations working in the field and by politicians including Senator Jillian van Turnhout.

The Minister also said yesterday that she would bring forward legislation on victims’ rights and on domestic violence in the new year….

Victims’ rights The new victims’ rights legislation will be introduced in 2015 so that Ireland can comply with its obligations under the EU victims’ directive, which was adopted at European level in 2012.

The directive includes obligations to protect victims from harm and intimidation and provide access to information, services and compensation.

Ms Fitzgerald said the new legislation would be “a very important mark of a change of approach to victims” and would reposition victims so their needs are central to the criminal justice system….
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/sexual-offences-bill-to-be-published-next-week-says-minister-for-justice-1.1998434

Yazidi sex slaves, Deaf school clergy abuse, Chinese doomsday cult, Female genital mutilation, Knowl View – Cyril Smith, Manchester child sex grooming gangs

October 15, 2014 Comments Off on Yazidi sex slaves, Deaf school clergy abuse, Chinese doomsday cult, Female genital mutilation, Knowl View – Cyril Smith, Manchester child sex grooming gangs

– Thousands of Yazidi women sold as sex slaves ‘for theological reasons’, says Isil
– Deaf school group to honor Delavan man who helped expose priest abuse
– Wife axed in suspected ritual killing
– Chinese court sentences cult members to death
– Ancient ritual of female child abuse must end, activists say
– Child abuse inquiry to examine claims John Major’s government failed to act
– Greater Manchester police ‘failed to pursue child abuse gang claims’

Thousands of Yazidi women sold as sex slaves ‘for theological reasons’, says Isil
Article in Islamic State’s English-language online magazine Dabiq not only admits selling Yazidi women into sex slavery but justifies it according to the theological rulings of early Islam

By Richard Spencer 13 Oct 2014

Islamic State jihadists have given detailed theological reasons justifying why they have taken thousands of women from the Iraqi Yazidi minority and sold them into sex slavery.

A new article in the Islamic State English-language online magazine Dabiq not only admits the practice but justifies it according to the theological rulings of early Islam.

“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated,” the article says.

It says there is a difference between women from Muslim sects the jihadists regard as heretical, who can be considered as “apostates”, and the so-called mushrikin – polytheists and pagans.

“Their women could be enslaved, unlike female apostates.”

The women were seized when the group swept across parts of northern Iraq in early August….
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11158797/Thousands-of-Yazidi-women-sold-as-sex-slaves-for-theological-reasons-says-Isil.html

Deaf school group to honor Delavan man who helped expose priest abuse

By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel
Oct. 13, 2014

Arthur Budzinski, a deaf man who helped expose one of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s most notorious child sexual abusers, the late Father Lawrence Murphy, will be honored Saturday by the Wisconsin School for the Deaf Alumni Association….

Budzinski was among dozens of boys molested by Murphy as children at the archdiocese’s St. John’s School for the Deaf in St. Francis between 1950 and 1974. One church psychologist estimated Murphy may have molested as many as 200 deaf children before he died in 1998.

Budzinski was among a group of alumni who had been pushing the church since the 1970s to remove Murphy and confront its failure to protect children. Their work has been documented by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and New York Times and was featured in the 2012 Alex Gibney documentary, “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.”

He is among the 575 men and women who have filed sex abuse claims in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy alleging they were molested by priests and others connected to the church as children….
http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/deaf-school-group-to-honor-delavan-man-who-helped-expose-priest-sex-abuse-b99370308z1-279044571.html

Wife axed in suspected ritual killing
12/10/2014 by Staff Reporter

A 35-YEAR-OLD Binga man last Tuesday allegedly chopped off his wife’s head with an axe and hid it in a cardboard box under his bed.

The gruesome murder happened in Siabua village in Binga. Villagers who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said they suspect Wonder Munsaka committed the crime for ritual purposes….
http://www.newzimbabwe.com/news-18356-Wife+axed+in+ritual+killing/news.aspx

Chinese court sentences cult members to death

5 cult members killed woman in Zhaoyuan McDonald’s
By Tim Hume CNN Oct 13, 2014
(CNN) – Two members of a banned Chinese doomsday cult were sentenced to death Saturday for the brutal murder of a woman in a McDonald’s restaurant in May, Chinese state media reported.

Zhang Fan and Zhang Lidong were among five members of the Church of Almighty God, or “Quannengshen,” tried on murder charges in August over the killing in Zhaoyuan, Shandong Province, the state-run Xinhua agency reported.

Three fellow cult members, Lyu Yingchun, Zhang Hang and Zhang Qiaolian, were sentenced to life, 10 and seven years in prison respectively for their roles in the attack. The four Zhangs were related, according to the report.

A court statement said the victim, a 37-year-old woman named Wu Shuoyan, was attacked after refusing to give her phone number to the group, who were allegedly attempting to recruit new members.

Zhang Fan and Lyu called her an “evil spirit,”….

inked to kidnappings, violence and extortion, the Church of Almighty God has been on a list of 14 banned religious groups issued by China’s Ministry of Public Security since 1995.

Founded in the 1990s in Henan Province, the group believes that Jesus has been reincarnated as Yang Xiangbin, the wife of the group’s founder, Zhao Weishan. The couple fled to the United States in 2000, Xinhua reported.

The group, also known as Eastern Lightning (“Dongfang Shandian”), preaches that the righteous are engaged in an apocalyptic struggle against China’s Communist Party — which it refers to as the “great red dragon.”

Belonging to a tradition of heterodox, quasi-Christian Chinese religious movements, the cult was estimated as having between several hundred thousand and one million members, according to Emily Dunn, an Asian studies academic at the University of Melbourne who wrote her doctoral thesis on the group….

In a statement provided to CNN in June, Hong Kong-based members of the group responsible for its English-language website said it was “very natural” for the Chinese Communist Party to blame the group for the McDonald’s death because the party slandered and then suppressed those that disagreed with it….
http://www.kspr.com/news/nationworld/chinese-court-sentences-cult-members-to-death/21051646_29084212

Ancient ritual of female child abuse must end, activists say
By Katy Migiro, Thomson Reuters Foundation 10/13/2014

Africa can end female genital mutilation (FGM) in 20 years, activists said on Friday as they launched a continent-wide campaign, calling the ancient ritual a form of child abuse aimed at controlling women’s sexuality.

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – FGM, a practice involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, can cause hemorrhage, shock, complications in childbirth, fistula and death….

“Unless the violence stops, we will not rest.”

Some 30 million African girls are at risk of FGM over the next decade. This includes tens of thousands of girls from diaspora communities in Europe and North America who are often taken abroad to be cut….

In Kenya, 27 percent of women undergo FGM, although it reaches 98 percent in some communities, such as the Somali.
http://www.catholic.org/news/international/africa/story.php?id=57268

Child abuse inquiry to examine claims John Major’s government failed to act

Information about abuse at children’s home frequented by Cyril Smith was allegedly received but not acted upon
Rajeev Syal The Guardian, Tuesday 14 October 2014

The independent inquiry into the apparent failure of politicians and public bodies to investigate historical sex abuse will examine allegations that John Major’s government failed to act when it was informed of widespread abuse at a children’s home frequented by the late paedophile MP Cyril Smith.

The inquiry has been told that in 1995, detailed claims of rape and sexual grooming of pupils at Knowl View school were sent to the office of Gillian Shephard, the then education secretary.

But instead of intervening, senior civil servants referred the dossier back to the council, the Guardian has learned. Shephard, who is now a baroness, confirmed that her office received the file but insists she knew nothing about it.

Paperwork from the Department for Education about the dossier has been passed on to the Home Office institutional abuse enquiry, headed by Fiona Woolf. She is examining allegations that figures in Westminster and Whitehall were implicated in the failure to protect children.

The same paperwork has also been referred to Greater Manchester police, the force that has launched a criminal investigation into an alleged coverup of child abuse at a Knowl View and the decision not to prosecute Smith.

Dozens of former pupils from Knowl View have come forward to say they were abused at the school. Smith, who died in 2010, is alleged to have assaulted several children at the school….
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/14/child-abuse-inquiry-claims-john-major-government-refused-act-cyril-smith

Greater Manchester police ‘failed to pursue child abuse gang claims’

Detectives say they identified offenders and victims more than a decade ago but no action was taken, says ITV investigation
Jamie Orme The Guardian, Tuesday 14 October 2014

Child sex grooming gangs have avoided prosecution due to a failure by one of the country’s biggest police forces to pursue claims against them, it has been alleged, threatening to reignite the debate over institutional neglect of young victims of sexual abuse.

Greater Manchester police (GMP), the third largest force in England and Wales, has been accused by serving and former detectives of attempting to cover up failings to tackle gangs of Asian men who were abusing young girls, according to an ITV News investigation.

A former detective constable with the force has come forward to reveal she named and identified offenders and victims more than a decade ago in an internal report but no action was taken.

Responding to the claims, GMP chief constable Sir Peter Fahy told ITV that officers had developed a “mindset” that victims in sexual abuse cases were “unreliable” but, while this had since changed, it was still present within the courts….

The claims against GMP come just months after a damning report found at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, with “blatant” collective failings by the council and South Yorkshire police blamed for the abuse….

Another GMP detective, who has remained anonymous, looked at the issue six years later and revealed there was reluctance by senior officers to investigate sexual abuse claims despite her warnings the problem was spiralling out of control….
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/14/greater-manchester-police-failed-pursue-child-abuse-gangs

FGM affects 137,000 women in England and Wales, reveals shocking new study

July 31, 2014 Comments Off on FGM affects 137,000 women in England and Wales, reveals shocking new study

FGM affects 137,000 women in England and Wales, reveals shocking new study
A new study – published today, ahead of the UK’s first Girl Summit – shows a significant increase in the number of girls and women undergoing female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Radhika Sanghani reports   By Radhika Sanghani  22 Jul 2014

The number of women living in the UK who have experienced female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) has risen dramatically, a new report suggests. It shows that the practice has been carried out on 137,000 women and girls living in England and Wales.  The City University London and Equality Now study comes as the Prime Minister today hosts the UK’s first ever Girl Summit, which aims to end FGM/C and forced marriage.
It shows that there are around 103,00 FGM/C survivors aged 15-49 in the UK, 24,000 women aged 50 and over, and 10,000 young girls aged under 15. These women and girls are thought to have migrated from countries where the practice of cutting girls’ genitalia – illegal in the UK – is carried out in the name of culture, tradition and religion….  More than 700 million women alive today were married as children, according to UNICEF, and more than 250 million of these before the age of 15….
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10980268/FGM-affects-137000-women-in-England-and-Wales-reveals-shocking-new-study.html

Britain has looked the other way for too long over FGM
The fear of offending culture and tradition is preventing us from treating FGM for what it is – appalling sexual abuse
By Emily Dyer  30 Jul 2014

The Prime Minister’s Girl Summit showed that the Government is slowly waking up to the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM). Yet this encouraging step forward stands in the shadow of a much larger question: how is it that our fear of offending “culture” has allowed 137,000 girls living in England and Wales to have their genitals cut off? These hundreds of thousands of girls living in Britain – whose quality of life has been sacrificed to an ancient ritual of sexual control – deserve a clear answer.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11000437/Britain-has-looked-the-other-way-for-too-long-over-FGM.html

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