17,000 People Died in Syrian Prisons Since Start of War, George Pell: police consider whether to charge cardinal over child abuse claims, Beth Din of America Added to $100M Civil Suit Against ‘Peeping Rabbi’ Barry Freundel, Child Abuse May Shorten Some Women’s Lives

August 18, 2016 Comments Off on 17,000 People Died in Syrian Prisons Since Start of War, George Pell: police consider whether to charge cardinal over child abuse claims, Beth Din of America Added to $100M Civil Suit Against ‘Peeping Rabbi’ Barry Freundel, Child Abuse May Shorten Some Women’s Lives

– 17,000 People Have Died in Syrian Prisons Since Start of War: Report
– George Pell: police consider whether to charge cardinal over child abuse claims
– Beth Din of America Added to $100M Civil Suit Against ‘Peeping Rabbi’ Barry Freundel
– Child Abuse May Shorten Some Women’s Lives
– Association of Reports of Childhood Abuse and All-Cause Mortality Rates in Women


17,000 People Have Died in Syrian Prisons Since Start of War: Report

By Lucy Westcott  8/17/16

More than 300 people die in Syrian prisons every month, often after being subjected to brutal torture and abuse by security forces, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

The report says at least 17,723 people have died in custody in Syrian prisons since the start of the country’s conflict in 2011, and it documents crimes against humanity committed by government forces. While detainees dying in Syrian prison custody isn’t new—in the decade leading up to 2011, there were around 45 deaths in custody each year, according to Amnesty—it’s “never been to the scale that we’re currently seeing,” Claudia Scheufler, the report’s author, tells Newsweek.

“Anyone who could in any way be seen as opposing the government,” including journalists, human rights activists and medical workers, could end up in prison in Syria, says Scheufler. More recently, humanitarian workers who have been providing support to those displaced by the fighting have increasingly been jailed. One woman told researchers that someone she was giving food to didn’t like the way tomato paste was being distributed. That person complained to the security forces, and the woman ended up in prison.

Amnesty spoke with 65 survivors of prison torture and abuse in security facilities operated by Syrian intelligence agencies and the infamous Saydnaya Military Prison, located outside Damascus. A number of people told Amnesty that in addition to being tortured, they witnessed extrajudicial killings, saw fellow detainees being beaten to death and shared cells with dead bodies.

Those who spoke with Amnesty described a “welcome party” ritual when they arrived at a detention center, which involved beatings with metal bars or electrical cables. Women detainees suffered from sexual assault and rape by male guards. Forms of torture that survivors described to Amnesty, and that were used to extract “confessions” from detainees, include dulab, the process of forcibly contorting a body into a rubber tire, and falaqa, flogging the soles of the feet….
http://www.newsweek.com/syrian-prison-custody-death-amnesty-491226


George Pell: police consider whether to charge cardinal over child abuse claims
Victoria police will not confirm whether detectives intend to interview Pell in Rome over historical child sex abuse allegations, which he has denied
Melissa Davey  Wednesday 17 August 2016

Victoria police are considering whether to charge Australia’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, with historical child sexual abuse offences.

Last month the chief commissioner of Victoria police, Graham Ashton, confirmed allegations against Pell had been referred to the Office of Public Prosecutions for a recommendation as to whether police should drop the investigation, investigate further or lay charges.
George Pell exposed himself to young boys at surf club, says Victorian man

In a statement issued on Wednesday the Victoria police media office confirmed it had received the office’s recommendation but would not confirm what had been recommended or whether detectives would be sent to Rome to interview Pell, who is the Vatican’s chief financial advisor.

“We have received advice and will now take the time to consider it,” the statement said. “As with any investigation, it remains a decision for Victoria police as to whether charges will be laid.”

Police have been investigating allegations that Pell exposed himself to three young boys at Torquay life saving club in Victoria in the summer of 1986 or 87.

Another two allegations involve two former St Alipius students, who allege Pell repeatedly touched their genitals while swimming with them at the Eureka pool in Ballarat in 1978-79. At the time, Pell was episcopal vicar for education in the Ballarat diocese.

Pell has vehemently denied the allegations against him, describing them as “nothing more than a scandalous smear campaign”. He accused police of leaking to the media, and called for a Victorian government inquiry into the alleged leaks….
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/17/george-pell-police-consider-whether-to-charge-cardinal-over-child-abuse-claims


Beth Din of America Added to $100M Civil Suit Against ‘Peeping Rabbi’ Barry Freundel
In the civil case, the plaintiffs claim that the mikvah, the synagogue, the religious court and the RCA ignored warning signs against Freundel, convicted of secretly videotaping women in his synagogue’s ritual bath.
JTA Aug 17, 2016

The Beth Din of America has been added to the list of defendants in a $100 million class action suit against Rabbi Barry Freundel, the prominent Washington, D.C., spiritual leader who was convicted of secretly videotaping women in his synagogue’s ritual bath.

On Tuesday, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in Superior Court in Washington, D.C., that included the rabbinical court, according to a news release on behalf of the Sanford Heisler and Chaikin Sherman Cammarata Siegel law firms.

The suit, which was filed originally in December 2014, also names as defendants Freundel’s former synagogue, Kesher Israel; the Rabbinical Council of America, the main professional association for modern Orthodox rabbis in the United States, and the National Capital Mikvah, the ritual bath Freundel used to spy on his victims.

In the civil case, the plaintiffs claim that the mikvah, the synagogue, the religious court and the RCA ignored warning signs of Freundel’s behavior.

Freundel is believed to have violated the privacy of at least 150 women he filmed while they undressed and showered at the mikvah, or ritual bath. They included members of Kesher Israel, candidates for conversion to Judaism and students at Towson University in Maryland, where Freundel taught classes on religion and ethics. The rabbi also secretly filmed a domestic violence abuse victim in a safe house he had set up for her.

He pleaded guilty last year to 52 counts of voyeurism and began serving a 6 1/2-year sentence in federal prison….
http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/americas/1.737376

Child Abuse May Shorten Some Women’s Lives
Extreme stress may affect the way the body’s cells function
By Amy Norton  HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Women who suffered physical or emotional abuse as children often die at a younger age than other women, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 6,300 middle-aged U.S. adults, female survivors of child abuse were more likely to die over the next 20 years, versus other women.

And the worse the abuse was, the greater the impact appeared to be on a woman’s life span. Those who said they’d suffered severe physical abuse were 58 percent more likely to die during the study period, compared with women with no history of child abuse.

Experts said the findings, published online Aug. 17 in JAMA Psychiatry, highlight the lasting and extensive effects of child abuse.

Previous research had already shown that survivors of abuse are at risk of poorer physical and mental health as adults….

Although the study found a link between abuse in childhood and a shorter female life span, it’s important to note that the study wasn’t designed to definitively prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Still, Shalev, who does research on the biological effects of stress during early life, had at least one theory as to how abuse may lay the groundwork for an earlier death.

Adversity in early childhood may leave a biological “fingerprint” that affects how body cells function over a lifetime, he suggested….

“We know that both men and women suffer long-term effects,” he said.

That’s not true of all child abuse survivors, of course, Shalev pointed out. And the point is not to “alarm” people with a history of abuse, he added.

Instead, Shalev said, they should be aware of the possible long-term risks, because they can do something about it — by eating well, exercising, and seeing their doctor for routine health screenings.

“A healthy lifestyle can help mitigate the effects,” Shalev said.

An estimated 702,000 U.S. children suffered some form of abuse or neglect in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention….
https://consumer.healthday.com/women-s-health-information-34/misc-women-s-problem-news-707/child-abuse-may-have-shorten-women-s-lives-713979.html

Association of Reports of Childhood Abuse and All-Cause Mortality Rates in Women 
Edith Chen, PhD1,2; Nicholas A. Turiano, PhD; Daniel K. Mroczek, PhD; Gregory E. Miller, PhD  JAMA Psychiatry. Published online August 17, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1786 August 17, 2016

….Results  Of the 6285 participants included in the study sample, 2987 were men (48%) and 5581were white (91%), with a mean (SD) age of 46.9 (12.95) years. Women who reported childhood emotional abuse (hazard ratio [HR],?1.22; 95% CI, 1.01-1.49; P?=?.04), moderate physical abuse (HR,?1.30; 95% CI, 1.05-1.60; P?=?.02), or severe physical abuse (HR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.20-2.08; P?=?.001) were at increased risk for all-cause mortality during the follow-up period. Reports of more types of childhood abuse were also associated with a greater risk of all-cause mortality in women (all vs none HR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.24-2.30; P?=?.001; some vs none HR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.01-1.52; P?=?.04). These effects could not be accounted for by childhood socioeconomic status, personality traits, or adult depression. No associations were observed in men.

Conclusions and Relevance  These results suggest that in addition to the established psychiatric consequences of abuse, women who report childhood abuse also remain vulnerable to premature mortality into adulthood. Thus, reported childhood abuse may have long-term ramifications for health and longevity in women.
http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2545073 

Priest abused every young boy at regional Victorian school, inquiry hears, – Rabbi sentenced to six and a half years prison term for voyeurism, Reduced Child Abuse Sentence Causes Uproar in Argentina

May 19, 2015 Comments Off on Priest abused every young boy at regional Victorian school, inquiry hears, – Rabbi sentenced to six and a half years prison term for voyeurism, Reduced Child Abuse Sentence Causes Uproar in Argentina

Child abuse royal commission: Priest abused every young boy at regional Victorian school, inquiry hears
By court reporter Peta Carlyon  5/12/15

A notorious paedophile priest abused every boy at a regional Victorian school between the age of 10 and 16, the child sex abuse inquiry has heard.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is holding long-awaited public hearings in Ballarat to examine historical abuse suffered by children at a number of schools in the regional centre, at the hands of Catholic clergy and other members of the Church.

Some of Australia’s most notorious abusers were part of a paedophile ring operating in and around Ballarat for years, including Gerald Ridsdale, Robert Best and Edward Dowlan.

In her opening address, Senior Counsel Assisting the Commission, Gail Furness SC, outlined the extent of Ridsdale’s offending.

She said the inquiry would hear evidence of Ridsdale’s time at the Mortlake parish during the early 1980s, including comments from the priest who took over from Ridsdale.

“Father Dennehy told the Catholic church’s insurance investigator that he thought every male child between the ages of 10 years and 16 years, who were at the school, had been molested by Ridsdale,” she said.

Ms Furness said Ridsdale was a “prolific offender” during his time at Mortlake….

Ridsdale is serving an eight-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to 30 child sex offences in 2014.

It is the fourth time he has been jailed after three previous stints in prison for more than 100 other offences….
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-19/child-abuse-inquiry-begins-ballarat-hearings/6479902

Rabbi sentenced to six and a half years prison term for voyeurism
May 18, 2015 By Mike McDaniel, News Reporter
This is a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bernard “Barry” Freundel, 63, of Washington D.C., a rabbi who had worked for a Jewish congregation in Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to a prison term of six years and six months on 52 counts of voyeurism stemming from a series of incidents between 2009 and 2014 in which he secretly took video recordings of women preparing for a Jewish ritual bath….

The National Capital Mikvah has two changing/showering rooms connected to the room with the ritual bath.  On numerous occasions between early 2009 and October 2014, the defendant installed and maintained electronic recording devices in the larger of the two changing/showering rooms.  Freundel did so for the sole purpose of secretly and surreptitiously recording women who were using the bathroom and shower; these women were totally and partially undressed before and/or after showering.  The women recorded did not know they were being recorded and did not consent to being recorded…..

In addition to the 52 recordings that were the subject of the plea, computer forensic examinations revealed that Freundel secretly and surreptitiously recorded approximately 100 additional women totally or partially undressed before and/or after showering in the large bathroom at the National Capital Mikvah between 2009 and September 2014.  These women did not know that they were being recorded and did not consent to being recorded….
http://www.wdam.com/story/29090052/rabbi-sentenced-to-six-and-a-half-years-prison-term-for-voyeurism

Reduced Child Abuse Sentence Causes Uproar in Argentina
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — May 18, 2015
Associated Press

Two Argentine judges are under fire for reducing the sentence of a convicted child abuser on the grounds that his 6-year-old victim had suffered earlier abuse and therefore had already been traumatized.

In the newly publicized 2014 ruling, the judges cut the sentence of Mario Tolosa, a sports club vice president, from six years to 38 months. They ruled that his acts should not be considered “gravely outrageous” in legal terms because the boy already “was making a precocious choice” of his sexuality, apparently a reference to homosexuality.

Other attorneys criticized the decision and the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans has demanded the judges be removed from the bench for a ruling it said placed a 6-year-old victim “in the position of a suspect.”

One of the two judges, Horacio Piombo, defended the ruling Monday in interviews with Radio La Red and the television station Todo Noticias, saying that before Tolosa molested him, the child already had suffered “the initiation by his father into the worst of worlds, leading him to depravation.”

He said that “as a result of that experience with the father, the child had showed “signs of a transvestite conduct, of conduct we had to take into account.”….

Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo, who is running for the presidency, said via Twitter that the ruling was “an embarrassment.”

“It’s repugnant to say that the presumed sexual orientation of an abused six-year-old boy is a reason to reduce the sentence of the abuser.”
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/reduced-child-abuse-sentence-uproar-argentina-31129194

Rabbi Barry Freundel Taped Sex Encounters With ‘Several’ Women, The Definition of ‘Rape’ Cannot Change with a Marriage Certificate – India

May 13, 2015 Comments Off on Rabbi Barry Freundel Taped Sex Encounters With ‘Several’ Women, The Definition of ‘Rape’ Cannot Change with a Marriage Certificate – India

Rabbi Barry Freundel Taped Sex Encounters With ‘Several’ Women
Uriel Heilman (JTA)May 12, 2015

In addition to secretly recording women undressing for the mikvah ritual bath, Rabbi Barry Freundel engaged in sexual encounters with several women, according to prosecutors.

That’s one of several new details about the mikvah-peeping rabbi to emerge from two documents filed in D.C. Superior Court on May 8 — one each by the prosecution and defense — ahead of Freundel’s sentencing on Friday. The documents, which attempt to sway the judge’s sentencing, shed new light on Freundel’s behavior and offer some particulars about the rabbi’s life since his arrest on October 14, 2014 — including that he has resumed some rabbinic teaching.

Freundel pleaded guilty in February to 52 counts of misdemeanor voyeurism for installing secret cameras in the shower room of the mikvah adjacent to Kesher Israel, the prominent Washington Orthodox synagogue he led for some 25 years.

He used one to three cameras, hiding the devices in a digital clock radio, a tissue box holder and a small tabletop fan, and aiming them at the toilet and shower in the mikvah dressing room, according to the prosecution’s memo. In addition to the 52 women he filmed while they were completely naked between March 4, 2012 and Sept. 19, 2014, Freundel recorded an additional 100 women since April 2009 who were not part of the criminal complaint due to the statute of limitations.

In addition to his crimes, Freundel videotaped himself engaged in “sexual situations” with “several women” who were not his wife, according to the memo….

The prosecution memo notes that in addition to the hidden cameras at the mikvah, Freundel surreptitiously videotaped a domestic violence abuse victim in the bathroom and bedroom of a safe house that he had established for her so she could escape her husband’s violence….
http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/308069/rabbi-barry-freundel-taped-sex-encounters-with-several-women/

The Definition of ‘Rape’ Cannot Change with a Marriage Certificate
By Neeta Lal

NEW DELHI, May 12 2015 (IPS) – “I was brutally raped thrice by my husband. He kept me under surveillance in his Dubai house while I suffered from severe malnutrition and depression. When I tried to flee from this hellhole, he confiscated my passport, deprived me of money and beat me up,” recalls Anna Marie Lopes, 28, a rape survivor who after six years of torture, finally managed to board a flight to New Delhi from the United Arab Emirates in 2012.

Today, Lopes works at a non-profit in India’s capital, New Delhi, and is slowly picking up the shards of her life. “Life’s tough when you have to start from scratch after such a traumatic experience with no support even from your parents. But I had no other choice,” Lopes tells IPS.

Her story is different from that of thousands of Indian women only in that it has a somewhat happy ending. For too many others who are victims of marital rape, escape is not an option, keeping them trapped in relationships that often leave them broken.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that over 40 percent of married women in India between 15 and 49 years of age have been beaten, raped or forced to engage in sexual intercourse with their spouses.

In 2011, a study released by the International Center for Research on Women, a Washington-based non-profit, said one in every five Indian men surveyed admitted to forcing their wives into sex….

The law expressly states that forced sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, provided the latter is not under 15 years of age, does not constitute rape.

Though the Domestic Violence Act passed in 2005 recognises sexual abuse in a marital relationship, legal eagles say it offers only civil recourse, which cannot lead to a jail term for the abusive spouse….

Marital rape has already been criminalised in the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, most European nations, Malaysia, Turkey and Bolivia.

This places India in a tiny global minority – along with China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – which refuses to criminalise this form of assault.

Some experts feel that the Indian government’s reservations over the issue may stem from fears about a communal or religious backlash. The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 states that it is a wife’s foremost duty to have sex with her husband….

Only about six of every 100 acts of sexual violence committed by men other than husbands actually get reported, reveals Gupta’s report….
http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/05/the-definition-of-rape-cannot-change-with-a-marriage-certificate/

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