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Sentenced to Death for Self Defense

A teenage Iranian girl has been sentenced to death by hanging for accidentally killing a man who was attempting to rape her and her niece.

The state-run daily Etemaad reported on Saturday that 18-year-old Nazanin confessed to stabbing one of three men who had attacked the pair along with their boyfriends while they were spending some time in a park west of the Iranian capital in March 2005.

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said that after the three men started to throw stones at them, the two girls’ boyfriends quickly escaped on their motorbikes leaving the pair helpless.

She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said.

The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death.

Last week, a court in the city of Rasht, northern Iran, sentenced Delara Darabi to death by hanging charged with murder when she was 17 years old. Darabi has denied the charges.

In August 2004, Iran’s Islamic penal system sentenced a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, to death after a sham trial, in which she was accused of committing “acts incompatible with chastity”.

The teenage victim had no access to a lawyer at any stage and efforts by her family to retain one were to no avail. Atefeh personally defended herself and told the religious judge that he should punish those who force women into adultery, not the victims. She was eventually hanged in public in the northern town of Neka.

There isn’t much else to say about this one, is there? It’s disgusting beyond words.

But of course, I shouldn’t take this girl’s word on its face. I mean, we all know that women lie about rape for fun and no one lies about other crimes, and this girl especially had something to gain. Perhaps we should consider a higher legal bar in evaluating rape charges. Right?

via Feministing.

If You’re In Porn, You Can’t Be Raped

You can only be raped if you hate sex, apparently. Otherwise, you’re a liar and a whore.

In 2002 two men were given two and a half year sentences each for the rape of a 17-year-old girl, but these convictions may now be overturned, newspaper VG reports.

The girl’s boyfriend, and one of his friends, were convicted on the girl’s testimony, of a rape carried out in 2001. In 2003, just before the case was to be appealed, the girl appeared in a porn magazine.

In the magazine she describes herself as being a fan of rough sex, an exhibitionist and admits to constantly seeking out boys for casual sex.

In the appeal the girl’s testimony was again accepted, and the original verdict was toughened, with the sentence becoming a year longer and with financial damages increased.

The discovery of the magazine – which one of the convicts came across in prison – has now led to a request to reinvestigate the case.

Defense lawyer Arvid Sjødin told VG that the case had been poorly investigated and that the new information could “shed light on the credibility of those involved in this case”.

A few things: First, just because a woman appears in a porn magazine, or because she enjoys rough sex, or because she’s had a lot of sexual partners, or because she’s a sex worker, it doesn’t mean she can’t be raped (hell, sex workers are more likely to be raped that non-sex workers). Telling a porn magazine that you like sex shouldn’t shed doubt on your credibility when it comes to being the victim of a crime.

Second, this demonstrates how little lawyers and the courts still understand about the psychology of rape survivors. One of the more common behaviors post-rape is what some would characterize as “promiscuous” sexual behavior (for the record, I hate that word). Rape survivors have had their right to choose to have sex forcibly taken away from them; many women try and reclaim the power they lost through rape by choosing to have sex with many people afterwards. But because this woman doesn’t play the role of the made-for-tv rape survivor, her attackers might go free. How just.

Dying to Avoid Rape

Female soldiers in Iraq are having to make an impossible choice: Risk being raped , or risk dying of dehydration. Many of them have ended up dead.

In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq.

Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women’s latrine after dark.

The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn’t located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. “There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night,” Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview.

It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn’t drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn’t have to urinate at night. They didn’t get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said.

Read the whole article.

Is This Rape?

Victim’s male acquaintance breaks into her apartment and grabs her. He is in a rage because she had refused to go out with him. He roughs her up a bit, including belting her across the face and throttling her. He then forces her at gunpoint to drive him to his house, where he keeps her overnight. He specifically tells her that he will shoot her if she tries to escape. He is distraught and talks repeatedly about how much he loves her. He talks about wanting to live with her in Mexico. Her survival strategy was to pretend to go along with his plans. She wanted to gain his trust. When he had sex with her that night, she “went along with it” in order to survive.

After finally escaping, she went to the police. She expected that he would prosecuted for kidnapping, assault and threatening. She was, however, shocked when I brought a rape charge against him. She didn’t feel that she had been raped because she had “gone along” with the sex. When I questioned her, however, she said that she had “gone along” with it because she thought (quite reasonably under the circumstances) that he would blow her brains out otherwise. But, to my shock, in her mind, she herself felt that it was not a rape because she had not resisted in any way. (Under the law in my jurisdiction, sex that occurs during the course of a kidnapping is rape, and even if that were not so, I think the physical threat against her was sufficient to make this a rape.)

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HIV Tests for Accused Rapists

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has laudably shifted his stance and backed the rights of rape victims to have EC offered to them in state hospitals. But he’s gone a step further, and proposed legislation which would require rape and sexual assault suspects to undergo an HIV test at the request of the victim.

I have very mixed feelings about this one, and since the law on this issue isn’t cleanly settled, I find myself coming down on the side of the civil liberties advocates. Requiring a suspect — not a convicted criminal — to be tested for HIV, for purposes which are not at all related to evidence-gathering or attempts to make a case against them, seems to me to be an egregious Fourth Amendment violation (but I don’t start Con Law until tomorrow, so, really, I don’t actually know much about this). While we permit DNA tests, breathalizer tests, and other bodily searches, these tests are highly regulated and are used exclusively for the purpose of establishing the suspect’s guilt; in that sense, they can be fairly compared to searching a person’s property. But forcing a suspect to undergo an invasive medical procedure which is unrelated to the question of their guilt or innocence, and is instead being used to offer peace of mind to the victim, is in a different category.

Amanda writes about this one too, and seems similarly conflicted, although she offers good arguments for this policy. And there are great arguments. It does seem especially cruel to rape survivors to oppose a policy that could potentially offer them much-needed peace of mind, and give them information that could assist them in making the best medical decisions possible. But as the article points out, it would be difficult to complete an investigation and go through the necessary legal proceedings in the 72-hour window period. And it also seems that mandatory testing could give rape survivors a false sense of security about their status. If their accused rapist turned up negative for HIV, they may assume that they’re safe from getting it and decide not to take the preventative drugs. But the accused could still be HIV-positive and just not testing for it yet. Or the person could be wrongly accused. The preventative drug treatment is no walk in the park, and it would be nice if there were a sure-fire way to figure out if survivors could safely forgo it. But this doesn’t seem to be the answer.

In fighting for victims’ rights, those of us who also have a strong interest in civil liberties have to be able to strike a delicate balance. Requiring hospitals to offer EC and HIV treatment to rape survivors is well within the realm of what’s reasonable. I’m not sure that mandatory HIV tests for accused rapists are. All that’s required here, from what I can tell, is an arrest — not a conviction. This sets us down a scary road when it comes to medical privacy issues, when invasive medical procedures are being done on accused criminals for reasons completely unrelated to establishing their guilt. Now, if they’re on trial for knowingly transmitting HIV to someone else (which is a crime in some states), then it’s a different story — but that’s not what this legislation is about. And it just doesn’t seem beneficial enough to survivors to outweigh all the civil liberties and privacy concerns.

Victims’ Advocates “Schooled in Man-Hating”

Sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic abuse are pervasive problems in the U.S. military. Commendably, the Pentagon is taking action by requesting policy recommendations from Wellesley College’s Centers for Women.

The Pentagon awarded the grant earlier this year to come up with ways to implement a central Office of the Victim’s Advocate. It would augment similar programs in the different service branches to assist women who face the type of abuse that took place at the Air Force Academy last year, and has been alleged in other branches through the years.

Seems reasonable enough to me, especially considering that 28 percent of female veterans reported sexual assault during their military careers. But the usual suspects are all up in arms:

‘Implementation of a self- interested Wellesley proposal could create a new job market for women’s studies graduates schooled in man-hating ideology,” says Elaine Donnelly, president of the conservative Center for Military Readiness, which has opposed gays in the military and women serving in combat roles.

”Sexual assault is always wrong and should be punished promptly at the local level,” Donnelly said. However, a victim’s advocate ”would operate as an office of male bashing that would nuclearize the war between the sexes.”

Yes, I fondly remember my Gender Studies 101 Class: Experiments in Man-Hating. The final exam involved clipping the balls off of male paper dolls.

I’m also not sure how a victim’s advocate — which advocates for male and female victims — would be “an office of male-bashing.” Going after rapists — even if most rapists are men — isn’t male-bashing; it’s rapist-bashing.

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly has also attacked the plan in interviews and on her website.

”Wellesley is doubly bad because it is completely feminist,” Schlafly said in an interview. ”The whole thing is a taxpayer-funded operation to establish the notion that men are natural batterers and women are victims and women are always right and men are always wrong.”

Ah. So what is this big man-hating project really about?

The $50,000 Pentagon grant asked the Wellesley Centers for Women, a combination of two of the college’s study arms, to ”provide background analysis on the current state of victim advocacy services in both the military and civilian sectors of the Department of Defense,” according to a description on the centers’ website. The analysis, it said, was to include an ”assessment of the options” for establishing the victim’s advocate office.

Well I for one am outraged. Outraged.

But my favorite part is this:

Schlafly said the victim’s advocate proposal ”would provide money to give additional one- sided help to the women to structure her complaints and have free legal advice,” she said.

”The poor guy has to go down the road and find some lawyer who is brave enough to defend him and pay for it.”

It’s always “the poor guy,” right? So what of the fact that sexual assault in the military, just like in the civilian population, actually happens? That the assumption that every rape survivor is lying about her assault is far more blind to reality — and far less likely to even be right — than the assumption that every man accused of rape is guilty (obviously, both assumptions are pretty stupid). And then there’s the fact that men can bring complaints, too. And that men are raped, too, even if it’s less common than women being raped.

Of course, the picture she paints of a poor guy having to go get a two-bit lawyer to represent him is just ridiculous. The military takes pretty good care of its own, and they like to keep their dirty laundry out of sight; after an allegation of sexual assault, a soldier will not simply be tossed out on the street and left to fend for himself. And, sorry, but there aren’t exactly a shortage of lawyers willing to defend accused rapists.

Bottom line: It’s ridiculous to get bent out of shape because women’s rights advocates — the very people who established the first rape crisis centers, who study sexual assault for a career, and who brought the issue of sexual assault to the forefront — are asked for their opinion on how the Pentagon deals with sexual assault. Ask the people who know. It’s common sense.

The Morality of Rape

I really didn’t want to post anything about V-x D-y ever again. I stopped reading his blog. I agreed with commenters who said that linking to him only gives him more attention. I won’t write out his whole name — that way, when he googles himself for masturbatory material, hopefully he’ll come up short. I vowed never to link to him again.

Except now he has a column on WorldNet Daily about the same issue, where he spells out his “Christian Libertarian” beliefs even more clearly (and, naturally, they’re even more offensive than you thought):

The Judeo-Christian moral ethic is clear – rape is a sin, a willful pollution of a temple that rightly belongs to God. Neither the Jew nor the Christian need hesitate before asserting the act of rape to be evil and justly holding the rapist accountable. But this ethic does not offer a blanket excuse to victims, near victims and would-be victims either, since the element of consent – which today draws the dividing line between sex and rape – can also provide a contrarian condemnation of the woman’s own actions.

Rape isn’t bad because it’s harmful to people — it’s bad because it pollutes God’s house.

To put it more clearly, if a woman consents to extramarital sex, she is committing a moral offense which is equal to that committed by the man who engages in consensual sex with her, or by the man who, in the absence of such consent, rapes her. Christianity knows no hierarchy of sins. Since only the woman who is not entertaining the possibility of sex with a man and is subsequently raped can truly be considered a wholly innocent victim under this ethic, it is no wonder that women who insist that internal consent is the sole determining factor of a woman’s victimization find traditional Western morality to be inherently distasteful.

And there you have it: Rape is no worse than consensual, but extra-marital, sex. And unless you were hiding in your house, wrapped in clothing from head to toe, and not even thinking about sex, you aren’t wholly innocent if you’re raped.

Oh, plus he’s just flat-out wrong about Christianity. There are, in fact, different kinds of sins, and some are taken more seriously than others. All sins can be forgiven, sure, and we’re all sinners, but all sins are not created equal. Glad my twice-a-year church visits have taught me something that even a Christian Libertarian with a Satanist haircut doesn’t seem to understand.

His basic point is this: Only Christian morality makes rape “bad,” and even then it’s only as bad as any other sin (or, though he doesn’t say this explicitly, perhaps he means it’s only as bad as any other sexual sin). Without Jesus, we have no basis to make moral judgments.

For someone who claims to be a member of Mensa, this seems like a pretty shallow wade into understanding morality — and one has to wonder about a person who truly believes that the only reason something is wrong is because a certain book tells him so.

Don’t Just Blame the Victim; Prosecute Her

A judge files a false rape report against teen girl because she wasn’t traumatized enough to be credible in her testimony against her attackers.

After a day-and-a-half trial, Municipal Judge Peter A. Ackerman on Friday convicted the woman of filing a false police report, a class-C misdemeanor. Ackerman explained his decision, saying there were many inconsistencies in the stories of the four, but that he found the young men to be more credible. He also said he relied on the testimony of a Beaverton police detective and the woman’s friends who said she did not act traumatized in the days following the incident.

Kevin Hayden of The American Street, who was at the trial last week, has more on the story:

It was especially interesting that the prosecutor kept referring to the three men involved as ‘boys’, when they were fully grown men. The woman was 17.

The judge found inconsistencies in all of the stories, thus establishing reasonable doubt in every story. Yet he convicted the victim. ‘Boys’ will be ‘boys’.

The young woman’s friends were a classmate at high school and her mother. The mother a) has always been seen with an alcoholic beverage or high on prescription pills by all who know her, b) provided the 17-year old with the alcohol she’d had that evening, which she stole from the store she cashiers at and c) was awaiting her boyfriend’s return to her home within two months of the rape. That boyfriend was in prison for molesting his own daughter. That’s hardly a credible witness with any sympathy for victims of sexual assault. But none of this could be introduced into evidence. Only the 17 year old’s sexual history could be exposed.

Additionally, the two ‘friends’ were the ones who convinced the 17 year old that she should report it to the police. So if the young woman is guilty, the instigating accessories to her ‘crime’ are considered credible experts about how a rape victim should act.

This is particularly disappointing for him since he has known the girl since she was an infant.

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