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Only with the recent assignment of Judge Barry Kron to the case was such expert testimony allowed into the trial. But Kron imposed some crucial limits on how much Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins University, could say.
Only with the recent assignment of Judge Barry Kron to the case was such expert testimony allowed into the trial. But Kron imposed some crucial limits on how much Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins University, could say.
Campbell's studies of domestic violence homicide led her to create the pre-eminent danger-lethality assessment for women in battering situations. But she wasn't allowed to assess Sheehan, or even to enumerate the factors that would indicate a situation that was likely to end in homicide.
Instead, she could only present generic testimony on the cycle of violence and the concept of "learned helplessness," which leads women whose every attempt at escape has been thwarted begin to believe that escape is impossible.
It was a discussion of the more-or-less common wisdom on why women don't leave, why they don't call law enforcement, why they lie to family and medical professionals about how they sustained their injuries. As such, it was an analysis of what's wrong with the battered woman - not the batterer - that puts her in a situation of kill-or-be-killed.
What was excluded by the court in Barbara Sheehan's defense was much more important.
Of the 20 or so indicators of lethality in a battering relationship Campbell wasn't allowed to mention, nearly all were present in Barbara Sheehan's situation in the year preceding the shooting. The escalating violence, threats to kill, presence of guns, his talk of suicide, his use of choking and complete control of her daily acts all confirmed the likelihood of what Barbara Sheehan knew to be true - that her time was running out.
Also excluded was the effect of Raymond Sheehan's employment in law enforcement and Barbara Sheehan's ability to report the abuse.
Few "civilians" can conceive of the complexity of the hostage situation domestic violence represents for women whose intimate partners are police officers.
Complex Questions Raised
How do you call the police when he is the police? When he's told you again and again that if you jeopardize his job you're dead?
How is your fear increased by the fact that he always carries guns and is licensed to kill? That his training makes him an expert in control and forced compliance? That he knows how to injure without leaving marks and to stage a crime scene?
Where do you escape to when he has access to battered women's shelters and every imaginable form of tracking and surveillance?
The jury didn't hear that when police officers' partners do report, almost without exception police agencies protect not the complainant, but the officer.
Often he has already laid the groundwork with his fellow officers that she is the problem and he is the victim. She's a liar; she's crazy; she's a drug addict or vengeful or trying to get custody of the children. The result is that if his fellow officers ever respond to a domestic violence call at his house, they are predisposed to discount everything they see and hear except what their brother officer tells them.
Police agencies usually handle complaints of officer-involved domestic violence informally and internally, according to statistics provided by the National Center for Women in Policing, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Rarely is a criminal investigation even conducted; and even when officers are found guilty of domestic violence, discipline is "exceedingly light," with counseling as the most frequent consequence.
Allegations of domestic violence rarely show up in the officers' performance evaluations, and those officers are often promoted, many only a short time after the allegations.
The jury was allowed to hear none of this but only the oft-repeated "cycle of violence" and an analysis of the victim that paints her as pathological rather than him.
The jury reportedly had a tough time coming together to arrive at what appears to have been a compromise verdict--not guilty of murder but guilty of the illegal possession of a gun.
I suspect it would have been much easier for them if they'd heard some of the testimony Campbell wasn't allowed to give.
Ten years on from the start of the western intervention in Afghanistan, Afghan women are facing an uncertain future. Women have strived for and made important gains since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, including in political participation and access to education, but these gains are fragile and reversible. As security deteriorates across the country, violence against women is also on the rise. Both the Afghan and US governments are attempting to engage in parallel talks with the Taliban to reach a political solution to the conflict before the international military forces withdraw by the end of 2014.
Published: 3 October 2011
Louise Hancock, Oxfam Policy Advisor; Orzala Ashraf Nemat, Afghan academic
Ten years on from the start of the western intervention in Afghanistan, Afghan women are facing an uncertain future. Women have strived for and made important gains since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, including in political participation and access to education, but these gains are fragile and reversible.
As security deteriorates across the country, violence against women is also on the rise. Both the Afghan and US governments are attempting to engage in parallel talks with the Taliban to reach a political solution to the conflict before the international military forces withdraw by the end of 2014.
The assassination of the government’s top peace broker, former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, in September 2011 underscores how difficult peace and reconciliation will be to achieve in Afghanistan. There are no shortcuts to peace in Afghanistan. The only way forward is a transparent and inclusive peace process which involves representatives from all parts of Afghan society, including women. The more that women feel involved in and committed to a political settlement which safeguards their rights, the more likely they are, within their families and communities, to promote changes in attitude and genuine reconciliation – essential for a lasting peace.
Western leaders have a responsibility toward Afghan women, not least because protection of women’s rights was sold as a positive outcome of the international intervention in October 2001. In this report – ‘A Place at the Table: Safeguarding women’s rights in Afghanistan’, co-authored with well-known Afghan academic Orzala Ashraf Nemat, Oxfam warns that women’s hard won gains are fragile and could slip away. It stresses that women could face a dangerous future after 2014, if the US, UK and the Afghan government sideline them in the search for peace. At the 10th anniversary of the intervention, Oxfam calls on world leaders not to sacrifice the hard-won gains that Afghan women have made.
The Afghan government and the international community must ensure women’s rights are not sacrificed and make a genuine commitment to meaningful participation of women in all phases and levels of any peace processes.
The Afghan government must enhance efforts to increase representation of women in elected bodies and government institutions at all levels to 30 per cent; encourage religious leaders to speak out on women’s rights in Islam; and intensify efforts to promote female access to education, health, justice, and other basic services.
The Afghan government must improve awareness of women’s rights and human rights law in the justice and security sector, and ensure effective implementation of these laws; and increase substantially women recruits in the security and justice sectors.
The international community must support expanded civic education programs to raise awareness of women’s rights at community level and support efforts to improve female leadership
The international community must intensify support to promote access to education and other key services, and ensure this support will continue at current or increased levels even as international military forces prepare to withdraw.
The UN must continue to monitor all government actions including the peace processes and provide increased support to the Afghan government on all negotiation, reconciliation, and reintegration processes.
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 was awarded on Friday to three women from Africa and the Arab world in acknowledgment of their nonviolent role in promoting peace, democracy and gender equality. The winners were President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia — the first woman to be elected president in modern Africa — her compatriot, the peace activist Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, a pro-democracy campaigner.
UC Berkeley epidemiologists Caitlin Gerdts and Divya Vohra critique a new study says that African women using birth-control shots have a higher risk of contracting and passing on HIV.
From the article:
This week, The New York Times published a shocking front-page article on a study claiming that African women using injectable hormonal contraceptives like Depo-Provera have double the risk of contracting HIV from an infected partner, and nearly triple the risk of passing on the disease to uninfected men as well. The study has caused heated debate among those working in the fields of reproductive health and family planning. If the results of this study are to be believed, hundreds of thousands of women could face the impossible choice between preventing unwanted pregnancies—and all their associated risks—and avoiding the transmission of HIV. Damned if they use birth control, damned if they don’t.
Problem is, the study is hardly a smoking gun that exposes a concrete link between birth-control use and HIV infection. Rather, it is methodologically flawed, and contrary to what the study suggests, the jury is still out about the real risk of using birth control—if there is any risk at all.
It’s crucial to get this information right, because the lives of hundreds of thousands of women hang in the balance. Every year, nearly 500,000 women—mostly in the developing world—die from complications related to childbirth. That’s the equivalent of three 747-airplane crashes each day. For many of these women, health-care facilities are often too far away, too expensive, and too short-staffed to help in the case of pregnancy-related emergencies. In rural Ethiopia, where our research group has spent years working to make pregnancy safer for local women, a mother has a 1-in-40 chance of dying from childbirth in her lifetime. In the United States, that chance would be 1 in 2,000.
According to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, women in Africa who used the injectable contraceptive depot medroxyprogesterone acetate doubled their risk of becoming HIV-infected and passing the virus on to their male partners.
Women in Africa who used injectable contraceptives doubled their risk of becoming HIV-infected and passing the virus on to their male partners, according to a new study published Monday.
"Among couples in which there was an HIV positive man and an HIV negative woman, if she was using hormonal contraceptive, her risk of getting HIV was doubled," said study author Jared Baeten of the University of Washington in Seattle. "Similarly, in couples where there was an HIV infected woman and an HIV negative man, if the woman was using hormonal contraceptives her chances of passing the virus to her partner were doubled."
Almost 3,800 couples with one HIV-infected partner from the African countries of Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe participated in the study. The majority were in their mid-30s and they were followed for up to two years.The study, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, also showed the risk of infection was significantly higher for women who used injectable contraceptives compared with those using birth control pills. Both injectable and oral contraceptives increased the risk for men, but again only the increase in those using the injectable form was statistically significant. In fact, the men were twice as likely to become infected with HIV if their female partners used oral contraceptives compared with couples where women used no birth control at all.
"These findings have important implications for family planing and HIV-1 prevention programs, especially in settings with high HIV-1 prevalence," Baeten said. "HIV risk that could be related to contraception is important from a public health point of view. For individual women using hormonal contraception, it's incredibly important that they be counseled that contraception does not protect them from HIV and indeed it increases their risk and thus using condoms along with contraception is critically important to protect against HIV."
Researchers believe this is the first study to show increased risk in male partners from HIV-infected women using hormone contraceptives. They say more studies are needed for other types of birth control containing hormones such as implants and patches and other methods including intrauterine devices.
"Recommendations regarding contraceptive use, particularly emphasizing the importance of dual protection with condoms and the use of non-hormonal and low-dose hormonal methods for women with or at risk for HIV-1, are urgently needed," said lead author Renee Heffron, University of Washington.
The contraceptive used in the study was depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, one of the most commonly used injectable contraceptives for birth control. DMPA was approved for contraceptive use in the United States in 1992 and contains progestin only. The long-acting contraceptive is injected every three months (four times a year), considered nearly 100% effective and has been used by millions of women across the globe, including several million here in the US, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Some of this study's limitations are that the data used was self-reported and specific brands of contraceptives were not recorded. There also was no data collected on whether the women stuck to the injection schedule. Dr. Charles Morrison, Family Health International 360, says there have been unanswered questions on the issue for more than two decades. He says more studies are needed.
"Active promotion of DMPA in areas with high HIV incidence could be contributing to the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, which would be tragic," Morrison said. "Conversely, limiting one of the most highly used effective methods of contraception in sub-Saharan Africa would probably contribute to increased maternal mortality and morbidity and more low birth weight babies and orphans–an equally tragic result. The time to provide a more definitive answer to this critical public health question is now."
The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Early Online Publication, 4 October 2011 doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(11)70247-X
Background Hormonal contraceptives are used widely but their effects on HIV-1 risk are unclear. We aimed to assess the association between hormonal contraceptive use and risk of HIV-1 acquisition by women and HIV-1 transmission from HIV-1-infected women to their male partners.
Methods In this prospective study, we followed up 3790 heterosexual HIV-1-serodiscordant couples participating in two longitudinal studies of HIV-1 incidence in seven African countries. Among injectable and oral hormonal contraceptive users and non-users, we compared rates of HIV-1 acquisition by women and HIV-1 transmission from women to men. The primary outcome measure was HIV-1 seroconversion. We used Cox proportional hazards regression and marginal structural modelling to assess the effect of contraceptive use on HIV-1 risk.
Findings Among 1314 couples in which the HIV-1-seronegative partner was female (median follow-up 18·0 [IQR 12·6—24·2] months), rates of HIV-1 acquisition were 6·61 per 100 person-years in women who used hormonal contraception and 3·78 per 100 person-years in those who did not (adjusted hazard ratio 1·98, 95% CI 1·06—3·68, p=0·03). Among 2476 couples in which the HIV-1-seronegative partner was male (median follow-up 18·7 [IQR 12·8—24·2] months), rates of HIV-1 transmission from women to men were 2·61 per 100 person-years in couples in which women used hormonal contraception and 1·51 per 100 person-years in couples in which women did not use hormonal contraception (adjusted hazard ratio 1·97, 95% CI 1·12—3·45, p=0·02). Marginal structural model analyses generated much the same results to the Cox proportional hazards regression.
Interpretation Women should be counselled about potentially increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition and transmission with hormonal contraception, especially injectable methods, and about the importance of dual protection with condoms to decrease HIV-1 risk. Non-hormonal or low-dose hormonal contraceptive methods should be considered for women with or at-risk for HIV-1.
Funding US National Institutes of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
As Nancy Dorsinville, a policy adviser in the United Nations’ Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti, recently told a gathering of experts in New York, there is an urgent need for training peacekeepers, humanitarian aid staff, local law enforcement and social workers to prevent gender-based violence in refugee camps and other vulnerable areas.
The gender dimension of aid and security policies has only recently come under scrutiny, despite widespread occurrences of sexual assault and rape. There is neither an adequate system for documentation of these claims, nor judicial capacity to handle sex violence reports.
Training is absolutely essential. For example, while there is now a domestic violence hot line through the police department in Port-au-Prince, there’s a need for training agents on how to respond to callers with sensitivity and appropriate action.
Without training all those who can help to prevent sexual assaults and rape, these horrific instances of violence against women will continue.
Linda Basch President, National Council for Research on Women New York, June 24, 2010
Thousands of sexual assaults that occur in the United States every year are not reflected in the federal government’s yearly crime report because the report uses an archaic definition of rape that is far narrower than the definitions used by most police departments. Many law enforcement officials and advocates for women say that this underreporting misleads the public about the prevalence of rape and results in fewer federal, state and local resources being devoted to catching rapists and helping rape victims. Rape crisis centers are among groups that cite the federal figures in applying for private and public financing.
Thousands of sexual assaults that occur in the United States every year are not reflected in the federal government’s yearly crime report because the report uses an archaic definition of rape that is far narrower than the definitions used by most police departments.
Many law enforcement officials and advocates for women say that this underreporting misleads the public about the prevalence of rape and results in fewer federal, state and local resources being devoted to catching rapists and helping rape victims. Rape crisis centers are among groups that cite the federal figures in applying for private and public financing.
“The public has the right to know about the prevalence of crime and violent crime in our communities, and we know that data drives practices, resources, policies and programs,” said Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia, whose office has campaigned to get the F.B.I. to change its definition of sexual assault. “It’s critical that we strive to have accurate information about this.”
Ms. Tracy spoke Friday at a meeting in Washington, organized by the Police Executive Research Forum, that brought together police chiefs, sex-crime investigators, federal officials and advocates to discuss the limitations of the federal definition and the wider issue of local police departments’ not adequately investigating rape.
According to the 2010 Uniform Crime Report, released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week, there were 84,767 sexual assaults in the United States last year, a 5 percent drop from 2009.
The definition of rape used by the F.B.I. — “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” — was written more than 80 years ago. The yearly report on violent crime, which uses data provided voluntarily by the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies, is widely cited as an indicator of national crime trends.
But that definition, critics say, does not take into account sexual-assault cases that involve anal or oral penetration or penetration with an object, cases where the victims were drugged or under the influence of alcohol or cases with male victims. As a result, many sexual assaults are not counted as rapes in the yearly federal accounting.
“The data that are reported to the public come from this definition, and sadly, it portrays a very, very distorted picture,” said Susan B. Carbon, director of the Office on Violence Against Women, part of the Department of Justice. “It’s the message that we’re sending to victims, and if you don’t fit that very narrow definition, you weren’t a victim and your rape didn’t count.”
Steve Anderson, chief of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, said that the F.B.I.’s definition created a double standard for police departments.
“We prosecute by one criteria, but we report by another criteria,” Chief Anderson said. “The only people who have a true picture of what’s going on are the people in the sex-crimes unit.”
In Chicago, the Police Department recorded close to 1,400 sexual assaults in 2010, according to the department’s Web site. But none of these appeared in the federal crime report because Chicago’s broader definition of rape is not accepted by the F.B.I.
The New York Police Department reported 1,369 rapes, but only 1,036 — the ones that fit the federal definition — were entered in the federal figures. And in Elizabeth Township, Pa., the sexual assault of a woman last year was widely discussed by residents. Yet according to the F.B.I.’s report, no rapes were reported in Elizabeth in 2010.
In a recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, almost 80 percent of the 306 police departments that responded said that the federal definition of rape used by the Uniform Crime Report was inadequate and should be changed.
Greg Scarbro, the F.B.I.’s unit chief for the Uniformed Crime Report, said that the agency agreed that the definition should be revised and that an F.B.I. subcommittee would take up the issue at a meeting on Oct. 18.
Shaima Jastaina had been sentenced Tuesday to 10 lashes for driving a car in Jeddah. The court ruling came just two days after King Abdullah had announced that Saudi women would, for the first time, be able to stand for office and nominate members of municipal councils. The reform is to take effect only in future elections, the date for which has not been set. However, King Abdullah’s unexpectedly speedy reversal of a court’s order that a woman be lashed for the crime of driving a car could indicate just how serious the Saudi ruler is about enhancing the civil rights of women in the Kingdom.
King Abdullah’s unexpectedly speedy reversal of a court’s order that a woman be lashed for the crime of driving a car could indicate just how serious the Saudi ruler is about enhancing the civil rights of women in the Kingdom.
While not repealing the ban on women driving that was imposed in 1991, the King’s action in overturning a court sentence is a direct challenge to the authority of the religious establishment and will not likely be overlooked in future cases.
With the surprise move, the Saudi ruler may be staking out new ground, and not just as a response to the popular Arab uprisings sweeping the region.
Shaima Jastaina had been sentenced Tuesday to 10 lashes for driving a car in Jeddah. The court ruling came just two days after King Abdullah had announced that Saudi women would, for the first time, be able to stand for office and nominate members of municipal councils. The reform is to take effect only in future elections, the date for which has not been set.
In 1993, India passed a constitutional amendment requiring Indian states to have women in one-third of local government council positions. Since then, documented crimes against women have risen by 44 percent, rapes per capita by 23 percent, and kidnapping of women by 13 percent, according to some accounts. Crimes against men and gender-neutral crimes haven’t seen a similar uptick, leading to some to wonder whether the alarming surge in violence against women has been retaliatory. But a group of researchers say there’s a better explanation for the rise: having more women in office has led to a big increase in crime reporting, not crime incidence against women.
In 1993, India passed a constitutional amendment requiring Indian states to have women in one-third of local government council positions. Since then, documented crimes against women have risen by 44 percent, rapes per capita by 23 percent, and kidnapping of women by 13 percent, according to some accounts.
Crimes against men and gender-neutral crimes haven’t seen a similar uptick, leading to some to wonder whether the alarming surge in violence against women has been retaliatory. But a group of researchers say there’s a better explanation for the rise: having more women in office has led to a big increase in crime reporting, not crime incidence against women:
Using state-level variation in the timing of political reforms, we find that an increase in female representation in local government induces a large and significant rise in documented crimes against women in India. Our evidence suggests that this increase is good news, driven primarily by greater reporting rather than greater incidence of such crimes. In contrast, we find no increase in crimes against men or gender-neutral crimes.
The researchers—who hail from the IMF, Harvard, and the University of Warwick—go on to explain how local law enforcement has become more responsive since 1993, which could also explain the increase in reporting crimes:
For one, we find evidence of greater police responsiveness to crimes against women after the reservation policy was implemented.
The number of arrests increases significantly, particularly for cases dealing with kidnapping of women, with no decline in the quality of police effort. This has likely encouraged more reporting by women victims. Survey data on interactions with police show both a higher degree of satisfaction and lower bribes paid by women when their village council was headed by a woman.
Article Abstract: Using state-level variation in the timing of political reforms, we find that an increase in female representation in local government induces a large and significant rise in documented crimes against women in India. Our evidence suggests that this increase is good news, driven primarily by greater reporting rather than greater incidence of such crimes. In contrast, we find no increase in crimes against men or gender-neutral crimes. We also examine the effectiveness of alternative forms of political representation: large scale membership of women in local councils affects crime against them more than their presence in higher level leadership positions.
Harvard Business School BGIE Unit Working Paper No. 11-092
The Nepal Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2010, conducted from September to December 2010, found that 48 percent of Nepalese women, aged between 15-49 years, felt their husbands had the right to beat them if they spoilt the food while cooking, refused to have sex, neglected the children or argued.
The Nepal Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2010, covering 24 of Nepal's 75 districts, focused on the state of women and children in two regions most vulnerable to disasters and the most underdeveloped: the midwest and the farwest.
These are also the districts that were the most affected by the 10-year Maoist insurgency and see thousands going to India across the border every year due to food scarcity and natural disasters.
Conducted by Nepal's Central Bureau of Statistics and supported by Unicef, the survey covered almost 6,000 households, talking to over 7,000 women about their family lives, health issues and children.
The survey, conducted from September to December 2010, found that 48 percent women, aged between 15-49 years, felt their husbands had the right to beat them if they spoilt the food while cooking, refused to have sex, neglected the children or argued.
Also, a whopping 62 percent believed mothers-in-law were justified in beating them if they failed to bring in dowry, went out of the house without telling them, didn't finish housework in time or argued.
Though Nepal's laws make it a punishable offence for a girl to marry before she is 18, the survey found an overwhelming 60 percent had been married before the legal age of consent.
Sixteen percent got married while below 15.
Though women dominated the population with the male-female ratio being 100:92.9, the dreaded tradition of chhaupadi still prevailed, despite being banned by the government.
Chhaupadi is the custom of regarding menstruation as a period of impurity during which women are not allowed to touch anything, including water, plants and their husbands.
Though it is not observed so rigidly in the capital and major cities, in the remote villages girls and women are confined to cowsheds during menstruation. Both girl students and women teachers are barred from attending school.
The survey found the midwestern mountain region to be the worst affected -- 52 percent, while the farwestern hilly region reported a 50 percent prevalence.
A whopping 83 percent of the children interviewed said they had been disciplined either by severe psychological abuse or physical punishment.