A Decade Lost: Locating Gender in U.S. Counter-Terrorism provides the first global study of how the U.S. government's (USG) counter-terrorism efforts proffoundly implicate and impact women and sexual minorities. Over the last decade of the United States' "War on Terror," the oft-unspoken assumption that men suffer the most—both numerically and in terms of the nature of rights violations endured—has obscured the way women and sexual minorities experience counter-terrorism, rendering their rights violations invisible to policymakers and the human rights community alike. This failure to consider either the differential impacts of counter-terrorism on women, men, and sexual minorities or the ways in which such measures use and affect gender stereotypes and relations cannot continue.
Child marriage most often occurs in poor, rural communities. In many regions, parents arrange their daughter’s marriage unbeknownst to the girl. That can mean that one day, she may be at home playing with her siblings, and the next, she’s married off and sent to live in another village with her husband and his family – strangers, essentially. She is pulled out of school. She is separated from her peers. And once married, she is more likely to be a victim of domestic violence and suffer health complications associated with early sexual activity and childbearing.
ICRW’s early research provided a deeper understanding of the scope, causes and consequences of child marriage. Now, our experts are focused on how to prevent – and ultimately end – the practice.
The Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) voted unanimously to recommend a new, more inclusive definition of Rape in the UCR Report. The recommendation will be considered at a public meeting of the CJIS Advisory Policy Board in December. If approved, it will be forwarded to FBI Director Robert Mueller who will make the final decision.
Yesterday, the Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) voted unanimously to recommend a new, more inclusive definition of Rape in the UCR Report. The recommendation will be considered at a public meeting of the CJIS Advisory Policy Board in December. If approved, it will be forwarded to FBI Director Robert Mueller who will make the final decision.
The vote came after years of urging by feminist organizations, spearheaded for more than a decade by the Pennsylvania-based Women's Law Project and reinforced by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Center for Women and Policing and Ms. magazine. This past year, theRape is Rape campaign, launched by the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine and picked up by petition website Change.org resulted in nearly 140,000 emails to the FBI and the Department of Justice urging the change.
"Although long overdue, we are pleased that the FBI has vetted this extensively with their local and national law enforcement advisors and a clear consensus is emerging that a more accurate definition will better inform the public about the prevalence of serious sex crimes and will ultimately drive more resources to apprehend sexual offenders," said Carol Tracy, Executive Director of the Women's Law Project.
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, stated, "This will ensure the crime of rape is measured in a way that it includes all rape, and it will become a crime to which more resources are allocated. It's intolerable the amount of violence against women, and we feel this will have a significant impact."
The current definition from the 1920s, which has been criticized for underreporting rape and omitting a significant number of rape cases, defined "forcible rape" only as "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." In response to a recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), eighty percent of responding police departments agreed that the definition should be changed.
Oct 27 (Reuters) - Expectant mothers are more likely to die from murder or suicide than from several of the most common pregnancy-related medical problems, a U.S. study said.
Roughly half of those women who died violently had had some kind of conflict with their current or former partners, according to findings published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, causing experts to call for more thorough screening for domestic problems during pregnancy check-ups.
"We've seen improvements in the more traditional causes of death, likely due to advances in medical care and public health practices," said Christie Palladino, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta and lead author of the study.
This finding is especially troubling because violent deaths can be stopped, she added.
The study, which used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Violent Death Reporting System, examined the years from 2003 to 2007.
About three out of every 100,000 women who are pregnant or have a child less than a year old are murdered, and two out of every 100,000 kill themselves -- numbers that remained fairly constant in the years the researchers looked at.
But fewer than two out of every 100,000 women died from either pregnancy-related bleeding, improper development of the placenta, or preeclampsia, a complication of high blood pressure that can occur during pregnancy, according to a different set of data.
Women who died by suicide were more likely to be white or Native American, unmarried and over 40. Older women and those under 24 were at greater risk of being murdered, as were African Americans and unmarried women.
"I think that there's still an under-appreciation of the risk and probably less screening than should be done," said Linda Chambliss, director of maternal fetal medicine at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, who did not participate in the study.
"Even if the numbers are relatively small, you're talking about something that's preventable."
The National Violent Death Reporting System includes all records of violent deaths in the participating U.S. states, but in some case the pregnancy status of the victim was not known. Palladino and her colleagues excluded those records from the study.
Pregnancy is a prime opportunity for working to prevent suicides and murders, particularly those related to domestic violence, because women regularly see health care providers, Palladino said.
"We want to make sure we intervene before we get to these really disastrous consequences," she added. SOURCE: bit.ly/u2Dgjy (Reporting from New York by Kerry Grens at Reuters Health; Editing by Elaine Lies and Robert Birsel)
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the rates of pregnancy-associated homicide and suicide in a multistate sample from the National Violent Death Reporting System, to compare these rates with other causes of maternal mortality, and to describe victims' demographic characteristics.
METHODS: We analyzed data from female victims of reproductive age from 2003 to 2007. We identified pregnancy-associated violent deaths as deaths attributable to homicide or suicide during pregnancy or within the first year postpartum, and we calculated the rates of pregnancy-associated homicide and suicide as the number of deaths per 100,000 live births in the sample population. We used descriptive statistics to report victims' demographic characteristics and prevalence of intimate-partner violence.
RESULTS: There were 94 counts of pregnancy-associated suicide and 139 counts of pregnancy-associated homicide, yielding pregnancy-associated suicide and homicide rates of 2.0 and 2.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, respectively. Victims of pregnancy-associated suicide were significantly more likely to be older and white or Native American as compared with all live births in National Violent Death Reporting System states. Pregnancy-associated homicide victims were significantly more likely to be at the extremes of the age range and African American. In our study, 54.3% of pregnancy-associated suicides involved intimate partner conflict that appeared to contribute to the suicide, and 45.3% of pregnancy-associated homicides were associated with intimate-partner violence.
CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that pregnancy-associated homicide and suicide are important contributors to maternal mortality and confirm the need to evaluate the relationships between sociodemographic disparities and intimate-partner violence with pregnancy-associated violent death.
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.
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.
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