Human Rights Watch

Somali Court Clears Woman Alleging Rape; Reporter Still in Prison

Remember the Somali woman who was sentenced to a year in prison for falsely accusing rape? In case you don’t, I’ll remind you that her conviction rested on the unreliable and misogynist two-finger test, and that a journalist who had interviewed her but never published a story was also sentenced to a year in prison.

The judge said that journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim had disrespected the country’s law, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a Sunday statement, noting that it was unclear exactly what law he broke. His one-year sentence was cut to six months.

“The court acquitted a woman who should never have been charged while upholding an unjust conviction of a journalist,” said Daniel Bekele, the group’s Africa director. “After this case, who in their right mind would suggest to a victim of government abuse that they report the crime? Or tell their story to a journalist?”

You know the saddest part of this story? That it’s now considered a win if neither of these people go to prison, when the authorities should be looking for a rapist.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Under Scrutiny For Abuse of Aboriginal Women

In a report released on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that many aboriginal women in British Columbia have been the victims of discrimination, aggressive use of police force, and even sexual assault by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The report, titled “Those Who Take Us Away,” features in depth interviews with 50 aboriginal women along the “Highway of Tears” in British Columbia where numerous aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered. Researchers also interviewed 37 family members of missing or murdered women and girls. The women interviewed describe scenes of excessive use of force on girls under the age of 18, abuse of strip searches, and even accusation of rape and beatings.

The RCMP has issued a statement to the effect that, while this is deplorable, no one has actually complained directly to them about these abuses. It’s not hard to imagine that this is because aboriginal women in Canada have grown so accustomed to police abuse that they see nothing to be gained by attempting to lodge a complaint.

"Reporting to the Police Was Far More Traumatizing Than the Rape Itself"

Human Rights Watch released a report Thursday that found District of Columbia police had engaged in “callous, traumatizing treatment” of victims of sexual assault.

The 197-page investigation, “Capitol Offense: Police Mishandling of Sexual Assault Cases in the District of Columbia,” is based on the testimony of 150 sexual assault survivors, community groups, victims’ advocates, hospital staff, and university counselors, among others. HRW found a consistent pattern of police officers failing to file incident reports, which are required to proceed with an investigation, or classifying serious sexual assaults as lesser or other crimes. Police incident reports could not be found for 35.6 of percent people who, according to hospital records, had reported a sexual assault to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

Shocking and horrifying. No wonder we have a rape culture.

Bangladesh: Discriminatory Family Laws Fuel Female Poverty

The problem:

The separate personal laws for Bangladesh’s Muslims, Hindus, and Christians discriminate in overlapping but distinctive ways. Each erects barriers to divorce and economic equality during marriage and after, and none of the laws provides for women’s equal right to marital property.

And just in case you’re in favor of religious beliefs governing things like marriage and divorce, consider a case like this:

Namrata N., a Hindu, worked in a hospital and gave her life savings to her husband to start a business. He misused the money and turned violent when she demanded he return the funds. Eventually he tricked her into drinking acid, and absconded. With a burned food pipe and stomach, Namrata is dependent on a feeding tube connected to her intestine. She has not eaten in over two years and the smell of food depresses her. Namrata wants to divorce her husband, but cannot under Hindu law in Bangladesh.