Sexual violence

How Much Must Women Sacrifice to Serve? (HuffPo)

11/12/2012 -- Huffington Post -- "How Much Must Women Sacrifice to Serve?" New York Office Director Lauren Hersh on sexual assault in the military.

Uganda: Properly investigate and prosecute cases of sexual violence against the disabled

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Nov 12
Update Date: 
2013 Mar 19
Update: 

UPDATE 19 MARCH 2013: The remaining suspect in the case, who had run away, was found dead in early 2013. However, Equality Now is calling for DNA testing of his body at the government’s expense without delay.


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What You Can Do: 

Contact the Ugandan Government and urge them to:

  1. Conduct DNA testing on the body of the remaining suspect at the government’s expense without delay.
  2. Ensure that all relevant investigative techniques, including DNA testing, are promptly carried out in cases of sexual violence, and in particular, those concerning disabled victims.

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

Letters should be addressed to:

Richard Buteera
Director of Public Prosecutions
Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
P.O. Box 1550
Kampala, Uganda
Phone: +256-414-332-501 - 7
Fax: +256-414-251-951

Hon. Chief Justice Benjamin Joseph Odoki,
Chief Justice of Uganda
The Judiciary Courts of Judicature
High Court Building
Box 7085
Kampala, Uganda
Phone: +256-414-341-116
Email: bodoki@judicature.go.ug

Lady Justice Alice E. Mpagi-Bahigeine
Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda
The Judiciary Courts of Judicature
High Court Building
Box 7085
Kampala, Uganda
Email: ampagi@judicature.go.ug

Letters: 

Dear Mr./Hon. Chief Justice/Lady Justice

I am deeply concerned about the Ugandan government’s inaction in protecting disabled sexual violence victims and the lack of additional steps to investigate crimes against them that would ensure swift justice. A case in point is Sanyu, a 13-year-old blind, deaf and mute Ugandan girl, who was raped and became pregnant as a result but was unable to communicate the identity of her rapist due to her condition. Sanyu’s mother and Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities - Uganda (LAPD) called for DNA testing of Sanyu’s father, three brothers (the only males who had access to her) and the baby to establish paternity, but the Government Analytical Laboratory - Wandegya did not respond to  the official request and the police closed the case.

Upon learning about the case, international human rights organization Equality Now successfully raised funds for DNA testing in 2011 and with the assistance of LAPD, had the case reopened. DNA samples were taken from three of the four suspects (one brother had run away) on 24 August 2011 (four years after the rape) and sent to the Government chemist for testing, as is required for trial admissibility. The DNA testing languished for over a year and when finally received, the results showed that the baby’s father was genetically of the same paternal line, though none of the three tested were the father of Sanyu’s baby. To our knowledge no effort has been made by the police to apprehend and test the remaining suspect. Along with Equality Now and LAPD, I am seriously disturbed by the lack of a thorough investigation and the five year delay in justice for Sanyu, who is now 18. I support the call for improved legal procedures in cases of sexual violence, and for additional steps to be taken to help disabled victims.

Sexual violence is widespread in Uganda and disabled women and girls such as Sanyu are particularly vulnerable. The Constitution of Uganda and The Persons with Disabilities Act, 2006 upholds the rights of people with disabilities and provide for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and toward equal opportunities for them. However, the government does not take additional steps to facilitate justice for disabled victims of sexual violence such as Sanyu by making provision for investigative techniques that would facilitate the process and this leads to further victimization.

The Government of Uganda has ratified a number of regional and international human rights instruments that provide for the rights of persons with disabilities, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Protocol) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In addition, Uganda has ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which in its General Recommendation No. 18 calls on States to report on special measures taken to deal with the particular situation of women with disabilities.

In order to make sure that Sanyu and girls in similar situations get justice, Uganda must live up to its domestic and international obligations and take additional steps to improve the investigation process and prosecution rate in sexual violence cases involving disabled victims. In particular I urge you to ensure that DNA testing of the remaining suspect is conducted at government expense without delay. Please ensure that all relevant investigative techniques, including DNA testing, are promptly carried out in cases of sexual violence, and in particular, those concerning disabled victims.

Thank you for your attention.
Sincerely

Equality Now & partners call for comprehensive investigation into possible "institutional sexism" at BBC

10/18/2012 -- EVAW News -- "Women's Groups write urgently to BBC re Jimmy Savile Inquiries" Equality Now and partners call on the BBC to fully investigate internal cultures and practices with regard to the Jimmy Savile sex abuse inquiry.

Military sexual assault survivors face major obstacles in accessing support services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 3, 2012
Contacts:  Equality Now: Kristen Berg, 212-586-0906, kberg@equalitynow.org
                  SWAN: Katy Otto, 240-478-9387, katy@servicewomen.org

United States: Sexual assault of women in the military must be stopped

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Oct 2
Update Date: 
2013 Feb 13
Update: 

10 MAY 2016 UPDATE:  On 5 May, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its 2015 Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, and the results are alarming:  Military Services received  6,083 reports of sexual assault involving service members as either victims or subjects in 2015. 4,736 service members reported being raped or sexually assaulted while in the military. However, it is almost certain that these numbers don’t represent the whole picture as sexual assaults in the military are vastly underreported. A 2014 DoD commissioned study estimated that 20,300 active-duty service members were sexually assaulted in that year alone.

And victims who do report rarely see their abusers punished. Only 7% of perpetrators received courts-martial or discharge in 2015, and 2012 and 2014 studies found that 62% of service member victims of sexual assault report retaliation after reporting the crime. Another recently released study noted 91 reports of sexual assault in military service academies in 2015, underscoring the fact that attacks are not confined to war zones.

The Pentagon has always insisted that it takes a zero tolerance approach to sexual assault in the military, but this is clearly untrue. In April 2016, an Associated Press investigation shockingly found that the 
Pentagon used “inaccurate or vague information” to convince Congress not to pass a law which would give more power to civilian courts to handle military cases. It also found that the military used misleading or incomplete information in about 93 sexual assault cases.

We welcome the Department of Defense’s new Strategy to prevent retaliation associated with reporting sexual assault or harassment as an important step, but it is not enough. The 
bill in question, supported by Equality Now and our partner, the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), was introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2013 and died twice on the Senate floor. Now we are calling for it to be incorporated into this year’s upcoming National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 in order to pass.

Senator Gillibrand’s bill would provide the structural changes needed to ensure meaningful access to justice for survivors, removing the power to prosecute sexual assault from military commanders and transferring it to professional prosecutors.
 
Please join us by Taking Action today!

For more information, read our Sexual Assault in the Military Fact sheet


20 AUGUST 2013 UPDATE: Recent developments indicate some Congressional and military momentum to address sexual assault in the military:

On 15 August, the US Department of Defense (DOD) gave an update on sexual assault prevention and response measures, during which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s seven new initiatives to “strengthen and standardize the department’s sexual assault prevention and response effort” were outlined. Though Equality Now welcomes the DOD’s acknowledgment of the seriousness of the issue, the initiatives do not make the structural changes needed for violence to be prevented and for victims to access justice. As our partner SWAN stated, “small-scale military sexual assault solutions will not stem the cultural tide created by years of victim blaming and retaliation." Therefore we will continue to advocate for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) which would professionalize the military justice system and bring much needed justice to victims of sexual assault. Senator Gillibrand will be calling for a full Senate floor vote on the MJIA bill following the August Congressional recess. If you are in the US, please ask your Senator to support passage of this bill.

We are also encouraged by the House of Representatives’ passage in July of two amendments in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 (HR 2397), offered by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), relating to the handling of sexual assault cases. This follows a recent report by the DOD Inspector General who found serious failures in the handling of military sexual assault investigations. Out of 501 investigations, 418 had “deficiencies” which compromised the victim’s chance of obtaining justice, and, overall, 399 of these cases had interview and post-interview deficiencies. Weaknesses were found in the interview process, collection of evidence, lead development and crime scene photography. The amendments address the pervasive misuse of ‘personality and adjustment disorder’ as a diagnosis of victims of sexual assault and provide additional funding to train investigators of sexual assault crimes. We hope the Senate will also show bi-partisan support for those that have suffered sexual assault in the US military by passing this bill.


24 MAY 2013 UPDATE: On 7 May, the US Department of Defense released their 2012 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military.  The report plainly showed that efforts to combat sexual assault in the military are not having the desired effect, and in fact, sexual violence and the culture of impunity are getting worse. Shockingly, the number of reported sexual assaults rose in every branch of the military with a 35% increase overall since 2010, from 19,300 service members in 2010 to 26,000 in 2012. Coming on the heels of the arrest for sexual battery of Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the officer in charge of US Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, and followed by revelations that two other US Army sexual assault prevention officers were accused of sex crimes, including an allegation linking one to a prostitution ring, it is abundantly clear that current efforts to address sexual assault in the US military are not being taken seriously.

Therefore, Equality Now welcomed the 16 May introduction of the
Military Justice Improvement Act of 2013 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a bi-partisan bill which would remove the power to prosecute sexual assault from military commanders and transfer it to professional prosecutors. Equality Now and our partner SWAN (Service Women’s Action Network) have been consistently advocating for this reform and will be following the bill closely as it moves through the legislative process to ensure that sexual assault victims have access to justice in the military.


13 FEBRUARY 2013 UPDATE: Senator Jon Tester and Representative Chellie Pingree introduced the “Ruth Moore Act of 2013.” Named in recognition of Navy veteran, military sexual assault survivor and activist Ruth Moore (subject of our Action), the bill would lower the evidentiary burden needed to prove service-related PTSD for survivors so that they can receive benefits and necessary services from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The passage of this bill would fulfill one of the three objectives of Equality Now's campaign, and we will be following this process closely as it progresses.


 

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please join Equality Now and our partner SWAN in calling on:


The Secretary of Defense and the House & Senate Armed Services Committee Chairs to:
  • Reform the military justice system so that professional military prosecutors – not the perpetrator’s command – are responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases of sexual assault. Several countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada, have recently reformed their military justice systems in this manner so that commanders do not wield undue (and unmonitored) influence over sexual assault cases.

 Send letters to:

The Hon. Ashton B. Carter
Secretary of Defense
Office of the Sec. of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Tel: +1(703) 571-3343
Fax: +1(703) 571-8951
Email: ashton.carter@osd.mil

Congressman Mac Thornberry
House Armed Service Committee Chair
U.S. House of Representatives
2208 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Tel: +1(202) 225-3706
Fax: +1(202) 225-3486
Facebook: www.facebook.com/repmacthornberry
Twitter: @MacTXPress

Senator John McCain
Senate Armed Service Committee Chair
U.S. Senate
218 Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: +1(202) 224-2235
Fax: +1(202) 228-2862
Facebook: www.facebook.com/johnmccain
Twitter: @SenJohnMcCain

The Secretary of Defense, the House & Senate Armed Services Committee Chairs, and the House & Senate Judiciary Committee Chairs to:

  • Allow survivors of sexual assault in the military to access civil remedies so that they, like civilians, can hold their employer – the U.S. military – accountable for sexual harassment and assault.

 Send letters to:

The Honorable Ashton B. Carter, Congressman Mac Thornberry, Senator John McCain (contacts listed above)

Senator Chuck Grassley
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair
U.S. Senate
135 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-3744
Fax: 202-224-6020
Facebook: www.facebook.com/grassley
Twitter: @ChuckGrassley

Congressman Bob Goodlatte
House Judiciary Committee Chair
U.S. House of Representatives
2309 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Tel: 202-225-5431
Fax: 202-225-9681
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BobGoodlatte
Twitter: @RepGoodlatte

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the House & Senate Committee of Veterans’ Affairs Chairs to:

  • Provide survivors suffering from PTSD stemming from their sexual assault with the services they need to recover from their trauma by lowering the unnecessarily high evidentiary burden they face in order to prove their assault and access disability benefits.

 Send letters to:

The Hon. Robert A. McDonald
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Tel: +1(800) 827-1000
Email:  robert.a.mcdonald@va.gov, Bob.mcdonald@va.gov

The Honorable Danny Pummill
Acting Under Secretary for Benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Tel: 1.800.827.1000
Email: Danny.pummill@va.gov

Congressman Jeff Miller
House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chair
U.S. House of Representatives
336 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Tel: +1(202) 225-4136
Fax: +1(202) 225-3414
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RepJeffMiller

Senator Johnny Isakson
Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chair
U.S. Senate
131 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: +1(202) 224-3643
Fax: +1(202) 228-0724
Twitter: @SenatorIsakson

Letters: 

Letter Regarding Reform of the Justice System

Dear Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter:
 
I am deeply concerned about the alarmingly high rate of sexual assault within the U.S. military and that service members who sexually harass and assault their fellow service women are doing so freely. At least 20,000 active-duty service members were sexually assaulted in 2014 and as few as one out of every 100 sexual assaults results in a conviction.
 
This low conviction rate is due to the multitude of obstacles rape survivors face in pursuing justice, including in reporting the crime, thorough and impartial investigations, and seeing rapists/assailants charged and punished. Since officers within the perpetrator’s chain-of-command are the ones investigating sexual assault complaints, conflicts of interest and abuses of power flourish, especially where  both the survivor and perpetrator are under the same officer’s command. And as these crimes reflect poorly on the unit, commanders have an incentive to downplay or cover-up sexual assaults.
 
The failure to protect service women from sexual assault while in the military, to ensure justice for survivors, and to enable survivors to obtain justice and services violates the United States’ international legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I urge you to reform the military justice system so that professional military prosecutors – not the perpetrator’s command – are responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases of sexual assault, along the lines of reforms the United Kingdom and Canada have recently implemented.
 

 

Sincerely,
 

cc:
Congressman Mac Thornberry, House Armed Services Committee, Chair
Senator John McCain, Senate Armed Services Committee, Chair

Letter Regarding Civil Remedies

Dear Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter:
 
I am deeply concerned about the alarmingly high rate of sexual assault within the U.S. military and those service members who sexually harass and assault their fellow service women are doing so freely. At least 20,000 active-duty service members were sexually assaulted in 2014 and as few as one out of every 100 sexual assaults results in a conviction.
 
This low conviction rate is due to the multitude of obstacles rape survivors face in pursuing justice, including in reporting the crime, thorough and impartial investigations, and seeing rapists/assailants charged and punished. Unlike civilians, military rape survivors have no way of holding their employer – the U.S. military – accountable through civil litigation for failing to protect them from sexual assault or harassment.
 
The failure to protect service women from sexual assault and to ensure justice for survivors violates the United States’ international legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
 
I strongly urge you to revise U.S. military policies so that service women can obtain justice for harassment and sexual violence.  It is vital that allow survivors are able to access civil remedies so that they, like civilians, can hold their employer accountable.

 

Sincerely,
 

cc:
Congressman Mac Thornberry, House Armed Services Committee, Chair
Senator John McCain, Senate Armed Services Committee, Chair
Senator Chuck Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair
Congressman Bob Goodlatte, House Judiciary Committee, Chair

Letter to Veterans' Affairs

Robert A. McDonald
Secretary of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Dear Secretary McDonald:
 
I am deeply concerned about the alarmingly high rate of sexual assault within the U.S. military and the many obstacles sexual assault survivors face in accessing the services they need to recover -- at least 20,000 active-duty service members were sexually assaulted in 2014 alone!
 
Sexual assault and harassment causes the same rates of PTSD in women veterans as combat does in men, but sexual assault survivors continue to face challenges in accessing disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA often disbelieve survivors’ accounts of assault – even when backed up by a physician’s report – and require evidence from other corroborating sources. Tellingly, only 32% of sexual assault PTSD claims are approved by the VA, while 54% of overall PTSD claims are approved.
 
Servicewomen are being re-victimized by this disbelief and failure to provide much needed services. The VA must lower the evidentiary burden and accept survivor’s testimony alone as proof that a sexual assault occurred. The failure to protect service women from sexual assault and to ensure justice and services for survivors violates the United States’ international legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
 
I strongly urge you to revise your policy so that survivors suffering from sexual assault-related PTSD receive the services they need without delays, and to lower the unnecessarily high evidentiary burdens they face.
 

Yours sincerely,

cc: 
The Honorable Danny Pummill, Acting Under Secretary for Benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs
Senator Johnny Isakson, Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Chair
Congressman Jeff Miller, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Chair

Yemen: End child marriages by enacting and enforcing a minimum age of marriage law

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2012 May 21

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What You Can Do: 

Contact the Yemeni President, Minister of Justice and the Speaker of the House and ask them to:

  1. Ensure that the draft bill banning child marriage is considered and passed by parliament as soon as possible.
  2. Ensure effective enforcement of this law once passed.
  3. Take measures to protect and promote the rights of girls who have ended or escaped child marriages, including by providing access to safe accommodation, education and counseling.

Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should be addressed to:

Mr. Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi
President of the Republic of Yemen
President Residence
60 Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 276 866
Fax: +967 1 252 803
Tel: +967 1 621 062

Judge Mursd Al-Arshani
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 252 138
Tel: +967 1 334 334

Mr. Yahya Ali Al Raei
Speaker of the House
Yemeni Parliament
26 September Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 276 091
Tel: +967 1 272 765

Letters: 

Dear _____:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the prevalence of child marriage in Yemen and the inaction shown to date by the Yemeni government to ban this practice. Yemeni women’s role in the 2011 revolution that led to the formation of your new government was key. This is a time when Yemen needs the participation and support of all its citizens. Allowing child marriage, which sees up to fifty percent of Yemeni girls married before they reach the age of 18, means that Yemen is not nurturing its future.

In addition, international organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNFPA have underscored the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of child marriage on girls, including septic abortion, still births, death due to early pregnancy, deprivation of education, few social connections, restricted mobility, limited control over resources, little or no power in their new households and increased risk of domestic violence.

I am aware that draft legislation fixing the minimum age of marriage for girls at age 17 with penalties and punishment for violators has been pending in parliament since 2009 and passing it without delay would be a first step to helping girls escape abuse and allowing them to fulfill their potential. The absence of a law banning child marriage in Yemen means that child brides have to resort to divorce laws for women to get out of their marriages (rather than having these marriages annulled as illegal) and are required to pay-back their dower to obtain a divorce. A case in point is 11-year-old Wafa who in 2009 was married off by her father to a 40-year-old farmer who raped, beat and tried to strangle her. Wishing to escape the abuse and continue her education, Wafa ran away from her husband’s house but was unable to get out of the marriage without paying back her dower which her father had spent before passing away.

Stopping child marriage is an international obligation of the Yemeni government under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) both of which contain provisions against the practice. Please ensure that the draft child marriage bill is considered and passed by parliament as soon as possible. Also, please ensure effective enforcement of this law, once passed and punishment for those in violation. In addition, please take measures to protect and promote the rights of girls who have ended or escaped child marriages, including by providing access to security, education and counseling.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely

Partner WAR Lahore and Equality Now highlighted in story on incest in Pakistan (Express Tribune)

2/15/12 -- Express Tribune -- "For incest victims, the trauma never goes away" Partner WAR Lahore and Equality Now highlighted in story on incest in Pakistan.

Program Officer Mehr Qureshi on Equality Now & partners' report addressing incest in Pakistan (Trust Law)

1/25/12 -- Trust Law -- "Girl's fight for justice breaks silence on incest in Pakistan" Program Officer Mehr Qureshi on release of Equality Now and partners' ground-breaking report addressing incest in Pakistan, A Struggle for Justice: Incest Victims in Pakistan Report.

 

War Against Rape, Lahore, Nasreen Welfare Trust Legal Aid Services & Equality Now Release Ground Breaking Report on Incest in Pakistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
24 January 2012

Contact: EQUALITY NOW (London/New York): Mehr Qureshi, mqureshi@equalitynow.org
NASREEN WELFARE TRUST (Pakistan): Hina Hafeezullah, hina.h.ishaq@gmail.com
WAR AGAINST RAPE, LAHORE (Pakistan): Sidra Humayun, sidra.humayun@hotmail.com

Report aims to prompt revisions to Pakistan’s sexual violence laws including a special provision for incest

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