After #MeToo, in Germany Comes #MeTwo

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by KIRSTEN GRIESHABER / The Associated Press.

BERLIN — After #MeToo comes #MeTwo.

The hashtag has become a rallying point for scores of second- and third-generation immigrants in Germany, who have taken to Twitter to share their accounts of everyday racism and how they still struggle to be accepted as Germans.

The hashtag, which echoes the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, was created by Ali Can, a 24-year-old journalist of Turkish descent, following the furor over Turkish-German soccer star Mesut Ozil’s recent resignation from the German national team.

Ozil, the son of Turkish immigrants, quit earlier this month after fierce criticism of his decision to pose for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In reaction, Ozil attacked the German soccer federation, its president, fans and the media, criticizing what he said was racism and double standards in the treatment of people with Turkish roots. “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” he said.

Can used the #MeTwo hashtag because he wanted to show that ethnic minorities in Germany often feel connected to two cultures or places at the same time: Germany and the country of their or their ancestors’ origin. By Monday, some 153,000 tweets recounting instances of discrimination had been posted to Twitter, according to the German news agency dpa.

Germany is home to more than 4 million people of Turkish origin, who were invited in the 1960s to help rebuild the country after World War II.

The debate also reflects divisions in Germany over the recent influx of many Muslim asylum-seekers. Since 2015, more than 1 million migrants, mostly from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have come to Germany.

A backlash has helped fuel the rise of the anti-migrant and nationalist Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which won seats in the German parliament for the first time last year.

All in all, about 20 percent of the more than 82 million people living in Germany have immigrant roots.

“We need to redefine what it means to be German,” Can, who kicked off the #MeTwo debate, told The Associated Press on Monday.

“No matter how much immigrants want to integrate into German society, they will not be able to do it on their own,” he said. “Everyone here needs to help with integration.”

Among the #MeTwo tweets, many complained about discrimination based on skin color or wearing a headscarf. Others denounced some ethnic Germans’ assumption that even third-generation immigrant children do not fully belong as “Germans.”

Twitter user Moorni recounted her school experience: “Despite good grades no recommendation for comprehensive secondary school. Quote class teacher: Your daughter will anyway wear a hijab and get married early.”

Abeneezer Negussie tweeted, “When a stranger says to you after a nice conversation on a train, ‘your skin color is not your fault, I mean, you unfortunately can’t change it,’ and you understand that he perceives your skin color as something that went wrong.”

Some wrote that despite the pain and humiliation they have suffered through racism, the #MeTwo outcry had important and positive elements.

“The good thing about the racism debate 2018 is, that migrants have finally joined the conversation,” said Turkish-German author Hatice Akyun. “Our parents pretended they didn’t understand and looked away in shame.”

On Twitter, anti-migrant comments soon followed the #MeTwo movement. But some migrants also posted about their positive experiences in the country using the hashtag #MyGermanDream.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas chipped in as well, writing Sunday on Twitter: “It is damaging the image of Germany if there’s the impression that racism is socially acceptable again. We cannot allow that people with migrant roots feel threatened. Together, we have to stand up decisively for diversity and tolerance.”

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After #MeToo, in Germany Comes #MeTwo

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by KIRSTEN GRIESHABER / The Associated Press.

BERLIN — After #MeToo comes #MeTwo.

The hashtag has become a rallying point for scores of second- and third-generation immigrants in Germany, who have taken to Twitter to share their accounts of everyday racism and how they still struggle to be accepted as Germans.

The hashtag, which echoes the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, was created by Ali Can, a 24-year-old journalist of Turkish descent, following the furor over Turkish-German soccer star Mesut Ozil’s recent resignation from the German national team.

Ozil, the son of Turkish immigrants, quit earlier this month after fierce criticism of his decision to pose for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In reaction, Ozil attacked the German soccer federation, its president, fans and the media, criticizing what he said was racism and double standards in the treatment of people with Turkish roots. “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” he said.

Can used the #MeTwo hashtag because he wanted to show that ethnic minorities in Germany often feel connected to two cultures or places at the same time: Germany and the country of their or their ancestors’ origin. By Monday, some 153,000 tweets recounting instances of discrimination had been posted to Twitter, according to the German news agency dpa.

Germany is home to more than 4 million people of Turkish origin, who were invited in the 1960s to help rebuild the country after World War II.

The debate also reflects divisions in Germany over the recent influx of many Muslim asylum-seekers. Since 2015, more than 1 million migrants, mostly from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have come to Germany.

A backlash has helped fuel the rise of the anti-migrant and nationalist Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which won seats in the German parliament for the first time last year.

All in all, about 20 percent of the more than 82 million people living in Germany have immigrant roots.

“We need to redefine what it means to be German,” Can, who kicked off the #MeTwo debate, told The Associated Press on Monday.

“No matter how much immigrants want to integrate into German society, they will not be able to do it on their own,” he said. “Everyone here needs to help with integration.”

Among the #MeTwo tweets, many complained about discrimination based on skin color or wearing a headscarf. Others denounced some ethnic Germans’ assumption that even third-generation immigrant children do not fully belong as “Germans.”

Twitter user Moorni recounted her school experience: “Despite good grades no recommendation for comprehensive secondary school. Quote class teacher: Your daughter will anyway wear a hijab and get married early.”

Abeneezer Negussie tweeted, “When a stranger says to you after a nice conversation on a train, ‘your skin color is not your fault, I mean, you unfortunately can’t change it,’ and you understand that he perceives your skin color as something that went wrong.”

Some wrote that despite the pain and humiliation they have suffered through racism, the #MeTwo outcry had important and positive elements.

“The good thing about the racism debate 2018 is, that migrants have finally joined the conversation,” said Turkish-German author Hatice Akyun. “Our parents pretended they didn’t understand and looked away in shame.”

On Twitter, anti-migrant comments soon followed the #MeTwo movement. But some migrants also posted about their positive experiences in the country using the hashtag #MyGermanDream.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas chipped in as well, writing Sunday on Twitter: “It is damaging the image of Germany if there’s the impression that racism is socially acceptable again. We cannot allow that people with migrant roots feel threatened. Together, we have to stand up decisively for diversity and tolerance.”

Read more

After #MeToo, in Germany Comes #MeTwo

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by KIRSTEN GRIESHABER / The Associated Press.

BERLIN — After #MeToo comes #MeTwo.

The hashtag has become a rallying point for scores of second- and third-generation immigrants in Germany, who have taken to Twitter to share their accounts of everyday racism and how they still struggle to be accepted as Germans.

The hashtag, which echoes the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, was created by Ali Can, a 24-year-old journalist of Turkish descent, following the furor over Turkish-German soccer star Mesut Ozil’s recent resignation from the German national team.

Ozil, the son of Turkish immigrants, quit earlier this month after fierce criticism of his decision to pose for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In reaction, Ozil attacked the German soccer federation, its president, fans and the media, criticizing what he said was racism and double standards in the treatment of people with Turkish roots. “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” he said.

Can used the #MeTwo hashtag because he wanted to show that ethnic minorities in Germany often feel connected to two cultures or places at the same time: Germany and the country of their or their ancestors’ origin. By Monday, some 153,000 tweets recounting instances of discrimination had been posted to Twitter, according to the German news agency dpa.

Germany is home to more than 4 million people of Turkish origin, who were invited in the 1960s to help rebuild the country after World War II.

The debate also reflects divisions in Germany over the recent influx of many Muslim asylum-seekers. Since 2015, more than 1 million migrants, mostly from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have come to Germany.

A backlash has helped fuel the rise of the anti-migrant and nationalist Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which won seats in the German parliament for the first time last year.

All in all, about 20 percent of the more than 82 million people living in Germany have immigrant roots.

“We need to redefine what it means to be German,” Can, who kicked off the #MeTwo debate, told The Associated Press on Monday.

“No matter how much immigrants want to integrate into German society, they will not be able to do it on their own,” he said. “Everyone here needs to help with integration.”

Among the #MeTwo tweets, many complained about discrimination based on skin color or wearing a headscarf. Others denounced some ethnic Germans’ assumption that even third-generation immigrant children do not fully belong as “Germans.”

Twitter user Moorni recounted her school experience: “Despite good grades no recommendation for comprehensive secondary school. Quote class teacher: Your daughter will anyway wear a hijab and get married early.”

Abeneezer Negussie tweeted, “When a stranger says to you after a nice conversation on a train, ‘your skin color is not your fault, I mean, you unfortunately can’t change it,’ and you understand that he perceives your skin color as something that went wrong.”

Some wrote that despite the pain and humiliation they have suffered through racism, the #MeTwo outcry had important and positive elements.

“The good thing about the racism debate 2018 is, that migrants have finally joined the conversation,” said Turkish-German author Hatice Akyun. “Our parents pretended they didn’t understand and looked away in shame.”

On Twitter, anti-migrant comments soon followed the #MeTwo movement. But some migrants also posted about their positive experiences in the country using the hashtag #MyGermanDream.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas chipped in as well, writing Sunday on Twitter: “It is damaging the image of Germany if there’s the impression that racism is socially acceptable again. We cannot allow that people with migrant roots feel threatened. Together, we have to stand up decisively for diversity and tolerance.”

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Bill Would Ban Federal Officers From ‘Consensual’ Sex With Those in Custody

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Clara Romeo.

A bill has been introduced in Congress banning federal law enforcement officers from claiming that sexual encounters with persons in their custody are consensual. While legislation already exists in some states banning such acts, an astonishing 31 states still allow it. The “The Closing Law Enforcement Consent Loophole Act” aims to rectify the loophole that lets officers claim consent as a legal defense in instances of alleged assault or rape.

Introduced by Reps. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Barbara Comstock, R-Va., the bipartisan bill would make engaging in sexual acts with those in custody punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. The bill would also grant additional funding to states that pass the legislation and that submit reports to the U.S. attorney general and Congress on the number of such complaints received. This last provision is meant to determine the true scale of these abuses.

Rep. Speier commented in a press release:

<blockquote>Research shows that sexual misconduct is the second most frequently reported form of police abuse, yet the true scope of the problem is unknown because states are not required to report these kinds of allegations or arrests to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.</blockquote>

She added she hopes that “This bill will close a loophole that more than a dozen predators have used in the past decade to escape conviction.”

The issue was brought to light in 2017 after a high school student was allegedly raped by two New York detectives while in their custody—in handcuffs. Under New York State law, the officers were able to claim the act was consensual and could plead it as a misdemeanor charge for misconduct. In March, New York changed the law. The officers are now awaiting trial.

In the same press release, Congresswoman Speier said:

<blockquote>This is unconscionable. Law enforcement members wield incredible power in their ability to detain individuals. Our bill ensures that police will act accordingly in their official duties, as befitting their role as officers of the law, and that any such abuse of this power will not be tolerated.</blockquote>

While the bill would prohibit further abuses from law enforcement, it calls into question why, in the #MeToo era, the bill is only now being introduced. Six seasons of the popular Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black”—which highlights injustices by police and the prison system—will have aired before the bill’s passage. Hopefully, by the seventh and final season, officers will no longer be able to plead that sex with those in custody is consensual.

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When Doing Good Becomes Doing Bad

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Janice G. Raymond.

Oxfam wasn’t the only nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Haiti where the so-called protectors turned into predators. After the 2010 earthquake, thousands of foreign aid workers arrived in the country. In Port-au-Prince, women on the streets reported that foreigners would give them more than five times the price a local would pay for sex.

Recent revelations of sexual abuse implicating specific NGOs and other agencies that provide relief to some of the world’s most vulnerable people are more widespread than initially reported. The most-publicized depredation involves the former Oxfam country director in Haiti, Belgian Roland van Hauwermeiren, who acknowledged paying for sexual encounters with Haitian earthquake survivors in a villa at odds with a disaster-ridden landscape.  

Taina Bien-Aimé, director of the international Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and a first-generation Haitian-American and colleague, told me, “To understand the scandal of sexual abuse in Haiti is to understand the country’s history of debilitating colonialism. The history of Haiti for the majority of Haitian women and girls is also an historical arc of sexual violence and harassment at the hands of foreign military men, NGO workers, U.N. personnel and others.”

Haiti has been ravaged by rapacious nations, initially enslaved under French domination combined with a concomitant U.S. economic blockade. Later, in 1915, the U.S. Marines invaded the country and, many say, have never left.

In more recent times, the sexual exploitation of women in Haiti has been carried out by countless waves of U.N. peacekeepers entrusted with helping the country withstand internal conflicts and natural disasters. From 1990 to the present, at least nine United Nations aid operations were assembled to support the people of Haiti. The acronyms multiply: ONUVEH, MICIVIH, MINUHA, MANUH, MITNUH, MIPONUH, MICAH, MINUSTAH, and finally MINUJUSTH. All variously spell out missions intended to assist, stabilize, verify elections, aid in transition, establish a civilian police and build a justice system in the country.

A 2017 U.N. report found that sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti was pervasive over a period of seven years. The record of sexual exploitation during the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is the longest—a decade of rape, sexual assault and prostituting that left a legacy of what are called MINUSTAH babies in a country where 59 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and almost 25 percent exist in abject poverty.

Haiti, the first country in the Western Hemisphere and the first black nation to abolish slavery, has found itself at the epicenter of a tsunami of sexual slavery that struck Haitian women and has continued for years. Slavery is a fortissimo word for this large-scale sexual exploitation of women and children, what some would prefer to mute as “survival sex.” But if you are desperate for money or medicine, or you need to feed hungry children by providing sex in exchange for bread, milk or food coupons, your survival is your servitude.

In addition to Oxfam, recent revelations of NGO sexual exploitation have involved the larger corporate-style organizations, including Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). These organizations are flush with funds and led by high-salaried directors.

Some NGOs have enacted policies on prostitution that provide an enabling environment for the sexual exploitation that takes place both within their organizations and on country missions. Amnesty International’s prostitution policy  transforms prostitution into “sex work” by arguing that decriminalization of not only prostituted women but also of pimps and buyers is the best way of protecting women. Ken Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, cheered on Amnesty’s proposal as a praiseworthy poverty program for underprivileged women when he tweeted, “Why deny poor women the option of voluntary sex work?”—a question reminiscent of the chorus of johns who justify their sexual exploitation by transforming it into a welfare system for the women they abuse.

I contacted Oxfam to inquire whether the organization has a policy prohibiting staff from buying “sexual services.” Media have reported that organizational guidance issued in 2006 stated that Oxfam “did not ban the use of prostitutes, but we strongly discourage it. We don’t ban it because we cannot infringe on people’s liberties.” When I asked Tricia O’Rourke, head of news at Oxfam Great Britain, about Oxfam’s 2017 policy, she responded, “Our code of conduct now states that staff cannot ‘exchange money, offers of employment, employment, goods or services for sex or sexual favors.’ The previous code prohibited sex with people in direct receipt of aid—we admit it was wrong not to explicitly prohibit staff from engaging in any kind of transactional sexual behavior and deeply regret this.”

In February, Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, was called to account for why Oxfam’s sexual abuse of Haitian women was not disclosed to the U.K. government, its primary funder. The Daily Telegraph reported that Goldring was “expected to claim that Oxfam had not informed ministers of the allegations in 2011 because it believed that staff accused of paying prostitutes were not guilty of exchanging ‘sex for aid’.” It appears that the Oxfam executive made a distinction between using women in prostitution (OK) and trading “sex for aid” (not OK), and in doing so, at that point in time, was ignorant of the organization’s 2017 revised code of conduct.

After the Oxfam scandal, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced it had “dealt with” 24 cases of sexual harassment and abuse in 2017, all involving field staff and almost all in mission countries. Nineteen people were dismissed from the organization. When I inquired about its current policy on sexual harassment and abuse, MSF responded that it has a no-tolerance policy that applies to minors and adults. Seeming to contradict the policy, MSF also added, “there is no one global code of conduct for all MSF offices and missions,” although each of its 21 different sections shares the same “binding commitment and vision.”

When asked whether it prohibits its personnel from purchasing “sexual services,” MSF told me, “There is current discussion within MSF to reinforce our policy on sexual exploitation, by explicitly addressing the specific issue of buying services from sex workers, in guidance to all staff.” Yet when asked whether it takes any position on Amnesty International’s policy of full decriminalization of the sex industry, MSF pointed me to its teams in South Africa who, in a response to the South African Law Reform Commission’s report on prostitution, condemned the report for not supporting decriminalization of the sex industry. Instead, MSF South Africa “supports the decriminalization of sex work” and stands “in solidarity” with pro-sex trade groups such as SWEAT and the Sisonke Sex Worker Movement. The organization makes no mention of groups that oppose decriminalization of the sex industry in South Africa, such as Masimanyane or Dignity, both representing survivors of prostitution.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is also on the roster of big corporate NGO abusers. ICRC director Yves Daccord has acknowledged that 21 staffers violated the organization’s policy by paying for “sexual services.” No details of where the sexual exploitation took place were released.

To its credit, the ICRC has long included in its code of conduct an explicit proscription against staffers purchasing “sexual services.” Daccord affirmed that “the ban applies worldwide and at all times, including in locations where prostitution is legal, as the ICRC believes that staff paying for sex is incompatible with the values and mission of the organization.” The ICRC’s policy is contractually binding. Daccord has contacted other NGOs with the goal of preventing offenders from being shifted from one agency to another, a common NGO practice.

And then there was the annual men-only charity benefit in Britain sponsored by the corporate businessmen of the Presidents Club, who for years allowed powerful titans of business, politics, finance, media, entertainment and government to prey on young women at the event. In January, the club hired 130 “hostesses”—who were ordered to wear skimpy, body-clinging, black outfits with matching underwear and high heels—to provide “services” to the male guests. Procured from the Artista agency, the women were told to make men happy. During the event, Artista also showed videos of women dancing in their underwear.

Paraded in at the start of the evening, hostesses were made to smile and strut across the stage for men’s gaze before walking to their assigned tables as the men whistled, cheered and clapped. According to one hostess, certain women wore soaring red heels or red belts so they could be identified as available for “extra duties,” i.e., for sex. As the event went on, alcohol and drugs flowed freely, and the sexual demands became more forceful. One shocked businessman said, “It’s a cesspit … it’s just an upper-class whorehouse.”

At the event and especially at the after-party, where the hostesses were required to stay until 2 a.m., they were groped and propositioned. The harassment included being fondled repeatedly, pulled onto men’s laps, asked to remove their underwear, and invited to men’s rooms in the hotel. Men exposed themselves and asked women if they were “prostitutes.” Caroline Dandridge, the founder of Artista, told the women, to just tell the men, “You’re a naughty boy.” The benefit auctioned off nights at a strip club and a course of plastic surgery that invited men to “add spice to your wife.”

The benefit was not merely an event that got out of hand, with a few rogue men behaving badly. It was deliberately designed to prey on young women and allow the male attendees sex on demand. Apparently, the club was able to mask its misdeeds for 33 years because it raised millions of pounds to aid those in need. The women were made to sign nondisclosure agreements.

Is it surprising that NGO executives and staffers are acting like the corporate businessmen at a Presidents Club benefit? Some, like Goldring at Oxfam, explain their organization’s sexual abuse based on a distinction between “sex for aid” and prostitution. Commentators such as Suzanne Moore, writing in The Guardian, appear to make this same distinction. She claims that Oxfam’s abuse of vulnerable women, while it is “vile exploitation,” is not prostitution because “prostitution implies choice and consent. However, it is not clear how any choice was made, in the devastating aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.”

Minus an earthquake, what does it take to understand that it is not clear how any choice is made for the majority of women in prostitution?

The privileged male abusers of Haitian women are not much different from the privileged male abusers who prowl the streets of major cities in the United States looking “to score,” or who gratify themselves in the legal brothels of Germany, the Netherlands or Nevada. The women they exploit are mostly women whose alleged choice and consent is driven by family breakdown, past and present sexual abuse, poverty, substance abuse and/or a predatory recruiter or pimp who smooths the way–no choice at all, really.

Policies legalizing or decriminalizing the sex industry seem based on a sliding scale that makes distinctions between “especially vulnerable women” and “not-so-vulnerable women.” Should we distinguish between “especially vulnerable women” on the streets of Haiti who swap sex for necessities and those who allegedly are “not so vulnerable” because they provide sex for money in Haiti’s sex clubs and bars? Or is the sliding scale more accurate if we acknowledge that all women who resort to prostitution in Haiti are “especially vulnerable” but not women in European or U.S. sex venues because the latter have more “choice?”

Amnesty International’s prostitution policy has further confused general NGO policy on prostitution by giving prostitution users permission to abuse women, rationalizing that decriminalization of the sex industry benefits women and allegedly preserves their right to prostitute. But whose rights are really being protected here? Amnesty’s policy provides validation for men who would abuse vulnerable women and—like other NGO perpetrators and the corporate abusers of the Presidents Club—call it charity, protection or economic welfare.

There have been many protests in the wake of these NGO scandals. On International Women’s Day, women aid workers published an open letter to senior managers, CEOs and board members of humanitarian and development organizations, demanding reform of the corporate NGO culture that permits sexual harassment and exploitation. The #MeToo movement has also removed impunity from many high-flying and wealthy sexual abusers prominent in Hollywood, the media and women’s sports.

Much has been said about the need to change the culture of organizational sexual abuse—a culture that in large measure is built on the culture of prostitution. Prostitution has been much in the background of the #MeToo movement but much in the foreground of many men’s lives. We need to acknowledge how prostitution and the sex industry are major propellants of the sexual abuse endured by women in everyday life.

Prostitution is the arena in which sexual harassment and abuse are normalized and repeated in nearly every sexual encounter—where sexual abuse is justified because she allegedly consents to it, and he pays for it. Prostituted women experience daily the sexual sadism aimed at women in the entertainment media and the violent acts depicted in gonzo porn—the most debasing genre of pornography that dominates the pornography market. Media sexual sadism and pornography have also been instrumental in desensitizing men to the “regular” sexual abuse they inflict on many women outside of prostitution, abuse for which the #MeToo movement has made men accountable.

Pimp culture has invaded our language, making it hip to use the word. Billboards advertising “pimp smooth” beer, marketers who “pimp” their products and a TV show called “pimp my ride” all pass, especially in youth circles, for something cool. One need not understand the multiple meanings this word conveys in different contexts to know that using that term ignores the actual consequences that pimping inflicts on prostituted women and girls.

I asked prostitution survivor Autumn Burris, director of Survivors for Solutions, about the connections between the sexual exploitation reported by women in the #MeToo movement and the sexual abuse of prostitution. In what has now become a legendary tweet, she responded that prostitution is “#MeToo on steroids.” When asked about her tweet, Burris explained that prostituted women are subjected “to hourly sexual harassment, rape, unwanted advances/penetration and aggressive and violent behavior by white, privileged men sexually commodifying our bodies.”

How can we change the NGO culture of sexual abuse and assault when certain human rights organizations have institutionalized pimping and buying a woman’s body for sex as basic freedoms to protect? How can we change the general culture of sexual abuse and assault if those whose very mission is to do good are doing bad?

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Farmhands and Maids Say #MeToo

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Tara Murtha.

“In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers”
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“In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers”

A book by Bernice Yeung

More than seven months since #MeToo was reignited, we’re still hearing an outpouring of stories from survivors of sexual harassment and rape—experiences that may or may not count as such according to technicalities of the law. How these stories are perceived and responded to—or not—reveals the long shadows cast by biases built into the legal system. Bernice Yeung’s new book, “In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers,” shines a light into these shadows to expose generations of sexual abuse suffered disproportionately by low-income immigrant women and the efforts to stop it.

The book updates and expands two major reporting projects. In 2013, Yeung, an investigative journalist for Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting, was part of a team that produced the award-winning report “Rape in the Fields,” which exposed rampant sexual assault of agricultural workers. In another exposé, “Rape on the Night Shift” (2015), Yeung and her team revealed that women cleaning empty buildings in the middle of the night were assaulted with little or no recourse.

Click here to read long excerpts from “In a Day’s Work” at Google Books.

For “In a Day’s Work,” Yeung widens her focus to include domestic workers who perform “the intimate and invisible work that happens in someone else’s bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.” Domestic laborers typically share the same risk factors as women in the agricultural and janitorial industries, but they are even more vulnerable because in many cases they have been excluded from federal labor laws and often live with their abusers.

Yeung’s reporting achieves a balance rare in public interest journalism: She tells compelling stories that illustrate systemic problems without reducing people to mere players in a legal argument. She skillfully knits case studies into rigorous policy analysis. Most important, Yeung traces paths toward progress beyond merely raising awareness. For example, she highlights promising evidence-based efforts while acknowledging “the cottage industry” of ineffective workplace compliance training. She brings us to a training for workers at Pacific Tomato Growers in Florida focused on addressing domestic and sexual violence. The program was unique, Yeung writes, because instead of simply translating boilerplate materials, it was designed by farmworkers for farmworkers in their native tongue, using examples of sexual harassment fieldworkers can recognize. Yeung also describes the Fair Food Program, an effort that leverages consumer power by rewarding retailers that purchase produce from farms focused on preventing sexual harassment as part of workplace safety.

She also illustrates the high stakes her sources must consider before speaking about abuse. For example, the book begins with the story of a woman called Rosa, who has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit. A farm supervisor also raped Rosa’s sister while pressing gardening shears to her throat. He threatened to fire her sister and brother, and to have the children she works to support back in Mexico killed if she fought back or told. Rosa hesitantly talked to the reporters, then stopped, explaining her decision by showing the reporters photos of her children.

“This case exemplified the phenomenon our reporting team was seeking to uncover,” Yeung writes. “How immigration status and poverty are leveraged against female workers to hold them hostage in jobs where they are being sexually abused.  Because there is no assurance that speaking out will be met with protection from future or collateral harm, the only rational thing to do is say nothing. After meeting Rosa, I came to understand why so many sexually abused workers have for so long abided in silence.” Yeung’s book nonetheless helps break that silence.

We learn a lot from the women able to speak to Yeung. Georgina Hernández is an undocumented hotel cleaner who couldn’t read or write when her supervisor started trapping her in private spaces, where he would assault her, then threaten to hurt her and her daughter and have her deported if she dodged him or retaliated. “There’s no way to defend yourself,” Hernández said. “There’s no way to say no. When you need the job, you become the victim of others. … You deal with it because you need the job.” Hernández was eventually able to escape the abuse and file a successful lawsuit thanks to the help of the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, a California-based watchdog group devoted to workers rights in the janitorial industry.

Yeung writes of “a discordant reality” of domestic workers who, “in search of the American dream,” take on “one in only a handful of jobs in the United States that has been excluded from laws meant to shield workers from abuse.” As Yeung explains, agricultural and domestic laborers were excluded from federal protections as a way to avoid protecting black workers by proxy. Domestic labor was further devalued and degraded because black women disproportionately held those jobs.

Though it was begun well before the latest wave of the Me Too movement, “In a Day’s Work” nonetheless lands at a perfect time to inform the conversation. In November, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, the national farmworker women’s alliance, wrote an open letter expressing solidarity with Hollywood actresses who spoke out about sexual abuse and harassment. “We wish that we could say we’re shocked to learn that this is such a pervasive problem in your industry,” they wrote. “Sadly, we’re not surprised because it’s a reality we know far too well.” A group of women working in film, television and theater responded with a letter announcing the launch of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund to help defray legal costs for women seeking help. Given that white women with privilege have all too often marginalized women of color in movements toward liberation, the letter was an astounding gesture.

So what’s next? The question is often asked as if #MeToo is some kind of runaway train. “In a Day’s Work” shows that in fact we are in control of what happens next: With vigorous reporting, we can parlay the momentum of #MeToo into real systemic change. To do that, it is urgently necessary to support the efforts of America’s most vulnerable workers, who are already leading the way, for the collective good.

Tara Murtha is a freelance writer, the author of the book “Ode to Billie Joe” and the director of communications at the Women’s Law Project, a nonprofit legal organization based in Pennsylvania.

©2018 Washington Post Book World

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Sexual Harassment Rampant in Science, New Report Reveals

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Ilana Novick.

A new report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) reveals that half of women studying and working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) positions at American universities have been subject to sexual harassment. And, as STAT, an online journal of biotech, pharma and life sciences, reports, “there’s no evidence that current policies are significantly helping to stem the issue.”

Researchers spent two years surveying female students and faculty who were the targets of sexual harassment, compiling data from women at the University of Texas and Pennsylvania State University school systems, representing 10,000 undergraduates, graduate students and female faculty.

As The Washington Post observed, “Between 20 percent and 50 percent of female students in science, engineering and medicine, and more than 50 percent of faculty, said they had experienced harassment.”

Researchers also found that such harassment was more common for engineering and medical students than it was for students in non-science-oriented fields.

STAT notes how the results of this treatment impacted respondents’ personal and professional lives:

Victims interviewed for the report said they had skipped professional meetings and social situations, dropped out of research projects, and left jobs, just to avoid harassment. They described being mortified, devastated, and outraged in some cases. Many didn’t formally report their harassment, often for fear of retaliation. And some who did said the drawn-out proceedings drained them of precious time and energy to do their work.

Some scientists welcomed the reports’ findings. Heidi Lockwood, a professor of philosophy at Southern Connecticut State University, told The Post that the 300-page report is “a spectacular and encyclopedic piece of research and writing, and will no doubt serve as the touchstone for research, policy and advocacy in this area for years to come.”

Others, while grateful for quantitative data to back up their lived experience, questioned whether NASEM was willing to reckon with its own history of harassment accusations. Inder Verma, formerly a cancer biologist at the Salk Institute and editor in chief of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, resigned from both positions in the last few weeks following sexual harassment allegations.

Geoff Marcy, another NASEM member, resigned from his position at the University of California at Berkeley following a 2015 Buzzfeed article that revealed the university investigated student claims of harassment and found that Marcy had violated the school’s conduct policies.

But NASEM has not revoked Verma or Marcy’s memberships. As BethAnn McLaughlin, an assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University, told The Post, the lack of action “certainly undermines the credibility of the National Academy to implement meaningful change.”

Still, the report offers recommendations for moving forward. They include hiring more women and people of color, especially in leadership positions; creating stronger anti-sexual harassment policies and being more transparent about them; providing more support services to victims of sexual harassment; and offering stricter enforcement of federal anti-discrimination policies such as Title VII.

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Rose McGowan Says Depression Caused Anthony Bourdain’s Death, Defends Asia Argento

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Kasia Anderson.

The shock from last Friday’s news about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide was still reverberating on Monday, following a weekend of tributes and artfully written eulogies from friends and fans of the globally minded chef, author and “Parts Unknown” host. The sudden passing of such a familiar and larger-than-life public personality could not help but cause questions and speculation to circulate, predictable reactions that have only been amplified and multiplied by social media.

Actor Rose McGowan, who knew Bourdain and is a close friend of his partner, Asia Argento, released a statement Monday in the interest of clarifying some of those ongoing discussions while shutting others down. In a missive she circulated to news sources and confirmed on Twitter as her own, McGowan offers details that fill in some missing details about Bourdain’s death and urges readers to avoid placing blame where it is neither helpful nor warranted.

More specifically, McGowan comes to Argento’s defense, admonishing those who would zoom in on Bourdain’s two-year relationship with the Italian actor-director and thus pull focus from where McGowan believes it should stay—on the true cause of the tragedy. That would be depression, not Argento, McGowan argues.

Like McGowan, Argento has been a forceful activist in the #MeToo movement, and another member of the entertainment industry to accuse indicted former producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. Bourdain was vocally supportive of #MeToo and made frequent remarks about Weinstein, as well as about prominent men in the restaurant business and the “meathead bro culture” to which he’d once contributed.

Read McGowan’s statement below:

Dear Fellow Humans,

Sitting across from me is the remarkable human and brave survivor, Asia Argento, who has been through more than most could stand, and yet stand she does. She stood up to her monster rapist and now she has to stand up to yet another monster, suicide. The suicide of her beloved lover and ally, Anthony Bourdain. I write these truths because I have been asked to. I know so many around the world thought of Anthony Bourdain as a friend and when a friend dies, it hurts. Many of these people who lost their ‘friend’ are wanting to lash out and blame. You must not sink to that level. Suicide is a horrible choice, but it is that person’s choice.

When Anthony met Asia, it was instant chemistry. They laughed, they loved and he was her rock during the hardships of this last year. Anthony was open with his demons, he even wrote a book about them. In the beginning of their relationship, Anthony told a mutual friend, “He’s never met anyone who wanted to die more than him.” And through a lot of this last year, Asia did want the pain to stop. But here’s the thing, over their time together, thankfully, she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children. Anthony’s depression didn’t let him, he put down his armor, and that was very much his choice. His decision, not hers. His depression won. Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony. Was. Such a terrible word to write. I’ve heard from many that the past two years they were together were some of his happiest and that should give us all solace.

Anthony was 61, the same age my father was when he died. My father also suffered from intermittent deep depression, and like Anthony, was part of a “pull up your bootstraps and march on” generation. The a “strong man doesn’t ask for help” generation. I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor’s advice. And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt. Do NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame. Anthony’s internal war was his war, but now she’s been left on the battlefield to take the bullets. It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony. We are asking you to be better, to look deeper, to read and learn about mental illness, suicide and depression before you make it worse for survivors by judging that which we do not understand, that which can never fully be understood. Sometimes we are stuck in the unknowable, and that is where we are now, a massive wave of darkness that threatens to swallow everyone in its wake.

As I watch Asia do her job on set today, I see a pillar of strength who continues to work to put food on her children’s table. I see Elizabeth Taylor carrying on filming Cat on a Hot Tin Roof despite her love, her husband, dying in a plane crash. I see all of us who have carried on. Please join me in sending healing energy to Anthony on his journey, and to all who’ve been left behind to journey on without him. There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting.

We must do more and be better. Anthony, our friend, would want it that way.

To the media and to the random commenter, Anthony would never have wanted Asia to be hurt, I’d like to think he would want us to have the collective conversation that needs to be had about depression. Blame is NOT a conversation, it is the shutting down of our collective growth. Which is where we are now. We have a choice as humans, shrink to our smaller, uglier selves, or be better and grow as only true Phoenixes can. I urge you to be that Phoenix.

With great sadness and even greater hope, I remain,

Rose McGowan

cc: Asia Argento

If you are considering suicide, reach out. We need you here. You matter. You exist. You count. There is help a phone call away, reach out.

 

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#MeToo Crisis Jolts Southern Baptists Ahead of Key Gathering

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by DAVID CRARY / The Associated Press.

The Southern Baptists are facing their own #MeToo crisis as the biggest Protestant denomination in the U.S. heads into its annual meeting next week.

A series of sexual misconduct cases has prompted the Southern Baptist Convention’s socially conservative, all-male leadership to seek forgiveness for the ill treatment of women and vow to combat it. Hoping for more than rhetoric, women and some male allies plan a protest rally in Dallas when the two-day meeting opens on Tuesday.

“The past two months have been tough for our convention,” SBC President Steve Gaines wrote this week. “I believe God has allowed all of this to happen to drive us to our knees.”

Illustrating the SBC’s predicament, the central figure in the most prominent of the #MeToo cases, Paige Patterson, had been scheduled to deliver the featured sermon at the gathering. However, Patterson withdrew from that role Friday, heeding a request from Gaines and other leaders.

Patterson was recently dismissed as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas because of his response to two rape allegations made years apart by students.

In a 2015 case, according to the seminary’s board chairman, Patterson told a campus security official that he wanted to meet alone with a student who had reported being raped, to “break her down.”

Patterson also was accused of making improper remarks about a teenage girl’s body and contending that abused women should almost always stay with their husbands.

Baptist Press, the SBC’s official news service, has reported on other cases, including the resignations of one seminary professor who acknowledged “a personal moral failing” and another who cited “personal and spiritual issues.”

SBC leaders say there are many more cases — adding up to a humiliating debacle for the 15.2-million-member denomination.

“The avalanche of sexual misconduct that has come to light in recent weeks is almost too much to bear,” wrote the Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a recent blog post . “These grievous revelations of sin have occurred in churches, in denominational ministries, and even in our seminaries.”

Mohler acknowledged that the crisis might raise questions about the SBC’s doctrine of “complementarianism” — which espouses male leadership in the home and in the church and says a wife “is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.”

Mohler said the SBC will not abandon the doctrine. But “we need to realize there are unbiblical and toxic forms of complementarianism,” he said. “We should be honoring women, not abusing them.”

The Rev. Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s public policy arm, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the #MeToo moment would not trigger a move to ordain women as ministers

“There is, though, a great deal of conversation about how women can have a greater voice in decision-making,” he said, suggesting that more women could serve as trustees of seminaries and other institutions.

Moore and Mohler are among dozens of SBC leaders who have co-signed a resolution that will be submitted for approval in Dallas. It calls on the SBC to repudiate any rhetoric or behavior that dishonors women, and denounces those who commit or cover up such actions. It also urges congregations and ministers to abide by all reporting laws.

The resolution’s author, Midwestern Seminary president Jason Allen, bristled at the notion that wives should endure abuse to save their marriages.

“We can work against our matrimony-shattering ‘no-fault’ divorce culture and shore up marriages,” he wrote. “But this needed work never means asking women to suffer abuse.”

The draft resolution received a mixed review from Ashley Easter, a writer and speaker from Raleigh, North Carolina, who is an advocate for victims of abuse and an organizer of Tuesday’s planned protest rally.

She and the others want the SBC to create a database of clergy sex offenders and require all pastors and seminarians to undergo training on how to address domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Easter said she wishes the SBC would change its doctrine about gender roles but doubts that is imminent.

“When you have a patriarchal theology, with one person in power and control of the other, some will use that theology to abuse,” she said. “It’s unsafe for women not to be in an equal place.”

A rally organizer, Texas-based author and speaker Mary DeMuth, commended the draft resolution but expressed dismay that women were given minimal speaking time at the two-day SBC meeting. She said she wishes for an SBC in which women “are no longer dismissed, stereotyped or relegated to subcommittees.”

At least one of the scheduled speakers at the rally is a man. Wade Burleson, an author and lead pastor of Emmanuel Enid church in Enid, Oklahoma, is critical of the way many of his fellow ministers restrict women’s roles in the church.

“I believe they are misinterpreting the Scriptures big time,” he tweeted recently. “I also believe change is coming soon in the SBC to reflect a more biblical approach toward women. The Southern Baptist Convention may even have a female President sooner rather than later.”

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Judge Who Sentenced Swimmer Recalled Amid #MeToo Movement

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by PAUL ELIAS / The Associated Press.

SAN FRANCISCO — The beginning of the end for the first California judge recalled since 1932 began almost exactly two years ago, when Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky sentenced a former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault to six months in jail instead of a long prison term.

A statement from the victim captured the national spotlight, recounting the ordeal of the investigation and trial, where she was cross-examined about her drinking habits and sexual experience.

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” she said in a statement read in court before the June 2016 sentencing of Brock Turner.

Within days, a politically connected Stanford law professor who was friends with the victim launched a campaign to recall the judge.

On Tuesday, Santa Clara County voters agreed and recalled the judge from office after his nearly 15-year career on the bench.

“The broader message of this victory is that violence against women is now a voting issue,” said Michele Dauber, an outspoken women’s rights campus activist who launched the recall effort. She said the local vote will resonate nationally and underscores the staying power of the #MeToo movement.

“This is a historical moment in time. Women are standing up for their rights and there is a national reckoning.”

Persky, who declined to comment Tuesday, said repeatedly that he couldn’t discuss the case that spurred the recall because Turner has appealed his conviction. But in a lengthy interview with The Associated Press last month, he said he didn’t regret the decision and was taken aback by the reaction.

“I expected some negative reaction,” Persky said. “But not this.”

Persky said he was adopting the probation department’s recommendation to spare Turner prison for several reasons, including Turner’s age, clean criminal record and the fact that both Turner and the victim were intoxicated.

“The problem with this recall is it will pressure judges to follow the rule of public opinion as opposed to the rule of law.”

The California Commission on Judicial Performance ruled that he handled the case legally. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen didn’t appeal the sentence.

The case sparked a national debate over the criminal justice system’s treatment of sexual assault victims and racial inequities in court.

Persky is white and holds undergraduate degrees from Stanford and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Many complained Persky showed too much deference to Turner, a white Stanford scholarship athlete whose parents could afford a private attorney. Activists pointed to numerous other cases in which minorities faced much harsher sentences for less egregious crimes.

The victim, who came to be known as Emily Doe, testified she was passed out behind a trash can when two men saw Turner on top of her. The two men, Swedish graduate students, yelled at Turner to stop and then chased him and held him down for police when tried to flee.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify sexual assault victims.

Persky said he took the victim’s experience into account when sentencing Turner.

But the judge said the publicity of Turner’s arrest and trial and the young man’s loss of a swimming scholarship also factored into his sentence. Turner is also required to register for life as a sex offender. Persky cited numerous letters of support friends, former teachers and employers wrote on behalf of Turner.

“I think you have to take the whole picture in terms of what impact imprisonment has on a specific individual’s life,” Persky said during the sentencing hearing.

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