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Protestors attack judicial system after incestuous rapist walks free
By MICHIKO KAWAHARA/ Senior Staff Writer April 17, 2019

More than 400 demonstrators near Tokyo Station on April 11 protest recent district court rulings that found sex offenders not guilty. (Takuya Isayama) Hundreds of people in Tokyo protested recent court rulings in which the judges recognized that rapes had occurred but allowed the perpetrators to walk because the victims could have offered more resistance.

At a rally called “Standing demonstration protesting sexual violence and sexual violence court rulings” near Tokyo Station on April 11, the demonstrators expressed disgust with the rulings and held signs that read “#MeToo,” “Yes Means Yes!” and “Give judges an education on human rights and sex!”

“I am confounded and terrified by the not-guilty rulings,” said Minori Kitahara, a writer and activist. “I am afraid that victims of sexual abuse will not be able to raise their voices after such verdicts were given.”

The rulings in March by the Nagoya District Court’s Okazaki branch and the Fukuoka District Court’s Kurume branch both found the suspects not guilty of “quasi-forcible sexual intercourse.”

Under Japanese Criminal Law, sexual offenders cannot be punished only for committing non-consensual sex. To win convictions on charges of forced sexual intercourse, prosecutors must prove that the attackers’ excessive violence or intimidation made it “extremely difficult” for the victims to put up resistance.

In cases in which assailants rape victims who are unable to resist for reasons that include unconsciousness from drug or alcohol consumption, prosecutors apply charges of quasi-forced sexual intercourse. To win guilty verdicts on this charge, prosecutors must show that the victims had an “incapacitation to resist.”

In the case before the Nagoya District Court’s Okazaki branch, prosecutors argued that a daughter was incapable of resisting her father’s rapes because of his long history of violence and sexual abuse. He was charged with quasi-forced sexual intercourse in relation to two attacks against his then 19-year-old daughter in Aichi Prefecture in 2017.

The court acknowledged that the daughter “did not consent” to sex with her father and that she had been sexually abused since she was a junior high school student. The court also said the father used violence against the daughter shortly before he raped her.

But after describing the accused’s acts of sexual abuse as “utterly unacceptable,” the court found him not guilty, saying the daughter “was not in a state in which resisting her father was extremely difficult.” The ruling added that the father-daughter relationship was not characterized as a strongly subservient one that forced her to blindly accept his authority. The ruling sparked outrage from the public and many legal experts.

Hisashi Sonoda, a professor of criminal law at Konan University’s Law School in Kobe, called the court decision “unreasonable.” “The court acknowledged the father’s sexual abuse of the woman, but it found him not guilty because it did not recognize that he controlled every aspect of her personality,” said Sonoda, who is also a lawyer.

He also said the ruling is questionable in light of precedents that recognized the inability to resist from a psychological viewpoint. During the trial, prosecutors submitted as evidence a written opinion of a psychiatrist who examined the daughter and concluded that her psychological condition put her in a state in which she could not resist his sexual assaults.

Akira Kitani, a lawyer who had long served as a criminal court judge, also criticized the district court’s ruling. “The verdict is far from compelling,” he said. “The human rights of the accused should be respected, and the ruling will not be able to gain the public’s understanding.” Prosecutors have appealed the court’s decision.

The ruling was especially tough for victims of sexual abuse. Jun Yamamoto, who leads the Spring organization of sexual abuse survivors, said the verdict showed the judge’s utter lack of understanding about the mental condition of those who are abused.

Yamamoto had been sexually abused by her biological father for seven years since she was 13. “The court did not comprehend the impact on a victim who has been treated as a sex object by the very person who raises her,” she said. “Many people do not become aware that they are indeed victims of sexual abuse and instead try to adjust themselves to the circumstances.”

Yamamoto said the court’s ruling also denied the victim’s efforts to raise her voice after breaking free from being a prisoner of abuse. Courts generally do not recognize the crime of quasi-forced sexual intercourse unless the accused is shown to have purposely taken advantage of the victim’s loss of consciousness or inability to resist.

This is based on principles of the Criminal Law in which an unintentional act cannot be punishable.

The “intention” to rape was at the center of dispute in a trial held at the Fukuoka District Court’s Kurume branch in Fukuoka Prefecture. The court acknowledged that the suspect raped an unconscious woman who had consumed a large amount of alcohol.

But he was found not guilty on March 12 because the court recognized circumstances that could have misled him into believing that the woman had given her consent.

The ruling said that although she was too drunk to resist him, she was able to utter words and gave no clear rejection of his actions at the time. The ruling was appealed.

Red Women Rising: 

Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

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“We need to keep families together. Colonization and missing and murdered Indigenous women has broken families. The children left behind by missing and murdered Indigenous women are mostly in foster care and then when they age out they end up on the street. The violence against missing and murdered Indigenous women continues with their children who are also violated and made vulnerable.”

Read more here:

5 million women form human chain in India to protest temple ban

by By Rachel Thompson, Jan. 2, 2019

An estimated 5 million women in India joined forces to form a human chain to protest gender inequality and a Hindu temple's centuries-old ban on all women of "menstruating age."

On Jan. 1, 2019, women in Kerala, southern India, joined to form a 385-mile (620km) "women's wall" to protest the persistent barring of women from the Sabarimala temple, which has historically banned women aged between 10 and 50.

After the formation of the protest, two women entered the temple for the first time following the lifting of the ban by the Supreme Court in September 2018. Per the BBC, protesters have since attacked women who've attempted to enter the temple.

According to the Guardian, the two women who entered the temple have been named by local media as Bindu and Kanaka Durga. The pair attempted to access the temple in December but were prevented by "right wing Hindu protesters determined to uphold the ban."

BBC Hindi reports that five million women from all over Kerala lined up along highways to form a chain "which stretched from the northern tip of Kasaragod to the southern end in Thiruvanthapuram." Organisers of the "women's wall" protest — set up by India's left-wing coalition government — had predicted a turnout of three million.

"This is a great way of saying how powerful women are, and how we can empower ourselves and help each other," protestor Kavita Das told BBC Hindi. "Of course, I support the move to allow women of all ages into the temple. I don't think tradition or any kind of backwardness should stop women. Those who want to pray must have the right to pray," Das continued.

India's ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), condemned the Supreme Court's ruling allowing women to enter the Sabarimala shrine on the grounds that it attacked religious values.

Per ABC, the BJP's Kerala state president PS Sreedharan Pillai said the court's verdict was "a conspiracy by the atheist rulers to destroy the Hindu temples".

A spokesperson for the Opposition Congress party, K Sudhakaran, described the two women entering the temple as "treachery" and that the left-wing state government "will have to pay the price for the violation of the custom".

Women protest in major cities against violence; two arrested in Tel Aviv

Organizers demand funding for campaign against such incidents, call on supporters to strike daily for 25 minutes – one for each woman killed in domestic violence this year

By Stuart Winer and TOI staff, 12 December 2018

Demonstrations were held in major cities around the country Wednesday in protest of violence that has claimed the lives of up to 25 women in the country since the beginning of the year.

Two women were arrested during a protest in Tel Aviv when they tried to block a road. Other rallies were held in Jerusalem and Beersheba.

The protests came a day after a woman was found stabbed to death in an apartment in the northern coastal city of Acre. Though police are still investigating the case, female activists have said they believe she is the 25th victim of fatal domestic violence in 2018.

“Following the women’s protest at Kaplan Junction in Tel Aviv, two women who refused to listen to police instructions were arrested on suspicion of disrupting public order and for attempting to burn tires,” police said in a statement. “They were taken in for questioning at the police station.”

One of the women arrived at the square with a car full of tires and the other was carrying blazing torches and refused to cooperate with police, reports said.

The protests began at 10 a.m. and continued for 25 minutes, one minute for each woman killed in domestic violence in 2018 — a number that includes the Acre woman whose body was discovered Tuesday and whose killer has not yet been determined.

The Association of Secondary School Teachers in Israel said that its members would strike for 25 minutes in support of the protests.

Overnight Tuesday, activists dyed the waters in two Tel Aviv fountains blood-red.

Organizers have called on women across the country to continue protests by striking every day at 10 a.m. for 25 minutes until the government approves a stalled NIS 250 million ($66 million) budget for a campaign targeting violence against women.

“We will not let this matter slip from the agenda, and we will not accept any more talks and committees,” organizers said in a statement. “We have a concrete demand, a budget that has been stuck for more than a year and half, and we will not stop until our demands are met. The protest continues.”

On Tuesday 29-year-old Iman Awad was found at home in Acre with her throat slit. Police arrested her husband and he was to be brought for a remand hearing later Wednesday.

Awad’s husband denies any involvement in his wife’s death and his lawyer said he has given a detailed alibi to police that can be confirmed from security camera footage.

Last week thousands of women went on strike and tens of thousands rallied across the country to protest women killed by a partner, family member, or someone known to them, and what they say is the authorities’ failure to stem a sharp increase in violence against women.

The protests came after the bodies of two teenage girls, slain in separate incidents, were found on November 26.

There have been several protests targeting government inaction since the murders, with activists also coloring the waters in several public fountains blood-red, including a fountain outside the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Yazidi activist, Congolese doctor win Nobel Peace Prize for combating sexual violence

CBC, Thomson Reuters · Posted: Oct 05, 2018

Norwegian Nobel committee received nominations for 216 individuals, 115 organizations Dr. Denis Mukwege of Congo and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi activist from Iraq, addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, separately, in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

On Friday, they were named as co-winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. (Christian Lutz/Associated Press) Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist treating victims of sexual violence in Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by the ISIS, won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

The Norwegian Nobel committee said it had awarded them the prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. "Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and fighting, such war crimes," it said in its citation.

Mukwege, 63, heads the Panzi Hospital in the eastern city of Bukavu. Opened in 1999, the clinic receives thousands of women each year, many of them requiring surgery from sexual violence. Armed men tried to kill him in 2012, forcing him to temporarily leave the country.

"The importance of Dr. Mukwege's enduring, dedicated and selfless efforts in this field cannot be overstated. He has repeatedly condemned impunity for mass rape and criticized the Congolese government and other countries for not doing enough to stop the use of sexual violence against women as a strategy and weapon of war," the committee said in its citation.

Eastern Congo has seen more than two decades of conflict among armed groups that either sought to unseat presidents or simply grab control of a piece of the country's vast mineral wealth. Reached by phone on Friday, Mukwege said he was in surgery when he learned he had been named a Nobel laureate. "I can see in the faces of many women how they are happy to be recognized. This is really so touching."

Harrowing ordeal

Murad is an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee and women's rights in general. She is one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi girls and women who were victims of rape and other abuses by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

"Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions," the committee said.

Murad was 21 years old in 2014 when ISIS militants attacked the village where she had grown up in northern Iraq. They killed those who refused to convert to Islam, including six of her brothers and her mother.

Murad, along with many of the other young women in her village, was taken into captivity by the militants and sold repeatedly for sex as part of ISIS's slave trade. She eventually escaped captivity with the help of a Sunni Muslim family in Mosul, the group's de facto capital in Iraq, and became an advocate for the rights of her community around the world.

At 23, she was named the UN's first goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking.

"It is unacceptable for a woman to be rescued from captivity from ISIS to come and not have a place to live, to be put in refugee camps," Murad told CBC's Nahlah Ayed in a 2016 interview.

"It is unacceptable for education, for people not to have education. We are a peaceful community that existed in Iraq for thousands of years and we deserve a better life."

Murad visited Canada in July 2016 and lobbied Ottawa to allow in more Yazidi refugees. In October 2016, MPs unanimously supported a motion to bring an unspecified number of Yazidi women and girls to Canada within 120 days.

In February 2017, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced the target would be 1,200 by the end of 2017.

Today, there are roughly 1,310 government-supported Yazidi refugees and 94 privately sponsored Yazidis in the country, the immigration minister's office told CBC News.

Watch as Murad speaks on Parliament Hill in July 2016: Yazidi activist makes plea to Parliamentary committee 02:27

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a Yazidi, and Human Rights Activist, makes an impassioned presentation to the Federal Immigration Committee asking for Canada to start bringing in more Yazidi refugees. 2:27

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel, who sponsored the 2016 motion, said Friday she "can't think of anyone on the planet more deserving" of the award than Murad.

"This is a victory for her, this is a victory for her people, and it underscores the need for international action to prevent women's bodies being used as tools of war," Rempel said.

Hussam Abdullah, head of the Yazidi Organization for Documentation, using an Arabic word to refer to ISIS, said "this win represents the international recognition of the genocide that was committed by Daesh."

Asked whether the #MeToo movement against sexual violence was an inspiration for this year's prize, Nobel committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said:

"MeToo and war crimes are not quite the same. But they have in common that they see the suffering of women, the abuse of women, and that it is important that women leave the concept of shame behind and speak up."

The prize is worth 9 million Swedish kronor ($1.29 million Cdn). It will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.

Last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner was the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.


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