As the world was gripped this week by the storming of U.S. diplomatic compounds in the Middle East, another troubling event that coincided with the September 11 anniversary unfolded largely unnoticed at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. There, a prisoner found dead in his cell over the weekend was identified Tuesday as Adnan Latif, a Yemeni who had been cleared for transfer five years earlier. Latif’s death should serve as a wake-up call for the United States to change its tarnished response to 9/11 by closing Guantanamo, even as it grapples with the horrifying attacks on its missions in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.
It would not be hard at all to make higher education completely free in the USA. It accounts for not quite 2% of GDP. The personal share, about 1% of GDP, is a third of the income of the richest 10,000 households in the U.S., or three months of Pentagon spending. It’s less than four months of what we waste on administrative costs by not having a single-payer health care finance system. But introduce such a proposal into an election campaign and you would be regarded as suicidally insane.
While the poor conditions that prevail in U.S. prisons and jails undercut the promise of rehabilitation, the likelihood of rape makes a mockery of the idea. It is long past time for prisoners to be able to serve their time behind bars without fear of sexual abuse.
The US military is expanding the number of jobs available to female soldiers that potentially would bring them near the front lines.
The Pentagon has announced it will open more than 14,000 combat-related roles to women serving in the army, breaking with the long-held policy of excluding female soldiers from most jobs that would potentially put them in harms way.
The expansion is meant to help US women achieve promotion to the military’s highest ranks.
Al Jazeera’s Rosalind Jordan reports from Fort Bliss in the US.
No one could blame American women here if they all suddenly decided to leave the country saying, ‘That’s it, we’re fucking out of here, this is complete bullshit.’ There has been a debate on contraception in the last week so ludicrous that part of me was wondering if it was in fact a performance art piece, to make us all question how terrible it would be to live in a country where something like this could actually happen.
John Oliver on American contraception debates, The Bugle 183 (via sixpencesoulcake)
When news of a $53 million arms sale, including “44 armored, high-mobility Humvees and over 300 advanced missiles,” broke in early December, several members of Congress expressed their opposition. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) drafted resolutions in Congress to stop the deal from happening. Other elected officials supporting the resolutions include Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Despite the defiance, the State Department will go ahead with the sale thanks to a loophole. From Josh Rogin at FP’s The Cable:
Our congressional sources said that State is using a legal loophole to avoid formally notifying Congress and the public about the new arms sale. The administration can sell anything to anyone without formal notification if the sale is under $1 million. If the total package is over $1 million, State can treat each item as an individual sale, creating multiple sales of less than $1 million and avoiding the burden of notification, which would allow Congress to object and possibly block the deal.
We’re further told that State is keeping the exact items in the sale secret, but is claiming they are for Bahrain’s “external defense” and therefore couldn’t be used against protesters. Of course, that’s the same argument that State made about the first arms package, which was undercut by videos showing the Bahraini military using Humvees to suppress civilian protesters.
Despite the extensive report detailing the Bahrain government’s violent crackdown on protesters, the monarchy is currently in a pleasant position for scapegoating. Blame the Sunni-Shiite youths. Blame Iran. Meanwhile, Bahraini authorities continue to beat even the mostrecognizable human rights activists, while the MOI is eyeing 15-year jail sentences for those who are charged with attacking security personnel.
Another staggeringly clear sign of the chaos in Bahrain can be found in the 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders. Bahrain received its worst ranking yet, falling 29 spots to 173 out of 179 countries… the seventh worst national on earth for censorship and media freedom.
Keep in mind the initial price tag was $53 million worth of weapons and HumVees, but we have no idea what we’re sending them now. It’s clear the State Department is banking on the nation’s collective ignorance and a passive Congress.
[Photos: Bahraini anti-government protesters wait on a street in with Molotov cocktails, riot police fire tear gas towards anti-government protesters and demonstrators gesture towards authorities in Sitra, Bahrain on Monday. Credit: Hasan Jamali/AP]
As last U.S. troops exit Iraq, they leave a troubled land behind: With little understanding of each other, Iraq and the U.S. collided in a long, brutal war that exacted a terrible price from both. They separate with very different understandings of what happened.
Chances are, this morning, that you’ve seen the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control statistics on sexual violence and domestic violence. Most notably, you’ve probably seen the new statistic that almost 1 in 5 women have experienced rape in their lifetimes.
That’s a terrifying statistic, though not a surprising one to those of us who have been involved in sexual violence work for some time. In light of this undeniably already awful news, it may seem cruel to point out that the reality is even worse than it initially appears from this soundbite. But I also think it’s necessary.
Firstly, I think it’s imperative to note that these new statistics are inherently cissexist. Definitions in this report assume that women have vaginas and men have penises. There are no individuals who are neither men nor women. Whether any trans* folks were interviewed for this survey is unclear. They may have been disqualified from participation or had their experiences filed under the incorrect statistics. Trans* folks are mentioned exactly once in the full 124 page National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010 Summary Report (pdf); it is simply stated that services specifically for transgender people should be designed, with no accompanying information on their experiences or how they have or have not been included in this study. It is almost certain, in other words, that these statistics do not tell us anything about rates of violence against “women” and “men” but rather cis women and cis men.
Secondly, the definition of rape that is used in the NISVS is in one way unconventionally broad. In several other ways, the definition of rape being used is also woefully incomplete. The full sexual violence definitions used or this study appear below.
I amended the title up there because it was actually incorrect. One in 5 women in this study reported rape. A far greater number reported sexual assault that did not meet the study’s definition of rape. Actual report is here if anyone wants to check it out. It should also be noted this was a telephone survey that only included people 18 and older. Given the high number of victims who are under the age of 18, we can’t view these stats as exhaustive. But they’re important to note anyway.
The study defined rape as “any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal (for women), oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm and includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.” The numbers for men were 1 in 71 reporting rape.
The study also captured:
Sexual coercion (defined as ‘unwanted sexual penetration that occurs after a person is pressured in a nonphysical way’);
Unwanted sexual contact (defined as unwanted sexual experiences involving touch but not sexual penetration, such as being kissed in a sexual way, or having sexual body parts fondled or grabbed); and
Non-contact (defined as unwanted experiences that do not involve any touching or penetration, including someone exposing their sexual body parts, flashing, or masturbating in front of the victim, someone making a victim show his or her body parts, someone making a victim look at or participate in sexual photos or movies, or someone harassing the victim in a public place in a way that made the victim feel unsafe).
Once you consider what fell outside of the study’s definition of rape, nearly half of the women surveyed (44.6%) and 1 in 5 men (22.2%) reported experiencing sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.
And who are the rapists?
More than half of female victims of rape (51.1%) reported that at least one perpetrator was a current or former intimate partner. Four out of 10 of female victims (40.8%) reported being raped by an acquaintance. Approximately 1 in 8 female victims (12.5%) reported being raped by a family member, and 2.5% by a person in a position of authority. About 1 in 7 female victims (13.8%) reported being raped by a stranger.
So, that’s less than 14% of rapes being committed by strangers. And we blame survivors for their rapes… why exactly?