Week of October 29th
ATSA 26th Annual Research and Treatment Conference
Last week, Suzanne Brown-McBride, CALCASA’s Executive Director, addressed the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) 26th Annual Research and Treatment Conference. Brown-McBride received a standing ovation from the more than 1700 conference attendees at her plenary presentation: “Six Impossible Things Before Breakfeast: Making the Reasonable Possible in a Culture of Fear.”
Brown-McBride pointed out that “few issues are more passionately misunderstood than the nature of sexual violence. Coupled with an unprecedented level of public fear about sexual crimes, erroneous and distorted images of victims and offenders have become engrained in media depictions, culture discourse and at every level of policymaking.
Advocates, practitioners and activists are being challenged to develop a new language of moment that is informed by evidence, inspired by survivorship and can envision effective and accessible models of sexual assault intervention and prevention.
The success of our work will depend on emerging models of collaboration and advocacy that are effective in engaging the public, re-claiming the language of community safety and creating the conditions for rational policymaking.”
International Violence Against Women Act
The Feminist Daily News and Amnesty International reported earlier this week:
Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced yesterday the International Violence Against Women Act. The bill was written with the input and expert advice of over 100 NGOs focusing on gender-based violence, human rights, health care, international development and aid, including the Women’s Edge Coalition, the Feminist Majority, Amnesty International, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and Human Rights Watch.
The bill includes three major provisions to fight violence against women. First, it would create a central Office for Women’s Global Initiatives to coordinate US policies, programs, and resources that deal with women’s issues. Second, it requires a 5-year comprehensive strategy to fight violence against women in targeted countries and provides $172 million a year to support programs that fight violence against women. Last, the bill mandates training, reporting mechanisms and a system for dealing with women and girls afflicted by violence during humanitarian, conflict and post-conflict operations.
Senator Biden was the chief sponsor of the domestic Violence Against Women Act, which was passed in 1994 and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2006. This landmark legislation has provided billions of dollars for domestic violence shelters and training of law enforcement and judicial officers to improve response to domestic violence.
Court: Rape victims out of state can be detained to testify
“Sexual assault victims who live outside of California can be taken into custody and brought to the state to make sure they appear in court to testify if they are necessary witnesses, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday. A three-judge panel of the state’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego made that decision in a 25-page ruling that overturned the rape convictions of a San Marcos man who was sentenced to 105 years to life in prison for those crimes.
The appeals court reversed Henry Ivan Cogswell’s convictions because the victim in the case, who lived in another state at the time, refused to come to the Vista Superior Court to testify at his trial. Her testimony from a preliminary hearing in the case was presented to the jury instead, but the appeals court ruled that was a mistake.
A section of California law prohibits judges from jailing sexual assault victims for contempt of court if they refuse to testify. Nothing in that law, however, excuses sexual assault victims “from the obligation to appear when lawfully summoned,” Associate Justices Patricia Benke, Judith Haller and Cynthia Aaron decided.”
California lawmakers target sexual misconduct by teachers
The Associated Press reported last week that “California lawmakers say they will explore changes in how the state disciplines teachers accused of sexual misconduct and push for greater public disclosure of such cases.”
The efforts follow an Associated Press investigation last month that found 2,570 educators nationwide whose teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001-2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct. Experts who track sexual abuse say those cases are representative of a much deeper problem.
The AP’s investigation is prompting lawmakers and governors across the country to examine and strengthen teacher credentialing and confidentiality laws.
In California, the AP confirmed 313 sexual misconduct cases after reviewing more than 2,000 instances in which teachers were punished. The number would have been much larger, but many of the sexual misconduct cases are hidden from public view because they are classified by the state only as “general misconduct.”
Sexual Assault Aired on Big Brother Africa
“The sight of a drunk young woman being assaulted by a Big Brother housemate in what may be the most public rape ever has turned the stomachs of millions of television viewers. The incident, broadcast live by a pay-TV conglomerate across Africa, has prompted denunciations from the continent’s great and good. Viewers have flooded newspapers and internet message boards with emails expressing undiluted outrage.
Many of the emails contain photo clips from the programme that appear to show Richard Bezuidenhout (left), a 24-year-old film student from Tanzania, assaulting Ofunneka Molokwu, a 29-year-old medical assistant from Nigeria. M-Net, which airs the show have intervened. “There is no indication that she was unconscious at the time,” said Joseph Hundah, an executive at M-Net.
However, viewers of the incident, which took place on Saturday afternoon after an extended drinking bout which ended in copious vomiting and apparent blackout for Molokwu, remain adamant about what they saw: Bezuidenhout lay down next to the comatose young woman and penetrated her vagina with his fingers. He carried on despite the pleas of another female housemate for him stop. Under the law in South Africa – where, on average, a woman is sexually assaulted every 40 seconds – such an act constitutes rape.”
Repair flawed sex-offender proposition
The Daily Democrat ran an opinion piece last week on the requirements of Proposition 83.
Our Opinion: Requirements of the law are far too broad to be effective.
In November, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 83, a measure banning paroled sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or a park where children “regularly gather.” The measure requires offenders to wear GPS ankle bracelets for life. Without a doubt, the 70 percent of the electorate that voted for Proposition 83 wanted to crack down on sex crimes and keep dangerous predators away from children.
However, the law is far too broad, severely limiting the liberty of former offenders. The 2,000-foot limit makes it almost impossible for paroled offenders to find a place to live in an urban area. In too many instances, the law forces people out of stable environments and into apartments and houses in areas far from their jobs.
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Sex offenders declare themselves homeless in Calif., frustrating attempts to track them
Don Thompson, an Associated Press writer, reported last week that “hundreds of California sex offenders who face tough new restrictions on where they can live are declaring themselves homeless — truthfully or not — and that’s making it difficult for the state to track them.
Jessica’s Law, approved by 70 percent of California voters a year ago, bars registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children gather. That leaves few places where offenders can live legally.
Some who have had trouble finding a place to live are avoiding re-arrest by reporting — falsely, in some cases — that they are homeless. Experts say it is hard to monitor sex offenders when they lie about their address or are living day-to-day in cheap hotels, homeless shelters or on the street. It also means they may not be getting the treatment they need.”
“We could potentially be making the world more dangerous rather than less dangerous,” said therapist Gerry Blasingame, past chairman of the California Coalition on Sexual Offending.
Similar laws in Iowa and Florida have driven offenders underground or onto the streets.
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