Statement from rural women in India on recent events in Delhi

Please help BWRAP and WAR to circulate the statement and article below:

The mass protests taking place all over India, and the international support for them, show how determined women are to end rape, and how we face similar violence and similar sexism by the authorities, wherever we are. For years our Indian sisters in Chhattisgarh have been organizing against rape and murder in the family but also by landlords, police and the military. But Dalit and Tribal women’s struggles have not been given prominence and support by the media or by most middle and upper class women in India or in the UK.

In our experience of dealing with rape and domestic violence here in the UK, the police are also the main obstacle to rape survivors getting justice. Only 6.5% of rapes in the UK end in conviction. We see daily cases dropped, as police have not gathered the evidence properly or the Crown Prosecution Service has decided it is not good enough to take to court. This is especially true for children, women of colour, women with disabilities and working class women generally. That’s why abusers and rapists like Savile and those in Rochdale and North Wales children homes and elsewhere were allowed to go for so long without being prosecuted, despite having been reported to the police and social services a number of times – vulnerable women and girls were treated as ‘plebs’ who exist to be available to sexual predators. We are even having to campaign with rape survivors imprisoned for reporting rape. Many cases of police rape have also come to light in the UK. We know these are only the tip of the iceberg.

Below are statements from a sister organisation based in 400 villages in Mahasamund, Chhattisgarh state; and comments from Arundhati Roy focusing on rape committed by police, army and others in authority, against women who have least. That these rapes are not prosecuted gives all violent men the go ahead – they know the authorities are on the side of the rapist and women are undefended.

We who are demanding justice today in India are demanding justice for all beginning with grassroots women everywhere including in the UK.

Statement from Nawa Chhattisgarh Mahila Samiti (Chhattisgarh Women’s Organisation), Chhattisgarh State, India – 6 January 2013

We condemn the gang rape and murder of the young woman in Delhi, and we demand the rapists get life imprisonment so other rapists are afraid and do not rape. In Chhattisgarh, Dalit and Tribal women and girls are being raped like the young woman in Delhi. Sometimes the media covers it but many times they don’t.

High level people who rape women, girls and boys should also be punished as many times they are not. This is happening in many countries. Our law is made by the government and it should be used against the high level people including if they are in government.

For many years in India there has been a grassroots movement of Dalit and Tribal women against rape. Nawa Chhattisgarh Mahila Samiti (NCMS) is part of this movement and has been working against rape since 1987 — in our area, 3,000 Dalit and Tribal women in NCMS have been fighting it. Women and girls are raped by high caste men, landlords and policemen. We help Dalit and Tribal women report rape and demand the police take statements, gather evidence and bring a prosecution of the rapist. Sometimes in the village area, up to 500 women go together to protest against a rapist at his house and shout against rape. Then the women go to the police station and demand the police file a report and punish the rapist. Last year government soldiers were raping women in the Tribal area, Bastar (Chhattisgarh) and in Kashmir but were not punished. We have campaigned to get bicycles for Tribal girls to go to school as school is far from their homes and this has also helped them not get harassed on the way.

In 2003 a police constable raped a 5 year old girl in Raipur. NCMS supported the girl and her family and helped the family get compensation from the government for the hospital costs for the young girl who had been severely injured. The policeman was prosecuted and imprisoned. This is one case of many where we help women and girls get justice against rape.

Naya Zamaana Aayega! A New Age is Coming!

* NCMS is an anti-racist organisation of Adivasi (Tribal) and Dalit women campaigning against bonded labour; rape, low and unequal pay and other discrimination. It brings together people from these two communities who are divided by landowners and other employers, police and government. NCMS is part of the Global Women’s Strike network.

Police, army rampantly use rape as weapon: Arundhati Roy

Published: Monday, Dec 31, 2012, 11:58 IST
Place: London | Agency: DNA

Reacting to the terrible news of the 23-year-old girl succumbing to injuries sustained while fighting off her rapists in a moving bus in the capital, Arundhati Roy warns that it is a sign of forebodings for women of all classes. About the massive outpouring of protests across the country, Roy said, “While we are seeing some very unexceptional reaction to an event which is hardly exceptional, though it’s a terrible thing to call a tragic event ‘exceptional’.

“However, the real problem is why is this crime creating such a lot of outrage is because it plays into the idea of the criminal poor, like the vegetable vendor, gym instructor or bus driver actually assaulting a middle class girl. Whereas when rape is used as a means of domination by upper castes, the army or the police it is not even punished,” said the feted author.

When asked if there was any chance that these huge protests are going to ring in some genuine change, Roy said, “I think it will lead to some new laws perhaps, an increased surveillance, but all of that will protect middle class women. But in cases of the army and the police as perpetrators, we are not looking for laws. What do you do when the police themselves burn down villages, gang-rape women. I have personally listened to so many testimonies of women to whom this has been done.”

Pointing to the contrast between the actual truth about women across the country and the image of modern India being portrayed by Bollywood and the hi-tech India, the author agreed that there are quite many a world competing here. “Feudal India has a huge history and legacy of disrespect and violence against women. Any accounts of Partition or what is done to Dalit women contains that but now there is sort of psychosis,” she said. See the YouTube video
While stating that the army and the police routinely use rape as a weapon against people in places like Chhattisgarh, Kashmir and Manipur after gaining impunity behind laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Roy said, “More dangerous is the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Earlier, at least the rich did what they with a fair amount of discretion, but now it’s all out there on television for conspicuous consumption and there is an anger and psychosis building up and women at the top, middle and the bottom are going to pay the price for it.”

Savile, Rochdale, Wales, Jersey . . . Justice this time? Or more ‘lessons’ in how to get away with rape?

Complicity followed by incompetence in the Savile case landed the BBC in deep waters, to the delight of those who wish to undermine public broadcasting and to the chagrin of the taxpayer who foots the bill.

But let’s not take our eye off the ball and forget all those others who are culpable. Eileen Fairweather is right to be sceptical of Home Secretary Theresa May’s inquiry into North Wales care homes; and Tom Watson MP has already dismissed it as “the next stage of a cover-up”.  As Keith Gregory, one of the survivors, pointed out: “It’s police investigating police and a judge investigating a judge. Will it be any different or do they all stick together?”

From Bloody Sunday to Steven Lawrence to Hillsborough, it is not inquiries but the determination of families and survivors which finally won the truth out, and some convictions.

Years of ignoring the crimes of Jimmy Savile – and related allegations of child abuse (i.e. rape, sexual assault and other violence against children) from Jersey to North Wales – prove that the priority was not to prevent or even stop the rapes, but to shield the criminal and his connections in high places so as not to disturb the status quo.

It is now clear that Savile’s criminality was well known. Former West Yorkshire Police detective John Stainthorpe said that Savile was one of the suspects put forward by the public in the Yorkshire Ripper case, and that the person who gave police the anonymous tip-off was ”aiming in the right direction . . . Child perverts soon become child killers.”

Former Radio 1 DJ Paul Gambaccini whose BBC studio was next door to Savile’s, said that he targeted not only children but children who were “institutionalised, hospitalised”. From Leeds General Infirmary, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and the high-security psychiatric Broadmoor Hospital, there seem to have been nurses and others who witnessed Savile assault patients who were brain-damaged or recovering from an operation; some were told to pretend to be asleep when Savile visited so he wouldn’t interfere with them.

But only a few in positions of authority spoke out and are speaking out today. Alison Taylor, head of a home in Gwynedd, demanded action against the violence children from Nefyn Dodd and other homes were reporting to her. It took dedication and persistence: “The pattern seemed to be that if I made a complaint then something would happen to me – it was like having a sniper behind the wall.” She was suspended in January 1987. In 2000 the Waterhouse Inquiry into the North Wales sex crimes finally admitted that without Taylor there would not have been an inquiry and that “in general terms, she has been vindicated”. John Allen, head of the Bryn Alyn home, and deputy head Peter Howarth, were jailed.

But those who came in the “posh chauffeur driven cars” are still at large. In 1994 Clwyd County Council commissioned a report which stated that “At least 12 young people are dead [most of them having committed suicide] …” Will those who drove them to suicide finally be convicted? The report was never published; although copies were said to have been pulped, some have been found in the Council’s archives. Will it now see the light of day? Or will fear of lawsuits, such as those initiated by Lord MacAlpine after being wrongly accused of child abuse, be used as an excuse to censor the truth once more?

That many institutions gave Savile (and how many others connected and not connected to him?) free rein to assault the children in their care is shocking but not new. Many similar allegations have been made before. All should be reopened: not only Wales but Jersey. Police chief Graham Power claimed that politicians had interfered with the police investigation into the rape and even the deaths of children at Haut de la Garenne, and “closed ranks” with civil servants. He was suspended in what one politician called “a coup d’état”.  The investigation was closed, the authorities eventually accepted they had failed some children “in a serious way”, and paid compensation to about 90 victims. But only eight out of 151 named abusers were prosecuted.

It augurs badly for the present inquiries that some charities seem to be turning the Savile scandal into a bid for funding rather than for justice and change. Yet charities, schools and hospitals did not defend victims from Savile – he was raising money for them! A former Children in Need chairman said they barred Savile from their charity. But unlike Alison Taylor they didn’t take as their brief to stop him.

Charities have written to the government offering to counsel Savile’s victims, but we don’t hear them pressing for justice or compensation. Counselling does not stop rape; it may help victims but it also puts the onus on them to “get over it”. Can you “move on” knowing your attackers are free to attack others? Rape victims go through the trauma of reporting to get recognition and to protect others – their fight for justice is a public service. And we know from experience that winning justice is the best healer.

Why is that so much to ask? The problem is not just that rape victims aren’t believed, some are. But believed or not, they are dismissed. Karin Ward, one of Savile’s BBC victims and a former resident at Duncroft school for girls, where Savile was allowed to roam, said that she sensed “That’s what we were for.” (Panorama 22 October 2012) Duncroft’s retired head Margaret Jones dismissed the claims of her former pupils as “wild allegations by well-known delinquents.”  They were, after all, only plebs.

The same happened more recently in Rochdale, where girls from working class backgrounds were raped for years despite repeatedly reporting to police and social services. One desperate mother put her daughter in care for protection after the police refused to act – the violence only increased. While some of the rapists have been convicted, what about those police, social workers and others in positions of authority who allowed it to go on? Are they not just as culpable? Police claimed they didn’t arrest the men, who happen to be men of colour, because they were worried they would be accused of racism. Yet they have no qualms carrying out thousands of stop and search on men of colour who haven’t been accused of anything. And why was the head of social services able to resign without facing charges?

Something akin happens to asylum seekers at our Women’s Centre. Having fled rape and murder many are refused protection and reduced to destitution, again easy prey to rapists. Raped again in Britain they cannot afford to report for fear of deportation. One woman who reported after winning the right to stay was initially dismissed – police assumed they didn’t need to bother as she wouldn’t be in Britain for long.

If the welfare cap and cuts limiting child benefits to the first two children go through, many more women and children will face similar destitution, unable to feed our children (one in five mothers is already skipping meals to feed hers) or to leave violent relationships; more children will be taken into care or foster homes. We now know what happens to the unprotected – children with least social power are considered to be sexually available and disposable. Does the government care that their cuts undermine women’s and children’s ability to escape rape, or is that part of the policy’s attraction?

Getting justice for victims and stopping cuts that would add to vulnerability, could begin to stop this rape cancer at the heart of the establishment. It would encourage those police and social workers who want to act against rape rather than those who back it. We want to know: Who knew? What did they know? When did they know it? Whom did they tell? How many individuals and institutions were involved in covering up what crimes? We want “lessons to be learnt” – by rapists and their associates being arrested, prosecuted and convicted. Without justice the only lesson ever learnt is how to get away with it.

Report of Slutwalk 2012

By English Collective of Prostitutes

Over 2000 people, mainly women, sallied down Piccadilly for the second London Slutwalk on 22 September. Home-made placards ruled from ‘Sluts & Plebs Unite’ to ‘Compensate Rape Survivors, not Banks’. Many reflected fury at police, prosecutors and courts which ensure that ‘97% of all rapists won’t spend a day behind bars’. See photos here

At the rally in Trafalgar Square, mc’d by performer Red Jen, Slutwalk founder Anastasia Richardson, set the tone with a fiery welcoming speech:

‘We are divided by the myth that some of us are worthy of protection, and some are not. That some of us are sluts, and some of us are “respectable”. We are all worthy of protection but none of us is getting it. Unless we all stand together and say we’re not going to let this happen to any of us, women and men will continue to be raped, and the justice system will continue to fail us.’

An enthusiastic crowd welcomed every speaker: a mother “driven by grief” who became a campaigner with Women Against Rape after her 15-year-old daughter was denied justice by the police who lost evidence; an asylum seeker fleeing gang rape who organised a mass hunger strike against sexist guards in Yarl’s Wood detention centre; a child abuse survivor and former prisoner who spoke of the fight to bring serial abusers of children to justice when people in authority turn a blind eye; a woman with a disability who blamed the government for increased violence since they labelled as scroungers people with disabilities who claim life-preserving benefits; a woman of colour who rejoiced at SlutWalk, ‘embracing the word “slut”, to remove the stigma; if we’re all identified as sluts, that’s the end of the insult which can divide us’; a transgender woman; sex workers fighting prosecution for prostitution when they report rape and other violence. The English Collective of Prostitutes credited SlutWalk for distinguishing itself from other feminist initiatives by including sex workers.

Throughout the rally people were transfixed, moving from cheers, to gasps of horror, to shouts of “shame” as the struggles for justice, successful and not, unfolded. Two poets brought laughter and light relief.

By the end the sentiment expressed by Anastasia at the beginning was well established:

”This is a movement. We can change things a little bit, for a short time, for a certain group of people. Or we can demand justice for everyone. We can keep fighting till each one of us is protected. We can change things forever.”

Many flocked to sign the petition demanding protection for all rape survivors. http://www.change.org/petitions/uk-home-office-protect-all-rape-survivors-prosecute-rapists

Former Met police officer admits failing to investigate rape cases

Ryan Coleman-Farrow faked police reports, failed to pass on evidence and falsely claimed to have interviewed suspects
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Sandra Laville, crime correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 12 September 2012 14.51 BST

An investigator from the Metropolitan police specialist sex crimes unit has admitted failing to investigate the alleged rapes and sexual assaults of 12 women by faking police reports, failing to pass on forensic evidence and not interviewing suspects.

The activities of detective constable Ryan Coleman-Farrow – who pleaded guilty to 13 counts of misconduct in public office on Wednesday – focus attention once more on Scotland Yard’s sapphire unit, which is supposed to be the gold standard for rape investigations across the country. Coleman-Farrow’s omissions in 13 rape and sexual assault investigations over three years have left 11 men suspected of rape and sexual assault at large, and his misconduct means the cases are “incapable of full and proper investigation” and will always remain unsolved.

His case was one of four major investigations into the unit by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which is due to publish a report on Sapphire in the autumn.

It emerged in court that over the time he was involved in investigating rape cases Coleman-Farrow was ill and, according to the judge, the recorder of Westminster Alistair McCreath, he was not looked after properly.

However, the IPCC, which carried out an independent inquiry into Coleman-Farrow after concerns were raised in 2010 about his performance, said their investigations had not found any supervisory failings within the Met police. They will publish their full report on 11 October when Coleman-Farrow is sentenced.

Coleman-Farrow, 30, who was dismissed from the Met police in April last year, stood in the dock at Southwark crown court to answer his name, and pleaded guilty to 13 charges of misconduct in public office by wilfully engaging in conduct amounting to an abuse of public trust between January 2007 and September 2010 when he was working at the Sapphire unit in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. The cases he failed to investigate, the court heard, involved 10 rape cases and three sexual assaults and included inquiries he carried out after Scotland Yard’s radical overhaul of Sapphire following a series of scandals involving serial rapists who were not investigated.

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said: “The case involves investigations by this defendant, a serving police officer, into allegations of sexual offending.

“The indictment alleges against him 13 offences of misconduct in relation to each of the 13 investigations carried out.

“Behind the evidence stand 12 complainants and 11 suspects in total.

“In almost all cases no proceedings resulted and certainly no conclusion adverse to anyone was ever reached.”

The court heard that Coleman-Farrow repeatedly made false entries on the police computer to report that the Crown Prosecution Service had advised no further action in cases. He also failed to view CCTV footage on a number of occasions, failed to submit forensic evidence for analysis, lied about taking a statement from a victim, falsely claimed one victim had withdrawn support for a prosecution, falsely claimed to have interviewed suspects when he had not, falsified a witness statement and failed to interview key witnesses.

Heywood said a thick line had now been drawn by the Met police under all 13 investigations as a result of the failures by the officer. He said: “There is now no prospect of these matters being progressed in any further respect.”

Coleman-Farrow’s activities first emerged in 2010 when the CPS became concerned that information and evidence from cases he was involved in were not being passed to them. In September of that year two sex workers – Jaime Perlman, 37, and Riley Lison-Taylor, 33 – gassed themselves to death in a suicide pact at a flat in Putney, south London and left notes which accused the Metropolitan police of not properly investigating their complaints against clients who had stalked them.

During the internal inquiry following their deaths Coleman-Farrow’s name came up again as an officer who was involved in investigating Perlman’s stalking allegations in 2009. Coleman-Farrow was cleared of the allegations made by Perlman, but after an independent inquiry by the IPCC he was charged with the 13 misconduct counts relating to other cases.

It is understood the officer was interviewed four times during the IPCC investigation and said that he had been suffering from cancer during the period they were investigating.

The court heard on Wednesday that his ill health would be key to the court assessing his culpability. Heywood said that issue was likely to be common ground between the prosecution and defence. He said a significant part of the offending took place between September 2009 and September 2010 and the relationship between his conduct then and his health at that time was an important factor.

The judge gave the former officer bail before sentencing on 11 October.

A spokeswoman for Women Against Rape said: “This is a very serious case, because at least 12 victims have been denied justice and at least 11 rapists have received impunity as a direct result of this man’s actions.

“Every single case this specialist officer has been involved in should be reviewed.”

The IPCC said Coleman-Farrow appeared to be a “rogue” officer and they did not identify supervisory failing. However, another officer from Sapphire is currently under investigation by the IPCC for similar offences of falsifying records to suggest cases were closed when they were not.

The deputy chair of the IPCC, Deborah Glass, said: “Ryan Coleman-Farrow was entrusted to investigate serious sexual offences and support some of the most vulnerable people in the criminal justice system. He let them down by his calculated abuse of their trust. His actions are beyond belief.

“The MPS [Metropolitan police service] have told us they reviewed all cases where Mr Coleman-Farrow was officer in charge and I understand that, where cases required further or re-investigation, this has been done.

“Our investigation did not reveal systemic or serious supervisory failings … While dealing with rogue individuals must always be a concern in any system, supervisory systems will not necessarily pick up on an officer who has concocted evidence to cover their tracks.”

Rapist Brian Witty jailed indefinitely

Former Territorial Army Parachute Regiment captain is told he must serve a minimum of eight years

Press Association
guardian.co.uk, Friday 25 May 2012 14.53 BST

Brian Witty, who attacked two women he met on a dating website and two more he met in bars. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

A former soldier who carried out a string of sex attacks has been jailed indefinitely.

Judge Nicholas Price QC described Brian Witty, 41, as a “predatory rapist” as he told the former Territorial Army Parachute Regiment captain he would serve at least eight years before he could be considered for release.

Witty – who told one victim who rejected him: “I don’t believe this, I’m a good-looking bloke” – was convicted last month of three rapes and one sexual assault on four women between 1995 and 2011.

Price, sentencing Witty at Kingston crown court on Friday, told him he was a “bullying, self-obsessed, arrogant sexual predator who was determined to indulge in fulfilling your desires, irrespective and dismissive of their pleas”.

Witty, of Teddington, south-west London, met two of his victims through a dating website and preyed on the others after chance encounters in bars.

But after he was arrested he claimed the sexual encounters were consensual.

Price jailed him for six years for a rape in 1995, to run concurrently with three separate indeterminate sentences for two other rapes and a sexual assault.

Witty was told he would serve a minimum of eight years behind bars.

Handing down his sentence, Price said: “There is no doubt in my mind that you present a very real danger to women, and the only appropriate sentence in your case is one of imprisonment for public protection.

“It is clear to me you set out to prey on vulnerable women. You hid your base intentions behind a veneer of charm and lulled your victims into a false sense of security.

“Each of them was beguiled into believing that with your military background and apparent social attributes that you were a gentleman and would behave as one.

“Each of your victims described in chilling evidence how you went from being plausible and caring into a bullying, self-obsessed, arrogant sexual predator who was determined to indulge in fulfilling your desires, irrespective and dismissive of their pleas that you should desist.”

Despite being arrested and interviewed after the rape at his home address in 1995, again after a sexual assault in 2006 and after another rape in 2008, charges were never brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Price told Witty: “The consequences meant you considered yourself to be untouchable by the authorities.

“With the benefit of hindsight it is perhaps too easy to say that, had you been successfully prosecuted in 1995, you may well not have been free to commit these other later serious offences.”

It was only after Witty was arrested following a fourth attack in August last year – during which Price said he changed from being “charming and good company” to a “demanding, frightening and determined rapist” – that charges were brought.

Price praised the women for coming forward again after so many years, saying if it had not been for the determination of Witty’s last victim, he may never have been brought to justice.

The attacks had “a clear and obvious and serious effect for each of his victims”, the prosecutor Edmund Gritt said.

A statement from his first victim read: “When I heard the verdict I was happy. I thought I would be happier, but I wasn’t.

“The fact is, what happened to me 17 years ago has shaped who I am today, emotionally and physically. Memories I thought I had escaped are still there.

“My challenge is to move on from this, but the problem with moving on is that I will never forget. It is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.”

A statement from Witty’s final victim read: “There have been times when I struggled to ever see a way forward through all this, yet I know I have to.

“The guilty verdict doesn’t change the past. I still have to find a way to live with myself now, a changed and different person from that I was before.”

Price said: “If anyone ever doubted the devastating long-term consequences of rape and sexual assault, these statements provide eloquent testimony against such doubt.”

Witty was placed on the sex offenders register for life, and if released will be on licence for life.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/may/25/rapist-brian-witty-jailed-indefinitely?INTCMP=SRCH

Marital rape ruled illegal by law lords

“Wave of prosecutions will follow” front page of The Times, 24 Oct 1991

Five law lords unanimously swept away the 250-year old notion that women agree to sexual intercourse on marriage and cannot retract their consent . . .

Yesterday’s judgment, in the case of a Leicester man jailed for three years for assaulting and attempting to rape his estranged wife, laid to rest the principle established by Chief Justice Hale in 1736 that by marriage, a woman gave her body and irrevocable consent to sexual intercourse with her husband in all circumstances. Lord Keith of Kinkel, the senior law lord, rejected that as anachronistic and offensive, borrowing a phrase used by the Lord Chief Justice in the Court of Appeal in March. Lord Lane than declared that “a rapist remains a rapist and is subject to the criminal law, irrespective of his relationship with his victim”.

Upholding his ruling, Lord Keith said that common law could change in the light of social, economic and cultural developments.

Lord Keith, with Lords Brandon, Griffiths, Ackner and Lowry agreeing, said this would not mean the creation of a new offence, but the removal of a “common law fiction which has become anachronistic and offensive”.

The ruling caused uproar in the public gallery, and cheering supporters of Women Against Rape were evicted.
The group believes that up to two million women have been raped by husbands and its spokeswoman, Claire Glasman said: “This is a fantastic day for women everywhere. The law lords have finally nailed a legal lie which has somehow survived for nearly three centuries. This is really a step towards making it clear legally that women have the right to say ‘no’ to sex, even if they are married. It overturns 250 years of legal sexual slavery based not on a court case but on a 18th century judge’s decision that a husband could not rape his wife.”