Madison Wisconsin Common Council Apologizes and Pays Restitution to a Rape Survivor Who Was Subjected to Unethical Police Methods

26 11 2006

Council Approves $35,000 In Restitution To Rape Victim

Resolution Passed 15-2

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Common Council voted Tuesday night to pay restitution to a woman who was raped in 1997.The woman — known only as “Patty” — temporarily recanted her story after Madison police in 1997 said they didn’t believe her, and investigators pressured her through what she said were unethical methods.

A few weeks ago, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray received a standing ovation from the Common Council after apologizing to Patty on behalf of the Madison Police Department.

Tuesday’s resolution now gives the city a chance to apologize to Patty.The resolution gives $35,000 to Patty for legal fees and lost wages. The money comes from the 2006 operating budget.The resolution also seeks the creation of a new police policy that will handle sensitive crimes. Read the rest of this entry »

Murders in New Jersey

25 11 2006

This article describes the recent murders of four women in New Jersey who authorities believe were working as prostitutes at the time of their deaths. So far, only one of the four victims has been identified, her name is Kim Raffo.

Kim Raffo

The article makes some useful observations about the vulnerability of sex workers: illegality, stigma of immorality, slow responses from law enforcement. However, it also (along with much of the coverage of this case) recycles some of the very beliefs that keep sex workers vulnerable. The fact that prostitutes are easy targets for serial killers is not due “to the nature of their business” and sex work is not “dangerous and illegal under the best of circumstances”. The criminalization of sex work is a choice that our society has made, and the consequence of criminalization is increased vulnerability for sex workers. There are other choices. De-criminalization is a choice that would make sex work safer – less underground, less vulnerable, less stigmatized.

As we mourn the deaths of these four women, I want to remember their humanity (they were women after all, “prostitutes” may have been their occupation but does not describe their beings sufficiently) and I want to remember that their deaths were not inevitable, nor were their deaths the natural consequences of a choice to work as a prostitute. Even if prostitution is illegal, a death sentence is not how our society has chosen to punish it. All murders deserve outrage.




Home News Tribune Online 11/24/06


ATLANTIC CITY — Since at least Jack the Ripper, 118 years ago, serial killers have preyed on prostitutes.

Prostitutes are not only in the world’s oldest profession, but are among the world’s oldest murder victims, says James Alan Fox, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston and the author of five books about serial and mass murderers.

People who have worked or studied the cases say prostitutes make easy targets and difficult cases to crack because of the nature of their business, which is dangerous and illegal under the best of circumstances.

On Monday, the bodies of four women were found near a row of seedy, discount motels just outside of Atlantic City and within view of the resort city’s skyline of glimmering casino hotel towers. Authorities are looking into whether the women were prostitutes — the one who has been identified, Kim Raffo, is reported to have been — and whether they were the victims of a serial killer. Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Sojourner Truth today…

25 11 2006

Ain’t I a Woman? delivered at the Women’s rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1852 by Sojourner Truth:

That man over there say
a woman needs to be helped into carriages
and lifted over ditches
and to have the best place everywhere.
Nobody ever helped me into carriages
or over mud puddles
or gives me a best place. . .

And ain’t I a woman?
Look at me
Look at my arm!
I have plowed and planted
and gathered into barns
and no man could head me. . .
And ain’t I a woman?
I could work as much
and eat as much as a man–
when I could get to it–
and bear the lash as well
and ain’t I a woman?
I have born 13 children
and seen most all sold into slavery
and when I cried out a mother’s grief
none but Jesus heard me. . .
and ain’t I a woman?
that little man in black there say
a woman can’t have as much rights as a man
cause Christ wasn’t a woman
Where did your Christ come from?
From God and a woman!
Man had nothing to do with him!
If the first woman God ever made
was strong enough to turn the world
upside down, all alone
together women ought to be able to turn it
rightside up again.

(The following is quoted from an editor’s note in the anthology where this poem is found) “There is no exact copy of this speech given at the Women’s rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1852. The speech is adapted to the poetic format by Erelene Stetson from the copy found in Sojurner, God’s Faithful Pilgrim by Arthur Huff Fauset, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1938).”

The poem and note, along with other great women’s poems, can be found in Ain’t I a Woman: A Book of Women’s Poetry from Around The World, Illona Linthwaite, Editor. New York: Wing Books, 1993, page 129.

Sojourner Truth


Inside jury deliberations in a rape case

24 11 2006

This article from the Lincoln Journal Star is an interesting look inside the jury deliberations process of a rape case.

Jurors saw witnesses differently

Among the 12 jurors who deadlocked last week in the rape trial of Pamir Safi, Milt Foreman belonged to the minority who favored acquittal.

Yet Foreman expressed relief when he learned the Lancaster County Attorney’s office had decided to retry the case.

“I prayed they’d try this guy again,” Foreman, 48, said in an interview on Thursday. “Not guilty didn’t mean we didn’t think he did it. ‘Not guilty’ says the state didn’t prove its case.”

Foreman was among five Lancaster County District Court jurors who, after 1½ days of often intense deliberation, decided to acquit Safi.

Seven jurors — including five of the seven women on the panel — were in favor of a guilty verdict.

The seemingly unbridgable gulf prompted District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront to declare a mistrial Monday.

Safi, 33, on active status in the U.S. Army Reserve, could be retried as early as next year.

Five of the jurors, including one who favored a guilty verdict, offered a rare glimpse inside the “black box,” as some in the legal profession have called the secretive deliberation process. Read the rest of this entry »

Maryland Rape Law – Women May Not Withdraw Consent After Penetration

24 11 2006

From Findlaw – Maryland State Court Rules that Women May Not Withdraw Consent After Penetration: The Perils of Relying on History
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006

A Maryland State Court Rules that Women May Not Withdraw Consent After Penetration: The Perils of Relying on HistoryLate last month, in Maouloud Baby v. State of Maryland, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland held that once a man has begun a consensual act of sexual intercourse with a woman, he may continue until he climaxes – even if she asks him to stop – without violating the law of rape.

In the State of Maryland, in other words, the law of rape presently does not authorize a woman to demand that her partner withdraw after penetration has already occurred.

This ruling and the precedent on which it relies rest on an explicitly anti-woman vision of what makes rape a harm to its victims.

Read the rest of this entry »

tyra: “an invitation to rape”

11 11 2006

Escuse me? An invitation? Are we talking about a party?

No, we’re talking about rape and murder. That’s right–I didn’t know I could actually be responsible for sending myself a tyramail invite to my own trauma and suffering, but apparently I can, according to Tyra Banks, host of emotionally manipulative and exploitative talk show#1.

Last night she had one of her most exploitative shows ever, setting up a fake “modeling agency” meeting where young women were told they could pose nude or partially nude for an “Italian Vogue” photo shoot. When they started to get naked, Tyra would run in and say, “Why are you doing this?! Don’t fall for this!” What a savior. Especially since she she constructed this exploitative environment in the first place.

However, what was most disturbing was that Tyra announced that going to these kind of “scam” modeling shoots is “an invitation to rape” and “an invitation to murder.” What?!? Yes. She actually said that, in true “her skirt was too short” rhetoric. Sounds like Tyra (and all of her viewers) need a workshop on the basics of human rights.

Vote! “Disgusting GOP rape/race ads”

7 11 2006

Via Feministing

Disgusting GOP rape/race ads

Wow. Scott Lemieux links to this mailer sent out in upstate New York on behalf of Republican candidates.

Her eyes are wide open as if she’s scared and trying to scream. And the (obviously male) hand is darker-skinned than the face it’s covering. Which is enough for me to conclude that this is a racist ad. This is par for the course for Republicans this election cycle. The message seems to be “Vote GOP. Democrats want to allow dark-skinned men to rape your daughters.”…