TIME India

Unwed Indian Moms Applying for Child’s Passport Are Asked if They Were Raped

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Visage—Getty Images

They also need to file an affidavit detailing how the child was conceived, a lawyer for the Indian government said

Unwed mothers in India applying for a passport for their child will have to reveal how the child was conceived and specify whether they were raped, a lawyer representing the Indian government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday.

The revelation came during a petition hearing by a 21-year-old woman who was denied a passport that had her stepfather’s name on it, the Times of India reported. The regional passport officer refused to accept the name of her mother instead, saying she needed a court order appointing the stepfather as her legal guardian.

According to the Times, one of the two judges hearing the case asked as an aside: “We were wondering what happens in the case of an unwed mother?”

Advocate Purnima Bhatia, representing the government, responded by saying mothers without husbands must file an affidavit that mentions how the child was conceived, whether the mother was raped, and why she does not wish to reveal the father’s name.

According to Mumbai-based women’s-rights lawyer Flavia Agnes, only the third of those conditions would be in any way justifiable. “These are ridiculous rules the government is making,” Agnes tells TIME. “Why should she say whether she was raped or whether she had consensual sex?”

According to the Times, Bhatia told the bench that the rules were detailed in the passport manual, which could not be shown to the court as it was a classified document. The judges reportedly responded by saying that the manual came under internal instructions and so could not be classified, and also did not have the force of the law.

Agnes says she has clashed with passport authorities in the past, over issues like divorced women prevented from continuing to use their former spouse’s name or married women not being allowed to continue using their maiden names. She plans to take this issue up as well, whether it escalates or not.

Sunitha Krishnan, founder of women-and-children’s-advocacy organization Prajwala, says the Foreign Ministry’s response is “deeply disturbing” and speaks to a larger malaise in Indian society.

“It’s so painful that a woman has to keep justifying and defending her position,” she says, citing her long battle to get children of prostitutes admitted into schools that insisted on a father’s name.

“When an unwed mother is asked dehumanizing questions like have you been raped, I don’t know which era we’re living in,” adds Krishnan. “I don’t think a man would ever be asked such questions.”

TIME Afghanistan

An Afghan Cleric Got 20 Years for Rape in a Landmark Judgment

For once, the victim, a 10-year-old girl, is not made to share the blame

A Muslim cleric has been sentenced in a Kabul court to 20 years in prison for raping a young girl in his mosque.

The trial was widely hailed on Saturday as a significant milepost in the fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan, for the fact that the 10-year-old victim was not held responsible for the rape, as is still common in such cases, CNN reports.

The saga began when rights group Women for Afghan Women intervened in the case to shelter the victim and protect her from family members who were overheard contemplating murdering her, in a so-called “honor killing.” The victim has since been returned to her family, who have made promises not to harm her and who attended the proceedings.

It ended with the child confronting her attacker, Mullah Mohammad Amin, in court, shaking, weeping, and saying: “You are a liar…you ruined my life…God will hate you for what you did to me, he will punish you.”

Amin’s lawyers had contended that the victim was 17-years-old and that the sex was consensual, making him culpable not of rape but the lesser crime of adultery — a charge that would make the girl also eligible for punishment. Medical evidence disputed the cleric’s Sharia Law defense.

Amin received a sentence consistent with the 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women law, which for the first time made rape a crime in Afghanistan.

[CNN]

TIME Opinion

Think Tank Tells Women How to Avoid Sexual Assault: Stop Getting ‘Severely Intoxicated’

AEI

Video says it’s not what men put in women’s drinks, but how many drinks women have

In a vlog titled “The Factual Feminist,” Caroline Kitchens, a senior research associate at conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, undertakes a MythBusters-style takedown of the threat posed by date rape drugs, suggesting that they are far less common than most women think. But it’s not her skepticism of Roofies that’s problematic — it’s the way she proposes women stop blaming these mythical drugs for the consequences of their own drunken decisions.

The video’s opening question — just how frequently drug facilitated sexual assault occurs — is a valid one. And Kitchens cites several studies that find the incidence to be quite low. Given the relative scarcity of sexual assaults that take place after a woman’s drink has been drugged, she says, “the evidence doesn’t match the hype.”

But it’s unclear exactly what hype Kitchens is referring to. The vast majority of messaging by sexual assault support and prevention groups resorts to awareness, not hysteria. RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, offers advice to help women protect themselves from sexual assault. Among the group’s suggestions are to “be aware of your surroundings” and “trust your instincts.” Not exactly the picture of fear-mongering. RAINN also suggests refraining from leaving your drink unattended and accepting drinks from strangers, but these tips constitute common sense more than, in Kitchens’ words, “conspiracy.”

Aside from this exaggerated depiction of widespread panic, Kitchens’ debunking of the rampant Roofies myth is largely harmless. That is, until she begins to search for a reason to explain this imbalance between perception and reality. “Most commonly, victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault are severely intoxicated,” Kitchens says, “often from their own volition.” Blaming date rape drugs, she suggests, is “more convenient to guard against than the effects of alcohol itself.” Women would rather blame a “vague, improbable threat,” she says, than take responsibility for their own actions.

It may be true that date rape drugs are used infrequently, but that does not give carte blanche to shift the blame from perpetrator to victim. No, women shouldn’t be unnecessarily panicked about the threat of date rape drugs. But neither should they be shamed for the size of their bar tabs. Because no matter how short her skirt or how strong her drink, a woman never asks to be raped. It takes a rapist to rape a woman.

TIME women

Campus Sexual Assault: What Ever Happened to Common Sense?

Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014.
Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014. Alex Garland—Demotix/Corbis

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

Parents, don't let your daughters grow up to think they have no agency

According to much of the media, there is an “epidemic” of sexual assault, including rape, on our college campuses. The problem is apparently so bad that California recently passed a “yes means yes” law that requires “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” on campus, and President Obama announced a new national initiative to put a stop to it. Not to mention the countless rallies, awareness sessions, YouTube videos, and so-called SlutWalks aimed at telling men to keep their parts in their pants and their paws to themselves unless otherwise directed.

There’s been an ocean of ink spilled on this subject, most of it falling into two camps: the first reasons that no matter what language or set of rules colleges and universities adopt in an effort to curb sexual assault, most cases of alleged abuse comes down to “he said, she said.” This camp also tends to assume that, in any given case, the male party will be found guilty by default, fairly or not. The second set of voices points to a culture of male dominance — one that all too often leaves young victims of sexual assault without recourse to justice (especially on campuses where certain members of the student body, especially prized athletes, aren’t held accountable for their crimes), such that action from the top needs to be taken immediately to stop the assaults.

Both sides of the debate have validity. However, what neither seems to recognize is that much of the time, young women have agency. There are of course exceptions — the football player who pushes a girl into a closet and rapes her, the drunken frat boy who doesn’t stop at “no,” the ex-boyfriend who, allowed into the confines of his ex-girlfriend’s dorm room, forces himself on her. Even so — at least in my view — women are not, and certainly don’t need to be, helpless victims of a misogynistic endgame.

This is the point at which I think the debate has gone powerfully stupid. Where, in all this spillage of verbiage and amping-up of anger and outrage, is female agency, the ability of young women to make their own fates and claim their own power? What’s feminist about teaching our daughters that, as victims of a sexist culture, there’s no use in taking control of their own bodies, not only in terms of using birth control, but also when it comes to drinking, dressing, and representing themselves? What’s pro-female about ignoring the reality of non-verbal communication, of nuance and gesture and expression?

I have a personal interest in all this because of my own undergraduate twins and their older brother. My oldest son’s freshman year roommate had a different girl in the room with him every night — a major source of misery for my son — and was eventually booted off campus after being charged with sexual assault. My younger son, currently at a college in Massachusetts where frat life is minimal, claims that campus assault is a real problem, and anyone who thinks otherwise is being willfully ignorant. And yet my daughter, in South Carolina — where Greek life dominates — says that she has never known anyone, or of anyone, who has been assaulted. “But if you get completely wasted at some frat party,” she said, “and you wake up naked with some guy next to you, you might not even remember what happened.”

Yup: that’s college all right. If memory serves, college is a time when that heady brew of youthful idiocy, curiosity, and horniness is likely to result in at least one misadventure between the sheets. Just add copious amounts of alcohol or drugs and, voila, a potentially potent brew of disinhibition, peer pressure, confusion, desire, and even memory loss (with alcoholic blackout). Thus my own memories, garnered both from my own and my friends’ experiences, of trying it on, acting it out, experimenting, bowing to peer expectations, having a one-night-stand, disregarding the inner voice that’s telling you to get out of there, indulging in a quickie and waking up with a morning-after hangover of regret and perhaps shame? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. But assault? Not so much.

Not that sexual assault is something to take lightly. In my view, sexual assault is a crime and needs to be treated as such, period, end of story, no matter how scantily clad, or wasted, the victim. But if there is in fact an explosion of sexual assault on campus, why now, after decades of feminist consciousness raising and “take back the night” marches?

My daughter-in-law thinks that in fact there isn’t an uptick of sexual assault on campus, just a greater willingness to report it. Perhaps. But that equation leaves out the cultural swings toward even greater confusion (and instant gratification) that her generation was raised on, as compared to my own desperately confused generation. Because at least in my own desperately confused generation — during which the “three date rule” stipulated that you owed it to the guy to sleep with him after three dates — we had grown up with parents who, more often than not, themselves grew up with notions of what was then called virtue: i.e., good girls and good boys waited (or at least didn’t spread it around).

Compare that to today’s college students, whose parents grew up with easy access to birth control and may themselves never have figured out that the anything-goes culture of our own youths was less than ideal.

What keeps coming up for me is the old song “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” except in my version, it’s “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Stupid,” with additional lyrics, including a refrain, that exhort fathers to accord their daughters both love and respect and teach their sons that real masculinity lies in restraint.

Take back the night? I’m all for it. But while all the conferences are being held and the marchers are marching, it wouldn’t hurt to stop ignoring the complexity of human interaction, the birds and the bees, and the remarkable power of alcohol to make otherwise intelligent people stupid. Young people who find themselves in sexually confusing situations might want to emulate their grandparents and resort to common sense. And if, God forbid, they are victimized, they need to report it immediately, and get help.

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Sexual Assault

Good2Go: You Can’t Solve Sexual Assault With an App

While the newest rape-prevention device encourages partners to start a conversation about consent, it still misses the mark

The latest product in a growing catalog of rape-prevention devices is Good2Go, a sexual consent app that aims to prevent sexual assault among college-aged kids.

The app, which can be downloaded for free from iTunes, requires that a user, upon instigating a hook-up, asks his or her partner to fill out a digital “sobriety questionnaire.” The partner is first asked “Are We Good2Go?” If the answer is, “I’m Good2Go,” the app then asks the partner to asses her or his own level of intoxication (ranging from “sober” to “pretty wasted”). Good2Go does not grant consent for the hook-up to proceed if the partner indicates that she or he is too drunk to consent. The app, however, doesn’t seem to acknowledge that “pretty wasted” people might not be able to operate the app in the first place. But, according to Good2Go’s official description, the app is designed to prevent or reduce assault by “facilitating communication and creating a pause before sexual activity so that both parties can ask and gain affirmative consent.”

Good2Go is the brainchild of Lee Ann Allman, who told Slate‘s Amanda Hess that she came up with the idea for the app after discussing sexual assault on campus with her college-aged children. Creating an app to address the issue of consent made sense because “kids are so used to having technology that helps them with issues in their lives,” she said.

While anything that encourages people to think about consent sounds like a great idea on paper, in practice it’s hard to imagine college kids actually using Good2Go–not only because it seems unromantic and overly formal, but also because, according to Hess at Slate, who tried out the app with a partner, “the process is deliberately time-consuming.” Slowing down on the action could be the point, but it also makes it unlikely that it will be pulled out in the heat of the moment.

Beyond the issue of whether college kids will actually use the app is the issue of whether they should be using any device that claims to prevent rape in the first place.

From the date rape drug detecting nail polish to anti-rape underwear to barbed female condoms designed to “bite” into a rapist’s penis, rape-prevention products are nothing new. While these devices seem to be designed with the best intentions, they raise questions about how rape-prevention should be tackled. And, unfortunately, all of these devices miss the mark by not addressing the real issue.

One major problem with many of these anti-rape products is that they put the onus on women to prevent their own assaults. For years women have been adapting their behavior in order to address the threat of rape: by altering the way they dress or refusing to walk alone after dark or keeping a vigilant watch on their drinks. But guess what? Rapes still occur at alarming rates. The idea that a special product will provide a safety net is faulty and dangerous.

These products have come under fire from feminists and activists before. The drug-detecting nail polish introduced this summer prompted to write in TIME, “Every time we focus on making girls and women individually responsible for avoiding rape, we lose the opportunity to address the systemic root problem that our mainstream culture grows rapists like weeds.”

In its defense, Good2Go does stand apart from many other rape-prevention devices in that it doesn’t shift the responsibility of preventing sexual assault onto individual women. The app is actually designed to be used by the person initiating a sexual encounter and looking to confirm consent. But what kind of rapist actually asks for consent?

While there are instances where the issue of consent may seem murky, statistics show the majority of college rapes aren’t the result of crossed wires or mixed signals. Instead, the vast majority of rapes are perpetuated by men who know that what they’re doing is wrong. A 2002 study of college-aged men found that, while only a small minority of men were rapists, the majority of those rapists were repeat offenders, raping an average of six women each. Let’s face it: that small minority of men–who are repeatedly and knowingly raping women–won’t be downloading Good2Go.

Where the app does have the right idea, however, is in its focus on unambiguous consent. Though it’s hard to imagine anyone actually using the app consistently, the idea of discussing consent is important, particularly on college campuses. In fact, the more light that’s shed on the issue of sexual consent, the better–not just to prevent the murky, crossed-signals sexual encounters or the instances in which there’s coercion, but also to enlighten bystanders, university administrators and those who engage in victim-blaming and struggle to grasp the nuances of consent.

But the fact that many U.S. colleges are right now grappling with defining consent–and how, exactly, to determine when it’s been given–while universities in the U.K. are introducing mandatory workshops about consent for students, demonstrates just how complicated rape-prevention actually is. Unfortunately, there’s no app for that.

TIME

Watch Tulane Football Players Take a Stand Against Violence Toward Women

And call on others to “take the pledge” and make their own videos

Football players from Tulane University in New Orleans posted a video online this week pledging to “help end violence against women on college campuses” and calling on others to do the same.

“These are our friends and our classmates,” says a player in the video.

“And for too long we have ignored it’s a problem rather than deal with it. But not anymore,” says another.

Promoting the hashtag #TUtakethepledge, Tulane players urge others to take the pledge themselves, to share the video or make their own.

“We did this video because we want to express the importance for awareness,” says the YouTube video description, “not just because of recent events, but from the past present, and into the future until this issue is brought to the forefront and resolved.”

TIME Australia

Gay Asylum Seekers Could Be Resettled in Papua New Guinea, Which Outlaws Homosexuality

(FILE) Manus Island Detention Centre
This handout photo provided by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, shows facilities at the Manus Island Regional Processing Facility, used for the detention of asylum seekers that arrive by boat, primarily to Christmas Island off the Australian mainland, on October 16, 2012, in Papua New Guinea. Handout—Getty Images

The men had originally sought refuge in Australia

Several gay people, who fled persecution in their home countries and sought asylum in Australia, are reportedly to be resettled in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where homosexuality is a crime.

The asylum seekers are currently held by the Australian immigration officials on Manus Island in PNG, where they could eventually live permanently, the Guardian claims.

Homosexuality in PNG is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The Guardian says it has seen what purport to be letters written in Farsi by four gay Iranian men in the Australian-run detention center on Manus Island. The authors appear to detail persecution in their home country and the fear of being resettled in PNG.

“I thought Australia and its people would be my protector, but they taught me otherwise,” one letter reads.

“I am hoping that I will not be sent to PNG prison because I don’t want to be killed by indigenous people living in PNG like my fellow countryman did in February,” reads another.

The authenticity of the letters has not been confirmed.

A December report by Amnesty International says the detainees at the facility have been told that anyone found engaging in homosexual acts will immediately be reported to the PNG police. The report also details numerous other human-rights violations at the detention center.

Amnesty had “consistently raised the issue of gay men on Manus with the [Australian] immigration department” but “never had a clear response,” Graeme McGregor, Amnesty Australia’s refugee-camp coordinator, told the Guardian.

Ben Pynt, director of Humanitarian Research Partners, estimates there are around 36 gay men detained at Manus and several others who are too afraid to reveal their sexual orientation, the Guardian says.

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, who did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment on the purported letters, said in December he was unaware of any claims of homosexuality among Manus inmates. He also denied that it was the Australian government’s policy to report homosexual activity among asylum seekers to the PNG government.

[Guardian]

TIME Philippines

Philippine Mall Operator Pulls T-Shirt That Calls Rape a ‘Snuggle With a Struggle’

SM Supermalls called the shirt "malicious" and said it was investigating

The Philippines’ largest mall operator said on Tuesday that a T-shirt promoting rape as a “snuggle with a struggle” had been removed from its racks, after a photo of the offensive garment went viral.

“We have immediately pulled out all the T-shirts of the consignor that distributes them, and we are investigating why it was included in our delivery of assorted t-shirts,” said SM Supermalls, which owns 49 malls in the Philippines, in a statement posted to Twitter and Facebook.

The retail juggernaut did not say who the distributor was.

On Monday, Facebook user Karen Kunawicz posted to her page a photo of the brown shirt, seen in an SM Supermall.

The garment read: “It’s not rape. It’s a snuggle with a struggle” and showed two hands forming a heart. The shirt was in the teen boys’ section of a department store, Kunawicz said.

“Really SM Department Store?” she wrote. “Boys listen to Tita [Aunty] Karen — if a girl says NO and pushes you away, just err on the side of caution, she likely means NO.”

On Tuesday night, the photo had been shared more than 4,000 times on Facebook. The South China Morning Post also tweeted an image of the shirt.

SM said in its statement that the shirt has “a message that we too find unacceptable.”

“SM does not support such irresponsible and malicious acts that mock important and sensitive social issues,” it said.

On Facebook, commenters on the original photo sharply criticized the department store for seeking to “hide behind [its] consignment agreements,” as one commenter put it, and called on the store to make donations to women’s crisis centers.

In 2013, the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center recorded 5,493 reported rapes of women and children — a record high for the nation, according to GMA News Online. Another police division, the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, tallied 7,409 reported rape incidents, GMA says.

TIME politics

Lawmakers Push Increased Access to Emergency Contraception

Bipartisan U.S. Budget Deal Said to Ease Automatic Spending Cuts
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who introduced a bill to increase access to emergency contraception. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bill comes ahead of a midterm elections in which women are expected to be a key voting bloc

Updated: September 23, 4:40 p.m. ET

Five Democratic senators introduced legislation Tuesday that would require any federally-funded hospital to provide emergency contraception to rape survivors.

The Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act of 2014 was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) signing on as co-sponsors. The bill would ensure that any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds provides accurate information and timely access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault, regardless of whether or not they can pay for it. It would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to disseminate information on emergency contraception to pharmacists and health care providers.

“As we saw in the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby decision, and as we’ve seen in state legislatures across the country, Republicans are intent on standing in the way of women and their ability to make their own decisions about their own bodies and their own health care,” Senator Murray told TIME. “This means, now more than ever, it is our job to protect these kinds of decisions for women, their families, and particularly for survivors of sexual assault. Emergency contraception is a critical part of these family planning choices and it’s time Republicans join us in supporting this safe and responsible means of preventing unintended pregnancies.”

“It is unacceptable that a survivor of rape or incest can be denied access to emergency contraception in the emergency room, and therefore forced to carry a pregnancy caused by her attacker,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. “Decisions about emergency contraception, like all forms of birth control, should be between a woman and her doctor, not her pharmacist, her boss, or her Congressman.”

The bill may face opposition from congressional Republicans, and comes just two months before the midterm elections, in which many expect women to be a decisive voting bloc.

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