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International Women's Issues

#hurtsmetoo Temporary Tattoos of Bruises

Hurtsmetoo-hashtag-964x644Budapest’s ACG advertising agency created the campaign #hurtsmetoo to raise awareness and money for the safe houses operated by the Hungarian Interchurch Aid, which provides a shelter for abused women. In partnership with the Hungarian designer tattoo brand TATZ, the agency developed a special set of temporary tattoos that look like bruises.

In Hungary, one in five women has experienced some sort of maltreatment at least once and they are often too ashamed to ask for help. In order to draw attention to this problem and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, a number of well-known personalities joined the campaign and captured selfies with the fake bruises on International Women’s Day.

The idea behind the campaign was to provide a tool enabling people to express their sympathy for the victims and their solidarity. To get involved they can take selfies with the bruise tattoos on their skin and post them to Instagram or Facebook with the #hurtsmetoo hashtag.


Acid victims' photo shoot draws attention in India

This just in from AP:

Acid victimNEW DELHI (AP) — A fashion photo shoot featuring five victims of acid attacks is drawing wide attention in India. While the country keeps no official statistics on acid attacks, there are regular reports in the media of attackers targeting victims to disfigure or blind them, often because of spurned sexual advances.

The 41 photos show 22-year-old Rupa and four friends laughing and striking playful poses while wearing some of her fashion designs.

"I told them to be natural. I didn't do any makeup or editing. I told them, you look beautiful and you have to be the way you are," said the photographer, Rahul Saharan, who volunteers with the Stop Acid Attacks charity and is working on a documentary about acid victims. "They are very confident, so it was not too hard for me."

The photos have been shared widely since being posted Aug. 8 on the Facebook page run by the group, and have also been picked up by TV stations and newspapers.

The joy and confidence the five women display defy the horrific stories they tell.

Rupa's face was doused with acid when she was 15 years old by a stepmother unwilling to pay her marriage expenses. The wedding was called off. The photo shoot has brought in funding that will enable her dream of opening a boutique to come true.

Laxmi, now 22, was also 15 when she was attacked by her brother's 32-year-old friend after she refused his marriage proposal. Earlier this year, U.S. first lady Michelle Obama presented her with the International Women of Courage Award for campaigning against such attacks.

Ritu, 22, was attacked by her cousin during a property dispute. Sisters Sonam, 22, and Chanchal, 17, were asleep when acid was poured over them by a group of men who had been harassing them in their village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

In all five cases, the girls' attackers were convicted, though such crimes in India often go unpunished.

Some 1,500 acid attacks are reported worldwide every year, according to the London-based group Acid Survivors Trust International, though it says the actual number is likely higher. India passed a law last year severely limiting sales of acid, but Stop Acid Attacks said it has since counted at least 200 attacks.

 

Acid Survivors Trust International -

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Wearables that Want to Keep Women Safe

This article by Rebecca Hiscott is reprinted in its entirely because the ramifications are so important to protecting women from assault:

In December of 2012, a 23-year-old New Delhi woman and her 20-year-old male companion were returning home from an evening movie when they were lured onto a bus by a group of young men. The six men proceeded to beat the man into submission and take turns raping the woman, who eventually died from internal injuries sustained during the brutal attack.

Half a world away, in Amsterdam, Herman Veenstra was sickened by the news. Reading a Dutch newspaper article about the event, he was struck by a passing mention that in Amsterdam an average of two women each day report a sexual assault, and that police estimate the actual incidence of sexual assault is much higher.

"I was shocked by the statistic, but I was even more shocked when I realized this is not publicly known," Veenstra said. "The media doesn't write about these incidents on a daily basis. Apparently it's not worth an article anymore."

That same week, Veenstra's daughter gave a presentation at her school arguing that women in Amsterdam should be allowed to carry self-defense sprays like Mace, which is currently not permitted.

The two events prompted Veenstra, the CEO and cofounder of Dutch tech startup Everfind, to consider how technology might be able to give women a swift and legal way to call for help during a violent assault. He and a team of eight engineers, app developers, and marketing experts began to develop Safelet, a $129 connected bracelet that lets the wearer send out an alert to friends, family, and police during an attack. It's currently collecting funding on Indiegogo.

The device uses a Bluetooth low energy connection to sync to an app on the wearer's smartphone. The app lets the wearer decide who she wants to notify in case of an emergency: friends, family members, the police, or the "Safelet community," a group of Safelet users who agree to field emergency calls from other wearers. To activate the Safelet, the wearer must press two buttons, one on either side of the bracelet—a feature designed to cut down on false alarms, Veenstra said.

When the device is activated, the user's "guardian network" is notified of an emergency. Meanwhile, the app activates the user's smartphone microphone to record the incident. The app can also transmit the wearer's location and a recording of the incident to the police; in that case, one of the wearer's "guardians" would also call the police and indicate the location of the attack.


The geolocation feature is of particular importance in Europe, Veenstra said. Currently, emergency services in Europe are not permitted to use geolocation to zero in on a caller's location, meaning it's up to the caller to provide that information.

"If you call the police, the first question they will ask is, 'Where are you?'" Veenstra said. In the United States, in contrast, 911 operators can immediately pinpoint your location when you place an emergency call.

Safelet is hardly the only protection-oriented item out there. The wearable technology market could be worth as much as $5 billion this year, according to some estimates, and so far that market has concentrated mainly on smartwatches and fitness trackers. But now, a new crop of wearables is surfacing, and they’re taking aim at the largely underserved personal safety market.

There's First Sign, which offers a $95 hair band or hair clip that use a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer to detect head impacts indicative of physical assault, then activates a microphone that records the incident while the wearer's smartphone puts out a call to the police. There's Cuff and Artemis, two competing lines of connected jewelry pieces that sync with a user's smartphone via Bluetooth to alert police and family members when the wearer encounters danger. There's Bembu, a FitBit-like bracelet currently fundraising on Indiegogo that promises similar safety functions, although its clumsily-executed campaign page doesn't inspire much confidence.

And there are a slew of others, with more likely to come. Not only are safety-oriented gadgets a lucrative new space—the Yellow Jacket, a stun-gun iPhone case, recently leveraged a successful Indiegogo campaign into a booming business—they're also serving a real and pressing need.

"A woman would most likely carry [pepper spray] in her handbag, but at the moment of an incident, it would be difficult for her to reach into her bag." Veenstra said. Safelet, like similar safety gadgets, was designed to be easier to access than a smartphone or a can of pepper spray, which would likely be out of reach during an assault.

Of course, these products can all be worn and used by men, but most of them are designed and marketed to women. But the reason for this is obvious: In most countries, women are overwhelmingly the victims of violent crimes, and street harassment is largely directed toward females as well. 

Safelet is an ambitious and much-needed product, but, like any device that relies on crowdfunding to spread the word (including other safety-oriented wearables) its main hurdle will be adoption. Will women feel inclined to purchase and sport this $95 hair clip or that $129 bracelet? By that measure, Cuff, with its range of jewelry options at a number of price points, might have the best chance of scaling up, even though its functionality is relatively limited.

But there's another, perhaps more pressing problem with these devices: They're being produced by startups. Discoverability is one thing, but the mechanics behind any startup are dicey, prone to unexpected costs and challenges that a small, perhaps amateur team can't always handle. When it comes to a personal safety device, any misstep, whether a malfunctioning microphone or an app that's easy to hack, can cost a company its reputation. And crowdfunding campaigns are plagued by the extra hurdles related to delivering rewards and keeping backers happy.

In the case of Safelet, Veenstra insisted that most of the heavy lifting has already been done. The startup has already created a bracelet prototype and has begun designing and testing out the backend functionality of the smartphone app; Veenstra sees the Indiegogo campaign as more of a way to spread the word about the device. "We are more using it to test some marketing tactics in the online space than anything else, because we are already funded," he said.

Everfind has even run the product by Amsterdam's police, who Veenstra said were "thrilled" at the prospect of a product that would allow citizens to participate in keeping the women safe—so long as their actions "fit within the overall framework of how they want citizens to behave.”


Too Young to Wed: The Story of Child Brides

A recent article in the New York Times told of a 6 year old Afghan girl who was going to be married off to the 17 year olf son of a moneylender. Her father coiuld not repay the $2500 loan used for mediacl care for his wife and children. As a result of the story, an anonymous doner stepped in and paid the loan so the girl can stay with her family. She is lucky, despite her continued extreme poverty.

But so many girls from over 50 countries are routinely married off, often to much older men. Manizha Naderi, the executive director of Women for Afghan Women, a group that runs various shelters in the country, told the New York Times in a previous article that poverty is the motivation for many child marriages. That’s either because a wealthy husband pays a family well for his bride, or because the father of the bride will then have one less child to support. “Most of the time they are sold,” Ms. Naderi said. “And most of the time it’s a case where the husband is much, much older.”

Stories like Naghma’s come at a slow but steady clip out of Afghanistan and many other countries, including India. In 2010, two girls, ages 13 and 14, dressed as boys and fled their elderly husbands after refusing to consummate the marriages. They made it far from their remote village, but were eventually caught by police and returned home, where they were publicly, viciously flogged. Authorities did nothing, despite the flogging being caught on tape and human-rights groups’ efforts to intervene.

Here is a trailer for the new documentary "Too Young to Wed" that explains it. Please get involved.


Will Justice Prevail for Nirbhaya?

IMG_2414 STC_2424Four of the six men who lured a 23-year-old student onto a bus and then brutally gang raped her were to be executed as of four days ago and now, two days ago two of the rapists had their sentences stayed.

What is going on?

The Delhi High Court on Thursday afternoon confirmed death sentences for four men convicted of the heinous gang rape and murder of a medical student in the Indian capital. The incident sparked mass protests across the South Asian nation. A fast track court initially sentenced the four men to death in September last year. A fifth accomplice apparently committed suicide in his prison cell, while a sixth — a juvenile at the time of the attack — is serving a three-year sentence in a correction home.  Yet the four men on death row may still appeal to the Supreme Court, and failing that for Presidential clemency.

FAST FORWARD TWO DAYS

But then two days after the Delhi high court confirmed the death penalty awarded to 4 convicts for brutal gang-rape-cum murder of Nirbhaya, the Supreme Court stayed the extreme punishment for two in a special sitting on Saturday after one of them alleged that he was coerced to accept a lawyer chosen by police during trial.

A bench of Justices Ranjana P Desai and S K Singh stayed the HC decision to confirm the death sentence awarded by the trial court on Mukesh and Pawan Kumar Gupta after their counsel, M L Sharma, alleged that the advocate chosen by the police robbed the trial process of fairness. The bench stayed the execution of sentence till March 31.

On Thursday, the HC had upheld the trial court's decision to impose death penalty on Mukesh, Pawan, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma. It said the gruesome manner in which Nirbhaya was gang-raped and mercilessly assaulted on December 16, 2012, which led her to death, was a crime that fell under 'rarest of rare' category warranting imposition of death penalty. Another accused Ram Singh had died during the trial.

This is an atrocity!

 

The Dec. 16 gang rape marked a watershed for the women’s movement in India and led to a new anti-rape law, which now makes even stalking and voyeurism punishable crimes


Violence Against Women Continue in India

IMG_2439 IMG_2405Despite the August 2013 death sentences of the four adult men who raped and killed a young female student on a bus in December 2012 (sentences that have not yet been carried out, by the way) there has been another shocking attack recently in New Delhi this week.

The solution to this scourge appears to be elusive since now pundits are saying it is a cultural phenomena of men exerting influence over women. Influence? I say violence and violence should be met with swift and clear punishment or it will inevitably be met with reciprocal violence. Maybe women should be armed? Maybe vigillantism should be encouraged so at least there IS justice. Enough is enough.

Here is the latest:

NEW DELHI (AP) — A 51-year-old Danish tourist was gang-raped near a popular shopping area in New Delhi after she got lost and approached a group of men for directions back to her hotel, police said Wednesday. Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said two people were arrested after a daylong search for the suspects. Details were not immediately available.

 

The attack is the latest crime to focus attention on the scourge of sexual violence in India.

 

The woman also was robbed and beaten in the attack, which happened Tuesday near Connaught Place, Bhagat said. The woman asked the men for directions to her hotel, Bhagat said. They lured her to a secluded area where they raped her at knife-point, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. The woman managed to reach her hotel Tuesday evening and the owner called police. Police were questioning several other suspects.

The problem of sexual violence in India has gained widespread attention since the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in December 2012. Public fury over the case has led to more stringent laws that doubled prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism and stalking.

 

But for many women, particularly the poor, daily indignities and abuse continue unabated and the new laws have not made the streets any safer. Ranjana Kumari, director of India's Center for Social Research, said India's conservative, patriarchal traditions lead men to use rape as a tool to instill fear in women. "This mindset is not changing," she said. "It's a huge challenge."

 

Experts say the rapid growth of India's cities and the yawning gulf between rich and poor are exacerbating the problem of sexual violence, with young men struggling to prove their traditional dominance in a changing world.

 

Cultural stigmas, police apathy and judicial incompetence have long made it difficult for women to even report rapes.

 

Still, there has been a surge in the number of rapes being reported recently, suggesting women are emboldened to speak up. Between January and October last year, 1,330 rapes were reported in Delhi and its suburbs, compared with 706 for all of 2012, according to government figures.

 

Foreigners also have been targets, including a Swiss woman who was cycling with her husband in central India when she was gang-raped.

 

The cases threaten India's lucrative tourism industry. Last year, the Tourism Ministry launched an "I Respect Women" campaign to reassure travelers. Tourism accounted for 6.6 percent of India's GDP in 2012, the latest year for which figures are available.

 

___

 

Associated Press writers Chonchui Ngashangva in New Delhi and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.


New Electronic Underwear that Protects Women from Sexual Assault

This just in from CBS news. Let's hope that it works.

 

Engineering students in India have created electronic underwear they claim can protect the wearer from sexual assault.

Two of the inventors Manisha Mohan (left) and Rimpi Tripathy.

The lingerie would deliver electric shock waves of 3,800,000 volts to an attacker and features GPS. The garment can also send emergency text messages to the police. The unusual prototype was created by three Indian students at SRM University in Chennai, who wanted to combat ongoing violence against women.

Play Video

India's women revolt against a culture of rape

The protective underwear, named Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE), purportedly delivers up to 82 electric shocks to a would-be offender when pressure sensors on the item detect unwanted force, according to The Times of India.

"A person trying to molest a girl will get the shock of his life the moment pressure sensors get activated, and the GPS and GSM modules would send an SMS (to the Indian emergency number) as well as to parents of the girl," said one inventor, Manisha Mohan.

Mohan and her two colleagues, Rimpi Tripathi and Neeladri Basu Pal, hope to begin commercial production of the device later this month. The issue of sexual assault in India has remained on the public radar since the December gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a public bus in Delhi. The victim died thirteen days after the attack. The attack sparked mass anger and demonstrations across India.

There have also been two sexual assault-related cases reported by female tourists. In the last three months, the number of foreigners traveling to India has dropped by 25 percent, according to a recent study by the New Delhi-based Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The number of female tourists has dropped by 35 percent, the study claimed.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

News Links For on India Gang Rape Trial

Here is the latest news edition from journalist Diego Gambetta who is on the front lines of coverage of the Braveheart gang-rape trial now going on in New Delhi. Diego is currently writing a book on how women can protect themselves from attack. Contact Diego directly for more information.

 

Nirbhaya case: Accused's sister dies; chargesheet in robbery case soon
Hyderabad pays a visual tribute to Nirbhaya

Poorna Jagannathan’s tribute to Nirbhaya: The Jyoti Project


What is Wrong With Ford? What is Wrong With Ford India??

Ford indiaTalk about obscene - A Ford commercial in India shows three bound and gagged women in the trunk of a Ford car as the male driver gives a thumbs up sign.

It is inconcievable to me that in a country that has had demonstrations about Braveheart - the 23 year old woman who was kidnapped, beaten and gang-raped by 6 men and has reports of women's abuse every single day in the newspaper - would think that an ad like this is acceptable. And it is also infuriating. Considering Fords terrible history of anti-semitism with Henry Ford, you would think that they would be especially sensitive. But no.

 Maybe it is time to boycott Ford.