Daily Archives: April 20, 2012

Judge Removes Herself from Trayvon Martin Case

A Florida judge has stepped aside from a criminal case involving a neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The defense team for George Zimmerman requested Monday that Judge Jessica Recksiedler be removed because her husband works with a CNN legal analyst.

Mr. Zimmerman fatally shot Mr. Martin in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, a killing he has said was in self-defense. The case has stirred civil rights activists nationwide. Mr. Zimmerman faces a second-degree murder charge.

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Video of Rape in South Africa Goes Viral

South Africa (orthographic projection)

South Africa (orthographic projection) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A group of Soweto youths in South Africa filmed themselves raping a seventeen-year-old mentally ill girl.

The cellphone video has gone viral among school children, and #rapevideo was trending on Twitter in South Africa on Wednesday.

The Daily Sun, a South African tabloid, alerted the police after a mother whose daughter was watching the video handed it over to the paper on Tuesday.

The suspects, aged between fourteen and twenty, were arrested Tuesday morning and charged with kidnapping and rape.

The girl’s mother reported her missing on March 21.

Media reports suggest the police initially failed to open a missing persons case, but that they have since done so.

Police suspect the girl was kidnapped and turned into a sex slave.

A local radio station got hold of the video and has been getting requests to post it.

Via CNN.

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Filed under News, Sick Sad World, World

Kristof Tackles Tale of 12-Year-Old Forced into Prostitution

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 30JAN10 - Nicholas D. Krist...

Nicholas D. Kristof, Columnist, The New York Times, USA is captured during the session 'Redesign Your Cause' of the Annual Meeting 2010 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 30, 2010. Copyright by World Economic Forum. swiss-image.ch/Photo by Monika Flueckiger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you think sex trafficking only happens in faraway places like Nepal or Thailand, then you read Nicholas Kristof‘s latest article in The New York Times.

The article recounts an interview he had recently with a sex trafficking expert.

Mr. Kristof calls her Brianna. She turned sixteen years old yesterday, and she grew up in New York City.

When she was twelve years old, she got into a fight with her mom and ran out to join friends. A friend’s older brother told her she could stay at his place.

When she tried to leave in the morning, he said, “You can’t go; you’re mine.” He told her that he was a pimp, and that she was now his property.

The pimp locked her in the room and alternately beat her and showed her affection. He advertised her on Backpage.com and on other Web sites.

Backpage accounts for about 70% of America’s prostitution ads, according to AIM Group, a trade organization. Backpage cooperates with police and tries to screen out ads for underage girls, but that didn’t help Brianna.

Village Voice Media owns Backpage. When Mr. Kristof wrote recently about the ownership of Backpage, invested firms erupted in excuses and self-pity and raced to liquidate their stakes.

Mr. Kristof met Brianna at Gateways, a treatment center for girls who have been sexually trafficked. It’s thirty-five miles north of New York City, on a sprawling estate overseen by the Jewish Child Care Association. Gateways has accepted girls as young as eleven. Virtually all the girls were sold on Backpage, according to the center’s director.

Gateways has only thirteen beds, and the need is so great that it turns away girls every day.

The public sometimes assumes that teenage girls in the sex trade are working without coercion. Most aren’t physically imprisoned by pimps, but threats and violence are routine. The girls explain that they didn’t try to escape because of a complex web of emotions, including fear of the pimp, affection, and a measure of Stockholm syndrome.

Once, Brianna says, she looked out her window, and there was her mother on the street, crying and posting “missing” posters with Brianna’s photo. She tried to shout to her through the window, but her pimp grabbed her by the hair and yanked her back, threatening to kill her if she called out.

Pimps warn girls to distrust the police, and often they’re right. Bridgette Carr, who runs a human-trafficking clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, tells of a girl who went missing. A family member found the girl on Backpage and alerted authorities. Police “rescued” the girl by handcuffing her and detaining her for three weeks.

That mind-set has to change. Police and prosecutors must target pimps and johns, not teenage victims. Trafficked girls deserve shelters, not jails, and online emporiums like Backpage should stop abetting pimps.

Via The New York Times.

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Filed under National, Sick Sad World, War on Women

Vatican Tries to Rein in Nuns’ “Radical Feminist” Ideas

St. Peter's Square. Photo by Lindsay.

The Vatican has appointed an American bishop to rein in the largest group of Catholic nuns in the U.S., saying that the group had “serious doctrinal problems.”

The Vatican’s assessment said that members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious challenged church teaching on homosexuality and male-only priesthood and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The Vatican reprimanded the sisters for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters signed a statement supporting it.

The conference is an umbrella organization of women’s religious communities and claims 1,500 members who represent 80% of the Catholic sisters in the United States. The Vatican requested the formation of the organization.

Word of the Vatican’s action took the group completely by surprise. The group’s leaders were in Rome on Wednesday for what they thought was a routine visit to the Vatican when they were informed of the outcome of the investigation.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the verdict. Cardinal William Levada, an American, now leads the Congregation.

Doctrinal issues have been in the forefront during the papacy of Benedict XVI, who was in charge of the Vatican’s doctrinal office before he became pope. American nuns have come under particular scrutiny. Last year, American bishops announced that all Catholic schools and universities should remove a book by a theologian at Fordham University, Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson.

Via The New York Times.

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Filed under National, Religion, World

Black Hawk Crashes in Afghanistan

UH-60A Black Hawk parked on flight line

UH-60A Black Hawk parked on flight line (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Black Hawk helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan, likely killing its four crew members, all of them Americans.

The crash occurred in bad weather, though an official said “we cannot yet rule out enemy action.”

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Filed under War and Peace