Friday, February 8, 2013

Rape in the Military: An Open Letter to Kirby Dick

February 7, 2013

Dear Mr. Dick,

As a longtime advocate for victims of sexual abuse and editor of a forthcoming book titled The Rape of Males in War and Genocide, I am writing to express my great concern over the apparent content of your film The Invisible War (which I have not yet seen), and the marketing and publicity campaign surrounding it.

You are aware that in absolute terms, more men than women are sexually assaulted each year in the U.S. military. As reported on, two of the male rape survivors interviewed for your film have accused you of marginalizing male victims by devoting less than five minutes of your documentary to their plight.

Moreover, according to the report, "The publicity campaign hawking the film -- and its Academy Award candidacy -- includes a website that shows the faces of six female victims of military sexual assault, and no male survivors of that crime, as well as formal screenings to which only female victims have been asked to attend." I find this extraordinary and frankly outrageous. It is a real slap in the face to thousands of victims, declared or hidden, who already confront enormous obstacles, as male victims of rape and sexual assault, to getting a hearing and redress. Your justification for "invisibilizing" these male victims -- that "We kind of felt women would get the discussion going and push the military to make the change for everyone" -- is truly lame. The reality is that you have chosen the easy path of generating concern and sympathy for female victims of sexual assault, and have deliberately avoided devoting meaningful attention to the inconvenient majority of victims.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Witch-Hunts / Papua New Guinea

Woman Burned Alive for "Sorcery" in Papua New Guinea
BBC Online, February 7, 2013
"A woman has been tortured and burned alive in Papua New Guinea after being accused of using sorcery to kill a young boy, local media report. The woman, a mother aged 20 named as Kepari Leniata, was stripped, tied up and doused in petrol by the boy's relatives in Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands, said the National newspaper. She was then thrown onto a fire in front of hundreds of people. Police and firefighters were unable to intervene, the paper said. The Post Courier newspaper said they had been outnumbered by the crowd and chased away. Both newspapers published graphic photos of the incident on their front pages. Provincial police commander Supt. Kaiglo Ambane told the National that police were treating the case as murder and would arrest those responsible. In parts of the Pacific nation deaths and mysterious illnesses are sometimes blamed on suspected sorcerers. Several reports have emerged in recent years of accused people, usually women, being killed. In 2009, after a string of such killings, the chairman of PNG's Constitutional Review and Law Reform Commission said defendants were using accusations of witchcraft as an excuse to kill people, and called for tougher legislation to tackle the issue. Local Christian bishop David Piso told the National that sorcery-related killings were a growing problem, and urged the government to 'to come up with a law to stop such practice'. The US embassy in the capital, Port Moresby, condemned the killing as a 'brutal murder', the AFP news agency reports, and evidence of 'pervasive gender-based violence' in Papua New Guinea."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]