Category Archives: Sex Crimes

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Parliamentary Inquiry Launched Into Sexual Harassment In Public Places

A new Parliamentary inquiry has been launched into sexual harassment of women and girls in public places. 

MPs on the women and equalities select committee want individuals and organisations to report their experiences of unwanted attention or abuse on the street, on public transport, in shops and in bars and clubs.

It follows claims made by Westminster staff of a culture of “alcohol and power” leading to sexual assaults, harassment and inappropriate behaviour. 

A national survey published by YouGov in 2016 revealed 85% of women aged 18–24 had experienced unwanted sexual attention in public places and 45% experienced unwanted sexual touching.

Reported sexual offences on trains have also more than doubled in the past five years, with 1,448 offences were reported in 2016-17, up from 650 in 2012-2013.

Committee chair and former women and equalities minister Maria Miller said: “We know that there is huge public concern about sexual harassment, particularly of women and girls, which is why we held an evidence session in December to look at women’s experiences of harassment in different places and how these experiences are linked.  

“We know that sexual harassment can be experienced by anyone, but the evidence shows that it is overwhelmingly a problem that is perpetrated by men and boys against women and girls and forms part of the wider inequalities that women and girls experience – which is why we are focusing on this.

“Women and girls are harassed on buses, trains, in the street and in bars and clubs. We are putting a spotlight on a problem that seems to be so routine in women’s lives, and yet has received very little attention in public policy.

“We want to find out why it happens, what the Government is doing to root it out, and what more can be done.”

The committee is inviting written evidence on harassment via the Commons website until March 5.  It is expected to deliver a full report on its findings in the summer.

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John Worboys Release Prompts Justice Secretary To Consider Judicial Review

The new Justice Secretary David Gauke has sought advice over a potential judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision to release black-cab rapist John Worboys from prison following a mass public outcry.

The announcement last week that the serial sex attacker would be freed nine years after he was jailed prompted dismay from victims’ groups, politicians and legal experts.

Concerns were raised as to why all of the 102 complainants had not seen their cases brought to trial, as well as criticisms over a failure to inform some victims of his planned release.

Taxi rapist John Worboys is set to be released from prison” alt=”Taxi rapist John Worboys is set to be released from prison” data-credit=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.34327828″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

A Ministry of Justice spokesman told the Press Association: “Mr Gauke commissioned, mid-last week, advice on the plausibility of a judicial review and the prospect of success of any judicial review.

“The Secretary of State is minded to move forward only if there was a reasonable prospect of success.”

Sarah Green, from the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “The Justice Secretary’s potential attempt to try and stop the release of dangerous serial rapist John Worboys is very welcome.”

Worboys used alcohol and drugs to incapacitate his victims between 2002 and 2008. The licensed London black cab driver told some women he had won money at a casino or lottery and offered them spiked champagne in an invitation to celebrate with him. 

In 2009 the former stripper was convicted of 19 offences related to 12 women of drugging and sexually assault at Croydon Crown Court and ordered to serve at least eight years in jail.

Files relating to 83 separate complainants were referred to the CPS during the police investigation into Worboys.

Of those, 14 formed part of the trial while the remaining cases did not pass the “evidential test”.

David Gauke has sought advice over a potential judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision to release Worboys” alt=”David Gauke has sought advice over a potential judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision to release Worboys” data-credit=”PA Archive/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Archive/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.31656259″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

Prior to the trial, the cases of three further complainants were assessed to have passed the evidential test but by that stage it was decided there were sufficient counts on the indictment to lead to an appropriate sentence.

Following conviction, the Metropolitan Police received allegations from a further 19 women.

Campaigner Green said following the Ministry of Justice statement: “Women have been singularly failed throughout this case, from initial investigations all the way through to the parole board decision.

“The victims of this man’s crimes, who have been treated appallingly by police and the Parole Board, will hopefully have some relief at this news.

“We need action to be swift now, in order to bring about a review of the assessment of risk this man poses to women’s safety and to restore public confidence in the system’s ability to do justice and to protect.”

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Labour Delays Decision On Fate Of Suspended MP Kelvin Hopkins

Labour has once again delayed making a decision on the fate of suspended MP Kelvin Hopkins, who is accused of sexual harassment. 

The 76-year-old leftwinger faces two claims of inappropriate conduct towards a 27-year-old activist and fellow MP Kerry McCarthy.

A party spokesperson confirmed on Friday that the matter would be referred to Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, which will decide whether Hopkins will be excluded permanently, but did not give any indication of timescales.

“After consideration of statements provided by the complainant and the respondent, the NEC’s Sexual Harassment panel has agreed that on the balance of the evidence the matter should be referred to a full hearing of the National Constitutional Committee,” they said.

“The Labour Party will not be commenting further on this case until the conclusion of that hearing.”

Party member Ava Etemadzadeh alleged that Hopkins sent her an inappropriate text and rubbed his crotch against her after a student event in 2014.

Bristol East MP McCarthy was prompted by the case to come forward and reveal that she too had been sent suggestive letters by Hopkins since the 1990s.

Hopkins later  admitted texting Etemadzadeh but “absolutely and categorically” denied any “inappropriate conduct”.

The case was due to be heard before the NEC before Christmas, but was delayed until the new year.

This week Labour announced it had appointed independent charity Rape Crisis to deal with all allegations of sexual abuse or harassment within the party.

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The Online Abuse Of Women Isn’t ‘Trolling’, It’s An Expression Of Misogyny

I can’t believe this is happening again…

These were the words running through my mind as I entered the police station. While I had been here once before, for the most part I didn’t even bother going to the police because I didn’t see the point. But this was the worst it had ever been.

It was that same day I had learned about the website. It had been found by a family member; this site created by men whose stated objective was to ruin my life.

Once I knew what I was looking for, the page was easy to find. My photograph was at the top, alongside an invitation to members of the online community:

“I have found the perfect target. This c*** needs to feel our full wrath. Are you up for it? Are you prepared to take down a militant feminazi?”

Scrolling down the page I found the names of both friends and family members, complete with links to their social media accounts. Phone numbers. My home address (fortunately, outdated). Photos – of me, my parents and even my children. Before me was a smattering of captured moments apparently taken from the Facebook pages of my relatives; family events, picnics, me smiling with my parents outside a production of Les Miserables. Memories now tinged with a sick feeling, tainted by being reproduced in this context.

“Find her children and make their life a living hell,” said one commenter. ”Best way to get a woman is through her children.”

It didn’t end there. Next were the pornographic photos of me, with my face superimposed over a series of pornographic images depicting various sex acts. The caption read, “Send this to her sons.”

I read a long thread in which they discussed their potential plans for me. These included plans to hack into my personal email account to find ‘dirt’ on me. Hacking my social media accounts for the purpose of wrecking my reputation. Ejaculating on my photo. Or even swatting – a potentially deadly ’prank’ in which harassers make a false report of a hostage situation or a bomb threat, resulting in armed police showing up at the target’s house.

As I read what these men had in store for me, the lengths they were willing to go to in order to silence women like me, it became clear this wasn’t just ‘trolling’. They were strategising on how to get me raped or seriously hurt.

“Let’s send a pack of feral n*****s/ rapists to her house,” suggested one. (Keep in mind at this time they thought they had my address.) Others agreed long term operations would be the most effective and discussed ways to provoke specific religious, ethnic and extremist groups. “We need a demographic that will react violently.”

I’ve been on the receiving end of these sustained and organised campaigns for years. In that time, I’ve come to see that the deliberate and targeted abuse of women on the internet, often downplayed as trolling, is nothing less than an open expression of misogyny.

Women’s experiences in online spaces – particularly those of us who express feminist sentiments – are often characterised by sexist harassment and abuse. We are called bitches, whores and worse; we endure uninvited sexual comments and images, messages encouraging us to suicide, threats of violence and rape and appraisals of our bodies from men contemplating how rapeable we are.

The men who targeted me made plans to ejaculate on my photo, they turned me into porn and reduced me to masturbatory material. None of this was intended to be ‘empowering’ or a celebration of female sexuality, rather, it was a statement of utter contempt for women. The intention is to degrade and humiliate female targets, to inflict shame, as Susan Hawthorne writes in ‘Dark Matters: a novel’. Through the sexual humiliation of women, men assert their dominance and send a clear message that there will be repercussions for those women who forget their place.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a journalist who was interested in exploring the online abuse of women. I sent her some examples of the abuse, threats and images that had been directed to me over the past few years. When we spoke the following day, she confided that the content I had shared with her literally gave her nightmares.

As predicted, the police said they could do very little and referred me on. There would be no consequences for these men, no investment of police time or resources. The best I could hope for was for the website to be taken down, which after several months it finally was.

The men who doxed my family, posted pictures of my children, turned me into pornography and discussed ways to get me raped, believe that women can be intimidated and threatened into silence. I won’t be.

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Golden Globes 2018: Evan Rachel Wood Calls For Attendees To Form Circles Around Known Sexual Predators

this Sun. If you see a predator but don’t feel you can say anything publicly, gather a handful of people and make a circle around them. The room will know.”

In another tweet, she said victims could choose not to be in the circle, adding: “You also do not have to be in the circle so that it remains anonymous. Brothers and sisters can circle in solidarity.”

The 30-year-old star, who previously revealed she has been raped twice, went on to reveal that she had walked out in tears at last year’s ceremony because one of the winners had “abused a close friend”.
She added: “But I worked up the courage to go up to them afterwards and just say 2 words. ‘I know’. Hopefully they don’t even show up this time.”

Meanwhile, Evan is one of many stars attending tonight’s event who are expected to be wearing the new ‘Time’s Up’ pin. 

A post shared by Michael Schmidt Studios (@michaelschmidtstudios) on

Actress Reece Witherspoon asked costume designer and stylist Arianne Phillips to design the pin.

Time’s Up, the anti-harassment coalition, which launched on Monday 1 January by hundreds of powerful Hollywood women – including Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman and America Ferrera – has already raised more than $14 million.

The 75th Golden Globes will take place on Sunday 7 January in Los Angeles. Find out how you can watch in the UK here.

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John Worboys Victim Is ‘Shocked, Shaken And Tearful’ At Black Cab Rapist’s Release

A victim of black cab rapist John Worboys has said she feels “shocked, shaken and tearful” that he is going to be released from prison and fears he could still be a danger to women.

The decision to release the 60-year-old, nine years after he was jailed, prompted anger from victims and questions around why not all of the 102 complainants had their cases brought to trial, The Press Association reports. 

Finding out that Worboys, who was found guilty of 19 charges of drugging and sexually assaulting 12 women passengers, in one case raping a woman, was to be released from a news report rather than the authorities had left her feeling “cheated and betrayed,” according to the victim.

She said: “I never thought Worboys would see the light of day after the terrible offences he committed. I honestly thought he would never be allowed out of prison. 

“So I was shocked, shaken and tearful when a friend sent me an email with a link to the story of his imminent release.

“I hadn’t been told by the Parole Board and had to find out by looking at a news website which is completely out of order. I felt cheated and betrayed. They could have at least sent me a letter. ”

A day after his release was confirmed, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) explained it had charged Worboys with offences “where it was deemed there was a realistic prospect of conviction”.

The woman said: “I am really concerned that he could offend again. How can he carry out so many horrific crimes and then suddenly be ok?”

One woman who said she had a narrow escape from the sexual predator said police dismissed her when she told them of her ordeal in 2002.

In a comment piece for the i newspaper, Hannah Roberts said it was six years on before she was given the opportunity to identify him and make a statement.

Criticising the CPS, she said: “Many of the women who came forward to accuse Worboys were ignored or not believed by police at the time of their attacks.”

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer from Slater and Gordon, which represents 11 of Worboys’s victims, said: “Are his many victims seriously expected to believe that he has become a changed character? It is crucial that we are told the reasons why he has been allowed out.

“Otherwise how are his victims meant to have any trust in the system which they feel so deeply betrayed by?”

The CPS said 83 women had reported allegations up to the point of conviction, and a further 19 afterwards, and the body had advised officers to refer any allegations of rape.

One file was submitted in relation to an allegation of sexual assault but it “did not pass the evidential test”, the CPS statement added.

 It said: “It would be unlikely that it would be in the public interest to prosecute Worboys in relation to allegations of sexual assault or administering a substance with intent, because of the maximum sentence available to the court.”

The Metropolitan Police confirmed there is currently no live investigation into Worboys.

Sir Keir Starmer, who was director of public prosecutions at the time of the trial, did not have “any involvement in the decision-making” the CPS said.

He has reiterated a call to anyone with concerns about allegations against Worboys that they believe may not have been looked into to contact police.

Chairman of the Parole Board, Professor Nick Hardwick, who apologised after some victims were not contacted ahead of the announcement that Worboys is to be released, will be summoned before the House of Commons Justice Committee to explain how the decision for release was reached.

Chairman of the committee, Conservative MP Bob Neill, called for the Parole Board’s processes to be made more transparent, saying it is “ridiculous that the current rules prevent the board making public the reasons for their decisions”.

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John Worboys: CPS Defends Decision Not To Pursue Scores Of Complaints Against The ‘Black Cab Rapist’

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has defended its decision not to pursue scores of complaints against ‘black cab rapist’ John Worboys.

The comments come after it was announced on Thursday that the parole board had approved Worboys’ release following an oral hearing.

The move sparked an immediate backlash, with women’s rights campaigners and charity workers criticising the “shocking” decision to release the 60-year-old from custody.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has defended its decision not to pursue scores of complaints against John Worboys.” alt=”The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has defended its decision not to pursue scores of complaints against John Worboys.” data-credit=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.34327828″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

Worboys used alcohol and drugs to incapacitate his victims between 2002 and 2008. 

The licensed London black cab driver told some women he had won money at a casino or lottery and offered them spiked champagne in an invitation to celebrate with him.

Questions have been raised about the decision by prosecutors not to pursue further allegations against the serial sex attacker.

More than 100 complainants came forward with accusations against Worboys but he was only convicted of 19.

The CPS said that of the 83 complainants initially referred to them by the Metropolitan Police Service during their investigation, just 14 passed the evidential test.

The cases of three more complainants referred to the CPS ahead of the trial passed the evidential test, but the CPS didn’t pursue these.

The CPS said “at that stage it had been decided that there were sufficient counts on the indictment to enable the judge to impose an appropriate sentence in the event of conviction”.

The CPS said its decision was taken in “full consultation” with the police.

Worboys was charged with 23 offences in April 2008, with the CPS believing “there was a realistic prospect of conviction”.

He was convicted of 19 of those offences following his trial in March 2009.

The Met Police informed the CPS that 19 more complainants had come forward following his conviction.

But the CPS said it would “be unlikely that it would be in the public interest” to prosecute Worboys in relation to allegations of sexual assault or administering a substance with intent because it would not impact sentencing.

The CPS said that former director of public prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer did not have “any involvement in the decision making” of the case. 

Scotland Yard said that there is currently no live investigation “as no new information has been received at this time”.

“Should any further information come to light it will be fully investigated,” police added. 

On Friday the chairman of the Parole Board “apologised unreservedly” for not informing victims of Worboys’ release.

Nick Hardwick said that he was “very surprised and shocked” to hear that victims had learnt about his release through media reports the previous day, and acknowledged it “would have been absolutely horrible for them”.

But he told the Today programme that it was the job of the Victim Contact Service to liaise with victims and the Parole Board believed they had done so in this case. 

The Ministry of Justice has since said that not all of Warboys victims chose to be updated about decisions relating to his imprisonment. 

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Worboys’ Release Is A Stark Reminder Of Why We Have No Right To Pressure Rape Victims Into Reporting

Late last year, a new campaign from Leicestershire Police entitled ‘All is Not Lost’ implored of rape victims, “Please, help us to help you, get justice.” The campaign’s main five-and-a-half-minute video drew criticism for a host of reasons, not least of all its brutal 18-certificate content and its perpetuation of the myth that most rapes involve violent struggle. But perhaps most controversial of all is its central premise that if you’re simply a ‘good’ victim, who ‘does everything right’, including preserving forensic evidence and going straight to the police, you’ll see your perpetrator locked up for a very long time.

And Leicestershire Police is by no means the only source of this kind of message. As Rape Crisis England & Wales said in a statement yesterday, “Public institutions and society consistently encourage sexual violence victims and survivors to report to the police, often implying it is their moral and public duty to do so.” And indeed, many of those who do choose to report cite their desire to ‘stop this from happening to anyone else’ as a strong motivation for putting themselves through what can undoubtedly be a long and difficult process.

So what message are we now sending to victims, including the 105 women who took the hard decision to report John Worboys’ crimes against them to the police?

After all, the 93 of them whose cases weren’t prosecuted did try, in the words of the Leicestershire campaign, to help the police help them get justice, but to no avail. Until now though, they might at least have been able to draw reassurance from the knowledge Worboys was set to stay behind bars for an indeterminate amount of time, until he ‘no longer posed a threat to the public’, which no-one could have predicted could be considered by the Parole Board to be any time soon.

And we might imagine that the 12 women against whom Worboys was convicted of drugging, rape and other serious sexual offences might have felt some sense of justice when he was imprisoned, even if they still have to go on living with the wide-ranging and sometimes lifelong impacts experiences sexual violence can have.

We can only speculate how any of them feel, of course, unless we know them well, but I do find myself wondering how many feel a sense of justice today.

Sexual offence cases often take as long as two years from report to court, if they make it that far, and our rape conviction rates have long been among the lowest in Europe. At the same time, despite unprecedented and increasing demand, specialist services like Rape Crisis that offer victims and survivors the support and advocacy they so very much want, need and deserve – whether or not they report to the police – remain chronically under-funded.

Justice to most survivors doesn’t just mean seeing their perpetrator locked up, safely away from them and other potential victims. It also means social justice, in the form of humane and respectful treatment, specialist listening, support, counselling and therapy, and advocacy to help them through difficult legal processes. But while most don’t even have access to a local Rape Crisis Centre, and those specialist services that do exist are forced to close their waiting lists due to lack of capacity, can we claim to be offering either?

Of Worboys’ many  victims who decided not to report to the police, I wonder how many question that decision today. Regardless of that we think we would do in their shoes, it’s certainly clear we have no right as a society to carry on guilt-tripping sexual violence victims and survivors into reporting, when the criminal justice system it plunges them into is so very inadequate.

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Damian Green Forced To Resign Over Sex Harassment And Pornography Allegations

Theresa May’s deputy Damian Green has been forced to quit the Cabinet after an inquiry found he’d lied about pornography on his computer and found ‘plausible’ evidence he had sexually harassed a young activist.

Green was effectively sacked by the Prime Minister after a Cabinet Office probe concluded that he had breached the ministerial code of conduct.

The investigation decided that claims by Tory activist Kate Maltby, who had accused Green of touching her knee and sending inappropriate texts, were “plausible”.

It found that the minister had also made ‘inaccurate and misleading’ statements about the existence of porn on an office computer seized by police in 2009.

The resignation is the third from the Cabinet in just a matter of weeks following the departures of Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, over sex harassment, and International Development Secretary Priti Patel over undeclared links to Israel.

 

more follows

 

 

 

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2017 Has Seen A Sea-Change. Next Year Women Must Call The Shots

I love Christmas. If you’re lucky you’ll have some time off work, time to spend with friends and family, perhaps even some space to indulge or pamper yourself.  Of course, the festival pre-dates Christianity and, in the Northern hemisphere marks the turn of the year as we pass the longest night and begin to see the days lengthen again.  It’s a natural time to consider our lives (all those New Year Resolutions). We can think about where we are – and where we might be going.  

The norms of our world are changing with ever increasing speed. Once, perfectly decent people saw nothing wrong in slavery. Today, though the evil still lurks, it is universally reviled. When I was a child in the UK, homosexuality was illegal. This year my husband, a fairly conservative, straight white man in his sixties, officiated at the wedding of two women – and felt very privileged to be able do so.  

And 2017 has seen another sea change. Time magazine has hailed ‘The Silence Breakers’ as their ‘Person of the Year’. Time has bestowed this annual accolade since 1927 – originally, of course, it was ‘Man of the Year’ and it took an astonishing 72 years before it become ‘Person of the Year’ in 1999. The award hardly signifies approval – instead it reflects impact. Both Hitler and Stalin have been past ‘winners’. And Kim Jung Un was a contender this year.   But the 2017 award went to the women who had broken the code of silence by speaking out against sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace and in their lives. 

The initial focus, of course, was Harvey Weinstein, the monstrous, if talented, film producer against whom some 50 women have levelled accusations of conduct ranging from harassment to rape.  But the spotlight on the abusive practices of Hollywood widened rapidly.  Time’s list of ‘The Silence Breakers’ included a farm worker, a dishwasher, a lobbyist, a hospital worker and many others.  Actresses are particularly vulnerable because they work in an overcrowded freelance profession where, very often, their sexuality is seen as a credential.  But women everywhere have experienced sexual abuse and harassment and, suddenly, as the silence is broken, it seems they will put up with it no longer.   

The #MeToo spread like a forest fire. 4.7 million women signed up to it within 24 hours. The editors of Time recognised the phenomenon not just as a moment but as a movement.  Men everywhere, including some much-loved public figures, are being called out by their victims,.  And men too have emerged as suffering abuse.  The common factor, of course, is always power and the ease with which it can be abused. But almost overnight, it seems, bystanders will no longer look away.  Victims will no longer be shamed into silence. Behaviour previously regarded as ‘a grey area’ is now clearly seen as unacceptable.   

In 2016 America elected as President, a self-confessed ‘pussy grabber’.  Trump described his language as ‘locker room talk’ and, in the end, more women voted for him than for Hillary Clinton.  But times change.  Last month the President suddenly asserted that the voice on the incriminating tape was not his.  Billy Bush, the other voice on the tape was outraged by the denial, but no doubt many will believe it.  I take that, however, as a hopeful sign. Last year, boasting about grabbing women by the pussy could be dismissed.  This year, you have to deny it.  

Next year? Maybe we could edge closer to the pay equality we were promised by law in 1970. Maybe we’ll even see a few more women calling the shots at the top of media companies. In the end, the only way to stop sexual abuse and harassment is to have enough women sufficiently senior to fire the men responsible.

Merry Christmas!

This blog is part of HuffPost UK’s 12 days of Christmas series. From 20 December we will bring you blogs and vlogs from individuals at the centre of some of 2017′s biggest news stories. They will reflect on the past 12 months and also look forward to new year. To find out more follow our hashtag #HuffPost12Days.

 

  • Rape Crisis services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence – 0808 802 9999
  • Survivors UK offers support for men and boys – 0203 598 3898

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