KARACHI, PAKISTAN — Kainat Soomro is a 17-year-old Pakistani girl who has become a local celebrity of sorts in her battle for justice in the Pakistani courts, a daring move for a woman of any age in this country, let alone a teenager.
She is fighting to get justice for a gang rape that she insists happened four years ago in Mehar, a small town in Pakistan.
We first met her in the office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. A colorful traditional Pakistani shawl covered her head. Her father sat next to her as she recounted the 2007 incident.
“I was walking home from my school and I went to the store to buy a toy for my niece,” she said, staring at the floor of the office. “While I was looking at things a guy pressed a handkerchief on my nose. I fainted and was kidnapped. Then four men gang raped me.”
As she shared details of her days in captivity and multiple rapes, she kept repeating, “I want justice, I will not stop until I get justice.” After three days, she was finally able to escape she said. As she spoke, her father gently tapped her head. He said he tried to get Kainat’s alleged rapists arrested, but instead he was rebuffed by the police.
According to the Kainat family’s account, the tribal elders declared her kari, (which literally means black female), for losing her virginity outside marriage.
In Pakistan, women and men who have illicit relationships or women who lose their virginity before marriage are at risk of paying with their lives.
“These are matters of honor and the leaders call a jirga and they declare that the woman or the couple should be killed,” said Abdul Hai, a veteran field officer for the Human Rights Commission in Pakistan. These acts of violence are most commonly labeled as “honor killings.”
The most recent report from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan noted that in 2009 roughly 46 percent of all female murders in Pakistan that year were in the name of “honor.” The report noted that a total of 647 incidences of “honor killings” were reported by the Pakistani press. However, experts say that actual incidences of “honor killings” in Pakistan are much higher and never get reported to the police because they are passed off by the families as suicides.
Kainat said that despite the pressures her family refused to kill her.
“It is the tradition, but if the family doesn’t permit it, then it won’t happen. My father, my brother, my mom didn’t allow it,” she said.
And that defiance has left the family fearing for their lives. The family’s new home in Karachi has been attacked a number of times.
But, according to Abdul Hai, Kainat is lucky: “The woman or the girl usually gets killed and the man gets away,” he said. “Over 70 percent of the murdered victims are women and only 30 percent of victims of honor killings are male.”
In Karachi, Kainat and her family are now sharing one room in a run-down apartment block, and they have to rely on charities to help them pay for food.
“We go hungry many nights,” said Kainat’s older sister.
But their fight might never pay off. A local judge has already ruled against Kainat in the case. “There is no corroborative evidence available on record. The sole testimony of the alleged rape survivor is not sufficient,” the judge said in a written decision.
Another problem is that material evidence is usually not collected in rape cases in Pakistan since the police rarely believe rape victims and therefore don’t order rape kits in a timely manner.
Without medical tests to corroborate her story, it remains Kainat’s word against the alleged rapists. But even having lost her case at the local court, Kainat insists, “I am not giving up, I will take this all the way to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.”
Priest forces a 7 year old boy to fellate his 5 year old brother. 35 years later, they get their revenge by savagely beating him.
The priest’s entire family knew he was a child molester. Not a single one turned him in. One of them is a police officer.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A man allegedly molested three decades ago by a priest was arrested Friday on charges that he lured the clergyman to the lobby of a Jesuit retirement home and beat him in front of shocked witnesses, authorities said.
William Lynch, 43, was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon for the May 10 attack that sent the Rev. Jerold Lindner to the hospital with bruises and lacerations, said Sgt. Rick Sung, Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman.
Lynch harbored a fantasy for years of confronting the priest, who also allegedly molested his little brother.
Sung said Lynch attacked the 65-year-old priest after he failed to recognize him at the Jesuits’ Sacred Heart retirement home in Los Gatos. The attack occurred in a small room adjoining the lobby.
“They’re saying it was pretty close to beating him to death,” defense attorney Pat Harris told The Associated Press. “They’re essentially saying that he waited all these years and then took out his revenge. It’s sort of the ultimate revenge story.”
Lynch and his younger brother settled with the Jesuits of the California Province, a Roman Catholic religious order, for $625,000 in 1998 after alleging that Lindner abused them in 1975 during weekend camping trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The boys, who were 7 and 5 at the time, were raped in the woods and forced to have oral sex with each other while Lindner watched, Harris said. Lindner has been accused of abuse by nearly a dozen people, including his own sister and nieces and nephews.
Lynch was to be released on $25,000 bail, Harris said. The attorney negotiated his client’s surrender and said Lynch will plead not guilty at his arraignment sometime next month.
Police connected Lynch to the attack using phone records, Sung said. A half hour before the beating, a caller identifying himself as “Eric” called the rest home and said someone would arrive shortly to inform Lindner of a family member’s death.
“The Father shows up in the lobby, at which point he was asked by the suspect if he knew who he was. When the Father answered ‘No,’ that’s when the suspect started attacking,” Sung said. “He was punching him in the face and all over the body. After the Father goes down, then the suspect takes off.”
Lindner was able to drive himself to the hospital. He did not return a call left on his answering machine Friday.
He has previously denied abusing the Lynch boys and has not been criminally charged. The abuse falls outside the statute of limitations.
Lindner was removed from ministry and placed at the Los Gatos retirement home in 2001. He was named in two additional lawsuits for abuse between 1973 and 1985, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The cases were included in the record-breaking $660 million settlement struck between the church and more than 550 plaintiffs in 2007.
The Rev. John McGarry, the provincial, said Lindner had fully recovered and had resumed his work at the retirement home, where he helps care for 75 retired and invalid priests.
“As you can imagine it’s very emotionally distressing to go through something like this. He hasn’t spoken a lot about it,” McGarry said of Lindner. “He’s living a quiet life of prayer and service within our community.”
Lynch declined an interview Friday but in a 2002 Los Angeles Times article, he said he’d had nightmares for years, battled depression and alcoholism and had attempted suicide twice because of the priest’s abuse.
“Many times I thought of driving down to LA and confronting Father Jerry. I wanted to exorcise all of the rage and anger and bitterness he put into me,” Lynch told the newspaper. “You can’t put into words what this guy did to me. He stole my innocence and destroyed my life.”
The Associated Press does not identify victims of sex crimes as a matter of policy, but Lynch previously came forward to tell his story.
Although rare, it’s not unheard of for victims of sexual abuse to take revenge upon their abusers — and it can be normal for victims to fantasize about revenge without acting on it, said Steven Danish, a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University who’s counseled sexual abuse victims.
In Lynch’s case, reading about Lindner in media accounts throughout the years and realizing he had gone unpunished could have pushed Lynch to act, said Danish, who has not treated Lynch.
“Imagine holding something inside for 35 years and letting it fester,” Danish said. “He’s probably thinking, ‘You’re living your life and here I am a failure and all because of what you did to me on that day.'”
There have been several other instances of violence, sometimes fatal, against priests accused of abuse since the Roman Catholic clergy abuse scandal unfolded in 2002.
In Baltimore, a man who claimed he was sodomized and fondled by a priest a decade before shot the clergyman three times after the priest told him to go away when he demanded an apology.
The defendant was acquitted of attempted murder but served 18 months of home detention on a gun conviction.
The following year, priest John Geoghan was strangled to death in his cell by a fellow inmate who claimed he was chosen by God to kill pedophiles. Geoghan was serving a 9- to 10-year sentence for groping a boy and was at the center of the Boston clergy abuse scandal. He had been accused of molesting as many as 150 boys.
Lindner was ordained in 1976 and taught at various Catholic high schools during his career, including 16 years as chairman of the English department at Loyola High School, a prestigious Catholic prep school in Los Angeles.
There, he launched nearly two dozen after-school programs for students, including a chess club and renaissance club, and became master of a Boy Scout troop that included mostly lower-income Puerto Rican boys, his older brother, Larry Lindner, told The Associated Press.
Most of Lindner’s family severed contact with him years ago after discovering he had molested his nieces and nephews when they were as young as 3. They were unaware of the attack, said his sister, Kathy McEntire.
McEntire said her brother molested her starting when she was 5 — and she learned 15 years ago that he also abused her son for years. She last spoke to her brother in 2001.
“Jerry’s violent and I would not be surprised if he did get beat up. I could understand somebody getting that mad,” McEntire told the AP. “I’ve often said myself that I don’t trust myself around him. I would likely wind up in jail because I’d probably kick him somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine — and I’m his sister.”
During their last visit nine years ago, McEntire asked Lindner if any of the abuse allegations were true.
“I said, ‘Is it true? He said, ‘Well, some of it,'” McEntire said. “I called him a few choice words and that was the last time I ever saw him.”
Larry Lindler, a retired Los Angeles police officer, said he last saw his brother more than two decades ago after he walked in on him molesting his 8-year-old daughter during a visit. The two were playing a game called “blankie” in which Lindner asked the little girl to lie over his lap like a blanket and then wiggled around as if trying to get comfortable.
“The last contact I had with him personally was the day after I caught him with my daughter and I told him he best get in his vehicle and leave,” he recalled. “I said, ‘If I go out to the truck and get my off-duty weapon out of the glove box, you’re a dead man.”
BOSTON — Attorney Ray Boucher helped secure a record $660 million settlement from the Los Angeles Archdiocese on behalf of more than 500 people molested by priests. Five days after the settlement was announced, his wife left him.
Eric MacLeish, the hard-charging lawyer whose work for victims helped spur the resignation of Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law in 2002, later suffered a breakdown, stopped practicing law and got divorced.
And Steve Rubino, once such an observant Catholic he couldn’t believe a priest would molest a child, lost his faith and eventually retired from the law.
“It moved me completely out of whatever religious context I was in — completely,” he said.
The sex scandal that rocked the nation’s Roman Catholic Church took a fearsome personal toll on some of the top lawyers who dared to challenge the institution.
While many of them ultimately reaped large fees for their services, the all-consuming workload, the pressure of battling the church and the stress of listening to graphic accounts of children’s suffering were debilitating.
“No one can handle these cases and come out of it the same,” said Sylvia Demarest, a lawyer who helped win a $119.6 million verdict against the Diocese of Dallas in 1997 and later built a national database on clergy sex abuse cases.
Demarest, now semiretired, said she grew frustrated with her inability to heal the wounds suffered by her clients. “What happens to kids when they’re abused and what happens to their brains when they are abused is something that we don’t know how to fix,” she said.
The crisis exploded in Boston in 2002, after internal church documents released publicly showed that church leaders for decades had shuffled sexually abusive priests from parish to parish. The scandal spread across the country as thousands of lawsuits were filed by people who claimed they had been victimized.
For MacLeish, the clergy cases reawakened memories of being sexually abused as a child.
MacLeish and other lawyers won an $85 million settlement in Boston in 2003 for more than 500 victims. But in the months after the landmark settlement was announced, MacLeish began to unravel. He developed insomnia and nausea, lost 40 pounds and couldn’t work.
He was rattled by the image of a 9-year-old boy who was repeatedly sodomized over nine hours by a priest. The boy buried his bloody underwear so his mother wouldn’t find out.
“The idea of him going off into the woods and burying his underwear, that really got to me,” MacLeish said.
MacLeish had been sexually abused by a family friend during a camping trip at 15. And he had memories of being molested at an English boarding school he attended as a boy.
“I began to realize why I had been doing this work and how much my own abuse had affected me,” he said. He said his pursuit of the church “was absolutely never about money.” He added: “The wealth I received was the knowledge that I had really helped my clients and helped to change the Catholic Church.”
Rubino, who retired last year after more than 20 years of representing clergy sex-abuse victims, was incredulous after a family friend came to him in 1987 and said a priest had sexually assaulted her 14-year-old son.
“I said, `Well, that’s impossible. Priests are celibate. What are you talking about?'” recalled Rubino, who grew up in a large Italian Catholic family.
Rubino, whose law office was in Margate City, N.J., spent the next 15 years becoming a canon law expert. He traveled all over the U.S and to Ireland, Canada and Australia to represent victims and help other lawyers. Story after story of abuse left Rubino disheartened about the Catholic Church.
“I was a true believer. I said my Hail Marys, my Act of Contrition, I learned Latin, I served Mass, I believed in God,” he said. “I don’t do any of that now.”
At the height of the scandal, Rubino was working 16- to 20-hour days and traveling constantly. His wife and three children resented it. “While I was (home), I was never there,” he said. “I was a second away from the next text, the next e-mail, the next phone call from a client.”
Rubino’s marriage survived, but Boucher’s did not. Boucher’s wife left him right after the 2007 settlement in Los Angeles.
“She just said, `Look, you’re on top of the world, the press is surrounding you, I haven’t accomplished what I want to accomplish in life, and I just don’t feel like I can stay with you,'” Boucher said. (Boucher’s ex-wife, Christine Roberts, declined to comment.)
Before that, Boucher had plowed through hundreds of cases in Los Angeles, and mostly managed to “box it up and store it away.” But, at times, the enormity of the pain caused by the abuse was overwhelming.
In 2004, Boucher was editing DVDs of victims describing how they were raped or otherwise molested by a priest. He saw a pile of about 150 DVDs ready to be mailed to Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony. Each DVD cover had a picture of the victim as a child, as they were when they were assaulted.
“I was stunned. I looked at them, and I’m sure I started to cry,” Boucher recalled. “I will never lose that image.”
MacLeish’s marriage also ended in divorce. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he began seeing a psychologist. Within two months, they were sleeping together and their affair led to his divorce, MacLeish said.
MacLeish, now a professor who teaches civil rights and criminal procedure at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, said he doesn’t regret the work he did, despite the toll it took on him and his family.
“There is not one case that I’ve heard of since 2004 where a known pedophile has been placed by the church into an organization where he would be able to do it again,” he said.
Rubino, 61, now spends time with his family and works as chief executive of a sports performance training center for kids. Rubino said it is a respite from the work he used to do.
“For the hundreds of damaged young lives I represented, the kids at (the center) are at the opposite end of the spectrum,” he said.
Boucher, 53, continues to represent victims.
“I can’t imagine walking away from people who are suffering from the isolation of sexual abuse,” he said. “I don’t know how — no matter what the personal, emotional toll might be — I don’t know how you walk away from that.”
After being raped and impregnated by a fellow churchgoer more than twice her age, a 15-year-old Concord girl was forced by Trinity Baptist Church leaders to stand before the congregation to apologize before they helped whisk her out of state, according to the police.
While her pastor, Chuck Phelps, reported the alleged rape in 1997 to state youth officials, Concord police detectives were never able to find the victim. The victim said she was sent to another church member’s home in Colorado, where she was home-schooled and not allowed to have contact with others her age. It wasn’t until this past February that the victim, who is now 28, decided to come forward after reading about other similar cases, realizing for the first time it wasn’t her fault that she had been raped, she told the police.
The police arrested Ernest Willis, 51, of Gilford, last week in connection with the case, accusing him of raping the girl twice – once in the back seat of a car he was teaching her to drive in and again after showing up at her Concord home while her parents were away. He was charged with four felonies – two counts of rape and two counts of having sex with a minor, court records show.
In a statement to the police, the victim said Willis came to her home in the summer of 1997 without warning.
“He said he wanted to talk to me about something so I let him in the house,” she wrote. “He locked the door behind him and pushed me over to the couch. I had a dress on and he pulled it off. I pushed my hands against his shoulders and said ‘No,’ but he didn’t stop.”
At the time of the alleged rape, Phelps was in touch with the police, who told him to contact the Division for Children, Youth and Families.
But moving the girl out of state prevented the police from collecting evidence or a statement, the police said yesterday.
“Without a victim, it makes it very difficult to have a case,” said Lt. Keith Mitchell. “That basically made the investigation very difficult.”
At the time, Willis also refused to give a statement, police records show.
So for 13 years, a file on the case sat closed and marked “unresolved” at the Concord police station.
Police records do not show whether detectives asked church leaders to help them get in contact with the victim or if information was withheld.
“If somebody tried to cover this up or not cover this up, that’s a separate issue,” Mitchell said.
Phelps did not return a message seeking comment yesterday. He no longer works at the church.
“The leadership of Trinity Baptist Church reported this alleged crime within 24 hours of hearing the accusations on Oct. 8, 1997,” said spokesman Peter Flint from a prepared statement. “We continue in our commitment to cooperate with authorities so that justice is served.”
‘Completely in shock’
The victim said she came forward after getting in touch with Jocelyn Zichterman, who runs an online group for victims of church abuse.
In a seven-page statement to the police, the victim recounted the moments leading up to her departure from New Hampshire.
At 14, she began babysitting for Willis, a well-known member of the church. She told the police she would often stay the night if he got home late.
Just over a year later, he offered to give her driving lessons. While in the parking lot of a Concord business, Willis asked her to pull over to switch seats, she told the police.
But instead he pulled her into the backseat and raped her, according to a statement to the police.
In the summer of 1997, Willis raped her again, this time while at her home while her mother was out, according to police records.
“I was completely in shock, but too scared to go and tell anyone because I thought I would get blamed for what happened,” she said.
Over the next few months, the girl became suspicious she was pregnant. She called Willis, who brought over a pregnancy test that came up positive, she told the police.
“He asked me if I wanted him to take me to a neighboring state where underage abortions were legal . . . and he would pay for an abortion,” she told the police. “He then asked me if I wanted him to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could because that might cause a miscarriage.”
She declined both.
The victim told her mother about the pregnancy. Soon after, Phelps was also alerted.
The victim said Phelps told her she would be put up for “church discipline,” where parishioners go before the congregation to apologize for their sins.
She asked why. “Pastor Phelps then said that (Willis) may have been 99 percent responsible, but I needed to confess my 1 percent guilt in the situation,” the victim told the police.
“He told me that I should be happy that I didn’t live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned.”
Fran Earle, the church’s former clerk, witnessed the punishment session.
At a night meeting of the church’s fellowship in 1997, Phelps invited Willis to the front of the room. Willis apologized to the group for not being faithful to his wife, Earle said.
“I can remember saying to my husband, I don’t understand it’s any of our business why this is being brought up,” Earle said.
Phelps then told parishioners a second matter was at hand; he invited the victim to apologize for getting pregnant.
“I can still see the little girl standing up there with this smile on her face trying to get through this,” Earle said.
A day after the session, Earle called the pastor’s wife, who said the victim had decided not to press charges for statutory rape.
“You’ve got to understand, we trusted our pastor and his wife to be telling us the truth,” Earle said. “They told us it had been reported. He reported it as a consensual act between a man and a woman. Well, I didn’t know a 15-year-old was a woman.”
Earle, who left the church in 2001 after 19 years, said it was regular to see young girls who were pregnant called to the front of the congregation to be humiliated.
Rob Sims, another former member, said the discipline sessions were formulaic – Phelps would read Bible verses, give a limited overview of what happened and then each person would read a statement.
“(The) statement agreed that they had done wrong and why they ‘now believed’ that they had sinned,” he said. “Then Pastor Phelps would give a few closing remarks and then a vote would be taken to remove the guilty party from membership or to keep them in membership but under discipline, or something to that effect.”
The police said the victim’s family asked for her to be moved to Colorado.
“I think that she clearly did not want to go to Colorado, and I’m quite sure she expressed that to the church, her mother and the pastor,” said Concord police Detective Chris DeAngelis. “However, she was a juvenile. Her mom requests assistance and that was what they came up with.”
Mitchell said the police are looking at pressing other charges.
Willis was released on $100,000 personal recognizance bail. He faces an arraignment June 16 in Concord District Court.
ROME — Italy’s bishops’ conference provided the first ever statistics of clerical sex abuse in the country Tuesday, saying there had been about 100 cases over the past 10 years that warranted church trials or other canonical procedures.
Monsignor Mariano Crociata, the No. 2 official in the Italian bishops’ conference, gave the estimate during a press conference on the sidelines of the bishops’ general assembly, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies reported.
He declined to say how many of the cases resulted in condemnation or defrocking of the priest, or how many were reported to police. While saying the church officials cooperated with police, he insisted that Italian law doesn’t require bishops to report suspected abuse.
Some lawyers for victims say bishops are required to report abuse since they are public officials. Vatican norms say bishops should follow civil laws in reporting abuse.
Crociata’s comments came a day after the head of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, opened the bishops’ annual meeting by asking families to trust the Catholic Church despite the scandal, insisting that it had never intended to underestimate the problem.
The meeting came as more cases are coming to light in the Vatican’s backyard: On Tuesday, the ANSA news agency reported that a 73-year-old priest well known in Milan’s gay community had been arrested on charges he had sex with a 13-year-old boy, who is now 16. A day earlier, a priest in Savona went on trial for alleged sexual violence against a 12-year-old girl, ANSA said.
And last week, a Rome bishop testified in the case of another accused priest, the Rev. Ruggero Conti, that he knew about rumors of abuse two years before Conti was arrested yet didn’t alert police or the Vatican or proceed with any canonical trial against him.
Mario Staderini, a member of Italy’s Radical party who is a civil party in the Conti case, said it was unconscionable that a canonical trial hadn’t proceeded against Conti, given the evidence provided to his bishop, Monsignor Gino Reali.
Reali testified that he had spoken to 20-25 people, including two boys who said they had been abused by Conti, yet didn’t find their accusations credible. He said he convened a tribunal after receiving a written complaint from one of the boys, but it never got under way because the victim didn’t show up.
Conti is charged with sexual violence and other charges. In police interrogations, the boys — some as young as 13 at the time of the alleged abuse — said Conti would masturbate them and force them to perform oral sex on him in his home, where he frequently invited them to eat dinner and watch movies.
“How is it possible that only in Italy no bishop has felt the need to resign or make a mea culpa for failing to be vigilant?” Staderini asked in a statement.
He said if the Italian bishops’ conference wanted to be transparent and care for victims it should put some of the money that Italians earmark to the Catholic Church on their income taxes toward a fund for victims.
The main U.S. victims group, SNAP, Survivors’ Network for Those Abused by Priests, denounced Crociata for his defense of not reporting abuse to police, saying “it’s tragic and telling that most Catholic officials still insist on keeping clergy sex crimes secret.”
The group’s Midwest director Peter Isely said he doubted that there had only been 100 cases. “For decades, Catholic officials have underestimated and underreported the shocking extent of clergy sex crimes. We believe most of them still do.”
I can dream, can’t I?
RICHARD DAWKINS, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.
Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.
The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the “good of the universal church” should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys. It was dated 1985, when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases.
Benedict will be in Britain between September 16 and 19, visiting London, Glasgow and Coventry, where he will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th-century theologian.
Dawkins and Hitchens believe the Pope would be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because, although his tour is categorised as a state visit, he is not the head of a state recognised by the United Nations.
They have commissioned the barrister Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens, a solicitor, to present a justification for legal action.
The lawyers believe they can ask the Crown Prosecution Service to initiate criminal proceedings against the Pope, launch their own civil action against him or refer his case to the International Criminal Court.
Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said: “This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence.”
Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great, said: “This man is not above or outside the law. The institutionalised concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment.
Last year pro-Palestinian activists persuaded a British judge to issue an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, the Israeli politician, for offences allegedly committed during the 2008-09 conflict in Gaza. The warrant was withdrawn after Livni cancelled her planned trip to the UK.
“There is every possibility of legal action against the Pope occurring,” said Stephens. “Geoffrey and I have both come to the view that the Vatican is not actually a state in international law. It is not recognised by the UN, it does not have borders that are policed and its relations are not of a full diplomatic nature.”
Said before, I’ll say it again, fuck Islam.
Bangladesh’s High Court has ordered authorities in an eastern district to protect and produce in court a 16-year-old girl who was lashed 101 times earlier this month after becoming pregnant as the result of a rape.
The girl, who has not been named, received the punishment on the orders of village elders in the Brahmanbaria district who issued a “fatwa,” or Islamic ruling, declaring that she be flogged for immoral behavior. The elders pardoned the 20 year-old rapist.
The incident occurred five months after the country’s highest court issued a ruling ordering authorities to investigate incidents of extra-judicial punishments and take action against those responsible.
The August ruling came after a rash of earlier floggings of women, including one who spoke to a man from a different community, another who filed a rape complaint, and a third who refused sexual advances made by a relative. In each case locally-issued fatwas ordered punishment of 101 lashes.
In the latest case, Bangladesh’s Daily Star reported that the assailant, who used to taunt the 16-year-old on her way to school, raped her last April. She kept it quiet and her family subsequently married her off to a man in a neighboring village.
But when medical tests shortly after the marriage showed her to be months into her pregnancy, he divorced her. After an abortion she returned to her family home, but village elders then declared the family should be isolated until she was punished.
On January 17, on the basis of the fatwa, she was flogged in the yard of her home. The report said she collapsed and fainted during the assault. The paper named eight men involved, including two mosque imams and the village head elder, Delwar Hossain.
The girl’s father was also fined 1,000 taka (about $15) and another fatwa was issued saying the family would be ostracized if he failed to pay it. The father said the elders’ group was keeping a close watch on the family to ensure they would not take legal action.
After human rights activists visited and the incident was reported this week, a lawyer filed a petition at the High Court in Dhaka, the capital.
The court has directed Brahmanbaria authorities and police to protect the girl and produce her in court on February 7. It also ordered the government to explain why it should not take legal action against those involved in the flogging.
Earlier, the head of police in the district told the Daily Star that police would investigate if the victim filed a complaint.
In an editorial, the newspaper said the police response was incomprehensible, given last August’s court order.
“The incident is shocking not only for the gruesome brutality meted out to the 16 year-old girl, but also because of the attitude of the law enforcing agency who did not act promptly enough to prevent the whipping or take cognizance of the incident later,” it said.
The paper called on the government to “take steps to stop the parallel system of justice that misuse the name of religion.”
A FORMER Melbourne priest who sexually abused young boys over an 18-year period from 1958 refused to apologise for indecently assaulting an 11-year-old for fear of a compensation claim being made against the church, a court has heard.
Retired Catholic priest Desmond Laurence Gannon, 79, told police last year that he was giving the boy an anatomy lesson when he took him from school and assaulted him in 1968. “I thought it was less formal rather than inviting him into the presbytery and that’s all,” he said.
It is Gannon’s fifth prosecution for sex offences. He was previously convicted in 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2003 for other indecent assaults committed between 1958 and 1976.
While Gannon received jail sentences on each occasion, he served an immediate term only once.
In a victim impact statement read yesterday to the County Court, the now 51-year-old victim described feeling “broken” and totally worthless and said he did not socialise as a normal child after the offences.
“It destroyed all my hopes and dreams,” he told Judge Frank Gucciardo.
Gannon, who previously served across Melbourne including in Macleod, Ashburton, Northcote and Kilmore, yesterday pleaded guilty to five counts of unlawful and indecent assault.
Prosecutor Ray Gibson told the court that in 1968 Gannon travelled alone with the victim and stopped his car on a bush track outside Kilmore where he assaulted him. Gannon told the boy not to tell anyone and that they wouldn’t believe him.
The victim was assaulted by Gannon on two other occasions, once after arriving early for altar boy duties at Mass and another in a pump room at a college swimming pool.
Gannon was secretly recorded by police last year refusing to apologise to the victim because he was fearful of a compensation claim against the church. “I won’t say sexual abuse because at the time I didn’t know what it was,” he told the victim.
Mr Gibson said that Gannon’s offending had been “planned and deliberate”.
Brian Bourke, for Gannon, said his client had not offended since 1976 and that to impose a jail term for offences 40 years old would be “unreasonable”.
Character witnesses for Gannon said he was remorseful, but Mr Gibson and Judge Gucciardo questioned the extent of the remorse as Gannon had failed to apologise.
Witness Donald Johnson, a former Baptist minister, said Gannon had “a maladaptive approach to his own sexuality”, but had never said he knew what he did was wrong.
Judge Gucciardo will sentence Gannon on June 3.
Afghan women protesting against a new law that severely undermines women’s rights were pelted with stones in the country’s capital Wednesday, say reports.
About 300 mostly young women gathered in Kabul to show their opposition to a recently passed law that forbids women from refusing to have sex with their husbands and requires them to get a male relative’s permission to leave the house.
The demonstration, organized by women’s rights activists in the country, occurred in front of a Shia mosque recently built by a cleric who helped craft the law. Critics of the law say it effectively legalizes rape within marriage and is a return to Taliban-style rule.
About 1,000 people opposed to the protest surrounded the women and threw gravel and small stones as police struggled to hold them back. The group of counter-protesters included both men and women.
Some shouted “Death to the slaves of the Christians.”
“You are a dog. You are not a Shia woman,” one man shouted to a young woman in a headscarf holding aloft a banner that said, “We don’t want Taliban law.”
There were no reports of injuries.
Sima Ghani, a women’s rights activist, said everyone at the protest is united against the law.
“No matter what religion we belong to, what sect we follow, we all stand against this law and want a reform of the law,” she said.
Jeremy Starkey, a reporter with The Independent newspaper who was at the demonstration, said he saw men pelt the women with stones.
“I saw the men surging forward on a number of occasions,” he said.
“Female afghan police officers joined hands to form a human chain around the women to try to protect them.”
The law, which applies only to the minority Shia community, received widespread international condemnation.
The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the law will be reviewed and won’t be implemented in its current form.
Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon, said earlier this month Afghan officials had assured him they would delete “contentious clauses” from the legislation.
The Afghan constitution guarantees equal rights for women, but also allows the Shia to have separate family law based on religious tradition.