Women’s rights campaigners in Spain called for a change in the law on Friday after a court in Barcelona cleared five men of raping a 14-year-old girl, ruling that they did not use violence.
The men, who denied the charges, took turns to have sex with the teenager after a party in Manresa, a town to the north of Barcelona, in October 2016, the court heard.
On Thursday they were sentenced to between 10 and 12 years in jail for sexual abuse, avoiding more serious charges of rape or sexual assault because the court said the girl was drunk and unconscious, did not fight back and the men were not violent.
Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, took to social media to express her anger at the verdict, saying it was “outrageous” and the result of a patriarchal judicial system.
“I’m not a judge and I don’t know how many years in prison they deserve, but what I do know is that this is not abuse, it is rape!” she wrote on Twitter.
Donald Trump’s fans are obsessed with the idea that their hero is the pinnacle of manliness, here to restore the supposed greatness of American masculinity after its alleged assault at the hands of feminism and “political correctness.” His fans paint semi-erotic art portraying Trump as handsome and virile, either with a couple of dozen pounds shaved off his waistline or as an over-muscular he-man. They are so sure that Trump radiates a vibrant masculinity that Trump fanboy and convicted criminal Dinesh D’Souza recently posted a picture of Trump sitting next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with the caption, “Masculinity in the twenty first century: which one is YOU?” The implicit assumption was that the orange-tinted primate, hunched over in a poorly-fitted suit was obviously more of a studly macho man than the suave young Canadian.
To outsiders, the idea that Trump is a model of desirable masculinity is just plain bizarre, as he lacks not just the positive markers of traditional manhood — stoicism, strength and virility — but any positive human qualities at all. But this past month has offered a strong reminder of what, exactly, Trump fans believe makes Trump such a harbinger of restored masculine greatness: His viciousness and cruelty.
Forget the handsome knight in shining armor protecting the weak of chivalric myth. Trump’s “manhood” is strictly about punching down and targeting those who are most vulnerable, with a particular sadism reserved for women and children.
Two of the biggest stories competing for headline space right now are a new allegation from journalist E. Jean Carroll that Trump raped her in the 1990s and reports from border towns in Texas that refugee children separated from their families have been crammed into cages in horrific conditions. But really, both stories are of a piece, illustrating Trump’s baseline impulses, which thrill his fans. He tries to make himself feel tough and powerful by inflicting pain on those who are smaller and unable to protect themselves.
Picking on someone your own size is, in Trump’s terms, for losers. “Winners,” in TrumpWorld, are the men who torture children and overpower women.
Trump’s already unconvincing denials in the face of Carroll’s rape allegation got worse on Monday evening, when he told a reporter for the Hill, “She’s not my type,” a response that suggests he would have no problem raping someone he found attractive.
This response is one of Trump’s go-to responses to the many, many accusations of sexual harassment and sexual violence that have been made against him. He once told a rally crowd, in response to reporter Natasha Stoynoff’s allegations that he assaulted her, “Look at her … I don’t think so.”
This is nonsense, of course. E. Jean Carroll was a beauty queen and looked, at the time Trump allegedly assaulted her, very much likeTrump’s first two wives. He resorts to this same line for exactly the same reason men commit rape in the first place: To dominate and humiliate women.
Trump’s “denial,” then, only serves to confirm that he has the capacity for cruelty and misogyny that fuels the crime of rape. It is yet another reminder that the issue isn’t so much that his followers don’t believe the accusations against him — after all, he’s on tape bragging about how he enjoys sexual assault — as that they thrill to his unconcealed malice. They mistake his willingness to hurt vulnerable as strength and feel that by siding with a sadist, they will somehow be more powerful and manly for it.
Grown women have some power to fight back, however, as evidenced by Carroll’s own telling of her escape mid-rape. Children, on the other hand, make even better targets for Trump and his supporters, as they can do almost nothing to resist the abuses of those who need to overpower the vulnerable to feel good about themselves.
The administration is attempting to play off this horror show as the result of overcrowding due to a rapid influx of migrants. But all the evidence suggests instead that the government is deliberately abusing small children to satisfy the sadism of Trump and his supporters. As CNN has reported, “officials at the border seem to be making no effort to release children to caregivers — many have parents in the US — rather than holding them for weeks in overcrowded cells at the border.”
Within minutes, reporters were themselves able to locate the desperate parents of a second-grader who was languishing in a cell, abandoned by officials who were unwilling to pick up the phone and call a number the little girl was carrying with her.
The sense that this is being done deliberately was only compounded when it was reported that concerned citizens in the El Paso area keep showing at a Border Patrol holding facility with diapers, toothbrushes and other items to help the children and are being turned away. The Trump administration could help these children. It is deliberately choosing to neglect and abuse them.
But I’d argue this is about more than Trump’s use of brinksmanship and hostage-taking as his primary political strategy. It’s also about he and his supporters making themselves feel big and powerful by picking on those who are weak and helpless. The word “bully” feels too small to capture what’s going on, but it does capture the pettiness at the heart of Trumpism. When Trump’s fans speak of making America “great,” this is what they mean: Finding someone smaller and more vulnerable and inflicting abuse on them, just because you can.
‘…………….Kusum Thapa is an obstetrician and gynecologist with over 25 years of experience working in both Nepal and the United Kingdom. She is also a New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute.
The country’s health care workers are rarely trained to identify victims of abuse and provide support—and that needs to change now, one physician argues.
It is a chilly night in a rural hospital in Nepal. I have been asked to attend to Sita Devi, who is lying in a pool of blood as nurses rush around her. A mother of three young daughters, she is four months pregnant. And badly beaten.
A local fortune-teller has told her husband that the baby is female. After resisting his demands to terminate the pregnancy, Sita has paid a heavy price. I’m an obstetrician, but there is little I can do.
A Nepalese government survey in 2011 showed that 22 percent of women ages 15 to 49 had experienced physical violence, and 12 percent had experienced sexual violence at least once. Among married women, one-third had experienced emotional, physical, or sexual violence from their spouse in their marital relationship, according to Nepal’s ministry of health and population.
Deeply rooted traditional practices are prevalent in Nepal, where women generally have low social status. In some communities, young girls are offered to temples for ceremonial purposes, where many also encounter sexual exploitation. Nepal’s disastrous earthquakein April only increased the risks that women face. Data from a tertiary hospital three months prior to the earthquake revealed that there were 45 cases of gender-based violence. The following month, after the earthquake, there were 32 reported cases as survivors crowded into makeshift tents.
Women are often silenced in their attempts to report such violence or are afraid to speak up if there is an opportunity. Gender-based violence survivors often come to health facilities to seek medical care after abuse, but only one out of 10 women reports the violence to the staff, according to a 2011 survey.
Sita had visited the health facility twice before. The first time she was beaten, she told the provider that she had hit herself while collecting water and gotten a black eye. The second time, she had bruises all over her back and arms and said that she had fallen down the stairs. If the provider had spent more time with her to understand the situation, she might not have been a victim of a repeat incident. The role of medical staff in identifying violence and providing treatment is key, but all too often this is done poorly, if at all.
The Nepalese government has taken important steps to combat gender-based violence. Nepal now has a Domestic Violence Act, government funding for programs on gender violence, and a hotline for survivors to register complaints. The government has also established guidelines for Hospital Based One-stop Crisis Management Centers in several districts, which would allow women to report violence and seek treatment at the same facility. Still, women like Sita continue to suffer.
So, Why Should You Care? In Nepal, as in many countries around the world, we need to ensure that frontline health workers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to handle women who suffer from gender-based violence. Nepal still has no unified training for health care workers to identify survivors, provide medical and emotional support, or carry out the necessary documentation and referrals. Intimate partner violence results not only in physical but also psychological trauma and stress—42 percent of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner have experienced injuries as a result, according to the World Health Organization. Women who experience violence in their own homes are twice as likely to experience depression, twice as likely to use alcohol in a harmful manner, and 4.5 times more likely to attempt suicide. Globally, more than one-third of all female murder victims are women killed at the hands of their intimate partner, against just 6 percent of all male murders.
Nepal and its development partners must do more to train providers to identify survivors of gender-based violence and be able to counsel and manage such cases appropriately. Equally important is to ensure the safety of survivors so that they do not go back to the same environment to suffer again. If Sita had been placed in a shelter, she would not have had to suffer her last beating. Providers should be nonjudgmental and supportive, and they should provide practical care that responds to the immediate situation. It is important to ask about history of violence, listen carefully, and avoid pressuring survivors, which can only increase the trauma. It is also important that the provider helps survivors access information, legal support, and other services. In many cases, medical evidence is not properly recorded and documented, leading to low prosecution and conviction rates for rape cases.
Fortunately, Sita survived. But despite all our efforts, we could not save her unborn child. Gender-based violence is a grave social and human rights concern affecting virtually all societies. In developing countries, the poorest citizens suffer the most. It is important for Nepal to ensure that post-earthquake funding also addresses this important issue. Effective plans to strengthen health facilities and equip health workers to deal with gender-based violence are of utmost importance and could save lives.
When the next Sita Devi first reports that she has been abused, a health care worker should be listening—and should amplify her voice so that other women realize there is an alternative to suffering in silence.