11 Year Old Runaway Bride

To witness courage is to look into the big brown eyes of Nada Al-Ahdal, the 11 year old Yemeni girl whose recorded flight to freedom has become a viral sensation.

Nada’s will, to not only survive, but to live a life worth living is one everyone can identify with. I’m fortunate to have been born in a place where obstacles placed in the path of my pursuit of happiness were considerably smaller than Nada’s.

Being born isn’t a choice we make. But how we live is. It’s one thing to be dependent on the will of our parents as we develop through infancy. It’s another thing, entirely, to be subject to them until we die. We’re not an extension of our parents will…we are our own individual beings.

Nada refused to submit to an archaic cultural paradigm. She recognized it for what it was; a devaluation of her humanity. Regardless of religion, faith, or culture, a practice which impedes a person from their freedom to choose their own destiny is an unjust practice.

In many parts of the world child weddings are illegal, yet it continues. The cycle of poverty and ignorance is self-perpetuating in these practices. And they’re continually excused because of cultural and religious reasons. The real reasons, however, are painfully obvious. Money and power.

These weddings take place to secure financial agreements between families led by men who see women as commodities. Using religion and antiquated culture to deny these children, from what would seem to be reasonable, allows men to rationalize the concept of child brides…making other alternatives seem absurd.

Nada has demonstrated that her will has not been broken. I don’t know the statistics, but I think it safe to assume, most young girls (despite the acceptance of their culture) do not wish to be wed before they reach puberty. Unfortunately, as Nada said in her video, she’s seen – in her own family – the consequences of these forced/arranged marriages. Abuse followed by horrific suicides. She believed a better life existed for her…and she dreamed of achieving it. Despite attempts to strip away the innocence of her youth, Nada struggled for the ability to make her own choices. And that has made her dream become a reality. It’s helped me realize that I can do something, as well. And so can you…

Talk about this. Write about it. Pass this video along. But don’t stop there. Help make her plight known by calling or emailing your elected officials. Make noise. Add political pressure to a conversation that deserves more attention. Exchange information and engage in dialog! Just do something…anything! Doing so will lead to a world where the sanctioned brokering of human lives will finally come to an end.

Related articles

Nada Al-Ahdal: don’t kill the dreams of children (theglobaloyster.wordpress.com)
‘Go ahead and marry me off I’ll kill myself’ Escaped child bride, 11, explains why she fled (aworldchaos.wordpress.com)
Girl’s online plea highlights plight of Yemen’s child brides (bbc.co.uk)

Same Sex Domestic Abuse. Yes, it Happens…A lot!

By Arati M. Jambotkar / JDSA Intern

           Summers in Los Angeles can be excruciatingly hot.  The undersized, overpriced studio apartment where I was living was part of a shoddy complex in a dangerous section of North Hollywood.  But the key perk was the reliable air conditioning.  So instead of spending my summer days at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, as a lot of young people were prone to do, I chose comfortable “ghetto isolation.”  When a twenty-something becomes a summer hermit, there’s only so much she can do.

           TV: check.

           Video games: check. check.

           Computer: hmmm…

           I met her in a chat-room on an online dating site for single lesbians.  Her profile seemed enticing enough: thirty-two year old Argentinian, long blondish-brown hair, green eyes, very athletic, college graduate, loves to party.  Her picture screamed cuteness.  And since I was feeling particularly bold and invincible, I decided to meet her.

          “Loves to party” apparently meant “LOVES TO PARTY!”  Our first date consisted of getting high and having sex.  I remember not wanting to sleep with her that soon, but I struggled with a deep loneliness of not having dated in quite awhile.  So I was submissive, and I stayed so throughout the entire course of what would be a two-year relationship of the worst kind.

          The initial dating period was textbook romance.  Occasionally, we’d go out to dinner, catch a movie, and engage in other activities those in the early romantic stages do.  She held doors open for me…even bought me kiddie meals at fast food places because I liked the cheap toys inside.  I thought these little moments would serve as fond memories later in our relationship.  They didn’t.  Instead, they faded quickly…hopelessness and pain taking their place.

          I remember the first time she hit me.  It was about a month into our relationship.  I was at my friend Marc’s house when she called my cell, politely asking when I’d be home.  She was leaving her sister’s place in Woodland Hills, she explained.  And wanted to visit me.  I told her I’d be home within the next two hours, and she should come over.  Although, not before me, as I didn’t want her waiting alone.  Half an hour later, she called again.  She was waiting for me.  In her van outside my complex.

          Honestly, my initial feeling was fear – not fear of what I now know were the unreasonable demands of an unstable woman, but fear of disappointing the person I thought was the solution to my inherent loneliness.  I asked Marc to rush me home.  He dropped me off next to her van and I climbed in.  She was angry and disappointed.  Strangely enough, I found myself excusing her anger just so I could appease her disappointment.  I think that’s the moment I was reeled in…hooked.

          I invited her back to my apartment.  Unlocking the door, I walked in first and heard the clicking sound of the deadbolt behind me.  I turned in her direction, and what seemed like one simultaneous motion, my feet fell out from underneath me, my head slammed sideways against the thin, brown carpet with my right ear bending backwards on the ground.  I remember the taste of that carpet – wooly, gritty, coarse.  And I remember feeling stunned – not just emotionally, but physically.  The physical shock, it seemed at the time, trumped the emotional response.  I remember her spitting out paranoid accusations of sleeping with Marc.  I was too scared to object – then and always thereafter.

          The next two years were filled with constant drug use and an endless barrage of physical assaults.  There was slapping, kicking, choking, breaking – destroying me from the outside in.  Once, despite my 103 degree fever, I was dragged by my hair into her van to visit her family for Thanksgiving dinner.  Another time I was punched directly in the nose, forcing it to bleed onto the white linen of our bed.  She told the doctor I tried to burn her with a cigarette, and she had kicked me in self-defense.  I didn’t object.  Unfortunately, neither did the doctor.

          She once chased me around my entire apartment complex in the middle of the afternoon, accusing me of doing the last of the drugs.  I knocked on every door in desperation.  Everyone was somewhere else.  She finally found the drugs in her own pocket.  I really think she would have killed me right then and there if she hadn’t stuck her hand in that pocket.

          My parents were gravely worried, and bought last-minute tickets to Los Angeles with the intention of taking me home to Louisiana.  But I wouldn’t go.  Despite everything – everything – I wanted to stay.  At first, I thought the loneliness was greater than any physical pain she could ever inflict.  But soon enough, through something I can only describe as the love of a Higher Power, I realized that the pain of living the way I was had become greater than my fear of that loneliness.  It was only then that I could seek treatment.

          I got on that plane.  And I never went back.

          A few months ago, she sent me a friend request on Facebook.  I took a deep breath and clicked the ‘Not Now’ button.  I’m worth more than that today.  I don’t need to numb myself at the hands of another…even at the hands of myself.  I can find self-esteem without being controlled or manipulated…without being abused and coerced.  I have an identity apart from that loneliness these days.

          So ‘Not Now’ is so fitting.  Not today.  Not ever again.

Norwegian Woman: I was raped in Dubai, now I face prison sentence

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On the surface Dubai seems to encourage westerners.  The UAE is one of the more liberal countries in the Middle East.  Especially when you consider its neighbor, Saudi Arabia. For those outside the Arab world the UAE appears western friendly.  In so far as you can consume alcohol at a local bar, public displays of affection are tolerated (more or less), and rules for women’s attire is far less restrictive than other Arab countries.  

But scratch that surface and you quickly discover a culture clash that is both confusing and combustible.

By Nicola Goulding and Phil O’Sullivan, CNN

Dubai — Norwegian interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv has spoken out after being handed a 16-month prison sentence in Dubai — after she went to police to report she had been raped by a colleague.

The 24-year-old was convicted and sentenced on charges of having unlawful sex, making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol.

Her story is dominating the headlines in Norway, and has raised serious questions over the way women who allege sexual assault are treated in the United Arab Emirates.

Dalelv, who had been working at an interior design firm in Qatar since September 2011, told CNN on Saturday how a work trip to Dubai in March with three colleagues turned into a nightmare.

This family handout photo taken in Abu Dhabi in May 2013 shows Norwegian businesswoman Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24.
This family handout photo taken in Abu Dhabi in May 2013 shows Norwegian businesswoman Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24.

She said she had been out at a bar with her colleagues and friends, and asked a male colleague to walk her to her room when they returned at 3 a.m. to the hotel. She’d asked him to escort her because the hotel was large and confusing, and she didn’t want to be wandering on her own, knowing she’d been drinking, she said.

When they reached a room, she realized it wasn’t hers — but the man then pulled her inside despite her vocal objections, according to Dalelv.

“He dragged me by my purse in, so I thought, ‘OK, I just need to calm the situation down. I will finish my bottle of water, I will sit here and then I will excuse myself and say I feel fine,'” she said.

That was pretty much the last thing she said she remembers before the alleged sexual assault. “I woke up with my clothes off, sleeping on my belly, and he was raping me. I tried to get off, I tried to get him off, but he pushed me back down.”

After someone knocked — the hotel wake-up call — she managed to get dressed and make it downstairs to the hotel reception, Dalelv said. “I called the police. That is what you do. We are trained on that from when we are very young,” she said.

Some 10 or 12 male police officers arrived, but no female police officers were present, she said. Statements were taken from both Dalelv and the alleged rapist.

She was then taken to Bur Dubai police station, she said.

After again giving her version of events to officers, Dalelv said, “They asked me, ‘Are you sure you called the police because you just didn’t like it?’ I said, ‘Well of course I didn’t like it.’ That is when I knew, I don’t think they are going to believe me at all.”

Dalelv says she was taken for an intimate medical exam and tested for alcohol consumption. Her belongings were taken and she was kept in jail for four days, she said, with no explanation as to why.

Dubai police and UAE government officials have not responded to repeated CNN requests for comment.

Dalelv said she managed to call her parents on the third day to tell them she had been raped and ask them to contact the Norwegian Embassy. A day later, a representative from the Norwegian consulate came to the police station and she was released — but her passport was not returned.

A piece of paper with Arabic text was handed to her, she said. An Arabic speaker told her it listed two charges against her: one for sex outside of marriage and the other for public consumption of alcohol. Both are violations of the law in the United Arab Emirates.

It was the first time she was made aware that she faced charges, Dalelv said.

She was allowed out on bail and has been staying since at the Norwegian Seaman’s Center in Dubai.

Subsequently, she said her manager advised her to tell the police it was voluntary sexual intercourse and likely the whole issue would just go away. She followed the advice and in one of the many hearings at the public prosecutor’s office, she made a statement saying it was voluntary.

Dalelv was then charged with making a false statement.

“That was my biggest regret because it wasn’t voluntary. I just thought it would all go away,” she told CNN.

But a representative of Al Mana Interiors, who Dalelv worked for, told CNN that she was not advised by her manager to say the sex was consensual but rather by a police officer, who told her that in Arabic and it was translated into English by her manager.

Dalelv said a month after the rape, while forced to stay in Dubai as the case wound through the legal system, she was fired.

The representative, who declined to be publicly identified, said Dalelv and the Sudanese man she accused — who is married with three children — have both been terminated by Al Mana Interiors for “drinking alcohol at a staff conference that resulted in trouble with the police.”

A statement released late Saturday by Al Mana Interiors spokesman Hani El Korek said the company was sympathetic to Dalelv “during this very difficult situation.” It also said that company representatives were by her side through the initial investigation, spending “days at both the police station and the prosecutor’s office to help win her release.”

“Only when Ms. Dalelv declined to have positive and constructive discussions about her employment status, and ceased communication with her employer, was the company forced to end our relationship with her,” the statement said.

“The decision had nothing to do with the rape allegation, and unfortunately neither Ms. Dalelv nor her attorneys have chosen to contact the company to discuss her employment status.”

The company is owned by Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana, who made headlines earlier this year after it was revealed that he has secretly married singer Janet Jackson in 2012.

Dalelv was convicted Tuesday on all three charges and was sentenced to one year in jail for having unlawful sex, three months in jail for making a false statement and one month for illegal consumption of alcohol.

CNN could not immediately confirm what happened to the alleged perpetrator, who was charged with public intoxication and having sex outside of marriage.

Dalelv is scheduled to appear at the court on September 5 to begin the appeal proceedings. Dalelv, who is not allowed to leave the UAE pending the appeal, said her lawyers have instructed her to be prepared to go back into jail while they submit a request for bail while the appeal is ongoing.

As a rule, CNN does not identify victims of sexual assault, but Dalelv went public with her story.

Facebook page has been set up calling for Dalelv’s release, as well as a petition urging the Norwegian government to take actionon her behalf.

Her conviction may risk wider diplomatic repercussions.

Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Espen Barth Eide called his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, on Friday night to protest Dalelv’s sentencing, a statement from the Norwegian ministry said.

“I emphasized that we believe that the conviction is contrary to fundamental human rights, including conventions that the UAE have officially ratified,” Eide is quoted as saying.

“Norway will continue to do what we can to support her in what is a very difficult situation. Our cooperation with the UAE is strong and good, but I conveyed to my colleague that we are worried that this difficult case may disturb our good relations if we do not reach a good solution in the near future.”

Dalelv told CNN she received a call from Eide on Friday reiterating Norway’s support.

While Dubai has a reputation as a cosmopolitan city that boasts Western influences, where visitors can drink at bars and restaurants and unmarried couples can share hotel rooms, the country adheres to Islamic laws and traditions.

The United Arab Emirates has been heavily criticized by rights groups, which say it condones sexual violence against women. Human Rights Watch has called its record “shameful,” saying it must change the way it handles such cases.

In December 2012, a British woman reported being raped by three men in Dubai. She was found guilty of drinking alcohol without a license and fined.

In January 2010, a British woman told authorities she was raped by an employee at a Dubai hotel. She was charged with public intoxication and having sex outside of marriage.

An Australian woman reported in 2008 that she was drugged and gang-raped. She was convicted of having sex outside marriage and drinking alcohol, and she was sentenced to 11 months in prison.

On The Cover of The Rolling Stone

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This photo, showing the face of the alleged Boston bomber on the face of America’s most recognizable pop culture magazine, prompted Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy, to release this photo:

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The “real face” of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Murphy says.  Speaking to Boston Magazine, where he released this picture (along with a series of others) Murphy explains;   

“Glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. …

“What Rolling Stone did was wrong. This guy is evil. This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”

We felt this story deserves attention, as it raises several questions. 

Is it another example of the media glamorizing atrocities?  Is Rolling Stone simply trying to be capitalistic and opportunistic with a cover of this magnitude?  Time, Newsweek…other magazines do this all the time.  After all, Rolling Stone featured Charles Manson on the cover of its June 25, 1970 edition.  Is it ill-conceived reporting…hiding behind an attention-grabbing cover?  Did Rolling Stone just turn an alleged monster into a rock star?  

The piece is hard-hitting journalism.  So have lines really been crossed?  Could they have made their point with a different cover?  Has the journalistic bar been set so low we can now step on it?  Or is everyone just making, “much ado about nothing?”

Here’s NPR’s take.  Let us know what you think…

Even before it hit newsstands, Rolling Stone‘s latest cover caused controversy: It features a full-page photograph of alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sulking, his curly hair messily tossed in front of his eyes.

As soon as Rolling Stone posted the cover on Facebook, it was inundated with negative comments: “I think it’s wrong to make celebrities out of these people. Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone?” one Facebook user said, echoing thousands of others.

The editor of the liberal Think Progress tweeted that the cover turned Tsarnaev “into Jim Morrison.”

Others opined that the cover wasn’t offensive, just “uninspired.”

The controversy prompted CVS and the New-England based Tedeschi Food Shops to say they will not carry the magazine in their stores.

(Click here to read our update about why Rolling Stone‘s managing editor stands by the magazine’s decision.)

Stefan Becket, who works for New York Magazine, seemed to be wondering what the big deal was because The New York Times used the same picture for a Sunday cover back in May.

We have to admit that what also caught our attention was the accompanying blurb promoting the lengthy profile by contributing editor Janet Reitman.

How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster,” it reads.

That reminded us of a piece David J. Leonard, a professor specializing in race studies at Washington State University, wrote for Gawker following the Newtown shootings.

Essentially, Leonard argued, white men are profiled as innocent by society, and when something goes wrong, something outside of them must be to blame. Leonard was reacting to the portrayal of Adam Lanza as a quiet and bright boy described as “nice” by some.

Leonard wrote:

Time's cover on the Columbine shooters.

Time‘s cover on the Columbine shooters.

Time magazine

“When I was pulled over in Emeryville, CA for speeding for several miles and asked multiple times by the police officer if there was a reason for my speeding, I told him the truth. ‘Officer, my ice cream is melting.’

“No stop and frisk. No pretext stop. No humiliating search. No fear of how to hold my hands. No ticket. I, like Adam Lanza and James Holmes, the two most notorious mass shooters of the past year, am white male privilege personified. We are humanized and given voice and innocence over and over again. …

“In fact, the media response to mass shootings often reimagines white men as victims.

“The national spectacle and the hyper focus on Newtown and Aurora especially in comparison to the scant coverage afforded to murders in Chicago or drone deaths in South Waziristan points to the value of whiteness. School shootings and other mass killings matter when there are white victims. Whiteness is thus reimagined as under attack. White suburban kids, white suburban families, white suburban communities and even white shooters are the victims — victims of Hollywood, victims of gun laws that don’t allow them to protect themselves in every context, victims of removal of prayer from public schools, and victims of soiling culture.”

To be fair, Rolling Stone‘s full story is not yet available as we publish this post. (It’s now online here.) But the framing of the story follows the pattern Leonard is talking about. It’s a narrative reminiscent of one put forth by Time magazine’s cover featuring Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. The headline asked: “The Monsters Next Door. What Made Them Do It?”

We reached out to Leonard because we’re guessing the Tsarnaev case puts wrinkles in his thinking. The Tsarnaev brothers, after all, represent an unlikely middle for America. They’re white, but Muslim.

       The “Good Kid” Who Became “A Monster” Premise Of The Story:

Now that it’s posted online, you can see what Rolling Stone is writing. This passage seems to sum up much of what managing editor Will Dana said earlier about the piece:

” ‘Listen, [says Peter Payack, Tsarnaev’s wrestling coach in high school] there are kids we don’t catch who just fall through the cracks, but this guy was seamless, like a billiard ball. No cracks at all.’

“And yet a deeply fractured boy lay under that facade; a witness to all of his family’s attempts at a better life as well as to their deep bitterness when those efforts failed and their dreams proved unattainable. As each small disappointment wore on his family, ultimately ripping them apart, it also furthered Jahar’s own disintegration — a series of quiet yet powerful body punches. No one saw a thing. ‘I knew this kid, and he was a good kid,’ Payack says, sadly. ‘And, apparently, he’s also a monster.’ ”

 It Was An “Apt Image” For An Important Story,Rolling Stone Managing Editor Says:

Saying that the cover photo is an “apt image because part of what the story is about is what an incredibly normal kid [Tsarnaev] seemed like to those who knew him best back in Cambridge [Mass.],” Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana talked with All Things Considered host Melissa Block this afternoon.

“I am completely comfortable about the decision that we made,” he said of the cover photo.

Dana sees the story Rolling Stone told as one of how a “seemingly normal, well-adjusted guy who appeared to be on a path — if not to achievement — at least to success” turned into “a monster” instead. And he believes that “if people read the story they’ll see that there’s nothing in here that’s trying to build him [Tsarnaev] up as a hero.”

Return to the top of this post

Maybe Americans See Tsarnaev Differently:

Professor Leonard emailed us with these thoughts:

“Beyond the fact that I don’t think the cover ‘glorifies’ Tsarnaev or portrays him as a rock star, I think the controversy focuses on the wrong issue. … [The question should be] why is there an effort to explain how a ‘promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.’ Or better said, how a suburban white [boy] (from the Caucus region) came to commit such heinous crimes. The picture and the headline operates through this vision that he was good, he was the boy next door, and that something changed him. The picture in this regard (as it was a picture from before the bombing) harkens his past, what he was like before his turn toward evil. It fits the common narrative afforded to the suburban, white male domestic terrorists.

“At the same time, I wonder how much outrage the Columbine cover you referenced or the covers picturing Adam Lanza or [alleged Aurora, Colo. shooter] James Holmes elicited in terms of ‘glorification’ and turning ‘killers into celebrities.’ The fact that the images of these individuals did not prompt outrage reflects a willingness to see a level of innocence and how race, class, and religion all plays out here. This shows how many readers don’t see Tsarnaev as white; he is different in their imagination from Lanza, Holmes, Kleebold and others.”

Beyond The Label of Homelessness; A Personal Story

His tears fell onto the dashboard of my car, as his calloused fingers cradled his weathered face.  He hadn’t asked for a ride, but I insisted.  We were twenty minutes into another unpredictable Florida monsoon.  Already drenched, and with a bad knee, dragging himself to the local shelter where he’d be spending the night would have been an ordeal. I had to do something…anything!

His scraggly, gray beard hid his mouth, but his story was loud and clear.  He was a construction worker.  He’d depended on his able body to provide for him for the past ten years. When he’d fallen and torn his knee he hadn’t just lost his mobility – he lost his income. With no family left he fended for himself on the street.

People look at me…” he said, finally turning in my direction.  “They don’t see a person. They see somebody who’s gonna bother them…rob them. I’ve been a Christian all my life, I’ve never hurt anybody. Things just panned out bad for me, and I’ve got nobody to help.” His words cut through me…piercing my heart as we drove through the rain. I knew my parents wouldn’t like it if they knew what I was doing.

Another one?!?”  My mother would shout!  I could hear her worried voice. “They could be serial killers!” she’d always say, throwing her hands up in defeat.

Eight years of offering rides to the homeless…I’ve never once met a serial killer. At least not one that’s confessed to me.  I’ve never gotten robbed.  That much I’m sure of.  The people I’ve helped are just that…people.  Normal people with bad luck.  Sure, there’s a chance, I suppose, I could stumble into a dangerous encounter.  The more I do this, the higher those chances get.  But statistically speaking, chances are if I go on a date I could get raped. I drive everyday, so there’s a chance I could get into an accident, too.  But I’m not going to stop driving or dating.  I’m just going to wear my seat belt.  I’m going to be selective on who I choose to go out with.  Should I stop helping people because there’s an off-chance of being attacked? If we end up in a world where it’s okay to ignore the needs of each other for the small chance of self-preservation… well, I don’t want to live there. I’ll take my damn chances.

Although it meant a great deal to him…for me, a ride to a shelter just wasn’t enough. I reached behind his seat, pulled a small travel umbrella from my purse, and pressed it into his hands. “I’m sorry!”  I said, “This is all I have. I wish I could give you more!”  His eyes welled up as he stepped out of the car.  “Today you gave me hope.” he said.  “That’s all I really needed.”

With that, he closed the car door, popped open the umbrella and walked towards the shelter.  I waited for him to get inside.  The rain had stopped, the sky cleared, and the sun peaked out for the first time all day.

Pathways Drop-In Center: Making a Difference for Orlando’s Homeless

We stumbled across this video for Pathways Drop-In Center in Orlando, Florida. It’s more of a collection of stories, really…stories that follow some of Orlando’s homeless and mentally ill as they try surviving life on the street and in the woods.

Pathways is making a difference – changing the world. Offering what they call, a “Haven of Hope” to those who need their help. It’s comprised of local volunteers and community leaders who come together to help the homeless and support the Drop-in Center.

Songwriter and musician, Matt Shenk performs his song, “A Little More” which is inspired by the plight of Orlando’s homeless. And Rob Lamp of yourbrighterimage.com produced the video.

Visit Pathwaysdropin.org for more videos and information.

From CNN: Zimmerman Defense Intern Creates Buzz

We came across this video of CNN’s David Mattingly reporting on the African American law student who worked for Zimmerman’s defense team.

What are your thoughts?

A justicefilms production: Human Trafficking – In Your Backyard

From Polaris Project:

The following is a list of available statistics estimating the scope of Human Trafficking around the world and within the United States. Actual statistics are often unavailable, and some may be contradictory due to the covert nature of the crime, the invisibility of victims and high levels of under-reporting. Further obstacles include inconsistent definitions, reluctance to share data, and a lack of funding for and standardization of data collection. Particularly lacking are estimates on the number of American citizens trafficked within the U.S.
Human Trafficking Worldwide:
 27 million – Number of people in modern-day slavery across the world. o Source: Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves.
 According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report), estimates vary from 4 to 27 million.
 The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates 2.4 million people were victims of human trafficking from 1995-2005. This estimate uses the UN Protocol definition of human trafficking, and includes both transnational and internal data.
 800,000 – Number of people trafficked across international borders every year. o Source: U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: 2007.
 Note:
The TIP Report in 2001 and 2002 estimated this figure at 700,000;
The TIP Report of 2003 reported 800,000 to 900,000 victims;
The TIP Reports of 2004 through 2006 reported 600,000 to 800,000 victims.
 1 million – Number of children exploited by the global commercial sex trade, every year. o Source: U.S. Department of State, The Facts About Child Sex Tourism: 2005.
 50% – Percent of transnational victims who are children.
o Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on
U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons in Fiscal Year 2003: 2004.  80% – Percent of transnational victims who are women and girls.
o Source: U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: 2007.
 70% – Percent of female victims who are trafficked into the commercial sex industry. This means that 30% of female victims are victims of forced labor.
o Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons: 2004.
 161 – Countries identified as affected by human trafficking:
o 127 countries of origin; 98 transit countries; 137 destination countries.
o Note: Countries may be counted multiple times and categories are not mutually exclusive. o Source: UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns: April 2006.
32 billion – Total yearly profits generated by the human trafficking industry.
o $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.
o $9.7 billion in Asia
o $13,000 per year generated on average by each “forced laborer.” This number can be as high
as $67,200 per victim per year.
o Source: ILO, A global alliance against forced labor: 2005.
Foreign Nationals Trafficked into the U.S.:
 14,500 – 17,500 – Number of foreign nationals trafficked into the United States every year.
Polaris Project | P.O. Box 77892, Washington, DC 20013 | Tel: 202.745.1001 | http://www.PolarisProject.org | Info@PolarisProject.org

Human Trafficking Statistics | Polaris Project
o This is the most recent U.S. government statistic. However, it is constantly being revisited, and a newer statistic is currently under study and review.
o Source: DOJ, HHS, DOS, DOL, DHS, and USAID. Assessment of U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons: June, 2004
 The TIP Report in 2001 estimated this number at 45,000-50,0001  The TIP Report in 2002 estimated 50,000
 The TIP Report in 2003 estimated 18,000 – 20,0002
 1, 379 – Number of foreign national victims of human trafficking certified by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from October 2000 through FY 2007.
o 131 minors, and 1,248 adults
o These victims originate from at least 77 different countries.
o Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Anti-trafficking in Persons Department;
U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report: 2007.
 1,318 – Number of T visas granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from FY 2000 through November 1, 2008 to human trafficking survivors. 729 visas were issued between FY 2000 and FY 2006.
o Another 1,076 derivative T visas were granted to family members.
o DHS is authorized to issue up to 5,000 T-visas per year.
o Source: USCIS; U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: 2007.
Human Trafficking of U.S. citizens within the U.S.:
 244,000 – Number of American children and youth estimated to be at risk of child sexual exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation, in 2000.
o Source: Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001. Study funded by the Department of Justice.
 38,600 – Estimated number of an approximate 1.6 million runaway/thrownaway youth at risk of sexual endangerment or exploitation in 1999.
o Source: U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Runaway/Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics. NISMART Series: 2002.
 12-14 – Average age of entry into prostitution
o Source: Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in
the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001.
Human Trafficking within the U.S. by State
Very little research has been done to determine the extent of human trafficking on the state level. Several state-wide reports have been published however, due to data collection limitations the following statistics should be taken as baseline estimates only. These statistics are not definitive or comprehensive estimates.
California:
 559 – Potential victims identified between Dec. 1, 2005 and March 12, 2007 by five CA Task Forces.  57 – Number of applications for continued presence submitted during the same time period.
o Source: CA Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery Task Force, Human Trafficking in California Final Report: October 2007.
Virginia:
 43 – Number of trafficking victims served by 4 organizations in Northern Virginia. o Source: Polaris Project, Fact Sheet on Human Trafficking.
1 Amy O’Neill Richard. International Trafficking in Women to the United States: A Contemporary Manifestation of Slavery and Organized Crime. Center for the Study of Intelligence: November 1999.
2 DOJ, HHS, DOS, DOL, DHS, and USAID. Assessment of U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons: August 2003. Polaris Project | P.O. Box 77892, Washington, DC 20013 | Tel: 202.745.1001 | http://www.PolarisProject.org | Info@PolarisProject.org

Human Trafficking Statistics | Polaris Project
Wisconsin:
 200 – Number of identified cases of sex and labor trafficking.
 85% – Proportion of victims in the 200 identified cases who were adults.
 75% – Proportion of victims in the 200 identified cases who were victims of sex trafficking.
o Data obtained through a survey of over 1,300 sexual assault and domestic violence service providers, law enforcement and district attorney’s offices, with a 30% return rate.
o Source: WI Office of Justice Assistance, Hidden in Plain Sight: A Baseline Survey of Human Trafficking in Wisconsin: February 2008.
U.S. Investigations, Prosecutions, and Convictions
It is likely that the numbers of traffickers convicted are higher than those reported below. Defendants may be charged with other crimes such as kidnapping, immigration violations or money laundering for strategic or technical reasons. Also note that data is not comparable across agencies as a result of the complexity of investigations and the incompatibility and limitations of agency data systems.
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Civil Rights Unit:
 751 – o  185 – o o o
Number of trafficking cases opened between 2001 and April 5th, 2007.
The numbers of cases opened has increased: from 54 in 2001 to 126 in 2006,
Convictions
The number of convictions has increased: from 15 in 2001 to 70 in 2006.
Includes joint investigations with ICE, and both sex and labor trafficking.
Source: Government Accountability Office, Human Trafficking: A Strategic Framework Could Help Enhance the Interagency Collaboration Needed to Effectively Combat Trafficking Crimes: 2007.
FBI Crimes Against Children Unit – Innocence Lost National Initiative:
 327 – Number of trafficking cases opened from 2004 through June 5th, 2007.
o The number of cases opened has increased every year: from 67 in 2004 to 103 in 2006.
 182 – Number of convictions.
o The number of convictions has also increased: from 22 in 2004 to 43 in 2006.
o Source: GAO, Human Trafficking: A Strategic Framework Could Help Enhance the Interagency
Collaboration Needed to Effectively Combat Trafficking Crimes: 2007. Civil Rights Division/Criminal Section and U.S. Attorney’s Offices (Dept. of Justice):
 139 – Number of trafficking cases prosecuted 2001 – June 14, 2007, under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, (TVPA).
o 100 cases of sex trafficking; 39 cases of labor trafficking.
 19 – Number of trafficking cases prosecuted1995 – 2000, prior to the TVPA.
o 7 cases of sex trafficking; 12 cases of labor trafficking
 302 – Number of defendants convicted 2001 – June 14, 2007, under the TVPA
228 sex trafficking; 74 labor trafficking
 67 – Number of defendants convicted 1995 – 2000, prior to the TVPA.
o 20 sex trafficking; 47 labor trafficking
o Source: GAO, Human Trafficking: A Strategic Framework Could Help Enhance the Interagency
Collaboration Needed to Effectively Combat Trafficking Crimes: 2007. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
 899 – Number of trafficking cases opened between FY 2005 and May 31st, 2007 o 557 sexual exploitation; 257 forced labor; 85 other
 264 – Number of convictions.
o 129 sexual exploitation; 17 forced labor; 118 other
o Source: GAO, Human Trafficking: A Strategic Framework Could Help Enhance the Interagency
Collaboration Needed to Effectively Combat Trafficking Crimes: 2007.
 61 – Number of arrests for child sex tourism made by ICE Operation Predator from July 2003 through
June 2007.
o Source: DOJ, Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons:
September 2007.
Polaris Project | P.O. Box 77892, Washington, DC 20013 | Tel: 202.745.1001 | http://www.PolarisProject.org | Info@PolarisProject.org

La Anoerxia Nerviosa-Infierno En Vida

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Esto es solo una teoría, pero yo pienso que el 99.9% de los graduandos de mi clase del ’98 en la secundaria tenían grandes sueños, y tenían seguro que cosas buenas pasarían en los próximos diez años. En cuanto a mi, supongo haber estado agrupada en ese porcentaje que pensaban que las cosas pasarían diferente, pero como suele suceder, la vida le da pruebas al humano en tal manera que algunas veces, el infierno en tierra, aparenta ser realidad.

Así es la anorexia nerviosa: infierno en vida. Es como estar atrapado en una jaula de hierro, sobre de un pozo de lava y donde la anorexia sostiene las cadenas de la polea que desciende a voluntad.

Fui la estudiante con las notas mas altas en mi clase y tuve a mi cargo pronunciar el discurso ceremonial en la graduación. Pienso que muchos otros pasados estudiantes en el mismo lugar se sentían en una posición privilegiada que a gritos decía, “Soy especial”. Pero en este caso, la ironía fue que no comencé en la universidad hasta diez años después, comenzando mi primer año a los veintiocho años de edad.

En lugar de exámenes finales, coros musicales, recitales y compromisos con sororidades en un campo lleno de nieve, los diez años entre mi graduación de la secundaria y mi matricula del colegio se llenaron de lo siguiente:

Obsesionada con una dieta de 200 calorías por día y una discrepancia entre 80 y 80.5 en una báscula, utilizando batas de hospital las cuales se deslizaban de mis hombros, un programa de hospitalización, Una dieta de 3,000 calorías por día, viajes regulares a la Unidad de Cuidado Intensivo (UCI), tubos para alimentarme los cuales me sangrar por la nariz, y transportaban sustancias monstruosas.

Terapia individual, terapia de grupo, terapia cognitivo-conductual, terapias de arte, preguntas acerca de si mis medicamentos tenían efectos secundarios en mi aumento de peso y doctores; siempre doctores por donde quiera.

A pesar de la horas de actividades para recuperación, no sé como esto comenzó.

Especialistas en el trastorno alimenticio severo tienen teorías. Personalidades de Tipo A, rasgos de perfeccionismo, madres autoritaria, afecto emocional de la ausencia del padre, competencias de hermanos y así sucesivamente.

Todos esos factores fueron parte de mi vida y proporcionaron un catalizador para la enfermedad, pero me frustra no saber cual fue el origen de todo.

Este trastorno alimenticio y la falta de apetito  comenzaron en el verano del 1998, tiempo que sirvió como un periodo transición entre el refugio de la escuela secundaria y la fría realidad del mundo adulto.

Mi peso fue reducido de 130 a 110 libras en el principio del otoño. A pesar de mis elogios secretos conmigo misma en esta “victoria”, mis padres estaban desconcertados. Luego de infructuosos intentos con una lista de terapeutas, seguidos por un par de años de depresión crónica, aislamiento físico y agro fobia general, en el 2002, fui admitida en la Unidad de Trastornos Alimenticios del hospital de Baton Rouge en Louisiana, donde pasaría un año de mi vida.

A lo largo de los próximos doce meses, me tambaleé, un día pensando que la completa abstinencia de este comportamiento de trastorno alimenticio era la única respuesta para vivir y al día siguiente creyendo que moriría si no era delgada. ¿Cuan delgada? Yo media 5’6” y pesaba 80 libras, pero juraba ver la acumulación de grasa entre mis sobresalientes costillas y mis caderas.

Independientemente, de todo lo dicho, fui despedida con un diagnostico de “recuperación adecuada”, lo que también se refieren “que pasa cuando uno se queda sin seguro médico.”

Esto fue seguido por serios y fracasados intentos de suicidio utilizando litio y pastillas para dormir. Cuidado Intensivo se convirtió en mi segundo hogar.Años de sufrimiento sobrevinieron; años que fueron marcados por intermitentes periodos de cuidado alimenticio, pero mas seguido, marcados por horribles peleas con el trastorno.

Aprendí que estaba enredada en un espiral que descendía y no parecía tener fondo, aunque sabía en mi corazón que había un final: la muerte.

Este hecho, fue lo que finalmente me quitó los lentes rosados que me mostraban que “la delgadez estaba a la moda”, y lo que me inyecto la realidad en mis venas.

¿Como es que me he recuperado? Honestamente, no se en realidad, pero con mucho gusto le preguntaría al anoréxico que ilusiona con recuperarse.

La realidad de esta enfermedad es que la completa recuperación es imposible, pero hoy estoy agradecida de no haber incurrido en ninguna conducta anoréxica durante los últimos cinco años.

También puedo decir que como he crecido y cambiado: mi autoestima ya no es medida por las libras que he perdido, ni por los logros con los que he sido bendecida.

Ahora es definida por la fuerza interna que poseo y la confianza de saber que soy una persona que vale la pena, a pesar de mis defectos de carácter, la manera en que contribuyo es en mejorar el mundo que una vez pensé que me había provisto mala suerte.

Mi autoestima es definida en la sabiduría, de que si me encuentro faltando una comida, o contando los gramos de grasa en una manera con menos de indiferencia, se que solo me estoy privando una vida que ya no suele ser infernar, y es algo mucho mas maravilloso de lo que me podía imaginar.

La diversidad en el mundo puede ser marcada solo por quienes individualmente han llevado una vida en la que los cambios no han estado ausentes, una vida a través de la cual la continuidad ha sido alterada de alguna manera.

Se que he vivido un infierno, como yo defino como infierno, y se que he experimentado batallas sicológicas para el que una vez pareció inútil, pero… Ahora veo oportunidades para poder renovar y renacer.

Soy digna. Soy fuerte. Estoy hoy viva, en el sentido físico, metafórico y espiritual.

Independientemente de como mi historia cambie las vidas de personas que sufren de trastornos alimenticios, ya sea a uno, o ninguno en absoluto, yo siempre estaré digna, fuerte y viva.

Porque nunca es un logro la motivación para el cambio, pero siempre el cambio en si mismo que es el motivo de la realización.

Voluntaria en JDSA, Arati Jambotkar, es la mas reciente miembro del movimiento JDSA! Actualmente, A.J. asiste a Northwestern State University, completando su maestría en Inglés. Previamente, completó un Bachillerato en Artes Libre en la Universidad de Lowell, Massachusetts en Inglés y Estudios de la Mujer, titulo que completó con un promedio de Summa Cum Laude. Hoy por hoy se desempeña como tutora de inglés y es una escritora extraordinaria!Esté atento par ver mas historias que forman parte de su serie personal, las cuales son explícitas y provocan reflexión, sentimientos y son muy, pero muy buenas.

ObamaCare Delay – Good Thing or Bad? Depends on Who You Ask…

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This week the White House announced a delay for the Affordable Healthcare Act provision requiring businesses with at least 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance by the start of the new year.  Republicans screamed, “See! I told you there were problems!” so loudly, they drowned out the explanations of the White House, altogether.  Which were two-fold.  

The first, they say, allows them to “cut red tape and simplify the reporting process.” The second, “gives businesses more time to comply.”  

While we’re buying that explanation the Republicans aren’t.  They continue to be the party of obstructionists, blocking funding and maintaining their Fire-Aim-Ready mentality at every turn.  Never a benefit of the doubt – always quick to criticize for the sake of political posturing.  

We felt this USA Today article made a strong case for our argument.  What do you think?   

From the USA Today Editorial Board

ObamaCare Delay Hints at Deeper Troubles: USA Today’s View

President Obama signed his ambitious health reform plan into law more than three years ago. Let’s say that again: more than three years ago.

When Obama signed the law on March 23, 2010, everyone knew that all but the smallest businesses would be required to offer their employees health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014. But now, not unlike a college student who hasn’t used his time wisely, the White House says it needs an extension.

On Tuesday, the administration put off for a year the provision that requires any business with at least 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance for workers or pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee. That wasn’t the first delay: Earlier this year, the White House put off another provision that would have affected the way employees could buy insurance on health exchanges.

This might just be what the White House says it is – a smart and needed pause to allow officials and businesses to refine complicated rules that govern how the mandate will work. And in at least one way it might be smart politics for Democrats. It buys temporary peace with businesses that deeply dislike the mandate and have threatened to slash workers or reduce them to part-time status to avoid the insurance requirement. The disruptive change will now kick in after next year’s congressional elections.

In another way, though, the delay is an indicator of deeper troubles that lie just ahead. “This is a clear acknowledgment that the law is unworkable,” declared House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. No it’s not – but indications have been mounting for months that implementation, beginning just three months from now — is going to be rocky and potentially unpopular.

Even ObamaCare supporters worry that the administration isn’t nearly ready to meet the deadline for getting health exchanges, where people will choose their insurance, up and running by Oct. 1 and the rest of the law in place on Jan. 1. And whenever the exchanges are ready, some people are likely to see huge rate increases, particularly if young people opt to pay a $95 penalty rather than participate. Insurers have been predicting that outcome for months.

Meanwhile, fervent Republican attempts to make the law fail are compounding the administration’s shortcomings. The Republicans have refused to set up exchanges in some states, blocked funding for implementation and tried to inhibit administration attempts to help people understand what’s coming.

Introducing a program this big was always going to be bumpy. Even the much-simpler introduction of Medicare drug coverage during he Bush administration got off to a very rough and unpopular start. But in the end, it proved both popular and necessary.

ObamaCare has the same characteristics. Perfecting it will take years, but it’s far better than the alternative, which is to see more and more people lose their insurance as costs rise to unaffordability.

The business mandate in particular makes perfect sense because the goal from the start was to preserve the American model – long supported by both parties — in which most people get their coverage from their employers. Adding a mandate that employers provide coverage disrupts a race to the bottom — in which businesses feel compelled to reduce or eliminate coverage as a cost-cutting measure to remain competitive.

In practical terms, though, this is not the most important part of the new law. Most small businesses have fewer than 50 employees and won’t be required to provide coverage. Studies show most companies larger than that already provide coverage: 98% of companies with more than 200 workers, and 94% of companies with 50 to 199 workers (though smaller companies don’t always offer coverage to every employee).

That said, in a nation where 50 million people are without insurance, businesses – including the restaurants and retailers who have led the resistance to the employer mandate — will play an important role in the push for full coverage. It was galling to hear their leaders cheer the delay, and it’s unclear whether they’ll change their tune even after their complaints about the process are resolved.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.

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