State Department Condemns Stoning of Woman By Taliban in Pakistan

Jodi Jacobson

The Department of State has strongly condemned the stoning of a woman by Taliban militants.  The reason?  She was seen in public with a man.

Tonight, the United States Department of State condemned the stoning by Taliban militants of a women in Orakzai, Pakistan.

A videotape of the stoning, which sources in Pakistan say took place two months ago, was smuggled out of the country by a Taliban member who passed to it Al Aan, a Dubai-based television channel that deals with women’s issues. The video is now being circulated on YouTube.

The Daily Mail reports that the gruesome video, which is not provided on this site nor on the Daily Mail site, shows the following:

A woman lies tied to the ground as a group of men gather round her, repeatedly throwing stones at her.

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She appears to plead for help but despite her cries, they continue to rain stones down on her until she lies still.

News sources have pointed out that stoning is a routine punishment for adultery in Iran and Saudi Arabia.  Under the rule of the Taliban however, being seen alone with a man is sufficient crime alone to warrant the death penalty. 
Gayle Lemmon, deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations told ABC News:

“It’s difficult to know where and when it was shot. It is consistent with videos that have been coming from Taliban-controlled areas since the ’90s.”

“Women are respected as carriers of the family honor,” Lemmon said, “but they also pay the price…[if they] “stray outside the line” in Taliban-controlled areas, they may “face severe punishment.”

P.J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Public Affairs said in a statement:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal stoning of a woman in Orakzai, Pakistan.

This vicious attack, carried out as a crowd of onlookers watched, violates all norms of human decency and is a chilling example of the cowardly disregard violent extremists have for human life. There is no justification for such barbaric and cruel treatment of a fellow human being.”

Other cases of stoning and sentences of stoning for women accused of adultery have drawn international attention and revulsion.  In Iran, Sakineh Ashtiani, 43, was convicted of murder and adultery under Sharia law, and sentenced to be stoned to death.

European Commission President Jorge Barroso described Ashtiani’s case as “barbaric beyond words.”

“We condemn such acts, which have no justification under any moral or religious code.”

Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammed Mostaefi, has been forced to flee to Europe for his safety, while Ms Ashtiani’s fate, as she waits in Evin prison in Iran, remains uncertain.

Women’s rights advocates have been calling for the United Nations to take action to ban stoning and to expel Iran from the United Nations.  A letter published in the Guardian UK on September 21st, 2010, and signed by 40-odd representatives of international human rights groups read:

We are writing to ask that the UN general assembly condemn stoning as a crime against humanity and issue an emergency resolution calling for an end to the medieval and barbaric punishment as well as the immediate release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and others sentenced to death by stoning.

We also ask that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not be allowed to address the general assembly and that his government be boycotted.

A government that still stones people to death in the 21st century must have no place in the United Nations or any other international institution or body.

The full list of signatories to the letter can be found at the link to the Guardian article.  Originators of the letter also called on the international community to call on their own heads of government to define stoning as a form of torture and a crime against humanity, and to call on Iran to release the women sentenced to death by stoning.

News Violence

Nebraska Lawsuit Charges Deliberate Indifference by Authorities in Sexual Assault of Immigrant Woman

Kari Ann Rinker

The ACLU of Nebraska filed a federal lawsuit this week against the Cass County Sheriff and Jail Administrator for reckless disregard of a female immigrant sexually assaulted while in detention.

The ACLU of Nebraska filed a federal lawsuit this week against the Cass County Sheriff and Jail Administrator.  If the accusations contained within the brief to Nebraska Federal District Court are correct, this case involves numerous shocking, down-right despicable problems with the federal immigration system, and confirms the validity of the fears immigrant women face when confronted with situations of domestic violence,. The case also exemplifies how incarcerated victims of sexual assault face daunting, often insurmountable barriers when trying to seek justice from their attackers.  

The brief to the Nebraska court tells the story of 27-year-old Claudia Leiva Deras, who came to this country from Honduras with her mother, who fled her country of origin to protect herself and Claudia from domestic violence.  Claudia was living as an undocumented resident in Iowa when in 2009, a domestic violence call resulted in her being detained by immigration authorities. According to the brief, a Nebraska contract with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE)[RESULTED IN CLAUDIA BEING MOVED BY AUTHORITIES FROM Iowa to A DETENTION facility in Cass County, NE. 

It was during her stay in the Cass County Jail that a fellow detainee, who was female, sexually assaulted Claudia by violently digitally penetrating her and who also physically assaulted and threatened her.  After the assault, Claudia remained silent because there were no Spanish speaking guards at the ICE-contracted facility. After four months, Claudia did finally did report the assault to a jail employee after a Spanish speaking detainee convinced Claudia to report the crime.  Claudia was denied medical care and was told, “Immigration doesn’t pay for that.”  She was instead offered a Tylenol.  Claudia’s immigration attorney made repeated requests for a medical examination and was repeatedly denied.  The sexual assault she had suffered was violent, caused bleeding and continued pain.   

The brief goes on to explain how Claudia did eventually receive medical care after she was moved back to a detention facility in Iowa.  Claudia’s immigration application was granted under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provided Claudia with asylum in the U.S. due to her and her mother’s flight from domestic abuse in Honduras.  Claudia is now going through the process of becoming a full citizen.  It simply took a competent attention from immigration authorities, which should have been present throughout her detention. 

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The Nebraska ACLU brief states, “Defendants have acted with deliberate indifference to the health, safety, and serious mental health needs of Plaintiff and have subjected her to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of her rights.”  The ACLU is suing on behalf of Ms. Deras for compensatory and punitive damages for violating her constitutional and civil rights and for her costs, expenses and attorney fees associated with her ordeal.  The ACLU brief states that Claudia “continues to experience serious trauma and mental health problems relating back to the sexual assault she experienced and continues to have a need for one-on-one counseling and mental health care.” 

In her willingness to work with ACLU in the filing of this lawsuit, Claudia is taking a stand for immigrant women, survivors of sexual assault and bringing attention to the difficult plight of immigrant women facing situations of domestic violence within our borders.   

Morning Roundup: Reduce Unplanned Pregnancies by Providing a Year of Contraception

Beth Saunders

Draft regulations in the UK aim to tell women the truth about abortion, Medicaid-covered midwifery in Idaho, the Pope talks to doctors instead of women, Wyoming rejects mandatory ultrasound bill, and dramatic reductions in unplanned pregnancies by giving women a year of birth control at a time. 

Draft regulations in the UK aim to tell women the truth about abortion, Medicaid-covered midwifery in Idaho, the Pope talks to doctors instead of women, Wyoming rejects mandatory ultrasound bill, and dramatic reductions in unplanned pregnancies by giving women a year of birth control at a time. 

  • The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is causing a stir in the United Kingdom over draft regulations that tell aim to tell women scientific, medical facts about abortion – that it is generally safer than carrying a pregnancy to term, and that “there is no evidence that terminations cause psychological problems.” The Royal College also recommends that women who’ve already decided to end a pregnancy should not have to undergo mandatory counseling.
  • Legislators in the Idaho House of Representatives have approved a bill that would allow for midwife-assisted births to be covered under Medicaid. The average cost of midwife-attended birth would cost the state $1,500, as opposed to the $6,000 for a typical hospital birth.
  • Pope Benedict is urging doctors to tell women that “abortion solves nothing” and that women must be protected from the idea that terminating a pregnancy might be the answer to health problems. We’ll just call this Exhibit A of not treating women like capable, adult humans. Why talk directly to women? They probably won’t understand what you’re saying anyway.
  • The Wyoming Senate rejected a mandatory ultrasound bill that had previously passed in the state’s House. The vote was 15-14 against the intrusive legislation.
  • Want to reduce unintended pregnancies? A new study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology says give out a year of birth control pills or devices at a time, instead of a one or three month supply. If you’ve ever been on birth control, you know it’s happened to you: late Sunday night, you realized you don’t have a new prescription to take your pill first thing in the morning. But the study is pretty astounding:

    Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), saw a 46% decline in the odds of an abortion and a 30% decrease in the odds of pregnancy when low-income women who relied on public programs for contraception received a one-year supply of birth control pills instead of the usual one- or three-month stash.

Feb 27

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