News Violence

A “Cure-All” For Rape? Concerned Women For America Not Very Concerned About Women At All

Vicki Saporta

In an outrageous demonstration of just how little they know about sexual violence and rape, Concerned Women for America sent Senators a letter asserting raped servicewomen should not be offered abortion care as a "cure-all." Saying abortion is a "cure-all" for rape is like saying a band aid is a cure-all for cancer. Tell CWA that there is no "cure-all" for rape and send them a band aid.

Tell CWA There’s no ‘Cure-all’ for Rape

This week, while we were busy trying to get military insurance coverage for raped servicewomen, the anti-abortion group Concerned Women for America (CWA), showed us that they aren’t really that concerned about women at all.

In a letter to the Senate opposing the Shaheen amendment, CWA said the amendment would be giving “abortion as a ‘cure-all'” for rape.

This outrageous statement shows just how little CWA knows about how sexual violence affects women. Women need access to a full range of health care services, including abortion care, following a sexual assault. However, the suggestion that any single element of health care–or any single thing for that matter–could act as a “cure-all” for rape is absurd and insulting. Ironically, this rhetoric shows little concern for women and minimizes the impact of a sexual assault.

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Saying abortion is a “cure-all” for rape is like saying a band aid is a cure-all for cancer.

Tell CWA that there is no “cure-all” for rape and send them a band aid.

NAF will send CWA one band aid stamped with #nocureall4rape between now and December 31 every time someone:

Spread the word and help us tell CWA that there is no “cure-all” for rape!

Analysis Human Rights

For Women on Hunger Strike at Hutto Detention Center, It’s About Freedom

Tina Vasquez

"If you read the letters from the women detained within Hutto, you’ll see this isn’t just about health care or the quality of food in detention; it’s about human rights violations," a source with access to the women within Hutto told Rewire

As the women of the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, move into the tenth day of a hunger strike aimed at demanding immediate release, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) is reportedly ramping up its efforts to quell the strike.

In one case, a Garífuna woman from Honduras named Insis was placed in “medical solitary confinement” for two daysa common tactic used by ICE, according to sources.

Despite the use of its infirmary for solitary confinement, Hutto detainees say the detention center does not properly address medical needs, as outlined in some of their letters released to Grassroots Leadership, an organization that forms part of a larger umbrella group known as Texans United for Families (TUFF). Insis, who suffers from sickle-cell anemia, wrote that when she says she’s sick, she’s called a liar. She also said that detainees there are not treated like humans, but “like dogs.”

Access to medical care is just one of the many issues being raised by the hunger strikers at Hutto.

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Cristina Parker, immigration programs director for Grassroots Leadership, told Rewire that various intimidation tactics are being used by ICE in an attempt to end the hunger strike at Hutto. Actions such as hunger strikes are considered bad publicity for both ICE and for-profit private prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the company that operates the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Parker said hunger strikers are now being threatened with deportation, questioned by ICE, written up by guards for not leaving their areas to go to the cafeteria for meals, and being asked to eat and drink in front of ICE officials.

As Rewire reported earlier today, six women participating in the strike are being rounded up for transfer; two of the original 27 hunger strikers were already moved earlier this week to a men’s detention center in Pearsall, Texas.

Since then, ICE has said in a statement to Rewire that it “routinely transfers detainees to other facilities for various reasons, including bed-space availability or to provide greater access to specialized services needed by particular detainees.” It reiterated that the facility “does not have solitary confinement areas” and that “no one … was identified as being on a hunger strike or refusing to eat.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity because ICE can revoke detention center visitation for any reason, one source with access to the women within Hutto said what is happening is a human rights violation. Women like those in Hutto fleeing violence in their countries of origin are often brutalized on their journey. A recent report by Fusion found that 80 percent of the girls and women crossing Mexico from Central America en route to the United States are raped along the way. Many are then put in detention upon arriving in the United States.

“If you read the letters from the women detained within Hutto, you’ll see this isn’t just about health care or the quality of food in detention; it’s about human rights violations,” the source said. “The women have already been tortured in their countries and they arrive with signs of deep trauma, showing symptoms of PTSD and depression, only to be re-traumatized by being placed in what is essentially a for-profit prison where they are threatened with deportation.”

Sometimes, those who are deported are murdered upon re-entering their country of origin. Last month, the Guardian reported on a forthcoming academic study identifying as many as 83 U.S. deportees who have been murdered since January 2014 on their return to the area known as the “Northern Triangle of Central America”El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

In the past two weeks, detainees in four immigrant detention centers have launched hunger strikes: Hutto, the El Paso ICE Detention Center, the Adelanto Detention Facility, and Louisiana’s LaSalle Detention Center, where the 14 South Asian asylum seekers holding the strike recently released a message of solidarity for the women striking in Hutto.

The hunger strike at Hutto is decidedly different because of the detained population. The women-only facility holds asylum seekers, women who’ve fled violence in their countries of origin. The majority of the women detained at Hutto are from Central America. According to the report Women on the Run, released last week from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, women in Central America and Mexico are fleeing their countries in rising numbers to “escape a surge in deadly, unchecked gang violence.” The report found that criminal armed groups terrorize populations to gain control of areas and specifically target women using extreme forms of gender-based violence.

Asylum seekers such as the ones detained at Hutto must prove to ICE “credible fear of persecution or torture,” meaning they must prove it is unsafe to return to their country of origin, whether because of specific threats or because the environment is unsafe based on the identities they hold. If they prove they have a credible reason to fear for their lives, they are released from detention and allowed to remain in the United States. A major problem, said the source, is that women are not provided with proper legal counsel, forcing them to represent themselves in court and during hearings on their asylum applications, even though many of the women do not know English and are unable to read.

Detainees in these centers can remain in limbo for months and even years, unsure if they will be allowed to stay in the United States or if they will be deported. Activists say this leads to high rates of anxiety and depression and exacerbates the deep trauma many migrant women have already experienced. Hutto, however, does not provide help for mental and psychological trauma, the source close to the detainees told Rewire. The counselor at the detention center doesn’t know Spanish, forcing women to use Language Line Services (LLS), which requires a staff member to dial into the Language Line to connect with interpreters who assist with communication between the counselor and detainee.

“There is a lot of stigma regarding mental health issues and at Hutto, rumors circulate that if you are deemed mentally ill or to have mental health issues, your detainment will only last longer,” the source said. “We do not have proof of that being true, but there is a lot of mistrustand rightfully so. We’re expecting women to open up about their trauma to those who are imprisoning them. There are many layers to the human rights abuses.”

CCA is the nation’s oldest and largest for-profit private prison corporation and it has come under attack many times for human rights violations, including at Hutto, which was once used to detain immigrant families, including children. The Obama administration removed families from the center in 2009 after numerous allegations of human rights abuses, including—according to the Texas Observer“accounts of children suffering psychological trauma.”

A federal lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the University of Texas Law School Immigration Clinic.

Many problems arise when private corporations are allowed to act as prisons, especially as it relates to the abuse of women. The ACLU found nearly 200 allegations of sexual abuse in immigration detention facilities across the nation since 2007, a number its reports indicated did not fully represent the problem. The sexual abuse of detainees is not an isolated problem “limited to one rogue facility or merely the result of a handful of bad apple government contractors who staff some of the nation’s immigration detention centers,” according to the ACLU.

In fact, the largest number of cases of sexual abuse against female detainees has been found in Texas, where Hutto is located, though similar reports of sexual abuse have come from nearly every state that houses an immigration detention center.

As the Washington Post reported earlier this year, for-profit prisons have become a powerful lobby. The two largest for-profit prison companies in the United States, CCA and GEO, spent nearly $25 million on lobbying efforts since 1989and it’s proving to be lucrative. The Washington Post reported that CCA and GEO rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue.

The source who maintains contact with the women detained in Hutto said CCA makes $150 a day for each detainee, “which is why their hearings are constantly postponed and many are detained for months at a time, only to be deported.”

The source visited the women at Hutto on November 1. One woman the source had been visiting for six months shared that shortly before deciding to join the hunger strike, she was informed she would be deported this week. She has been in detention for a year.

“The woman fears for her life,” the source said. “She understands she faces potential death upon deportation.”

The women participating have not announced an end date for their hunger strike. The source close to the women in Hutto said that improving access to medical care and the quality of food within detention centers would be “nice,” but the strike isn’t about that.

“It’s about freedom,” the source said. “The women in Hutto are striking against the entire detention center system that profits off of them. They need to be with their families and other supportive systems. They cannot heal from their trauma while imprisoned.”

Commentary Violence

How to Talk to Your Guy Friends About Not Threatening to Rape and Murder Women on the Internet

Andrea Grimes

If you really think that you are a good guy, and that you are not the kind of person who would threaten to violently hurt someone for the hell of it, the onus is on you to fix this.

Dudes, can I turn my chair around and get real with you for a minute? We need to talk about the fact that scores of you and your buddies are jumping on the Internet and threatening to rape, maim, and murder women.

I’m sorry, I hope I’m not interrupting your morning manscaping, or evening perusal of The Paris Review, or midnight Call of Warcraft: The Ocarina Of Nintendogs binge, or whatever. I know this is kind of a bummer topic, but so is being told to “kill yourself, you ignorant f*ggot,” so.

For a long time, even before “#GamerGate” was a twinkle in a sad white dude’s eye, feminist cultural critics and some—mostly not-cis-dude—gamers and developers have been subjected to violent harassment from individuals who seem to be mildly troubled by their predilections for talking, typing, or otherwise expressing themselves in public, as opposed to shutting up and making sandwiches. Most recently, they’ve been under attack, online and off, for observing that many mainstream video games and related marketing materials are exclusively tailored to the imagined gaze of titty-obsessed heterosexual teenage boys. That’s fine and all, but it’s kind of, you know, limiting, and wouldn’t it be nice to have more diversity in video games?

Many of these gamers and critics, along with their supporters, have been “doxxed,” which is when some anonymous asshole puts stuff like your home address and workplace location on the Internet, because they are mad and want to make sure that the whole world knows where you live and work. Thanks to actions like these, some of these folks have had to abandon their homes and jobs out of fear for their own, and their loved ones’, safety. Even more have been routinely, overwhelmingly harassed, day in and day out, for the apparent crime of existing on the Internet as anything other than a cisgender white dude.

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All of this talk of leaving women’s “mutilated corpses on the front page of Jezebel,” is, I’m sure, out of concern for journalistic ethics, and definitely not because of a widespread, deeply ingrained culture of toxic masculinity.

But look: On the teeeeeeeeny-tiiiiiiiiiny chance that GamerGaters are indeed a horde of gender-policing, misogynistic trolls who believe they can operate with impunity in a society wherein “boys will be boys,” and “women will live in abject goddamned fear every moment of their fucking lives,” it’s time for all the cool, good dudes out there to have a talk with their bros about how saying they’ll rape and murder people isn’t OK.

Maybe you think that goes without saying—that everybody knows threatening to aggressively sodomize a total stranger is not the coolest thing on Earth to do. But hey: It doesn’t go without saying for everybody, because literal thousands of somebodies are currently out there on the Internet right this minute terrorizing people with the promise of sexual violence of all kinds.

Those somebodies have brothers and dads and uncles and nephews and bosses and coworkers and yoga teachers and friends and fellow fantasy-footballers and dudes they always say hi to at the bodega and professors and grandfathers and mechanics and favorite bartenders and ARE ANY SINGLE ONE OF YOU TALKING TO YOUR BROS ABOUT HOW IT’S FUCKED UP IN THE EXTREME TO THREATEN TO RAPE PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET?

When’s the last time you heard a dude making a rape joke or saw your buddy harassing a woman on the street, and you actually fucking said something to him about how gross that is? When’s the last time you shared a Facebook post about enthusiastic consent? When’s the last time you tweeted or Tumbled an infographic about the prevalence of domestic violence?

Have you ever actually said out loud, in front of a bunch of dudes, that you don’t think abuse is a punchline, or that you wouldn’t stay friends with a guy who assaulted someone, or that you’d never put up with a dude who sent a woman anonymous emails full of bloody fetus pictures telling her to abort herself? (Shout-out to that guy! Don’t worry, bro, I got your message!)

Like, 180 people follow this dude on Twitter, for example. Yet nobody’s up in his mentions telling him that he might wanna rethink his little rape, uh, joke. How many folks at any one of these Halloween parties held their tongues when white men in blackface rolled up in Ray Rice costumes dragging blow-up dolls around? Hell, nobody had a minute to take this clown aside and have a quiet conversation about how telling Janay Rice in a tweet tagged with her handle to “shut up bitch you married the muthafucka now THATS funny” is not an OK thing to do?

Meanwhile, social researcher Jennifer Allaway does a survey about video games and is told by a self-described “killer of women” that she will endure half a decade of anal rape. And she is by no means the only one.

Bros, dudes, guys, and buddies of the privileged cisgender heterosexual persuasion, this is not my problem. This is not women’s or queer folks’ or trans people’s problem.

This is your problem. You fix it. If you really think that you are a good guy, and that you are not the kind of person who would threaten to rape and murder and silence some b1tch3z for the LULZ, the onus is on you to step up and make it happen.

I’m not gonna go all “wives, mothers, daughters, sisters” on your ass. Don’t do this shit for your mom. Don’t do it for your wife. Do it because you’re not a human scab. Do it because you want people to be better, and because you intend to hold humanity accountable for producing disgusting, petulant man-trolls who think they’re entitled to other people’s time and attention. Do it because you’re gonna stop the cycle of disgusting, petulant man-trolls right flipping now, in your own flipping life.

I’m already out here doing my part to make this world a safer, healthier place. I talk about how to end rape, domestic violence, street harassment, and abortion stigma literally all damned day every day. I do my feminism at the bar. I do my feminism at the coffee shop. Sometimes I make feminism funny, and sometimes I make it serious. Hell, I practice talking to my cats about feminism. I wasn’t born this way. It’s taken me years—and I’m still working on it—to try and overcome internalized misogyny and externalized racism and ableism. But I’ve continued to attempt it nonetheless, because my friends and my coworkers and my peers and my neighbors have actively and consistently had ongoing, public conversations that made it clear I could get my mind right or get the hell out of their lives.

Now it’s your turn. I don’t know what you bros do in your little man-caves besides talk about razors and guns and farts (did I get that right?), but whatever it is, not enough of it consists of policing each other and making it clear that in your circle, or your fraternity, or your workplace, or your comic book shop, or your household, it is unacceptable to be a creepy fucking misogynist.

I cannot and will not fix this nasty problem of yours for you. This is your work and you need to start on it yesterday. It’s as easy as talking—frequently and loudly—about how you don’t think jokes, threats, and offhand comments about rape, violence, and abuse are cool. And moreover, that any friend or family member of yours better fucking get in step with you on it.

This might feel weird at first, especially if you’re not used to this kind of talk. That’s OK. It’s not going to be an overnight fix, and some assholes are gonna fly under your radar anyway. Fear not. In fact, in case you need a head start, I’ve written up some suggested scripts for talking to your buddies:

  • “I don’t know, I’m more of a merlot guy. Speaking of, I think it’s pretty fucking shitty to threaten to rape and murder people on the Internet.”
  • “You shouldn’t yell out your car window at women on the street and call them horrible slurs and grab at at their clothes and bodies to try and get a reaction out of them. I wish Rick would leave his dog at home.”
  • “Every time you post about ‘raping’ a quiz or test, I lose heaps of respect for you, and it’s honestly getting to the point where I’m not sure we should be friends anymore. Watch out, there’s a pothole.”
  • “Thanks a lot, Doc, I can’t wait to take this sweet-ass vasectomy for a spin. By the way, young women who use social media are especially likely to have to deal with sexual harassment and stalking.”
  • “Ted, are you as good at respecting other people’s personal space as you are at baking? This angel food cake is phenomenal.”
  • “Everyone please proceed to the closest exit, I’m sure this is just a drill. While I’ve got you all here, I’d like to point out that prison rape jokes are a good way to get unfriended by me.”
  • Woof, I thought that last pigeon pose was never going to end! I’m really looking forward to going home and having the same expectations for my sons as I do for my daughters.”
  • “Man oh man, Bumgarner is on fire! Hey by the way, have y’all ever promised to kill someone on Twitter? I haven’t, because that would make me a garbage person.”
  • “I wanted to let you know that I’ll be actively not driving people out of their own homes by threatening to photograph their mutilated bodies for the foreseeable future, and also I can’t come to pasta night.”
  • “I’m thinking of planting some succulents out back. Everybody’s bodies are their own and no one owes me or my boner anything at all.”

Try a few of them in the mirror. Feel free to come up with some of your own. However you do it, wherever and whenever you do it, just do it. Good dudes of the world, please start having these conversations—whether you’re at your kids’ soccer games, or the office holiday party, or posting on Facebook from the Jiffy Lube.

People’s lives and livelihoods depend on it.