Sex assault in Canada
460,000: Estimated number of sexual assaults each year
90%: Proportion of those assaults that are unreported
12: Number of incidents for which charges are laid for every 1,000 sexual assaults that occur
3: Number of convictions for every 1,000 sexual assaults that occur
300: The median number of days it takes for a sexual assault case to make its way through the judicial system in Canada. (Only murder and attempted murder take longer.)
90%: Proportion of female sex assault victims. (Women are 11 times more likely than men to be a victim of a sexual offence.)
75%: Proportion of women sexually assaulted in 2011 who knew their attacker
25%: Proportion of sexual assaults against women committed by a stranger
Source: Statistics Canada
We have been watching with alarm as African nations pass more draconian anti-homosexual laws. Senegal has added its name to his ignoble list. President Yahya Jammeh signed a new law that establishes life imprisonment for some homosexual acts. Jammeh is a vehemently and vocal anti-gay leader who told gays and lesbians in 2008 to leave the country or risk decapitation. Five women have now been arrested as accused lesbians in what human rights groups are calling a national campaign of terror and torture by the police.
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Mike Nichols made films about women – sadly a rarity in Hollywood
- The Guardian, Friday 21 November 2014 17.29 GMT
If you count success in Oscar nominations, then Mike Nichols certainly didn’t fulfil his early promise. His 1966 debut film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, got 13 nominations and won five. His second, The Graduate, got a mere seven nominations and one win. The 20 other films he went on to make managed 22 nominations and one Oscar between them, for best song. …
Ebola Kills Pregnant Women, Even if They Don’t Have It
Pregnant Patients With EBH
– EBH virus is transmitted through direct contact with the skin or body fluids of an infected individual, with objects that are contaminated with the virus, or with bodies of those who have died of the disease.
– Generalized symptoms of EBH include fever, chills, fatigue, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
– Spontaneous abortion, usually accompanied by heavy bleeding, is common in pregnant patients infected with EBH in the first and second trimesters.
– During an EBH outbreak, bleeding pregnant patients should be suspected of being infected, and health care workers should take proper precautions.
– There is a high mortality rate for live neonates born to EBH-infected patients in the third trimester.
– Pregnant patients with EBH should receive supportive care and treatment to prevent hemorrhaging.
The EBH epidemic in West Africa is causing significant human suffering for those who have contracted the disease and their families as well as the health care workers who care for them, many of whom have become victims themselves. The outbreak is also affecting pregnant patients and their maternity care professionals in hard-hit areas—even if they aren’t infected.
Because EBH outbreaks in the past have affected relatively small populations of people, there is not much research on how the disease affects pregnant women. One small study of 15 pregnant patients infected with EBH in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1999 showed 10 spontaneous abortions and 4 deaths in the third trimester. There was an overall mortality rate of 77% in that particular outbreak but, among these pregnant patients, it was 95.5%.
Pregnancy and the Risks of EBH
In 1976, 11 babies born to mothers during an outbreak also died, and while they did not have typical EBH symptoms, it is suspected that they died of the disease. The exact mode of transmission of EBH from mother to child remains unknown.
The Collateral Damage From Fear and Panic
EBH is clearly a very deadly disease, and not just because it has killed an estimated 55% of those infected. It is also because it has caused panic and the spread of misinformation. Health care workers face an uphill battle as rumors about EBH spread, including that the disease is not real and that it is given through vaccinations, or that it is actually the health care workers that are killing patients. People with symptoms of EBH may be staying away from health care facilities instead of seeking treatment, and some treatment centers and health care workers have come under physical attack. For all these reasons and more, the spread of EBH continues in affected areas, making the infection rates difficult to get under control.
For pregnant patients, EBH also brings the risk of death, even for those who have not been infected themselves or who are not caring for infected family members. It’s not thought that pregnancy confers a greater risk of becoming infected. However, in previous outbreaks, women tended to get infected in greater numbers than men, typically as a result of caring for sick relatives. A community ravaged by EBH presents a grim reality for pregnant patients and maternity workers.
The Effect of the Breakdown of the Healthcare System
Pregnant women in the areas hard-hit by EBH may not be receiving the care they need for several reasons. The first is that they may stay away from clinics and hospitals, fearing the possibility of being infected. While nosocomial transmission has occurred, in some cases women might be at a greater risk of pregnancy-related complications than they are from becoming infected.
Pregnant women seek health care more frequently than others in the general population, which puts them at a greater risk for contracting EBH in the health care setting. There is at least one case (in a previous outbreak) of the EBH virus being transmitted via infected needles to pregnant women who presented for routine care. The women living in at-risk areas may be aware of this, and may therefore refuse to receive any injections. In an area where injectable progestin is often used as a form of contraception, this could result in unintended pregnancies.
A decrease in the number of vaccines given to women and children could also occur, leaving the people in the area more susceptible to preventable diseases. This side effect of the epidemic could scar the affected communities for years, with diseases that were on the way to being stamped out becoming more prevalent again because of lowered vaccination rates.
With clinics and hospitals being closed or overrun with patients who either have or are suspected of having EBH, pregnant women are being turned away. There may not be any safe place for pregnant patients to receive care or to give birth. Maternal and infant mortality is already high in the developing world. Without even the most basic support, pregnant women and their babies are at risk for developing complications that could be effectively treated by a trained maternity worker. Women are dying in childbirth, unnecessarily.
The Babies Might Be Most Vulnerable of All
Babies born to EBH survivors may also be at significant risk. In one study, the EBH virus was found in breast milk as long as 40 days after the patient became symptomatic, even after the virus was no longer present in the patient’s blood. It’s not known if a mother can infect her baby with EBH through breast milk, but the safest course of action might be avoidance of breastfeeding by mothers who have recovered from infection with EBH or who are suspected of being infected.
Breastfeeding is the safest and most effective method of feeding, and some areas may not have alternatives available. Not being breastfed by their mothers leaves infants open to many complications, including diarrhea, respiratory diseases, and even starvation. Even close contact between mother and baby could have risks, but the stress of being apart could negatively impact the emotional well-being of both.
When the Epidemic Ends, What Then?
The healthcare systems in the countries affected by this outbreak were improving, thanks to efforts by the World Health Organization and others, but are still very fragile. They are overwhelmed by this unprecedented outbreak of EBH. Governmental or societal collapse in the areas most affected is now a grave concern. There’s now a worry that the next generation could be profoundly negatively affected because of the low survival rate for pregnant women and their babies—whether they have Ebola or not.
Mupapa K, Mukundu W, Bwaka MA, et al. Ebola hemorrhagic fever and pregnancy. J Infect Dis. 1999;179(Suppl 1):S11–12. Available at: http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/179/Supplement_1/S11.long.
World Health Organization. Addressing sex and gender in epidemic-prone infectious diseases. 2007. Available at: http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/SexGenderInfectDis.pdf?ua=1.
World Health Organization. Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Zaire, 1976. Bull World Health Organ. 1978;56:271-293. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2395567/.
World Health Organization. Study warns swift action needed to curb exponential climb in Ebola outbreak. 22 Sept 2014. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/ebola-study/en/.
‘Testing’ Applicants Is Discriminatory, Cruel, Degrading
(Jakarta) – The Indonesian government subjects female applicants for Indonesia’s National Police to discriminatory and degrading “virginity tests,” Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch interviewed female police and police applicants in six Indonesian cities who had undergone the test, two of them in 2014. Applicants who “failed” were not necessarily expelled from the force, but all of the women described the test as painful and traumatic. Policewomen have raised the issue with senior police officials, who have at times claimed the practice has been discontinued. But the test is listed as a requirement for women applicants on the official police recruitment website, and Human Rights Watch interviews suggest it is still being widely applied.
“The Indonesian National Police’s use of ‘virginity tests’ is a discriminatory practice that harms and humiliates women,” said Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Police authorities in Jakarta need to immediately and unequivocally abolish the test, and then make certain that all police recruiting stations nationwide stop administering it.”
The tests contravene National Police principles that recruitment must be both “nondiscriminatory” and “humane,” and violate the international human rights to equality, nondiscrimination, and privacy. Coerced “virginity tests” can also constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment prohibited under international law.
Between May and October 2014, Human Rights Watch interviewed eight current and former policewomen and applicants, as well as police doctors, a police recruitment evaluator, a National Police Commission member, and women’s rights activists. Interviews were conducted in the cities of Bandung, Jakarta, Padang, Pekanbaru, Makassar, and Medan. All of the women who had undergone the test said it was applied to all other women in their police class as well.
The “virginity tests” are conducted under Chief Police Regulation No. 5/2009 on Health Inspection (Pemeriksaan Kesehatan) Guidelines for Police Candidates. Article 36 of the regulation requires female police academy applicants to undergo an “obstetrics and gynecology” examination. While the regulation does not specify that a “virginity test” is to be administered as part of the exam, two senior policewomen told Human Rights Watch that it has long been the practice. The test is given early in the recruitment process as part of the applicants’ physical exam. Police Medical and Health Center (Pusat Kedokteran dan Kesehatan) personnel conduct the tests primarily in police-operated hospitals. Human Rights Watch found that the examination has included the discredited and degrading “two-finger test” to determine whether female applicants’ hymens are intact…