Category: Crime

What would you do if you needed an abortion in a country where it’s outlawed?

I’m in Brazil right now with the wonderful International Reporting Project, and while here I spoke with a young woman who, like many women around the world, got pregnant when she didn’t want to be. Here in Brazil, abortion is generally illegal. After trying several different methods unsuccessfully and reaching out to a variety of slightly-shady people for help, she decided to go the safest route: To say she had been raped and get a safe, legal abortion in a Brazilian hospital. Her story is here. Women in this country are understandably very afraid to speak with anyone about abortion, and lots of women die or are injured from unsafe procedures. I’m particularly grateful to this young woman, who I’m calling Juliana, for her generosity, her honesty and her courage in sharing an extremely complicated story.

We need to imprison fewer people.

The ACLU released a report on life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and the shocking numbers of inmates who are incarcerated for the rest of their lives with no hope of getting out — for committing non-violent crimes, usually drug-related. There are money interests in keeping people incarcerated, but there are also cultural and psychological ones. Long sentences are entrenched in the law through mandatory minimums, but they’re also seeded in our national psyche as “normal”:

One avenue for justice in Maryville, closed.

Across the internet, various groups are demanding justice for Daily Coleman, the 14-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by a popular high school football player from a well-connected family. But it’s unclear what that “justice” would actually look like. A special prosecutor has been appointed to the case, and I’m hopeful she’ll be able to shed light on all the facts. But were it not for conservative Supreme Court justices, Daisy could have had other options: She could have sued her alleged attacker under a federal cause of action established by the Violence Against Women Act. I’m writing about that in The Nation today:

Is Anonymous good for Maryville?

There’s a part of me that thinks yes — when the legal system has failed, there are few other options to seek justice, and an internet collective isn’t the worst one. But I’m also incredibly wary of unchecked power and the ethos of spreading information without verifying its authenticity or accuracy, and a movement that feeds on rage and indignation without any real accountability. It’s particularly important to look at these issues when they’re being carried out for a cause we believe in. Does the calculus change if Anonymous’s tactics are leveled at someone we support? And then, are the tactics and ethics bad, or just the issue? I have a feeling this position will be very unpopular with the Feministe commentariat, but here goes:

What’s going on in Maryville?

In Maryville, Missouri, a 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a high school senior from a well-connected family. She and a 13-year-old friend snuck out to go to a party with some senior boys, mostly popular football players. They gave her alcohol until she blacked out, and one of them had sex with her. Photos were taken. Then they left her on her doorstep in the winter cold, where she nearly froze to death. Sexual assault, sexual exploitation and endangerment charges were all brought. Then they were dropped. The girl’s family was essentially run out of town, and their house eventually burned down. The entire story is horrific, and the Kansas City Star offers a great piece of in-depth reporting here.

Guilty verdicts in Richmond High School rape case

[Trigger warning]: In 2009, a 16-year-old girl was beaten and raped for more than two hours on the Richmond High School campus in California. She nearly died after the attack, which was perpetrated by multiple men while even more looked on. After four years, some justice is being done: Two of the accused have been found guilty and are facing long sentences. I’m obviously not a big fan of long prison sentences as a general rule, but for sadists who rape and torture a young woman for group entertainment over the course of several hours? Yeah, those guys probably shouldn’t be walking the streets. Neither should the onlookers who encouraged the violence and did nothing to stop it.