Zimbabwe Child Brides Fight Back in Court

Across sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of women are married as children.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of women are married as children.

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Two former child brides have taken Zimbabwe’s government to court in a ground-breaking bid to get child marriages declared illegal and unconstitutional.

Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi say child marriage, which is rife in Zimbabwe, is a form of child abuse which traps girls in lives of poverty and suffering.

“I’ve faced so many challenges. My husband beat me. I wanted to stay in school but he refused. It was very, very terrible,” said Tsopodzi, a mother of one, who was married at 15.

“I want to take this action to make a difference,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Harare on Tuesday. “There are a lot of children getting married.”

Data published last year indicates one third of girls in Zimbabwe marry before their 18th birthday and 5 percent before they turn 15.

Child marriage deprives girls of education and opportunities, jeopardizes their health and increases the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse and death or serious injury in childbirth.

In their statements to the Constitutional Court, Tsopodzi and Mudzuru, now 19 and 20, say Zimbabwe’s Marriage Act is discriminatory because it sets the minimum age at 16 for girls and 18 for boys. The Customary Marriage Act sets no minimum age.

They say the law should be brought into line with Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution as well as regional and international treaties banning child marriage.

The 2013 constitution says every child under 18 has the right to parental care, education and protection from “economic and sexual exploitation”.

It does not set a minimum marriage age, but states that no one should be forced to marry against their will and indicates that 18 is the minimum age for starting a family.

VICIOUS CIRCLE

Poverty is the driving force behind child marriage in Zimbabwe. Parents often marry girls off so they have one less mouth to feed. Dowry payments may be a further incentive.

Some communities also see child marriage as a way of protecting girls from having premarital sex.

In her affidavit, Mudzuru described how child marriage and poverty create a vicious circle.

“Young girls who marry early and often in poor families are then forced to produce young children in a sea of poverty and the cycle begins again,” she stated.

Mudzuru, who was married at 16 and had two children before she was 18, said her life was “hell” and she spent her days trapped in drudgery.

“My life is really tough. Raising a child when you are a child yourself is hard,” she said by phone from her home in Harare. “I should be going to school.”

The girls’ lawyer, former finance minister Tendai Biti, presented the legal challenge in January.

Beatrice Savadye, who heads rights group ROOTS which is backing the ground-breaking case, said it had generated a lot of interest both inside Zimbabwe and in other countries in the region.

She said it was unclear when the court would give its decision, but that it had to rule within six months.

Globally, some 15 million girls are married off every year. Across sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of women are married as children.

 

Tortured Sex Slave Rescued by Truck Driver

Tortured Sex Slave Saved By Trucker From This Iowa Couple

Tortured Sex Slave Saved By Trucker From This Iowa Couple

A tortured sex slave, later revealed as a 20-year-old female victim, was saved by trucker Kevin Kimmel, according to WTVR. Kimmel saw the suspicious activity at a New Kent Pilot gas station and truck lot in January, and reported it to Richmond, VA, police because, “It was a no brainer what was going on.”

Kimmel, a veteran truck driver speaking about the incident for the first time, didn’t know what happened until he saw “the gruesome details through the news.” According to WTVR, what was allegedly going on was abuse, fraud, forced prostitution, and torture, among other crimes.

Kimmel said he became suspicious when he saw the victim peeking out from behind dark curtains in an RV and, in what may have been an awkward moment, thought that the black curtains didn’t appear to be, “a families RV [sic], you know.”

A guy come up and knock on the door then go inside the Pilot–then quickly came back and knocked again, all of the sudden the thing was rocking and rolling.”

That was when he called the local sheriff’s department in Virginia, who, according to Daily Mail, eventually found Aldair Hodza and Laura Sorenson inside the RV, allegedly holding the victim hostage, who appeared malnourished and tortured.

She reportedly suffered from various wounds including burns on her abdomen, groin, and her back consistent with, “being struck and stamped with a hot metal key.” She also suffered wounds on her feet that were, “consistent with nails hammered into her flesh,” according to News & Advance.

Police charged the Iowa couple with various federal crimes ranging from coercion to sex trafficking by force after they uncovered that the two had turned the alleged victim into a tortured sex slave and forced her to service “clients” as part of an online prostitution ring. According to the Daily Mail, police found photos of the alleged victim being tortured. Some photos depicted the alleged victim bound and gagged while nude and others depicted her getting bleach sprayed into open and bleeding wounds.

The couple, Sorensen, 36 and Hodza, 31, are accused of taking the victim hostage on Christmas Eve in 2014 and forcing her into prostitution. They allegedly threatened to kill the victim and her family, according to the News & Advance.

The accused couple likely used these threats to scare the alleged victim, forcing her to comply with their demands.

A common tactic used by abusers, one example would be the case of Officer Stephen Maiorino from Boynton Beach, who threatened to kill a 20-year-old rape victim after allegedly victimizing her at gunpoint on the hood of his police car in October, 2014, according to the Palm Beach Post.

According to News & Advance, the victim also accuses the Iowa couple of denying her food and water during the trip from Iowa to Virginia. Also from Iowa, the alleged victim also states her alleged abusers expected her turn all the money made as a tortured sex slave over to them for their own food and gas for the RV, a 37-foot Sun Voyager.

According to WVTR, Kimmel said, “I’m just happy I helped her.”

The couple is expected to appear in a federal court in Virginia, according to News & Advance, as federal courts prosecute sex trafficking cases much more harshly than state level courts do in Virginia.

Hundreds of Child Soldiers Released by South Sudan Militia

South Sudan’s Cobra Faction Releases Hundreds of Child Soldiers

BY MATTHEW GRIMSON

Hundreds of child soldiers were released in South Sudan on Tuesday, UNICEF said, as part of a broader plan to free up to 3,000 young fighters from the country’s civil war.

The release of 300 kids in Pibor, Jonglei State, is part of a peace deal between the South Sudan Democratic Army (SSDA) Cobra Faction and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

An initial 280 children, aged between 11 and 17, were released late January. UNICEF said between 2,000 and 3,000 should be freed from the Cobra Faction as it integrates into the SPLA.

The use of child soldiers in South Sudan surged after civil war broke out in December 2013, with UNICEF estimating the number to have peaked somewhere around 12,000. Violence was so rife that many of the children joined the Cobra Faction for protection, according to UNICEF spokeswoman Doune Porter.

“They thought they would be safer in the ranks of the military where they were surrounded by people with guns, and of course many of them were trained in how to use guns,” she said.

However, Porter said the children found life extraordinarily difficult were now “delighted” to be leaving the Cobra Faction.

“I don’t want to be a soldier,” one boy, aged 12, told UNICEF. “I will end up with nothing by being a soldier and I know one day I’ll get killed if I continue being a soldier. First, I want to go to school, then later I want to study medicine.”

A South Sudanese child soldier hides his face with his hands.

“Buret,” 11, the day before his release from the Cobra Faction in late January.

Cobra Faction Lieutenant General Khalid Butrus Bura said there was no longer any need for the children to be among their ranks.

“We want to change the mind-set of the community, so that a father will not need to buy gun and give it to a 10-year-old child so he can take care of the cattle,” he told UNICEF. “We want to change that practice so that the community can send their children to school rather than taking to a gun.”

Porter said the children would now receive counseling and a much sought after education.

“Many of them have never been to school before,” she said. “Most of them can’t read or write and they are so excited about starting their education.”

UNICEF estimates more than 1.9 million people have been displaced since the civil war broke out, with more than 1.4 million currently displaced within South Sudan. More than half of those internally displaced people are estimated to be children.

Japan: Man Allegedly Rapes 100 Women, Sells Videos of Attacks to Porn Sites

Japanese police  in Sapporo city, Hokkaido

Japanese police patrol in Sapporo city, Hokkaido. Officers have confirmed at least 39 victims, aged from their teens to their 40s, but the actual number is thought to be far higher. Photograph: Dai Kurokawa/EPA

By Ann Colwell and Will Ripley, CNN

(CNN)Police say around 100 women in Japan who thought they were participating in a sleep study were actually drugged and raped, their attacks recorded and sold to porn sites.

Authorities arrested 54-year-old Hideyuki Noguchi, after one of the women saw herself in a video online and came forward. Police investigated and arrested Noguchi, who has been charged with incapacitated rape, according to Chiba Prefecture Police spokesperson Satoshi Kono.

Authorities say Noguchi has told them the number of victims is about 100. Officers have confirmed at least 39 of those victims, and have filed charges in many of those cases already. More women could come forward.

The assaults allegedly began in 2012 when police say Noguchi took out a newspaper ad seeking participants for a sleep study. The ad sought women from their teens through their 40s and offered compensation for their time.

Noguchi would then arrange for women to meet him at a hotel or a hot springs inn, according to authorities. He would allegedly tell women he planned to test their blood pressure while they slept. He reportedly told women he was a doctor, but police could not confirm that.

But authorities say Noguchi has no medical training and the study was merely a ruse to isolate women, drug them with sleeping pills and alcohol, assault them and film the attacks.

Kono said Noguchi sold the videos to unnamed pornographic filmmakers and adult websites, making around $100,000.

Very little local coverage

The case of the assaults has drawn international headlines — but failed to resonate much in the local press.

Roland Kelts, University of Tokyo professor and author of “Japanamerica,” says the lack of media coverage has been “bizarre.”

“Usually sexual crimes are reported pretty avidly in Japan, especially in the tabloids,” said Kelts. ” The media sensationalizes these stories just like it does in the West.”

Kelts points to the recent kidnapping crisis and subsequent murders of ISIS hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, which have dominated Japan’s national media headlines. There’s also another grisly story gripping Japan about a murder of an elderly woman.

After such a gruesome news cycle, Kelts says the media just “might not have the tastes” to cover the rapes, as they normally might do.

What’s more, police have released very little information about the alleged attacks, citing the victims’ privacy. Authorities have granted no interviews on camera.

Information or exclusive interviews on big stories is often given to newspaper beat reporters in Japan. But even they have been unusually short on information regarding Noguchi’s alleged crimes.

Recent changes to Japan’s laws that regulate the classification of sensitive information have tightened punishments for leaking information.

The so-called “state secrets” law was drafted under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and took effect late last year. The law imposes prison sentences of five to 10 years for leaking state secrets, depending on the position of the leaker.

The law has been criticized by Internet activists and groups including Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.

A 99% conviction rate

Noguchi will most likely receive a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, if convicted, according to Jin Imaeda, an attorney and former prosecutor in Japan.

For the type of assault Noguchi is accused of, a conviction would lead to a maximum sentence of 20 years for a single victim, and 30 years if the number of victims is two or more.

If convicted, Noguchi could be eligible for parole after serving 80% of that term, or 24 years, Imaeda said.

The Japanese legal system does not sentence criminals to life imprisonment.

Japan has a general conviction rate of more than 99%, according to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

Japanese prosecutors will often wait to bring charges against a suspect until they are certain they have a conviction. Thus, if charges are brought against someone for a crime in Japan, there is a near guarantee that he or she will be found guilty.

 

Lawmaker Questions if Sex with an Unconscious Person is Always Rape

‘What if it’s your wife?': Utah lawmaker questions whether sex with an unconscious person should always constitute rape
  • Representative Brian Greene, a Republican from Pleasant Grove, questioned a measure to clarify the state’s criminal code regarding rape
  • What if an ‘individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious, or the other way around–if that is possible?’ scoffed Greene
  • In the end, the committee voted unanimously–with Greene’s consent–in favor of letting the bill move forward
Wondered about wives: Utah Rep. Brian Greene took issue with a bill that would make all sex without consent a criminal act

Wondered about wives: Utah Rep. Brian Greene took issue with a bill that would make all sex without consent a criminal act

By JOSH GARDNER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

Utah state lawmakers considering a sexual consent law found themselves debating whether sex with an unconscious spouse constitutes rape.

A measure to require clear consent won early House Judiciary Committee approval Tuesday, after advocates said Utah’s current law doesn’t adequately protect victims.

However, Republican Rep. Brian Greene of Pleasant Grove said he feared the law would let prosecutors charge a man with sexual assault for having sex with his wife while she’s unconscious.

Greene said sex with an unconscious person on a first date shouldn’t be allowed, but it’s different for long-term relationships.

‘If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious…a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically,’ Greene said in committee Tuesday, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. ‘That makes sense in a first date scenario, but to me, not where people have a history of years of sexual activity.’

Other lawmakers said the statute should be clear.

Democratic Rep. Brian King of Salt Lake City says an unconscious person can’t consent, and sex in that situation is rape.

Sex with an unconscious person ‘is rape. Period. End of story,’ said King, a Democrat from Salt Lake City. ‘Let’s make the statute clear. Let’s not dance around it.’

Advocates for Utah’s HB74 say the state’s criminal code for sexual assault needs to be altered to clearly state that sex with an unconscious person is rape.

The current law begins: ‘The victim has not consented and the actor knows the victim is unconscious, unaware that the act is occurring, or physically unable to resist.’

The bill was introduced by Salt Lake City Democrat Rep. Angela Romero.

Bill sponsor Angela Romero says the state's criminal code needs clarifying Greene wondered in Tuesday's committee session if the change might open a door to prosecution if 'a individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious, or the other way around if that is possible...'

It’s the ‘and’ in the language that appears to concern Romero. She wants to remove ‘the victim has not consented,’ according to KSTU.

‘At the end of the day, when we took out that language, if somebody is unconscious you probably shouldn’t attempt to try to have sexual relations with them,’ Romero said.

However, it’s also the word of the law that concerns Greene, a public servant elected in 2012 with the help of a pro-business, pro smaller government platform.

‘It looks to me now like sex with an unconscious person is by definition rape,’ Greene said. ‘I hope this wouldn’t happen, but this opens the door to it — a individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious, or the other way around if that is possible…’

Greene scoffs at the notion of what ‘the other way around’ entails, and some gentleman at a dais beside him appear to chuckle, before he continues.

‘But a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape,’ he said.

In the end, the committee voted unanimously, with Greene’s consent, in favor of moving the bill along.

Seen here with his wife Renee, Greene--a vocal proponent of small government elected to the state government in 2012--called rape 'abhorrent' but questioned the wisdom of a law that defines it so unequivocally

Seen here with his wife Renee, Greene–a vocal proponent of small government elected to the state government in 2012–called rape ‘abhorrent’ but questioned the wisdom of a law that defines it so unequivocally

 

Mysterious Man Buys ISIS Sex Slaves, Reunites Them With Family

ISIS Sex Slave Reunited

A Yazidi ISIS captive is reunited with her father after being purchased as a sex slave.

BY SAMUEL SMITH , CP REPORTER

As thousands of women and girls are being raped, abused and victimized as part of the Islamic State’s sex slave operation in Iraq and Syria, one Iraqi man is buying ISIS sex slaves in order to free and reunite them with their families.

In the Islamic State’s sex slave market, captured religious minority women, girls and even babies are sold to militants and supporters willing to dish out good money for a new jihadi bride or woman they just want to abuse and hand off to their buddies when they are finished.

Although many find it unethical to participate in the Islamic State’s human trafficking market that helps fund the terrorist organization that has killed thousands, one unnamed Iraqi man is purchasing ISIS’s sex slaves not for physical pleasure but to give them freedom.

As Walid Shoebat reports, an Iraqi man, who remains nameless, disguises himself as a human trafficking dealer in order to “infiltrate” the Islamic State and get the militants to sell him sex slaves. But in purchasing sex slaves, the man finds a way to reunite them with their fathers, husbands, and the rest of their family.

The report cites a video from the Iraqi news site Rudaw, which can be viewed through the YouTube channel StreamDZ, that shows one of the yazidi sex slaves the man purchased finally being reunited with her father. In the video, the woman and her father hug and cry tears of happiness as they are finally reunited.

For many yazidi women taken as sex slaves by ISIS, there is no guarantee that they will ever be reunited with their fathers, husbands or brothers.

The woman in the Rudaw video was fortunate that her father was still living, because ISIS killed most of the yazidi men upon capturing them last summer when they seized most the Yazidi territory. Upon seizing a Yazidi town, the militants captured the yazidi people, separated the males from the females, hauled the females away in the back of large trucks as their male family members were typically shot execution style.

While some of the boys were allegedly spared their lives and forced to start training to become militants, many of the women and girls, who were not already taken as spoils of war by ISIS militants involved in seizing the region, were taken away to the Syrian strongholds where they were to be sold as sex slaves.

Upon arriving in the stronghold, the women were held captive in tight, overpopulated rooms, until they were sold to militants.

After being sold off, the fate of the women vary. The woman in the Rudaw video was lucky because she was sold to someone who reunited her with her father. Others, however, are not so fortunate as they are usually forced to convert to Islam, marry a militant and sometimes change their names.

According to a 15-year-old Yazidi taken by ISIS as a sex slave, she was sold to a militant who tried to force her to convert to Islam and change her name to Abeer, according to The Telegraph. But she found a way to escape from her sex slavery and avoid changing her name or converting.

She drugged tea that she served to the ISIS fighter that purchased her and escaped out the door as he was unconscious.

“He told me, ‘I’m going to change your name to Abeer, so your mother doesn’t recognize you,'” the 15-year-old Yazidi girl explained. “You’ll become Muslim, then I will marry you. But I refused to become a Muslim, that’s why I fled.”

Some sex slaves are not fortunate enough to escape. Some ISIS sex slaves have taken up the practice of committing suicide just so they don’t have to endure the daily abuses they suffer.

One unnamed former ISIS captive explained to Amnesty International how one sex slave named Jilan took her own life.

“We were 21 girls in one room, two of them were very young, 10 to 12 years. One day they were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes. Jilan killed herself in the bathroom,” the woman said. “She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was beautiful. I think she knew that she was going to be taken away to a man and that is why she killed herself.”

Most ISIS sex slaves are Yazidi girls, though there are Muslims and Christians, too. The pricing of the girls seems to favor pedophilia, as the most expensive slaves are only one-year-old. As for the conditions these ISIS sex slaves experience, they are so horrific that one Yazidi girl wanted the West to bomb her brothel with her in it. She couldn’t stand being raped over thirty times all “before lunchtime.”