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Monday, November 17, 2014

Why men who buy sex could face jail

BY Gatonye Gathura
Updated Monday, November 17th 2014 at 22:26 GMT +3 The days when men escaped punishment during swoops on prostitutes are numbered.
There is a new push to have the buying of sex criminalised. As part of a campaign that gained momentum at the 2014 Aids Conference in Australia in July that saw the signing of the Melbourne Declaration, about 400 groups, some from Kenya, are looking for innovative ways to make prostitution safe in the fight against HIV and violence against women.
In August, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia launched the HIV Prevention Road Map, which among other things, is considering cash handouts for girls and young women to keep them away from risky sexual behaviour.
The map also says in coming years, the ministry will vigorously advocate for legal protection of sex workers and provide them with safe places, together with their clients, where they won't be harassed by police.
Likewise, HIV activists in Kenya, with support from United Nations agencies and Global Fund, have been advocating for the legalisation of prostitution and a stop to the harassment of women who sell sex.
In 2012, the Kenya National Human Rights Commission called for the legalisation of prostitution, claiming the current law was discriminatory against sex workers.

But this path may soon be abandoned for a radical approach that says men who buy sex should be jailed.
The approach adopted in Sweden and now being exported to other countries is reported to have reduced the number of prostitutes dramatically in Stockholm and other cities in that State in the last five years.
"In the capital city, Stockholm, the number of women in street prostitution has reduced by two-thirds, and the number of clients by 80 per cent," said Marie De Santis, director of US-based Women's Justice Centre, which fights violence against women.
Ms Santis said by criminalising the buying of sex in Scotland, the renowned Swedish brothels and massage parlours that were common in the last three decades, when prostitution in Sweden was legal, were gone for the most part.
In 1999, Sweden passed a law that made it a crime to�buy sex and another one that made it legal to sell sex. Explaining the law, Santis said prostitution in Sweden is now regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children.


Double trouble: French rape case impeded by twins’ identical DNA

Published time: February 10, 2013 18:09
Edited time: February 11, 2013 00:19
Researcher using a GeneChip of US company Affymetrix which manufacturates DNA microarrays, in a laboratory of French biopharmaceutical company Genfit (AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen)
Researcher using a GeneChip of US company× Affymetrix which manufacturates DNA microarrays, in a laboratory of× French biopharmaceutical company Genfit (AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen)
Police in× Marseille have arrested identical twin brothers for a string of sexual assaults. Officers believe one, if not both men are to blame, but cannot be sure as the pair’s DNA is nearly indistinguishable.
Police have charged both men, identified as 24-year old unemployed delivery drivers× Elwin and Yohan, over the rapes. Both are being held with bail.
Standard DNA tests are unable to differentiate between their DNA, only far more difficult and potentially cost prohibitive tests would be necessary to figure out who is the culprit.
The pair deny any involvement in the rapes of six women, aged 22 to 76, between× September and January.
Police were able to track down the men after being identified by CCTV footage shot on a bus. A cell phone allegedly stolen from one of the victims was also found in the brothers’ possession. The victims were also able to identify their attacker, but not tell them apart.
"It's a rather rare case for the alleged perpetrators to be identical twins," chief investigator× Kiehl told AFP.
Kiehl said DNA evidence was discovered at some of the crime scenes, though the cost of extensive-enough tests would be "onerous."
Due to the highly complicated nature of the tests, it could reportedly cost up to $1.3 million dollars to carry them out.
One DNA expert told the× French newspaper La Provence "For a normal analysis we compare 400 base pairs[of nucleotides].” In order to differentiate between the twins, "We would be looking at billions," he added.
Vladimir Kremlev for RT

NYPD officer who sexually assaulted teacher beats rape conviction

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Published time: February 11, 2013 21:43
Edited time: February 12, 2013 01:43
(AFP Photo / Spencer Platt)
(AFP Photo / Spencer Platt)
A New York police officer who brutally sodomized and inflicted oral sex upon a schoolteacher at gunpoint has not been convicted of rape, despite DNA evidence and witness testimonies about the violent attack.
New York’s state law excludes nonconsensual oral and anal sex from the definition of “rape”, calling them “sexual assault” instead, the New York Daily News reports.
“New York lags behind such liberal bastions as South Dakota and Tennessee in how we define rape,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simolas, who last year introduced a bill that expanded the definition of “rape”, which failed to get passed. “New York should be at the forefront to protect crime victims.”
Lydia Cuomo, the 25-year-old schoolteacher who was victimized on the first day of her new job at a Bronx charter school, was sexually assaulted by off-duty police officer Michael Pena on Aug. 19, 2011. The cop asked her for directions to the subway at about 6:15 am, while she was waiting to be picked up by her principal.
But the NYPD officer suddenly pointed his 9-mm handgun at the woman’s face, threatening to kill her and violate her in every way imaginable. The officer let her live, but not without sexually assaulting her first.
And the evidence was there: doctors found Pena’s DNA on the victim’s undergarments, a witness testified to seeing the man penetrate the woman, and even NYPD officers admitted that Pena sexually assaulted Cuomo.
“I feel like essentially I had a silver platter of a rape case. I had witnesses, I had DNA, I had my own testimony, I had two cops,” Cuomo said, speaking publicly for the first time in an interview with the Daily News
Pena was found guilty of committing a criminal sex act and predatory sexual assault, but fell short of being convicted of rape in Cuomo’s case – even though he was convicted of rape in several other cases involving different women.
“Anal’s not rape?” Cuomo said. “On what planet do you live? It never occurred to us that that’s not rape.”
The young woman is now going public with her case to try to change the New York statute limiting the definition of rape. States like Tennessee and South Dakota define forced sodomy and oral sex as rape, while New York has repeatedly failed to change its statute.
“I applaud Lydia Cuomo for speaking out and lending her support for the ‘Rape is Rape’ bill. Her courage in coming forward to shed light on this important issue is truly inspiring,” Simolas said in a statement. Although the bill was rejected by the Assembly in 2012, Simotas and Cuoma both hope to eventually get it passed.
Meanwhile, Cuomo has returned to work at the Bronx elementary school, but continues to deal with the trauma from the attack.
“My life has been shattered – my sense of security, my sense of safety, any and all independence,” she said.
Even though Cuomo’s offender has been sentenced to 10 years to life in addition to 75 years to life for two other rape charges that he pled guilty to, she believes it is wrong for the court to refuse to acknowledge that she too was raped. While Pena will likely spend most or all of his life behind bars, Cuomo hopes to change the definition of rape to incorporate other types of sexual assault.

Girl, 15, says cop forced her to strip and prove she wasn't having sex

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Published time: July 02, 2012 16:34
Edited time: July 02, 2012 20:34
Miramar Police Capt. Juan De Los Rios
A Miramar, Florida police captain is being investigated by the department over allegations that he insisted that a 15-year-old girl strip in front of him so he could inspect her body to make sure she wasn’t having sex.
Miramar Police Capt. Juan De Los Rios, 46, is free on bail after being arrested on× Friday over lewd conduct charges stemming from a January 18 incident. According to the victims — a 15-year-old girl and a 19-year-old male — Capt. De Los Rios approached a parked car the teens were in earlier this year, interrogated them and then insisted that the female passenger disrobe and demonstrate to the officer that she was not having sex.
The two teenagers say that they were parked outside of a Miramar, FL industrial complex when a man dressed in dark blue and brandishing a gold badge approached their car and began questioning them through the window.
“Well, were you having sex? What are you doing here?” they say the officer asked.
"No anal sex? No sex in general?" the officer continued.
According to the affidavit, the girl insisted to the officer that they had not been engaged in any sexual activity and that the two were just talking. The officer objected to the claims, though, and told the girl that he “needed to check.”
“Check what?” the affidavit claims the girl asked.
“I need to see inside,” Capt. De Los Rios responded.
From there, the girl claims that the officer used a flashlight to “inspect” her then offered further instructions.
The arrest report reveals that the officer allegedly added, “I need you to pull your pants down. I need you to take it all the way off," then insisting, "I need you to open it."
The male driver of the car adds that the officer then told the girl, “I need you to spread your legs wider so I can see,” after which he insisted that she pull down her blouse to check her breasts for bruising.
Days after the January 18 incident, the girl came forth with her allegations and a complaint was filed. She then later picked the officer out of a line-up. De Los Rios was off of work on administrative leave for the five months since, but volunteered himself in to authorities on× Friday after an arrest warrant was issued. He has since posted the $30,000 bond and is free pending an eventual hearing, where a guilty verdict could come with a 15 year prison sentence. He is being charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious conduct upon a child under the age of 17 by an offender over the age of 18.

Kuwait ‘gay-o-meter’? Clinical screenings to ‘detect’ and ban homosexuals from entry

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Published time: October 08, 2013 10:06
Edited time: October 09, 2013 11:06
Travellers walk with their luggage at Kuwait International airport (Reuters/Stephanie McGehee)
Travellers walk with their luggage at Kuwait International airport (Reuters/Stephanie McGehee)
Routine clinical screenings may be used to ‘detect’ homosexuals and bar them from entering Kuwait and other Gulf member states, according to a top Kuwaiti official.
A central committee tasked with the status of expatriates is set to view the proposal on November 11.
“Health centers conduct the routine medical check to assess the health of the expatriates when they come into the GCC countries,” Yousuf Mindkar, the director of public health at the Kuwaiti Health Ministry stressed.
“However, we will take stricter measures that will help us detect gays, who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states,” he added, quoted by a local daily Al Rai.
He did not indicate what measures - or how physically intrusive - these might be.
Homosexual acts are banned in the country, and the prison term for them can be up to 10 years if the people involved were under the age of 21.
In 2010, Kuwait banned the screening of a controversial Egyptian film, saying that it promoted a culture of debauchery, Gulfnews.com reported.
The movie was made in 2009 and addressed lifestyles centering on drug use by young people, and lesbianism, a taboo subject in Arab cinema and society.
A member of the censorship board said that some of the scenes were “too hot” and that the lesbianism theme was “too bold.” The member stressed that the scenario was very weak and failed to address the controversial issues properly.
The situation doesn’t differ much in other Arab states in the region: Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Five countries actually mete out the death penalty to gay people – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania.
In Bahrain, lawmakers push for a crackdown on homosexuals, including the adoption of tougher immigration measures and deportations.
Two years ago, Bahrain arrested 127 people, mainly gays from the Gulf countries, for holding a “depraved and decadent” party. 
The participants, most of them from 18 to 30 years old, hired a sports hall in Hidd, a conservative village in the north of Bahrain, and organized a fee-paying party that brought together gay men from the Arabian Gulf countries.

‘X’ gender: Germans no longer have to classify their kids as male or female

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Published time: November 01, 2013 09:33
Edited time: November 03, 2013 22:43
AFP Photo / Waltraud Grubitzsch Germany out
AFP Photo / Waltraud Grubitzsch Germany out
Germany has become the first European country to allow parents of babies born with no clearly-defined gender characteristics to leave the ‘male/female’ field on birth certificates blank, creating a ‘third sex’ category in the public register.
The law, passed in August, comes into force on November 1. It was prompted by results of a 2012 study by the German Ethics Council, which found the rights of intersex people weren’t protected well enough.

The legislation is meant to prevent parents from making hasty decisions on controversial genital surgeries for their not-entirely-male-or-female newborns, done to make one of the two gender characteristics prevail.

"This will be the first time that the law acknowledges that there are human beings who are neither male nor female, or are both -- people who do not fit into the traditional legal categories," University of Bremen law professor Konstanze Plett said as cited by AFP.

As adults, German intersex individuals will soon be also spared from the necessity to fit in the conventional gender framework, as the current two options of entering either ‘M’ for male or ‘F’ for female in a passport gender field, will be officially supplemented by a third option: ‘X’.  

This kind of three-gender-choice system was introduced in Australia in 2011. New Zealand followed suit a year later. Intersex advocates, however, say that legalizing the status of intersex people is not exactly where the fight for their rights ends.  

As an adult with an X passport I can tell you that actually using that passport is fraught with difficulty. I can’t fly to the US with that passport, indeed I can’t even book a meeting about that with their consulate,” says Morgan Carpenter, president of Intersex International – Australia, in an official late October statement at the group’s webpage.

Still harder than coping with legal confusion is coping with centuries-old stereotypes, the activist believes.

Intersex people are regarded by medicine as having ‘Disorders of Sex Development’,” Carpenter says. "The term ensures that sterilizations and unnecessary genital surgeries continue today. This remains our most fundamental concern. Genital surgeries continue in Australia to make infants and children ‘appear’ male or female.”

Germany is expected to face some of these issues as well, as the country’s marriage and partnership laws, for example, are based on the binary gender system. Besides there are so many everyday life situations, in which a neither-male-nor-female child might feel ill-at-ease.   

"Schools have toilets for boys and toilets for girls. Where will the intermediate child go? There are separate sports activities for boys and for girls, and so many other things like this. The law doesn't change that. It does not immediately create a space for intersex people to be themselves," AFP cites Silvan Agius, policy director at ILGA Europe, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights group.

It’s estimated that on average one in 2,000 births is of an intersex baby. Advocates argue the actual figure is much larger as intersexuality might sometimes not be immediately defined.

According to German government figures of 2007, cited by Reuters, at least 150 intersex babies are born in Germany each year and 8,000-10,000 people have ‘serious variations’ from physical gender-defining characteristics.

Louisiana decriminalizes oral and anal sex

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Published time: July 07, 2011 19:10
Edited time: July 08, 2011 01:46
Image from healthylifecarenews.com
Image from healthylifecarenews.com
Oral sex enthusiasts and anal sex lovers rejoice! The lovely state of Louisiana has booted their rule against “solicitation of crimes against nature” out the back door.
In a strong blow to conservative lawmakers, the Bayou State has decriminalized what would once earn you a felony charge.
Legislation limiting sex acts have been on the Louisiana books since the early 1800s, seven years before it even achieved statehood. Up until just now, soliciting certain sex acts, including oral and anal sex, was a big no-no in Louisiana. A conviction could earn you felon status and anyone found guilty of the crime was forced to register as a sex offender — something that was possible only in the great state of Louisiana. The solicitation of “unnatural carnal copulation” also meant longer jail terms and the branding of “sex offender” on state-issued driver’s licenses.
Advocates have long argued that the legislation unjustly targeted specific races and genders. Of those convicted of the crime in Louisiana, almost all of them are women and more than three-quarters of them have been Black. While heterosexual white streetwalkers were typically left off the hook, gay and transsexual sex-workers were handled a hefty fine and a rather ridiculous criminal sentence. Of the 861 sex offenders registered in New Orleans as of December 2010, more than half of them were listed due to “crime against nature” convictions.
For over two decades now, people – largely low-income women of color, including transgender women – have been branded with this scarlet letter simply because they were convicted under this archaic, discriminatory law,” says Deon Haywood in a statement. Haywood serves as executive director of Women with a Vision, an advocacy group that has long lobbied for a change in legislation. “For the women I work with, and for LGBT young people, this has created an almost insurmountable barrier to much-needed housing, employment, treatment and services. At long last, the legislature has equalized penalties for the two offenses going forward. But we will continue to fight for justice for all those still living under the penalties of the past. There is still serious work to be done.”
Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Alexis Agathocleous protested the state’s inane and ancient legislation earlier this year after his group filed a suit in New Orleans saying that the law discriminates against gays and others. “This archaic law is being used to mark people with a modern-day scarlet letter without any justification. None of [our clients] has ever been convicted of a sex offense involving children, violence or force.”
Their inclusion on the sex offender registry violates basic constitutional equal protection principles and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment,” Agathocleous added.
The new bill, enacted by Senator JP Morrell, decriminalized the so-called crimes from felony to misdemeanor status. That means that first offenders that pay for, well, pretty much anything other than vaginal intercourse, face up to six months in jail and a maximum of $500. Pro-prostitution advocates may say that it is still a little harsh, but it’s a big step from the olden days of — well, yesterday — when sex workers were treated like child molesters. Such will be the same case now, but it will take two convictions to achieve that status.
The new law will go into effect next month, but that doesn’t mean those already convicted on felony charges will get good news — past charges will still stick.
"We welcome this change in the law, which finally brings Louisiana in line with every other state in the country," says Loyola University Professor Davida Finger in a statement. He adds, however, that the injustice still persists. “Almost 40 percent of registered sex offenders in New Orleans are on the registry because of a Solicitation of a Crime Against Nature (SCAN) conviction. They too should receive the benefit of this change in the law and be removed from the sex offender registry."
Even if Louisiana has joined the twenty-first century, that doesn’t mean the rest of America has followed suit. A 2003 Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v Texas found that intimate consensual sexual conduct was protected under the Fourteenth Amendment and invalidated sodomy laws in 14 states across the US, but seven US states still have legislation on the books that makes sodomy illegal.
The state of Idaho still punishes “every person who is guilty of the infamous crime against nature” to no fewer than five years behind bars (I.C. § 18-6605). Anal sex can get you 15 years time in Michigan (MCL § 750.158) and felony status in North Carolina (G.S. § 14-177).
DC politicians take note, too: Virginia law still says “carnally know[ing]” anyone with the anus or mouth is a Class 6 felony. That means cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus and sodomy are all still illegal on the other side of the Potomac. If you're reading this in the Pengaton, this means you, Department of Defense!