NEW DELHI — Police said Sunday they have arrested six suspects in another gang rape of a bus passenger in India, four weeks after a brutal attack on a student on a moving bus in the capital outraged Indians and led to calls for tougher rape laws.
Police officer Raj Jeet Singh said a 29-year-old woman was the only passenger on a bus as she was traveling to her village in northern Punjab state on Friday night. The driver refused to stop at her village despite her repeated pleas and drove her to a desolate location, he said.
There, the driver and the conductor took her to a building where they were joined by five friends and took turns raping her throughout the night, Singh said.
The driver dropped the woman off at her village early Saturday, he said. […]
Also on Saturday, police arrested a 32-year-old man for allegedly raping and killing a 9-year-old girl two weeks ago in Ahmednagar district in western India, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. Her decomposed body was found Friday. […]
The apparently fabricated story of a Saudi cleric issuing a fatwa condoning gang rapes in Syria is an object lesson in the pitfalls of breakneck online journalism.
January 2, 2013 |
Editor’s note: On January 2, AlterNet was one of several outlets that published what turned out to be an article based on a false report. We would like to apologize to our readers for the error.
On January 2nd, the story of a Saudi Sheikh issuing a fatwa that condoned ‘intercourse marriage’ or gang rape in Syria exploded over the internet.
According to various sources, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Arifi had stated that foreign fighters in Syria had the right to engage in short term marriages to satisfy their sexual desires and boost their determination to fight against the Assad regime. Syrian girls and women from age 14 upwards were considered fair game and apparently secured their own place in heaven if they participated in these ‘intercourse marriages’.
By the evening a simple Google search of the words, ‘Saudi Sheikh’ , Syrian, and ‘women’ brought up some 5 million references and at least 3 pages of links to articles spreading the news. Not surprisingly there was immediate online uproar too, though as one commentator put it, much of the discussion was about whether these arranged temporary marriages technically constituted ‘rape’. This in itself is worrying.
There was also skepticism from many quarters about the veracity of the report, particularly among savvy Mideast experts. Rightly so. The story, much like the one a few months ago about Egyptian Islamist MPs proposing laws that permitted sex with a deceased spouse up to 6 hours after his/her death, turned out to be a gross lie. Sheikh Al-Arifi has issued a denial via his Facebook page. Over the next few days, the various websites and media outlets that spread the story will no doubt issue their retractions. But the story also raises many questions. For starters, where did it come from? AlterNet inadvertently picked it up from the overtly anti-Islamic Clarion Fund site. Others pointed to the Iranian regime backed Press TV as the primary source on December 31 2012. But the earliest English language reporting comes on December 29 from an obscure YouTube news site called Eretz Zen, tagged as a YouTube channel by a ‘secular Syrian opposed to having [his] country turned into a Taliban-like state.”
What’s extraordinary and depressing is that a slew of websites picked up the story and ran with it, some claiming legitimacy because the other had posted it and clearly no one bothered to do some basic fact checking. Arguably this is just the nature of the net and minute by minute news updates. The story was too sensational to give up. But one would imagine that if a similar story emerged about a Christian cleric or a Rabbi, someone, somewhere would have paused before posting it. Sadly, in the case of stories about Muslim clerics or Islamists the same red flags don’t seem to apply.
Perhaps western journalists are so ignorant of Islam and the cultures in the Middle East that they are willing to believe anything. It’s nothing new — after all Western notions of the East were always immured in sexual decadence and the allure of harems. That was a trademark of the patronizing Orientalism of the past. Today we have a phobic version of Orientalism — expecting and only seeing and reporting the bad and the ugly.
Daniel Tosh’s humor, however, is utterly lacking in grace. The star of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0″ does not possess the transformative power of his betters, so when he tries to be edgy and transgressive, it tends to fall flat. In April, the unapologetic misogynist encouraged his audience to film themselves touching women softly on their stomachs. I am not quite sure how this encroachment on personal space and ignorance of appropriate boundaries constitutes humor, but it takes all kinds. (I’m also a woman — we are, from what I hear, not funny.) Nonetheless, the incident gave me pause, particularly when his ardent fans actually began filming themselves touching women softly on their stomachs and posting the videos to YouTube. Somehow, they thought this behavior was acceptable because the comic they admired told them so. You’d be amazed what people are willing to do when they are given permission, either implicitly or explicitly.
Given Tosh’s brand of humor and his general history of immature, frattish humor, I wasn’t really surprised when I heard he made inappropriate statements about rape at the Laugh Factory last Friday. Rape jokes are part of his shtick. During his Laugh Factory set, a young woman in the audience yelled, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny.” Tosh is said to have maturely responded, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her …”
What if, indeed.
There’s no better follow-up for a rape joke than a gang rape joke. Because if rape is funny, gang rape is funnier.
(Some of the details are in question. The woman’s account can be found here. The club’s owner quarrels with the story here.)
Rape humor is designed to remind women that they are still not quite equal. Just as their bodies and reproductive freedom are open to legislation and public discourse, so are their other issues. When women respond negatively to misogynistic or rape humor they are “sensitive” and branded as feminist a word that has, as of late, become a catch-all term for, “woman who does not tolerate bullshit.”
A Catholic priest admitting a sexual relationship with a teen said he had been the victim of an attempted gang rape by fellow seminarians, according to testimony in a clergy-abuse trial.
Testimony on Monday also mentioned Pope Benedict XVI, who weighed in on the priest’s 2005 censure when he was a Vatican official known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Documents show the priest had admitted to the Philadelphia archdiocese in 1992 that he had sex with the high school student for several years. An archdiocesan treatment center concluded the priest was not a pedophile, but was affected by his “traumatic sexual development.” He remained in ministry for another decade.
It’s not clear if the trauma reference was to the alleged seminary assault. The priest told a therapist he had been tied down by several seminarians who tried to rape him and that a friend came to his rescue. But the same friend later twice abused him, the priest told the therapist, according to documents read in court.
The Associated Press is not naming the priest, who graduated from seminary in 1974, because he may be a sexual-assault victim.
The testimony came in the child-endangerment trial of Monsignor William Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy in Philadelphia. Prosecutors say he helped keep dangerous priest-predators in jobs where they could continue to abuse children.