the state

MUSLIM women who file complaints with police while wearing full-face veils may be fingerprinted in future to confirm their identity, New South Wales Police Minister Mike Gallacher says.

The suggestion arose after Sydney woman Carnita Matthews, 47, who had been sentenced in 2010 to six months’ jail for falsely accusing a police officer of trying forcibly to remove her burqa, won an appeal against her conviction.

The mother of seven had made a criminal complaint to police three days after she was pulled over in her car in Woodbine, southwest Sydney, for a random breath test on June 7, 2010.

Judge Clive Jeffreys yesterday overturned Ms Matthews’ conviction at an appeal hearing in the NSW District Court.

He said there was no evidence to confirm that it was Ms Matthews who had filed the complaint because the person who made it was wearing a face veil.

Mr Gallacher today said that in future criminal cases, complainants and witnesses who failed to remove their face veils may be required to have their fingerprints taken to confirm their identity.

“The suggestion that I have made to the attorney-general, that may well be considered … is that there be a provision on the statutory declaration or the statement for a fingerprint to be obtained from the person being interviewed,” he said in Sydney.

He said the fingerprint data could be destroyed at a later date, at the request of the complainant.

On the issue of police officers compelling women to remove face veils at the actual scenes of alleged crimes, Mr Gallagher conceded police powers were currently not clear.

He said he would speak to Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione to find ways to clarify the situation.

Officers currently have the power to compel the removal of face veils while investigating more serious or indictable offences, Mr Gallacher said.

But they do not have such power under the Motor Transport Act when stopping a driver.

“I want to look at the Motor Transport Act … to ensure where there is uncertainty at the scene, police have the ability to take the person back, which they currently do, to the police station and check their identity,” Mr Gallacher said.

Mr Gallacher said it was his understanding there was nothing in Islamic law which currently forbade women from removing face veils to assist police and the courts.

Any change to the law regarding crime scene identification would be done in a measured way, reflecting individual freedom while balancing police powers, he said.


Seven women say they were beaten up by a group of men all dressed in black after they went to Beijing from Gansu Province’s Hui County to allege corruption over earthquake relief funds.

The women published an online post yesterday in a microblog on to tell of their humiliating experience on April 27 by the men who beat them, stripped them down to their underwear in public, and sent them back to Hui County in a van overnight without even allowing them to use the toilet during a journey which was many hours long.

One witness, who described himself as a retired soldier in his 80s, wrote on the microblog: “When I saw them beating the women, I scolded them for acting like bandits. It was the most horrible, shameful, and barbarous scene I have ever seen in my life.”

In a telephone interview, 43-year-old Liu Xiuhua, one of the seven women, told Shanghai Daily they had arrived at the Dunhuang Plaza in Beijing at 3pm on April 27 planning to report a number of county officials for corruption involving relief funds released after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which also affected Gansu.

After 30 minutes waiting at the entrance of the Gansu provincial government’s Beijing office in the plaza, more than 20 men arrived in two vans and demanded that they get into the vehicles.

“The office said they were policemen, but we saw some of them with tattoos all over their bodies,” said Liu.

The men dragged an 80-year-old women into the van and stripped the clothing off four others in the plaza, in front of several male security guards and office workers, said Liu.

“They kicked and punched us for over 30 seconds before we were all thrown into the van,” Liu said. “Then the engine started, I was sitting beside a woman who was beaten into a coma and the leader of the men kept punching and scolding us.”

She didn’t know how long it took them to arrive at their hometown in Hui County, but when they arrived, it was already nightfall on April 28.

During the long journey, the van made no stops to allow the women to use the toilet, Liu said.

According to the women’s online post, the van dropped the women off at Hui County’s police bureau.

The policemen there took no action against the men but just watched them leave.

Of the local police and county officials, Liu said: “They told us that ‘you deserve this’ and said the case was closed.”

Another woman, Wang Caihong, supported Liu’s account on the microblog.

One of the victims had a broken leg and others suffered bruising to their bodies.

Officials with the Hui County government could not be reached yesterday.

Dr. Seham Sergewa distributed a questionnaire to 70,000 Libyan families living in refugee camps after being driven from their homes, originally to measure how traumatized children were from the fighting, the AP reports. The 59,000 responses she received begin to quantify the full extent of the horror suffered.

10,000 people suffering post-traumatic stress, 4,000 children with psychological problems. Then came the unexpected: 259 women said they had been raped by militiamen loyal to Muammar Qaddafi.

Sergewa’s survey originally did not ask about rape, but when women began approaching her, she added a question about rape on the survey. Some of the women described the attacks to her in terrifying detail, such as a woman in Misrata who said she was raped in front of her four children after Qaddafi fighters burned down her home. And although 259 women came forward, Sergewa believes the numbers is many times higher as women are afraid to report the attacks.

It’s not unusual for rape to be used as a weapon of war, but this is one of the first indications of the extent it has been used in Libya, since Iman al-Obeidi burst into the hotel housing foreign journalists in Tripoli in March and accused pro-Qaddafi militiamen of gang-raping her. Despite her story and reports of condoms and Viagra found in the pockets of dead Qaddafi solders, some have found the evidence of a concerted rape campaign thin. Doctors in Benghazi said they had heard of women being raped but had not treated any. A consultant for Human Rights Watch reportedly said that the organization has learned of “a few credible cases of gender based violence and rape, but the evidence is not there at this point to suggest it is of a systematic nature, or an official policy. On Viagra and condom distribution we have nothing so far.”

But these new testimonies indicate widespread trauma behind a heavy code of silence. Another doctor reported testing victims for AIDs “who were terrified their families would find out.” Some victims have already been abandoned by their husbands, while others fear seeking treatment will result in retribution from spouses or banishment. Dr. Sergewa said of the 140 rape survivors she personally interviewed, not one could she persuade to prosecute.

After previous denials by military officials, a senior Egyptian general has admitted to CNN that “virginity tests” were conducted on female demonstrators arrested in Tahrir Square.

During a March 9, nearly a month after Hosni Mubarak resigned, the Egyptian military targeted the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, arresting nearly 149 people. An Amnesty International report published weeks later claimed female demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges, and forced to submit to virginity checks.

Maj. Amr Imam said 17 women had been arrested but denied allegations of torture or “virginity tests.” Now, a senior Egyptian general who asked not to be identified admits that “virginity checks” were performed, and his defense of the practice reveals a disturbingly bleak attitude towards women. “The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” the general said. “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).”

He then offered the bizarre rationale that the virginity checks were done so that the women would not later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities. “We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general said. “None of them were (virgins).” He did not further explain this confounding logic.

Salwa Hosseini, a 20-year-old hairdresser and one of the women named in the Amnesty report, described how she and 16 other female prisoners were taken to a military detention center in Heikstep.  They were threatened that “those not found to be virgins” would be charged with prostitution. “The army officers tried to further humiliate the women by allowing men to watch and photograph what was happening, with the implicit threat that the women could be at further risk of harm if the photographs were made public,” Amnesty reported.

LOWER MANHATTAN, NY (PIX11) — An angry crowd of roughly 400 gathered outside Manhattan’s Criminal Court on Centre Street Friday to protest the not-guilty verdict of Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, the two NYPD officers who were acquitted on felony rape charges yesterday.

“We are here to say rape is not ok,” chanted protestors. “NYPD shame on you.”

Other chants included, “Why a victim wouldn’t trust the justice system. Look no further than the acquittal of NYPD officers Moreno and Mata.”

Moreno and Mata were only found guilty of three counts each of official misconduct — for entering their accuser’s apartment three times back in 2008.

Friday’s rally exploded in size and popularity overnight over Facebook.

Once the non-guilty rape verdict of now fired officers came down, activist Lori Adelman started a Facebook page, called “Protest The Acquittal Of Officer Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata.”

In less than 24 hours, her planned protest had 1400 followers.

“People are just so angry and infuriated because the evidence seemed so overwhelming in this case,” said Adelman.

This wasn’t the only protest that surfaced today.

Outside city hall, city leaders explained their frustration with the not guilty verdict.

“As a former criminal defense attorney I recognize the verdict yesterday demonstrated the imperfections of the system,” said New York Councilwoman Latisha James

Both officers were fired Thursday after they were found guilty of official misconduct.
Commissioner Ray Kelly stood by the department’s actions to terminate the officers.

“The jury has spoken.”

But protesters say firing is not enough. They want Commissioner Kelly to implement new sexual assault and anti-rape policies within the department.

“We want him to respond one week from today,” said Adelman.,0,6007537.story

PALAKKAD: Various tribes and social organisations in Attappady have come out against the decision of the State government on Wednesday to provide one acre (0.4 hectare) of land and a monthly pension of Rs.1,000 to unwed tribal mothers.

Eswari Reshan, district panchayat member, said on Thursday that the decision was “an insult not only to tribal women but also to womanhood.”

She said some tribal women had come to her protesting against the reopening of old issues, saying that to get financial assistance, they were being forced to file cases against the men who had deserted them. Doing so would aggravate the stigma they faced for giving birth out of wedlock.

Rather than give relief, she said, the government should bring to book the men who had deserted the women after having a child or two. Some women had been abandoned by men who had legally married them. The relief announced would only encourage those who wanted to exploit women.

Ms. Reshan said the government should enforce the law against such cheating and exploitation. Provision of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act should be invoked.

On the government’s promise of land, Ms. Reshan said most unwed mothers owned two acres to five acres of land, but had no resources to cultivate it. The government should fund cultivation and offer employment and educational opportunities.

‘Atrocities will go up’

P.R.G. Mathur, expert in tribal affairs and former Director of the Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (KIRTADS), said the government’s decision would promote atrocities on tribal women, besides being an insult to them and womanhood.

Would the government apply the same yardstick to unwed mothers of other communities in various parts of the State, he asked.

Dr. Mathur said the government’s duty was to implement the law and bring the culprits to book. The men, not the government, should be made to pay for the crime.

He cited examples from Madhya Pradesh of men who had ditched tribal women being brought before the law and made to marry the victims and look after their family.

He said that Kerala government should immediately conduct a survey on unwed mothers in tribal areas.

M. Sukumaran, president, Attappady Samrakshana Samithi (protection committee), said no civilised society could accept the government’s decision, as it went against the law of the land.

BERHAMPUR: The State government continues to provide Rs. 200 per month to widows, physically challenged and the aged as pension in this era of inflation when a cup of tea costs more than Rs. 2 at roadside kiosks.

The State government has named the pension scheme as ‘Madhu Babu Pension Yojana’. It is an irony that the beneficiaries do not get this amount every month. They are provided this allowance in bulk in four or six months. Both beneficiaries and social activists feel the pension amount is too meagre and it needs enhancement. “We feel it should be hiked so that the beneficiaries should feel they are getting a respectable assistance from the State government rather than alms,” said farmer leader Kailash Sadangi. In several other States amount provided through similar pension schemes is more. According to State secretariat member of CPI(M), in West Bengal beneficiaries of similar pension scheme get Rs.1,000, in Andhra Pradesh it is Rs. 500, in Kerala it is Rs. 750 and in Tripura the beneficiaries get Rs. 1,000 per month. “When the government could hike salary and perks of MLAs to around Rs. 60,000 per month in this poverty stricken State, no one in the government is thinking of providing a respectable succour to the poor beneficiaries of Madhu Babu Pension Yojana,” he said.

In the State the HIV positive persons are considered physically challenged and are also included under the Madhu Babu Pension Yojana. Some HIV positive beneficiaries say the amount they get under this pension scheme helps them travel to Berhampur for medical needs or to buy subsidised rice provided through the Public Distribution System (PDS). “The monthly pension is so low that the beneficiaries do not want to get it through cheque every month as they would lose more money for their encashmen,” said Soudamini Rath, social activist involved in rehabilitation of HIV positive persons.

Mr Sadangi also alleged that during disbursement of money to beneficiaries in rural areas, the local touts and panchayat members deduct a sum from the pension amount. “The money that these poor people get serves as pocket money for some and most prefer to buy their quota of subsidised PDS rice with it,” he said. According to him the meagre sum of Rs. 200 per month never helps in enhancing economic security of the beneficiaries as claimed by the scheme.