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India rape victim poisons herself in front of judge

After waiting nearly six years for the men who raped her to be brought to court, a young Indian woman swallowed poison in an Ahmedabad courtroom.

The Times of India said the magistrate appeared helpless as the woman, whose name was not released, first slapped a constable.

The world has been watching how India handles rape cases since the brutal murder and rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey.

So far, all that India seems to have done for its one rape victim every 20 minutes is to keep their names confidential. Feminists say keeping names secret hurts victims by shaming them. And as in the case of Jyoti Singh Pandey, a physical therapy student, court proceedings have been held behind closed doors. A magistrate ruled there would be no media admitted, and he issued a gag order in case some reporters found out what happened inside.

In the latest incident, the Times of India said when the victim found out the case would be adjourned again she swallowed a bottle of pesticide. She was rushed to a hospital, forced to vomit, and survived.

Her narrative seems like Leo Tolstoy’s, “War and Peace,” that seems to go on forever.

The Times said the case of the now-30-year-old woman began April 6, 2007, when she was raped by factory owner Mahesh Vaishnav, and three co-workers. A few minutes earlier other co-workers had spiked her tea with an equivalent of a date rape drug like Ketamine, which increases sexual arousal without the victim knowing what happened.

Her family initially feared they would be sued for defamation if they reported the incident. But when their daughter tried to commit suicide they went to police Aug. 14, 2007. The family says nothing happened.

The family filed more complaints, Oct. 30, 2007 and Feb. 22, 2008. Ten months later the police filed a summary report blaming the girl, saying she was in love with the factory owner.

This brought action from the court system, which refused to accept the police report and ordered a fresh investigation and the introduction into evidence of medical records.

Even now, three years after the court order the alleged rapists remain free.

“None of the accused persons has been summoned by the court, and my daughter has not been able to come out of that trauma,” the Times of India reported her father saying this year.

The story parallels the plot of the famous Hindi movie, “Damini,” in which a wealthy Indian woman is treated as if she is mentally unstable after she reports witnessing a rape that her rich family wants to cover up.

Once again, many blame the delays on an overwhelmed justice system, but at this point it seems just as likely that the legal system does not not want to prosecute rapists.

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Police Investigator injured after sexing farmer’s wife

The Tharaka South District Criminal Investigation Officer (DCIO) Peter Migisi is admitted at the Meru Level Five Hospital with serious panga injuries after he was allegedly caught having sex with a farmer’s wife.

According to an eye witness the senior police officer was slashed with a panga by the farmer when he found them in his house at Marimanti Town which is also the district headquarters.

Mingisi sustained serious injuries with deep cuts in the head, arms, neck and shoulders.

The eye witness further explained that the farmer had positioned people to spy on his wife Ciciliana Kagendo and when he was informed that they were seen entering his house he delayed and then sprung into action slushing the two with his panga.

According to an eye witnesses, Migisi had gone into the man’s house in Marimanti market and was found in bed with the wife who is also nursing several cut injuries at the same hospital.

The farmer who is a father of three was also accompanied by two other men who assisted him in slashing the couple during the 10.pm incidence.

“The policeman and the woman were rescued from further slashing by neighbors who responded to their distress call”, said the eye witness.

The woman sells coffee and French fries in Marimanti town until night time where he enters entertainment joints and its believed they had met with the police officer before.

However according to the area OCPD Patrick Wambani, the farmer who is a resident of Ruiri in the neighboring Meru County had persistently trailed her on several occasions.

Wambani said the officer did not know whether Kagendo was someone’s wife because she had lived apart with his husband for long.

He said he had assigned several police officers duties to maintain safety in the area and most of them owing to the festive season had a lot of entertainment and some ended up in love affairs.

“We had a lot of entertainment. Many men and ladies were out enjoying themselves and no one could tell who is whose wife,” said Wambani.

He said police are still searching for the man and they believe he has escaped out of the town and gone into hiding.

Is New York’s supersize soda ban a civil rights issue?

New York City’s ban on large-size sodas and other sugary drinks is being challenged by African American and Hispanic groups. How did cola become a civil rights issue?

When Martin Luther King told crowds of idealistic demonstrators he had a dream, it’s unlikely that the right to sell soft beverages greater than 16oz (0.5 litre) was part of his vision.

But his heirs in the US minority civil rights movement have taken up opposition to a ban on supersize sodas as their latest crusade.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called for the ban as a way to reduce obesity and its related health problems.

But it is being challenged in court by a coalition of bodies including the New York State wing of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), best known for its battles against segregation and discrimination.

Also supporting the action is the Hispanic Federation, a network of 100 Latino organisations.

Both groups say the ban will disproportionately affect soda sales in bodegas, or independent convenience stores, which tend to be owned and run by minorities.

Supermarkets and many convenience store chains such as 7-Eleven – home of a supersize beverage known as the Big Gulp – are not subject to city health regulations.

Big Gulp cups

Hazel N Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, said the movement’s stand was about “basic economic fairness”.

“As the new rules stand, small mom and pop stores in the city, which are disproportionately owned and operated by people of colour, must comply with the law and suffer the financial consequences,” she said.

“Meanwhile, national chains like 7-Eleven, which can handle the financial loss, are exempt. You can’t be serious about banning big sodas when you have a loophole for Big Gulps.”

The ban, which was passed in September 2012, will apply to sugary beverages larger than 16oz (0.5 litre).

Diet sodas, alcoholic beverages and drinks that are more than 70% juice will not be affected.

Restaurants and others that violate the law face a $200 (£124) fine.

It appears the ban will disproportionately affect minority consumers, too.

New York Times poll in August suggested that seven in 10 black New Yorkers and around 60% of Hispanics said they usually drank regular non-diet sodas. By contrast, fewer than 40% of whites said the same.

But because of this, supporters of the ban say the NAACP and Hispanic Federation are letting down the communities they are supposed to represent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rates of obesity in the United States at 44.1%. Mexican Americans have the second-highest with 39.3%.

City officials say New York’s obesity rate is rising, having reached 24% of adults, up from 18% in 2002.

Obesity-related illnesses in New York cost more than $4.7bn (£3bn) a year to treat, with government programs picking up around 60% of the cost, according to city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.

Dukes said she supported tackling obesity by limiting unhealthy food and increasing opportunities for physical activity, but insisted it was wrong to “single out” bodegas which struggle to compete with large corporations.

“No one doubts that obesity, diabetes, and heart disease exert a disproportionate toll on African-Americans, Latinos, and low-income Americans generally,” says Michael F Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“Any group seeking to end health disparities should make reducing soda consumption a top priority.”

Critics have also attacked the NAACP and Hispanic Federation for accepting funding from the soft drinks industry.

 Jacobson said the NAACP would “regret” its association with “Big Soda” and urged it to rethink its position.

An NAACP health education program, Project HELP, has received funding worth thousands of dollars from Coca Cola and Hispanic Federation ex-president Lillian Rodriguez Lopez now works for the company.

Dukes has rejected the idea that donations have made any impact, telling the Associated Press: “No one buys the NAACP.”

Hispanic Federation President Jose Calderon did not respond to the BBC’s request for a statement.

The minority advocates opposing the ban appear to have public opinion on their side, however. The New York Times poll suggested that 60% of New Yorkers were against the measure.

But the authorities say they are determined to press ahead. During Bloomberg’s 11-year time in charge of New York, chain restaurants have been compelled to post calorie counts on their menus and barred artificial trans fats in French fries and other restaurant food.

Now they must wait for the great soda battle to be decided in the courts.

 

Jon Kelly. BBC News Magazine, Washington DC

 

I Don’t Know My Dad, But I Had One Hell of a Grandfather

Janelle Harris

Grandfather

In the quiet, lush backwoods of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, there’s a little white rambler with red shutters perched atop a fairly steep hill. It looks like something cut and pasted from the front of a gift shop postcard, encircled by sky-high trees and surrounded by a sprawling yard that’s much prettier to look at than it is easy to mow. It’s the house my grandfather built, literally with his own hands.

Back when he was a young man with a gold tooth, a wavy conk, and a mischievous smile, he kept my Nana in the family way for five consecutive years to eventually produce four daughters and a son — the second to last in that string became my mama — and he knew his growing clan was going to need space. So after long, laborious days working at a steel mill, he would come home and construct the Harris homestead with the help of his brother and a few friends. No 5-hour Energy, no Red Bull, no jolts of caffeine from some fancy-pants Starbucks drink. His motivation came from the fact that he had a wife, four little ones, and another on the way to take care of, and he wanted them to have a home of their own to spread out in.

It took him about eight months to finish, my grandmother told me, and when he did, it had four small bedrooms, a two-car garage and a basement. He wasn’t thinking about grandbabies at the time he was building it, I’m sure. But a second and then a third generation of rambunctious Harrises eventually burned through there too to create a testament about its sturdiness, playing Ice Capades in our socks on the hardwood floors and daring each other to jump over the steps from the living room into the concrete garage.

The little house on the country road wasn’t anything big or fancy. And, because it looks the same way now that it did back in the late 1940s, it still isn’t. But it means everything to our family, especially to me. It’s a physical monument to the kind of man my Granddaddy was: a man who provided, a man who was honorable, a man who worked hard and didn’t mind or complain about it, a man who preferred to show you how much he loved you rather than get his emotions all tangled up in words.

I belong to that unfortunate fraternity of dismissed children whose fathers couldn’t be bothered to be daddies. I never laid eyes on that paternal mystery and, to my knowledge, he’s never expressed a desire to lay eyes on me. Once, not too long ago, his name popped up as a suggested friend on Facebook and I was so caught off guard, my beloved laptop went toppling to the floor. He is an enigma. But I never felt like I was missing out on anything because my grandfather, just by being himself, showed me what I should and could expect from a man. He is the standard by which I measure the dudes I considerdating, though that is an increasingly difficult comparison to make.

The memories closest to my heart about Granddaddy paint a picture of his awesomeness, even for a perfect stranger. He dutifully monitored my first wobbly efforts to pedal my two-wheeler, even after I careened over the poor man’s foot, little-girl-shrieked all in his ears and made him jog with one hand under the banana seat for my own comfort and security. He built me my very own swing, dangling from a favorite tree in that massive yard, and crafted a dollhouse for me that was an almost exact replica of the very one he’d constructed from the ground up decades before.

We danced to Charlie Parker in the dining room and watched boxing side-by-side on Saturday nights. I spent every weekend with my grandparents. Every single weekend. But I never minded. That’s how amazing they were, so amazing that a kid would give up sleepovers and school dances in the heart of the city to hang out with two old folks in the crux of the countryside.

I’ve been honoring a lot of people lately — my Nana, my best friend, and most recently, Zora Neale Hurston, who I revere like family — and today is the day the good Lord saw fit to call my grandfather home. I was only 12, so I could question whether I’m just romanticizing how fantastic he was since my pre-teen years are getting farther and farther (and unfortunately farther) behind me. But whenever I’m in that little town back in Pennsylvania and folks realize I’m a Harris, they tell me stories about how my grandfather helped them fix a car when they were stuck on the side of a road or how he made sure someone got home safely after they’d had too much bottom-shelf liquor at a family barbecue. He was a decorated World War II vet, but he was a local hero. And my hero.

I’ve noticed an increasing disconnect between younger folks and our elders, and it disappoints and saddens me. We can’t carve out time for a lot of things in schedules that have to be electronically managed because they’re so packed with comings-and-goings. I’m guilty of that myself. But I encourage you to spend time with your grandparents, your great-aunties and uncles and other seasoned people in your life.

I wish I could still sit at my grandparents’ feet and listen to how things were back when they were kids or retell stories their parents shared with them about times even farther back. But I can’t. So you do it for me. Love on your grandparents, y’all, if you’ve got them. And if yours have gone on like mine have, keep on singing their praises so they’re not forgotten. They’re as much a part of who we are as a people as the Nat Turners and Harriet Tubmans we’re going to spend all next month celebrating.

 

Clutch Magazine.

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