|Posted on October 30, 2013 at 3:55 PM|
Sexting, Shame and Suicide, From the Streets to the ‘World’s Best Mom’
Sexting, Shame and Suicide
A shocking tale of sexual assault in the Digital Age
By Nina Burleigh
September 17, 2013
....In Nova Scotia, Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, was taken off life support and died this April, three days after her mother discovered her hanging in the bathroom of their Halifax home. According to her mother, the teen got drunk at a party in 2011 and was gang-raped by four boys, who snapped a picture of the scene and posted it online. Her mom said Rehtaeh was mercilessly bullied by classmates for the next two years, even after the family moved to a new town to get her away from the abuse. In early August, Canadian authorities charged two 18-year-old boys with disseminating child pornography.
Diane Rosenfeld, director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, says such incidents are far more common than just those that wind up in court or involve suicide. Most, she says, don't make the local news or even reach school administrators because the girls are too embarrassed to do anything. Rosenfeld and her students work with girls, sometimes filing civil suits and encouraging them to graduate. Many are too humiliated to stay in school.
Rape stats may be no higher than in years past, but the numbers are as shocking as ever. Every two minutes, a sexual assault happens in the U.S., and nearly 50 percent of the victims are under the age of 18, according to Katherine Hull, a spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: "The demographic of high school- and college-age women is at highest risk for sexual assault." More than half of the incidents go unreported, advocates say. The ability to record and communicate gang-sex assaults has added a new enhancement to an old and ugly crime against women. From Instagram to Snapchat to texting, young people with raging hormones and low impulse control are passing around what amounts to child pornography. And the bodies most frequently watched and passed around are female....
But recent Saratoga High graduate Jessica Hayes describes a school environment where disrespecting girls is neither rare nor effectively addressed. Hayes recalled two ugly incidents with football players that occurred during her own freshman year. A boy from the team unzipped her sweater in the middle of the quad, exposing her bra. When she kneed him, she was disciplined. Months later, a group of four or five boys surrounded her at a football game and tried to intimidate her into going under the bleachers with them. She punched one boy and ran, and then endured "20 to 30 harassing texts a day" for months. During her freshman year, she ate lunch in her mother's car, rather than with the other students.
"If you feel disrespected, the office staff doesn't do much to help you," Hayes says. "If something does happen, the girls feel you have to deal with it on your own. It would have been so hard for Audrie to go back to school. Half the people have seen her naked, half the people think she's a whore, and judge and bully her. Teachers know. They can't not. They hear about it."....
On April 11th, seven months after Audrie's suicide, the Santa Clara County sheriff arrested the three boys on charges of misdemeanor sexual battery, felony possession of child pornography and felony sexual penetration. When they arrested the boys, police seized new phones and other electronic gadgetry their parents had bought to replace what authorities took in the fall. Police found new pictures of other nude teen girls on some of their phones, prompting them to add on new charges in July. Sources close to the case tell Rolling Stone that police discovered one of the boys was trying to make money selling the pictures.
Two of the boys have admitted that the felony charges against them are true, according to sources close to the case, and they are awaiting sentencing – which could range from community service or time in a juvenile-detention center. Their records will be sealed when they turn 18. The third boy may be upgraded to adult court, where the sentence is harsher and a sexual-assault charge would remain on his file for life. California prosecutors are limited by a statute requiring a sexual assault committed by a minor age 14 and over to be "forcible" in order to directly qualify for adult court. A sexual assault on an unconscious victim is not considered forcible....
Writer Laurie Halse Anderson published an influential book in 1999 called Speak, about a high school rape and its effects on a victim. Since then, she has spoken at high schools and middle schools around the U.S., and estimates she has talked to a million kids about rape. "What really strikes me is that, when it comes to recording sexual assaults and wanting to show it off, the young men committing them are not seeing them as crimes, they see them as pranks. And there's no point in pulling a prank unless you share it." Anderson said parents and educators need to talk to younger boys about informed consent. "When I speak to students, I tell boys that if a young woman isn't of age, she isn't capable of giving informed consent, and if she's drunk or high, there's no informed consent. And those cases, if you have sex, you can go to jail. And the jaws drop, because right away, they think of the sex they had at a party last weekend, where everybody was wasted."....
Another Teen Sexually Assaulted
From the Streets to the ‘World’s Best Mom’
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF October 12, 2013
NASHVILLE — WHEN men paid Shelia Faye Simpkins for sex, they presumably thought she was just a happy hooker engaging in a transaction among consenting adults.
It was actually more complicated than that, as it usually is. Simpkins says that her teenage mom, an alcoholic and drug addict, taught her at age 6 how to perform oral sex on men. “Like a lollipop,” she remembers her mom explaining.
Simpkins finally ran away from home at 14 and into the arms of a pimp.
“I thought he was my boyfriend,” Simpkins remembers. “I didn’t realize I was being pimped.”
When her pimp was shot dead, she was recruited by another, Kenny, who ran a “stable” of four women and assigned each of them a daily quota of $1,000. Anyone who didn’t earn that risked a beating.
There’s a common belief that pimps are business partners of prostitutes, but that’s a complete misunderstanding of the classic relationship. Typically, every dollar earned by the women goes to the pimp, who then doles out drugs, alcohol, clothing and food.
“He gets every penny,” Simpkins explains. “If you get caught with money, you get beat.”....
Sex trafficking is one of the most severe human rights violations in America today. In some cases, it amounts to a modern form of slavery....