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from The Great Debate:

Rape myths hide crimes. Just ask these children.

Children hold placards during a procession urging legislators to prioritize anti-child pornography bill passage in Quezon City

Some myths are so powerful that they change our perception of reality. Under their influence even the most obvious truths -- or crimes -- can be rendered invisible. Such as rape.

Hidden in Plain Sight is an aptly titled new study by the United Nations International Children’s Fund. It shows that one in 10 girls and young women interviewed reported being sexually abused before age 20. “These are uncomfortable facts,” one UNICEF official said of the report, the largest study on global child abuse to date. “No government or parent will want to see them.”

Even if we want to see these facts, however, the many myths about rape prevent us from doing so.

Rape remains one of the most misunderstood crimes. It is often portrayed as a violent attack perpetrated by strangers in dark alleys. This image is inaccurate and misleading.

from The Human Impact:

The pain is far worse than childbirth – FGM survivor

Britain has announced new measures to tackle the hidden crime of female genital mutilation making it compulsory for doctors and nurses to record FGM cases. London community worker Sarian Karim Kamara, who underwent FGM as a child in Sierra Leone, told me how it has affected her life and why midwives are on the frontline in efforts to end the brutal practice.

“I’ll never forget what happened to me. I was only 11 years old and I’m 36 now. I’ve had five children and the pain I went through on that day cannot begin to compare to any of my labour pains. It’s indescribable.

from The Human Impact:

Extreme measures to “protect” daughters in India

Gurpreet Singh is a determined man. But he is an even more concerned father.

The 32-year-old investment adviser is leaving India and migrating to Australia. There is nothing new in that -- tens of thousands of professional Indians emigrate every year.

Unlike most of them, Singh’s reason for leaving is not the pursuit of greater economic returns, but a search for something increasingly perceived by parents to be lacking in India -- security for their daughters.

from Photographers' Blog:

Helping the helpless

More than just a photograph, irrefutable proof.

It was three weeks ago when a woman named Carolina called me to denounce abuses inside the Pequeño Cottolengo shelter in the city of Quintero, near Valparaiso. The shelter is part of a chain of homes for mentally handicapped children and youths run by the Catholic Church. Carolina had been working there only three months.

I met with her and saw photos that she had taken with her cell phone during the different shifts she worked there. One of the images showed very clearly the bruises caused by the beating of a young girl, a girl too handicapped to defend herself. Others showed the obvious effects of malnutrition on one young boy.

from Fan Fare:

Michael Jackson’s dad in spotlight, despite son’s “strong hate”

In a cruel twist of fate, the man for whom Michael Jackson once said he felt "strong hate" is taking a central role in his final memorial. Joseph Jackson, the 79-year-old family patriarch who, according to Michael, dished out regular beatings to his children, has also raised eyebrows in the past few days, rarely missing the opportunity to promote his new record company.
    
joe3"Joe Jackson is like the ultimate evil stage mom," British music author Barney Hoskyns told Reuters, comparing him to the abusive father of the Wilson brothers in the Beach Boys. "You ask what ultimately killed Michael Jackson: It was the self-hatred that was cultivated in him by an extremely abusive -- both physically and mentally abusive -- man."
    
Michael Jackson, the third-youngest child in the Jackson clan, made no secret of his father's harsh methods.
    
"He was very strict, very hard, very stern," Jackson told Oprah Winfrey in 1993. "Just a look would scare you ... There's been times when he would come to see me and I would get sick. I would start to regurgitate (as both a child and adult)."
    
In an interview with British broadcaster Martin Bashir that aired in 2003, Michael said he got off lightly compared to his older siblings. He tearfully recalled that his father would "tear you up" with a belt or some other convenient cord, and "would throw you up against the wall." At such times, he said he felt "strong hate" for his father.
    
In the 1994 book "Michael Jackson Unauthorized," author Christopher Andersen wrote: "Beatings were administered with razor straps, belts, wire coat hangers, rulers, switches, and fists. Bloody noses were not uncommon, and more than once one of the boys was knocked senseless."
    
But Michael Jackson said he still loved and forgave his father. Billy Wilson, head of the Motown Alumni Association, said spankings were common with black families before "we started moving into mainstream America."
    
"Without his father, Michael would have taken a different path," Wilson wrote in an email. "Michael was brave on stage because his father instilled that toughness needed. The only person Michael was afraid of was his father! Which meant ... he was fearless with anyone else and on stage."

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