Femicide in Mexico

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:47 pm by Administrator


Mexico Activists Vow to Press Ahead After Mother Seeking Justice Is Murdered

Wednesday 22 December 2010

by: Sara Miller Llana  |  The Christian Science Monitor | Report

Human rights activists in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico’s most violent city, say their cause will not be silenced by the death of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, who was shot dead last week while demanding justice in her daughter’s unsolved killing.

Mexico City – All she wanted was justice for her slain daughter.

But what Marisela Escobedo Ortiz received was a bullet in the head, after leading a series of marches, including most recently a sit-in outside the governor’s palace in Chihuahua City in northern Mexico, demanding that the killer of her teen daughter face sentencing. It was there, last Thursday night, that masked men drove up to the government hall and shot Ms. Escobedo dead.

Her daughter’s death, her own death last week, and then the killing of a brother-in-law on Saturday has shocked Mexico, where even hardened residents wonder at the limits of impunity these days. Many activists say they believe the message was clear: to stifle the voices of those who dare fight the status quo.

Much violence here, with all of its various roots and expressions, has had a silencing effect. Journalists intimidated by drug traffickers have erased their bylines or refused to cover organized crime. Citizens, fearful of corrupt police, do not report crimes. Business owners, avoiding extortion or worse, have shuttered their doors.

The plight of the Escobedo family will not turn that trend around, say social activists in Chihuahua state.

“The way in which she was assassinated, and everything surrounding the case, leaves a clear message for the community of social activists and human rights workers that we should be quiet,” says activist Marisela Ortiz of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, a group fighting against the disappearance of women in Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua state. “But for those of us who are dedicated, the murder is pushing us to unite and continue this fight.”

Escobedo’s daughter, Rubi Frayre Escobedo, was kidnapped in 2008 at age 16 and found in a trash bin in 2009 in Ciudad Juárez, across from El Paso, Texas, burned and dismembered.

The main suspect was her boyfriend Sergio Barraza, who prosecutors have said confessed to the murder and led authorities to the body. But at his trial in April he was let go for a lack of evidence. Photographs from that day showed Escobedo collapsing in a heap of despair, but she found her fortitude and began staging marches and demanding justice.

Most recently she had gone to the governor’s palace for three days and promised not to move until the investigation made progress. A security camera filmed a car pulling up to the building last Thursday night. In the video already viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube, Escobedo tries to flee but a gunman chases her across the road and shoots her in the head.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón condemned the killing of Escobedo on his Twitter account over the weekend. “Such impunity caused the murder of Marisela Escobedo,” he wrote.

The three judges in the case have been suspended. A spokesman for the state attorney general’s office told the Associated Press that Mr. Barraza now is also a suspect in Escobedo’s homicide. Two days after she was shot, the asphyxiated body of Escobedo’s partner’s brother was found, after his lumber store was torched.

It is unclear if the deaths are related, but the family plight highlights the chaos that has befallen parts of Mexico. In Ciudad Juárez, the nation’s most violent city, more than 3,000 people have been killed this year alone. Drug violence, as the Sinaloa cartel battles the Juárez group for turf control, has been the culprit. In the 1990s, the city was made notorious for the random murders of women known as “femicides.”

Hugo Almada, a long-time activist in Juárez who participates in a government program to bring safety to Juárez, says that all sectors have been affected by the violence that has spiked since 2008. “The people already were scared for their lives, this is not new,” he says.

Escobedo is not the first social activist to be killed. Across the country, throughout the decades, human rights defenders and activists, whether environmental or social, have been assaulted and intimidated and sometimes killed. Ms. Ortiz says, however, that in the midst of the current drug violence, which has caused more than 30,000 murders in four years, activists feel more exposed.

“In this climate of violence, when anyone can be killed, and we do not know where it is coming from, we are even more vulnerable,” says Ortiz. “The incapacity of the state, the impunity, the chaos in which we are living makes us more vulnerable every day.”

“Yet again, it was impunity that led to these homicides,” says Jose Antonio Ortega, the president of the Citizen’s Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice in Mexico City. “I only hope it leads to more people raising their voices.”

Ortiz says it will. On Friday, after Escobedo’s murder, activists gathered outside the state prosecutor’s office holding signs reading “Justice for Marisela.” Many more protests are planned.

Military Rape

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:36 pm by Administrator



Rape rampant in US military

Statistics and soldiers’ testimonies reveal a harrowing epidemic of sexual assault in the US military.

Dahr Jamail Last Modified: 21 Dec 2010 13:22 GMT

Earlier this year a house subcommittee held a hearing focused on sexual assault and violence against women in the military and at the academies [Getty]

Sexual assault within the ranks of the military is not a new problem. It is a systemic problem that has necessitated that the military conduct its own annual reporting on the crisis.

A 2003 Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal prompted the department of defense to include a provision in the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act that required investigations and reports of sexual harassment and assaults within US military academies to be filed. The personal toll is, nevertheless, devastating.

Military sexual trauma (MST) survivor Susan Avila-Smith is director of the veteran’s advocacy group Women Organizing Women. She has been serving female and scores of male clients in various stages of recovery from MST for 15 years and knows of its devastating effects up close.

“People cannot conceive how badly wounded these people are,” she told Al Jazeera, “Of the 3,000 I’ve worked with, only one is employed. Combat trauma is bad enough, but with MST it’s not the enemy, it’s our guys who are doing it. You’re fighting your friends, your peers, people you’ve been told have your back. That betrayal, then the betrayal from the command is, they say, worse than the sexual assault itself.”

On December 13, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups filed a federal lawsuit seeking Pentagon records in order to get the real facts about the incidence of sexual assault in the ranks.

The Pentagon has consistently refused to release records that fully document the problem and how it is handled. Sexual assaults on women in the US military have claimed some degree of visibility, but about male victims there is absolute silence.

Pack Parachute, a non-profit in Seattle, assists veterans who are sexual assault survivors. Its founder Kira Mountjoy-Pepka, was raped as a cadet at the Air Force Academy. In July 2003 she was member of a team of female cadets handpicked by Donald Rumsfeld, at the time the secretary of defense, to tell their stories of having been sexually assaulted. The ensuing media coverage and a Pentagon investigation forced the academy to make the aforementioned major policy changes.

Report reveals alarming statistics

Mountjoy-Pepka often works with male survivors of MST. She stated in a telephone interview that four per cent of men in the military experience MST. “Most choose not to talk about it until after their discharge from the military, largely because the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in over 60 percent of MST cases is too overwhelming,” she informed Al Jazeera.

Last week the Pentagon released its “annual report on sexual harassment and violence at the military service academies”. At its three academies, the number of reports of sexual assault and harassment has risen a staggering 64 percent from last year.

The report attributes the huge increase to better reporting of incidents due to increased training and education about sexual assault and harassment. Veteran’s Administration (VA) statistics show that more than 50 percent of the veterans who screen positive for MST are men.

According to the US Census Bureau, there are roughly 22 million male veterans compared to less than two million female vets.

In Congressional testimony in the summer of 2008, Lt. Gen. Rochelle, the army chief of personnel, reported the little known statistic that 12 percent (approximately 260) of the 2,200 reported rapes in the military in 2007 were reported by military male victims.

Due to their sheer numbers in the military, more men (at a rough estimate one in twenty), have experienced MST than women.

Shamed into silence

Billy Capshaw was 17 when he joined the Army in 1977. After being trained as a medic he was transferred to Baumholder, Germany. His roommate, Jeffrey Dahmer, by virtue of his seniority ensured that Capshaw had no formal assignment, no mail, and no pay. Having completely isolated the young medic, Dahmer regularly sexually assaulted, raped, and tortured him.

Dahmer went on to become the infamous serial killer and sex offender who murdered 17 boys and men before being beaten to death by an inmate at Columbia Correction Institution in 1994.

Capshaw reflects back, “At that young age I didn’t know how to deal with it. My commander did not believe me. Nobody helped me, even though I begged and begged and begged.”

The debilitating lifelong struggle Capshaw has had to face is common among survivors of military sexual assault.

Later during therapy he needed to go public. Since then he says, “I’ve talked to a lot of men, many of them soldiers, who are raped but who won’t go public with their story. The shame alone is overwhelming.”

In 1985 Michael Warren enlisted in the navy and for three years worked as a submarine machinist mate on a nuclear submarine. One day he awoke to find another soldier performing fellatio on him.

He recollects with horror, “I was paralyzed with fear. I was in disbelief… shame. When I reported it to the commander he said it was better for me to deal with it after being discharged. Nobody helped me, not even the chaplain. The commander at the processing centre wouldn’t look me in the face. When I filled out my claim later they didn’t believe me. It’s so frustrating.”

Armando Javier was an active duty Marine from 1990 to 1994. He was a Lance Corporal at Camp Lejeune in 1993 when he was raped.

Five Marines jumped Javier and beat him until he was nearly unconscious, before taking turns raping him. His sexual victimization narrative reads, “One of them, a corporal, pulled down my shorts and instructed the others to ‘Get the grease’. Another corporal instructed someone to bring the stick. They began to insert the stick inside my anus. The people present during this sadistic and ritual-like ceremony started to cajole, cheer, and laugh, saying “stick em’ – stick-em’.”

Extreme shame and trauma compelled him not to disclose the crime to anyone except a friend in his unit. He wrote in his account, “My experience left me torn apart physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was dehumanized and treated with ultimate cruelty, by my perpetrators… I was embarrassed and ashamed and didn’t know what to do. I was young at that time. And being part of an elite organization that values brotherhood, integrity and faithfulness made it hard to come forward and reveal what happened.”

The reality of being less equal

Women in America were first allowed into the military during the Revolutionary War in 1775 and their travails are as old. Drill instructors indoctrinate new recruits into it at the outset by routinely referring to them as “girl,” “pussy,” “bitch,” and “dyke.”

A Command Sergeant Major told Catherine Jayne West of the Mississippi National Guard, “There aren’t but two places for women – in the kitchen or in the bedroom. Women have no place in the military.”

She was raped by fellow soldier Private First Class Kevin Lemeiux, at the sprawling Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad. The defense lawyer in court merely wanted to know why, as a member of the army, she had not fought back.

The morning after the rape, an army doctor gave her a thorough examination. The army’s criminal investigation team concluded her story was true. Moreover, Lemeiux had bragged about the incident to his buddies and they had turned him in. It seemed like a closed case, but in court the defense claimed that the fact that West had not fought back during the rape was what incriminated her. In addition, her commanding officer and 1st Sergeant declared, in court, that she was a “promiscuous female.”

In contrast, Lemeiux, after the third court hearing of the trial, was promoted to a Specialist. Meanwhile his lawyer entered a plea of insanity.

He was later found guilty of kidnapping but not rape, despite his own admission of the crime. He was given three years for kidnapping, half of which was knocked off.

The long term affects of MST

Jasmine Black, a human resources specialist in the Army National Guard from June 2006 to September 2008 was raped by another soldier in her battalion when she was stationed in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She reported it to her Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) and the Military Police, but the culprit was not brought to book.

After an early discharge due to MST and treatment at a PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (PRRTP) facility, she was raped again by a higher-ranking member of the air force in February 2009.

Administrator for a combat engineering instruction unit in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tracey Harmon has no illusions. “For women in the military, you are either a bitch, a dyke, or a whore. If you sleep with one person in your unit you are a whore. If you are a lesbian you are a dyke, and if you don’t sleep with other soldiers you are a bitch.”

Maricela Guzman served in the navy from 1998 to 2002 as a computer technician on the island of Diego Garcia. She was raped while in boot camp, but fear of consequences kept her from talking about it for the rest of her time in the military. “I survived by becoming a workaholic and was much awarded as a soldier for my work ethic.”

On witnessing the way it treated the native population in Diego Garcia, she chose to dissociate from the military. Post discharge, her life became unmanageable. She underwent a divorce, survived a failed suicide attempt and became homeless before deciding to move in with her parents. A chance encounter with a female veteran at a political event in Los Angeles prompted her to contact the VA for help. Her therapist there diagnosed her with PTSD from her rape.

The VA denied her claim nevertheless, “Because they said I couldn’t prove it … since I had not brought it up when it happened and also because I had not shown any deviant behavior while in the service. I was outraged and felt compelled to talk about what happened.”

While it will go to any length to maintain public silence over the issue, the military machine has no such qualms within its own corridors. Guzman discloses, “Through the gossip mill we would hear of women who had reported being raped. No confidentiality was maintained nor any protection given to victims. The boys’ club culture is strong and the competition exclusive. That forces many not to report rape, because it is a blemish and can ruin your career.”

The department of defense reported that in fiscal year 2009, there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault, an increase of 11 percent over the prior year.

However, as high as the military’s own figures are of rape and sexual assault, victims and advocates Al Jazeera spoke with believe the real figures are sure to be higher.

Veteran April Fitzsimmons, another victim of sexual assault, knows what an uphill battle it is for women to take on the military system. “When victims come forward, they are ostracized and isolated from their communities. Many of the perpetrators are officers who use their ranks to coerce women to sleep with them. It’s a closely interwoven community, so they are safe and move fearlessly amongst their victims.”

Her advice to women considering joining the US military?

“The crisis is so severe that I’m telling women to simply not join the military because it’s completely unsafe and puts them at risk. Until something changes at the top, no woman should join the military.”

This is the first in a two part series on sexual harassment in the US military. The second part in the series will be published in the coming week.

Research support was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.


DADT enabled extortion of military straights

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:07 am by Administrator


Let’s suppose that you’re the most homophobic member of the military brass or a civilian policy maker and you’re dead-set against repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rules.  There’s still a reason you should be for repeal if you actually support an effective military:  the threat of blackmail against both LGBTI personnel as well as straight personnelis not just theoretical, it has actually occurred because of the DADT policy.

In Operation Empty Box federal agents were put onto a massive nationwide extortion campaign by organized crime elements that was able to exist and thrive precisely because of DADT and the way it was enforced.  Here’s how it worked:

  • Through their access to certain data bases that we’re not at liberty to discuss, organized crime syndicates got access to military phone records showing which people at military phone stations had accessed pornography on the internet.
  • The criminals would call them up and threaten to insert a cookie into the system that made it look as though they’d accessed a Gay pornographic website rather than a straight one.  This threat was very cogent, especially when it was pointed out that the Navy had gone so far as to subpoena AOL’s records to ferret out a sailor who’d visited a Gay chat-room and thrown him out of the service.
  • With the threat hanging over them that they’d be falsely accused of being Gay, and being fearful of the military’s paranoid response to LGBTI personnel under DADT, these service people were coerced into authorizing purchases on military accounts of what amounted to empty boxes that were shipped to their posts.  They were instructed to account for the receipt of empty boxes by filing appropriate DOD forms to claim that the contents were left out in the rain, sun, or other elements that destroyed the purportedly shipped merchandise.  On paper, everything appeared to be kosher and copasetic.

So, if as they claim, homophobic military and civilian leaders want an effective military, it’s imperative that they go along with the repeal of DADT to prevent extortion from ever again being committed against military personnel, and American taxpayers, with threats of the outing of LGBTI personnel because that’s necessary to also prevent the extortion of straight personnel.


SFV/NELA NOW Member’s Speech/Poem

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:11 am by Administrator


Estela Ayala


Featured Speaker at National Chicano Moratorium

Estela Ayala was a featured speaker at the August 28, 2010 40th commemoration of the August 29, 1970 National Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War where investigative reporter Ruben Salazar was shot through the head with a tear gas projectile by L.A. County Sheriffs and others were beaten and two killed.  Estela’s speech is as follows:

I matured earlier than my brother

I bleed once a month

I can’t let anyone know I’m smart

I pretend to be weak and dumb

I get raped in marriage

I get broken, ha! Ha!

I get told it is all my fault

That I break everything

“When you don’t know, we suffer…”

This is a line from a Stevie Wonder song

We go through all of this—accept it

And what’s worse, believe it

As Chicanas, as women

Our Whole upbringing

Is riddled with these experiences

And we become victims of so many people

Sadly enough even our own families

Husband, father, and what’s worse

Our own mothers and grandmothers

I know there are exceptions

I know there are conscious

Sisters and brothers out there

Who have made it their purpose in life

To raise a new stronger,

Independent breed of Chicana/woman

But there are not nearly enough

Our mothers perpetuate this backward attitude

They, our mothers truly believe

These things

They know what’s best for us

They own us.

God wants us to obey them or else.

Supervisors, governments, and most Christian

Churches back up all these backward thoughts,

opinions, policies and laws

We have been screwed long enough!

We, my sisters, are WOMEN!

If, my sisters, the price of our identity,

Our pride, our self-esteem,

Our independence or our mental well being

Is to be chastised, mistreated, slandered,

Ousted, vanished, Disinherited, imprisoned,

Or even murdered –

Then let it be!!!

We, my sisters, have evolved –

We are women of today

We know

And more importantly

We owe it to the future

Generations of men and women

We have hundreds of years of experiences

That we have learned from

We owe them strength

Education, direction

And a future free of hang ups

We, my sisters,

Are stong, smart, independent

Beautiful, clever, resourceful

And indispensable to our movement!!!

We my sisters are WOMEN!

Que viva la mujer!

Chicana Power! X3

Viva La Raza

And hear me, my brothers

Esta vez – se venceremos!


Homophobic Church Turns Anti-Semitic

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:33 pm by Administrator


Star of David

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Monday, December 20 · 12:00pm – 3:00pm

When? Monday, December 20th @ 12:30 p.m

Where? outside the Gershman Y on the Campus of the University of the Arts at Broad and Pine, Topeka, Kansas

On Monday, December 20th @ 12:30 p.m. the far-right wing, homophobic and anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas will conduct a hate protest against those who practice the Jewish religion outside the Gershman Y on the Campus of the University of the Arts at Broad and Pine.

According to the web site of this “church” –”WBC to picket the Jewish Community Center to remind these rebels against God that they will not be blameless on Judgement Day. Jews killed Jesus!! What better place to be than reminding the Jews of their Christ-rejecting sins…” http://godhatesfags.com/schedule.html

Callinng for local activists and friends to show these bigots that nobody will not tolerate hate on campuses or onthe streets! Gather outside the Gershman Y with signs and banners at noon!

No to anti-Semitism!
No to Homophobia!
Shame on the Westboro Baptist Church!


Blog about “Street Harassment”

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:54 pm by Administrator

New blog launched to oppose street harassment:  http://streetharassmentdisruption.blogspot.com/


SFV/NELA NOW Elects 2011 Officers

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:40 pm by Administrator


At yesterday’s Annual Holiday Party and Election Meeting, held jointly with the San Fernando Valley Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles Chapter of the National Organization for Women elected officers for the new year:

Co-Presidents:   Linda Pruett* and Jan B. Tucker*

Board: Cynthia Conover (Activist Liaison)*
Betty Knight (Disability Rights Chair)*
Roxana Inga*
Jeff Belmont (Family Law Task Force)*
Tina Black*
Norma Ramirez*
Dan McCrory (Labor Liaison)*
Jose Luis Ramirez*
Maria Juarez*
Betty Juarez*
Margarita Lopez*
Elvia Aguirre*
Renata Sdao*
Estela Ayala

Water smoked turkey

As is our tradition, the party featured Water Smoked Turkey with both regular and vegetarian stuffing and potluck.

The chapter voted to amend our bylaws to change our rules of order from “Roberts” to “Sturgis,” the Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure recognized by the American Institute of Parliamentarians.

L.A. City Employees explain systemic racial discrimination in the Department of Transportation and Department of Planning

Los Angeles City employees gave a presentation on systematic racism, discrimination, and retaliation issues and SFV/NELA NOW and SFV LULAC both voted to coalesce with organizations that are fighting these practices.  Co-President Jan B. Tucker explained how he and Benetta Johnson of ACJC (Alameda Corridor Jobs Coalition) have been monitoring these issues and how they brought these issues to the forefront at a public meeting with Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigoza in South Los Angeles.

Cynthia Conover (L) Benetta Johnson (R)

Mayor Antonio Villaraigoza @ 12/2/10 community mtg heard charges of discrimination against African American employees

With the SFV/NELA NOW leadership team off and running on these and other critical issues for the new year expect to see many blog entries about our continue struggle to implement the simple goals laid out for the feminist movement by Susan B. Anthony:  “Women, their rights and nothing less.  Men, their rights and nothing more.”



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Posted in Uncategorized at 10:08 am by Administrator

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