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In The News

May 5, 2011

NATIONAL – The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has announced $6.9 million in awards to more than 20 projects in the Engaging Men in Preventing Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Grant Program. It is the first grant program in OVW’s history that directly encourages men to be part of crime prevention programs addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, and to become partners in creating respectful and positive relationships. Twenty-three organizations received grants of $300,000. Futures Without Violence will lead the technical assistance work for the project. For a full listing of the programs that received grants, click here.

MILITARY – The Obama Administration launched an initiative on April 12 designed to support military families, many of which struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, family violence and other challenges. Joining Forces will focus government and private sector resources on key areas – employment, education and wellness – while raising awareness about the service, sacrifice, and needs of military families. Among the pledges made to Joining Forces to date: associations and organizations representing primary care and mental health specialists across military and civilian health services are promoting collaboration, sharing best practices and expanding of exemplary models of care to reach all military families. The Joining Forces initiative is spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

CA – Match.com announced that in the next few months, the online dating site will begin cross-checking site users against the national sex-offender database, the Associated Press reports. The policy change comes days after a woman sued the dating site’s parent company, alleging that she was sexually assaulted by a man she met on the site. The lawsuit claims a background check could have prevented the attack. Match.com says that the company was already considering the policy change but the timing of the lawsuit accelerated it.

CA – Philip and Nancy Garrido pled guilty on April 28 to charges of abduction, rape and imprisonment of Jaycee Lee Dugard. Abducted in 1991 when she was 11 years old, Dugard was repeatedly raped during the 18 years she was held in a compound in the couple’s backyard. A sentencing hearing will be held in June. Both Philip and Nancy Garrido are expected to receive life sentences in the case.

CT – The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating a complaint claiming Yale University has a sexually hostile environment. Filed by 16 current and former students in March, the complaint accuses the school of violating Title IX regulations and failing to adequately respond to sexual harassment concerns. “The controversy has inflamed an ongoing national debate over whether universities are doing enough to fight rape and sexual harassment of women,” Time Magazine reports. The Office for Civil Rights typically receives about 7,000 complaints a year, and investigates only about a third of them.

FL – On April 15, a woman seeking a divorce was brutally attacked by her soon-to-be ex-husband in the Broward County judge’s chambers during the couple’s final divorce hearing. A bailiff was not in the room because the judge said he had no indication that the husband, Paul Gonzalez, was violent. Catherine Scott-Gonzalez says that she tried twice to obtain a restraining order against her estranged husband but both attempts were denied. After being told he would need to pay child support, Gonzalez appeared irate, briefly left chambers and when he returned he attacked Scott-Gonzalez, whose injuries included a broken nose, fractured jaw and two black eyes. The couple’s divorce has been granted, and Scott-Gonzalez has asked the court for full custody of the couple’s one-year-old daughter and three-year-old son, her lawyer told the Miami Herald. The courts are reconsidering security procedures in the wake of the incident.

NJ – Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi has been indicted on 15 charges in connection with the alleged taping and Internet broadcast of a sexual encounter between Ravi’s roommate, Tyler Clementi, and another man. Clementi committed suicide after he found out about the taping and its broadcast, and his death sparked a nationwide conversation about the harsh effects of bullying, especially on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. The most serious charge Ravi faces is bias intimidation – a hate-crime charge. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence, the New York Times reports. Ravi and another student, Molly Wei, were arrested in 2010 and charged with invasion of privacy. Wei’s case is still pending; both students have withdrawn from Rutgers.

VA – George W. Huguely V, the University of Virginia student accused of murdering his former girlfriend Yeardley Love, was indicted April 18 on six charges including first-degree murder. Huguely’s trial is scheduled to start in February 2012 in Charlottesville, the Washington Post reports.

INTERNATIONAL – Actors Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher created a new campaign, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls,” to take a stand against child sexual slavery and target those who create demand for sex trafficking – chiefly men. The celebrity spouses recruited some of their famous friends to record humorous video clips about what it means to be a real man. Visitors to the Demi & Ashton Foundation’s Facebook page can create their own videos and add their names to a “real men Wall of Fame.”

ISRAEL – Former President Moshe Katsave was sentenced March 22 to seven years in prison for rape, but the Israeli Supreme Court has delayed his jail term until after a hearing on his appeal, the Associated Press reports. He was convicted of raping an employee when he was a cabinet minister in 1998 and of sexually harassing two other women while he was president (2000-2007). Katsave is the highest-ranking Israeli official ever to be sentenced to jail.

PAKISTAN – On April 21 the country’s Supreme Court released five men accused of raping Mukhtar Mai in 2002, saying there was not enough evidence to convict them. Only one of the 14 men originally charged with attacking Mai remains in prison. She was gang raped on the orders of village leaders as punishment for actions her brother supposedly had taken. Mai’s story “exposed to the world a side of Pakistan’s tribal culture in which women are often punished harshly for affairs or sold as brides to settle disputes or compensate for the perceived sins of their relatives,” the Washington Post reports. Women’s and human rights advocates condemned the ruling.