Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Miliband and Cameron clash over rape case DNA legislation

Downing Street insisted David Cameron was not going to conduct a U-turn on the retention of suspects’ DNA in rape cases after being put under pressure on the issue by the Labour leader, Ed Miliband.

The protection of freedoms bill requires the removal of DNA profiles from police databases after five years in all cases in which no charges are brought, but rape victims’ groups have called for DNA to be retained in exceptional cases.

Speaking at prime minister’s questions, Miliband urged Cameron to make an exception in rape cases.

The Labour leader asked: “Around 5,000 people each year are arrested on suspicion of rape and not charged … in certain cases these individuals have gone on to commit further offences and be convicted as a result of the DNA being held on the national database, but his proposal is that for those arrested and not charged the DNA would be disposed of straight away.

“I ask him again, why is it right to discard the DNA of those arrested but not charged with rape?”

It emerged that the prime minister did not know details of the proposal, which is due to return to the Commons at the bill’s report stage shortly.

During rowdy exchanges in which he had to seek advice from the home secretary, Theresa May, Cameron appeared to hint that he would look at the issue again.

The prime minister said the government would “look carefully” at the plans and that there was “always room to see where it can be improved”, but insisted the coalition had inherited “an unacceptable situation with a DNA database that had grown out of control and without proper rights for people”.

He later said he believed the police could ask for the retention of DNA in exceptional cases, but Labour claimed the category did not apply in rape cases.

Europe launches treaty to protect women from violence

The European human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, has launched a legally binding international treaty to combat violence against women.

It is the first such treaty in the world, the council says.

Signatories will have to provide helplines, shelters, medical care and legal aid for women who have suffered rape or other forms of violence.

France, Germany, Greece, Spain and Turkey are among the 13 countries that signed it in Istanbul on Wednesday.

The others are: Austria, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden.

The council calls it a “comprehensive legal framework to protect women against all forms of violence”. It is open for other countries to sign too.

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Woman admits making up Aylesbury car park rape claim

A woman has admitted making up an allegation of rape in a car park in Buckinghamshire.

Police officers were called to the car park of a gym in Fairford Leys, Aylesbury, early on 4 May after the woman reported being raped.

She later withdrew the allegation and admitted making up the attack.

Thames Valley police said they had decided not to prosecute the woman but to ensure she received “the appropriate support she needs”.

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Boy detained for Emberton Park rape of girl, four

A teenager who raped a four-year-old girl in a Buckinghamshire park has been detained for five years.

The girl was attacked during a visit with her family to Emberton Park in Olney, near Milton Keynes, on 13 August 2009, Huntingdon Crown Court heard.

The 17-year-old boy, who was 16 when he raped the victim, was found guilty by a jury in November.

The girl identified the boy in a Co-op store just days after being raped because he was wearing the same top.

Jurors were told the boy, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, approached the girl as she played in a children’s play park.

Det Ch Insp Peter Vigurs said: “We are pleased for the victim and her family that the offender in this case has now been sentenced.

“The victim has been incredibly brave throughout the investigation and the subsequent court cases and seeing her giving evidence reminded me of how brave she has been.

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Forty-eight women raped every hour in Congo, study finds

About 48 women are raped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo every hour, a study has claimed.

The study, due to be published in the American Journal of Public Health in June, found sexual abuse was rampant not only in conflict areas but also in the home, with nearly one woman subjected to some form of sexual abuse every minute.

The DRC has been racked by war, with rapes widely documented in the conflict-hit east of the country. However, the study suggests the problem is bigger and more pervasive than previously thought, and goes further in documenting domestic sexual abuse.

It found 1,152 women are raped every day – a rate equal to 48 per hour. That rate is 26 times more than the previous estimate of 16,000 rapes reported in one year by the United Nations.

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Child witness: ‘My evidence took two days. I hated every minute of it’

My sister was six years old and I was 10 when my half-brother moved in with us. The abuse and rapes started immediately. I knew he was harming my sister, too. That’s why I eventually told my mum: I couldn’t bear the sound of her crying.

The police came round right away and my brother was arrested. Four days later, I went to a special house where they interviewed me on video. That was really stressful and upsetting but I was able to tell my full story.

After that, I wanted to put my life back together. I needed to talk to my mum. We all needed to talk.

Our family was completely broken. Because of the upcoming trial, though, no one was allowed to discuss it: we were told the jury might reject my allegations if the defence could say I had been influenced by other people. I couldn’t even ask my mum if I was still a virgin. I had to bottle it all up. It was hell.

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‘Restoring confidence so victims report rape is key’

As the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer is responsible for prosecutions, legal issues and criminal justice policy. Since he took up the post in November 2008, he has had to contend with the case of the death of Ian Tomlinson at the 2009 G20 Summit, the controversy around assisted suicide and has been drawn into the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Now he faces another challenge.

Last autumn, a 28-year-old mother began an eight-month prison sentence for “falsely retracting” a rape allegation against her husband, despite the court accepting that she had suffered prolonged domestic abuse and had withdrawn the rape accusation under pressure from her husband.

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Congo’s women stand up against rape

In her early days as US secretary of state in 2009, Hillary Clinton went to the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and was moved to tears when she heard first-hand stories about what rape had done, and was continuing to do to destroy women, families, communities. In the small world of people who had been trying to highlight the issue for more than a decade, she received a lot of credit for making the trip, and hopes were high that she would be the catalyst for change. It didn’t happen, as Katharine Viner’s report makes so clear.

There have never been any political careers made by focusing on rape in DRC. A White House aide quoted in the article sums up that reality by saying, “Congo was not going to be part of the Michelle brand”, when a bold effort was made to enlist Michelle Obama.

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Wikileaks:Julian Assange v Sweden’s broad sexual laws

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is fighting against extradition from Britain to Sweden where he faces allegations of rape and coercing women into having sex – accusations which his defenders say are part of a conspiracy to silence him. Stephen Evans reports from Stockholm on how Swedish law may prove difficult for the Wikileaks founder.

Everybody you talk to in Sweden involved in the Julian Assange affair asserts – often with some irritation – that: “There Is No Conspiracy.”

The Swedish authorities are not acting at the behest of the CIA or the American embassy in Stockholm when they make life difficult for the founder of Wikileaks.

Tough laws

The lawyer for the two women who have accused Mr Assange of coercing them sexually told the BBC it was not part of some wider, global plot.

“Absolutely not,” said Claes Borgstrom. “I represent two women who have experienced something that many thousands of women both in Sweden and in other countries have experienced.”

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Kidnapper of girl,10, in Fleetwood cleared of her rape

The rape trial of a man who abducted a 10-year-old girl in Lancashire has been halted after the child decided she did to want to give evidence.

Kevin Holmes, 28, from Coney Avenue in Crosby, Merseyside, has already admitted kidnap, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and sexual assault.

Preston Crown Court had earlier heard how he abducted the girl as she walked near shops close to her Fleetwood home.

Holmes was cleared of rape after the prosecution offered no more evidence.

Richard Haworth, for the prosecution, told the court that the girl did not want to continue with her evidence.

He said the rape case could not proceed as medical evidence alone was not up to the required standard.

During the trial, which began on Monday, the court heard how the girl went to her local shop in Fleetwood at about 1320 BST on 9 May, and was approached by a man standing near a car.

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