Protesters shout "No more rape" as they beat drums and march through the streets of Nairobi, after the alleged rapists of a 16-year-old girl were ordered to cut the lawn of a police compound as punishment.
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Kenya's capital Nairobi Thursday after police punished the alleged rapists of a 16-year-old schoolgirl by making them cut their compound's lawn.
The girl, widely referred to as "Liz," was gang-raped after returning from her grandfather's funeral in the village of Busia in western Kenya in June, women's rights groups say.
After the assault she was thrown into an outdoor pit latrine, breaking her back. When she regained consciousness she crawled out of the sewer and was discovered by villagers who heard her screams, activists say.
The girl, who is now in a wheelchair, later identified three of the six alleged attackers and villagers rounded them up and brought them to the police station in Tingolo. According to activists the men were arrested for assault and detained but were never officially prosecuted -- and were instead ordered to cut the grass around the police compound before being released.
Her alleged rapists' light sentence has sparked outrage in the country, which experiences high rates of domestic violence and sexual discrimination despite being one of the most developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Thursday's demonstration, dubbed "Keep off our panties," was organized by an umbrella group of campaigners fighting to end violence against women including the Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), African Women's Communication and Development Network (Femnet) and Youth Deliver.
Women's rights group Avaaz, one of the organizers, also drew up an online petition calling for justice that has gathered more than 1.3 million signatures.
According to Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper, the protesters planned to deliver it to the office of Kenya's Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.
"The organizations have resulted to a radical measure to call for the attention of the state and the need for the state to ensure action in addressing rape and specifically amplify the call for arrest of perpetrators of the gang-rape of the 16-year-old Liz," said Saida Ali, COVAW's executive director.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Lucas Jackson / Reuters, file
Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus perform "Blurred Lines" during last month's MTV Video Music Awards in New York.
LONDON -- Five British universities have banned Robin Thicke's hit single "Blurred Lines" from campus bars, amid claims it "excuses rape culture."
The students’ union at London's Kingston University has become latest to refuse to play the song. It had previously been removed from playlists at Edinburgh, Leeds, Derby and West Scotland universities due to its allegedly misogynistic lyrics.
“The song hugely objectifies woman and excuses rape culture,” said Hollie O’Connor, president of the University of Derby Students' Union. “It is a man suggesting that there are ‘blurred lines’ when it comes to sexual consent and that is unacceptable. We felt we needed to take a stand.”
O’Connor told NBC News that since banning the song she has received many emails of support and “not one which comes close to a complaint.”
The R&B singer-songwriter performs his three-time platinum song "Blurred Lines," which many are calling the song of the summer.
She added: "If I had 1,000 students in one of our bars and only 10 percent felt uncomfortable with the song being played then we’d have failed them."
“Blurred Lines” has reached number one in 14 countries. It is currently enjoying its 23rd week in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, where it sits at number four.
However, the song has sparked controversy, with critics questioning the meaning of lyrics such as “I hate these blurred lines,” “You're a good girl,” and “I know you want it,” the latter being repeated no less than 18 times during the 4 minute and 23 second track.
One version of the music video for "Blurred Lines" features Thicke, accompanied by the songs co-stars Pharrell and rapper T.I., dancing with three naked women.
The ban at Edinburgh University came as part of the students’ association campaign to “end rape culture ... on campus.”
The campaign says that “a significant proportion of students and the wider population hold dangerous victim-blaming views about women who experience rape and sexual violence.”
Singer Robin Thicke chats with the TODAY anchors about the success of his song "Blurred Lines," as well as some of the controversy surrounding the hit, and performs another song from his new album, "Take It Easy On Me."
Alice Smart, education officer at Leeds students’ union, said “Blurred Lines” was banned there because “the lyrics of the song conflict with our core value of equality and our commitment to having zero tolerance of sexual harassment… we have asked our resident DJs to remove the song from their playlists."
Smart said she recognizes there are plenty of other songs with offensive lyrics “but ‘Blurred Lines’ was singled out in-particular due to its commercial success and the recent negative publicity surrounding it.”
In an interview with NBC's TODAY in July, Thicke said he "had nothing but the most respect for women."
He added: “We were just trying to make a funny song and sometimes the lyrics can get misconstrued when you’re just trying to put people on the dance floor and have a good time. We had no idea it would stir that kind of controversy, we only had the best intentions."
The "Blurred Lines" video spawned a parody by law students from Auckland, New Zealand, called "Defined Lines." It replaces the naked women with men, and the original lyrics with refrains such as “every bigot shut up."
A massive protest was held in Islamabad, Pakistan, calling for the arrest of suspects after a 5-year-old girl was abducted outside her home and brutally raped and mutilated.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The father of a five-year-old who was gang-raped and dumped on a road in Pakistan’s second largest city wept as he called on officials to find and punish those responsible for the attack.
"l want justice and for the culprits to be punished severely," the 46-year-old told NBC News from the hospital in the Lahore on Tuesday, the capital of the province of Punjab, where his daughter was being treated.
"I have talked to my daughter a little bit," the man added. "She talks and then closes her eyes."
NBC News is not naming the five-year-old or her father in order to protect the victim's identity.
A report commissioned by Pakistan's Chief Justice found that the child had been raped by a number of people.
Police released a sketch of a suspect in the rape of a five-year-old girl in Lahore. Pakistan.
"The police has taken DNA reports and trying to identify and find the culprits," said Mustafa Ramday, Punjab's advocate general. Five people had been taken into custody but were released after no substantial links were found to the case, according to a senior police officer who asked to remain anonymous.
The case became front-page news nationwide after CCTV footage emerged on Saturday showing a man dumping the girl wearing a white dress on a road outside a hospital. Local police confirmed to NBC News the CCTV footage from Friday night was genuine.
A hospital security guard then found the girl, who had gone missing a day earlier, and took her into the hospital.
"She has been raped by more than one person," said one of the victim’s doctors, who spoke to NBC on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to media. "Her condition is stable but she is not able to speak due to unconsciousness and will have to go through another operation after three weeks."
The victim was in intensive care after having been operated on twice, doctors said.
Protests erupted in the capital Islamabad and Lahore after news of the attack emerged.
Human rights activist Samar Minallah demanded those responsible for the crime be found and punished.
"We are protesting to create awareness among the people to come on streets against the culture of silence and raise their voice against issues like rape," she said. "The rape … is horrifying and outrageous. We demand immediate arrests of the culprits and severe punishment."
Huge demonstrations shook neighboring India after a series of rapes and sex attacks shocked the country and shone a light on dangers faced by women throughout the subcontinent. On Friday, an Indian court sentenced to death four men for the gang-rape and murder of a young New Delhi women on a moving bus.
Groups of women also gathered spontaneously in cities all over the country Monday demanding the arrest of those involved. Prominent activists and local celebrities also expressed their horror on social media and the story has dominated the news.
A. Majeed / AFP - Getty Images
Images of daily life, political pursuits, religious rites and deadly violence.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) voiced alarm over growing violence against women in Pakistan in the wake of the latest attack.
"(We have) watched with grave concern the rising incidence of violence against women in Pakistan in recent days," the group said in a statement. "Unfortunately, such incidents have always been commonplace in the country but now such reports are coming not from far-off places but from the main cities."
Meanwhile, activists complained that laws meant to protect vulnerable children and women were not being enforced, making it difficult for victims to get justice.
"Whatever laws we have are not being implemented because of police and judicial corruption," Tahira Abdullah, a prominent human right activist said. "The Child Protection bill (has been) pending for the last 10 years, and the environment for rape victims in the courts is hostile and anti-women."
SANAA, Yemen -- Yemeni authorities are investigating the death of an eight-year-old girl from internal bleeding on her wedding night and will prosecute those responsible, the government said on Friday, a case that has rekindled international outrage over child brides.
Yemeni rights campaigner Arwa Othman said earlier this week that the girl, identified as Rawan, died after intercourse that ruptured her uterus following her wedding to a man five times her age. Residents in the town of Meedi in Hajjah province in northwestern Yemen confirmed the incident.
Othman said no action had been taken against the man.
"The government (of Yemen) is dealing seriously with this issue and it will investigate it and those responsible will be brought to justice," Rajeh Badi, an aide to Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, told Reuters.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged the Sanaa authorities on Friday to investigate the case "without delay and to prosecute all those responsible for this crime".
In a statement, she said the Arabian Peninsula country should reinstate a law setting a minimum age for marriage.
Many poor families in Yemen marry off young daughters to save on the costs of bringing up a child and earn extra money from the dowry given to a girl.
According to the United Nations around half of Yemen's 24 million people lack sufficient food and access to safe water.
Under international norms such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every person regardless of their age must give their consent before they can be married.
Human Rights Watch previously urged Yemen's government to ban marriages of girls under the age of 18. It said nearly 14 percent of Yemeni girls were married before the age of 15 and 52 percent before the age of 18. HRW said many Yemeni child brides-to-be are kept from school when they reach puberty.
The European Union spends some $79.85 million a year on aid to Yemen.
Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.
LONDON -- Nine men accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl were cleared Thursday after a series of old Twitter posts by the alleged victim cast doubt on her claims.
Aged between 21 and 30, the men had been accused of abusing the teenager in London over a six-month period last year.
They had been charged with 28 offences but prosecutors at London's Old Bailey court dropped the case after examining a Twitter account formerly used by the girl.
“The content of the archive tweets, which were not publicly available, is such as to render this a case where there is no realistic prospect of conviction,” the Daily Mail newspaper quoted prosecutor Samantha Cohen as telling the court.
Cohen added that the defendant, who is now 15, had been "spoken to," according the BBC.
The Metro newspaper quoted Judge John Bevan as saying it was "unfortunate" that some of the defendants had been held in custody since being arrested in a series of dawn raids in March.
In a statement, a Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson said new information had arrived before the trial was due to begin.
"This new material concerned archived Twitter messages which were not previously known about and which undermined the prosecution case," the spokesperson added. “It was decided following this review that there was no longer sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction in this case. We have therefore offered no evidence against all defendants."
This story was originally published on Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:49 AM EDT
A judge has sentenced the four men convicted in the gang rape and murder of a young New Delhi woman, to death for the brutal attack on a moving bus that left her with such severe internal injuries that she died two weeks later. ITV's Nina Nannar reports.
Four men were sentenced to death by an Indian court on Friday for the gang-rape and murder of a young New Delhi woman on a moving bus -- a case that sparked furious protests across the country and a rare national debate about violence against women.
Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Sing were convicted Tuesday of raping the young woman for an hour, torturing her with an iron rod on a moving bus and then throwing her naked and bleeding onto the road.
The attack left her with such severe internal injuries that she died two weeks later.
“This has shocked the collective conscience of society,'' Judge Yogesh Khanna told the attackers, adding the “courts could not turn a blind eye” to such crimes as he handed down the harshest sentence available.
"I am very happy our girl has got justice," said the 23-year-old victim's father, who cannot be named under Indian laws guarding his daughter's identity as a rape victim, told the Associated Press.
Saurabh Das / AP
Protesters shout slogans seeking the death sentence for the juvenile convict who was earlier given a three year sentence after a judge announced death sentences for four others convicted in the rape and murder of a student on a New Delhi bus last year.
Her family had earlier said their daughter's dying wish was for her attackers to be "burned alive.''
The Associated Press reported that they will be hanged.
Last month, a 17-year-old involved in the incident was sentenced to three years in a special correctional facility after being found guilty of rape and murder charges.
The alleged ringleader in the case was found dead in his cell in March.
Violent protests exploded in several cities after the crime, which commentators saw as a reflection on rampant mistreatment of women and the government's inability to deal with crime.
As a result, in March, the Indian government introduced tougher rape laws and for the first time open conversation about gender crime in television debates, social media and even Bollywood.
The sentence must be confirmed by India's High Court and the men can appeal their case to the Supreme Court, or ask the president for clemency.
Lawyer A.P. Singh, who represented two of the attackers in the trial, told Reuters hours before the sentencing that it would be, "based on the emotions of the people'' adding that the sentencing was under "political pressure."
He did not say whether they planned to appeal.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Four men were convicted Tuesday of the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student aboard a moving bus, a crime which sparked protests across India on women's rights.
The Associated Press reported the men would be sentenced on Wednesday, with the possibility they will be hanged.
Reading out his verdict, Judge Yogesh Khanna said the men had committed the "murder of a helpless person."
The victim and a male friend were lured onto a bus in New Delhi before she was repeatedly raped on December 16. Both were tortured with a metal bar before being left on the road.
The father of the slain student told Reuters before the verdict that he wanted the men to be put to death.
“We live every day, we die every day for this verdict. Our child, before she died, said such people should be burnt alive,” said the father, whose name is protected under Indian law. “To fulfill her last wish, with the help of all the evidence the court has, they must not be spared at any cost. They should be hanged and nothing else.”
The victim had been to see the film "Life of Pi" with a friend at a shopping mall before the incident.
Prosecutors said Akshay Kumar Singh, a bus cleaner, gym instructor Vinay Sharma, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta, and Mukesh Singh, who is unemployed, were found guilty of luring the pair onto the bus.
The male recovered from his injuries but the woman did not, succumbing to her internal injuries two weeks later in a Singapore hospital where she had been transferred.
A.P. Singh, a lawyer for the men, told the Associated Press his clients were innocent.
“These accused have been framed simply to please the public,” he said. “This is not a fair trial.”
A 17-year-old was last month sentenced to three years in a special correctional facility after being found guilty of rape and murder charges.
The alleged ringleader in the case was found dead in his cell in March.
The case resonated with thousands of urban Indians who took to the streets in fury after the attack.
A crowd of protesters gathered outside the courtroom on Tuesday. Many demanded the death penalty for the perpetrators and chanted: "Hang them! Hang them! Hang them!"
“Every girl at any age experiences this -- harassment or rape. We don't feel safe," law school graduate Rapia Pathania told the AP. “That's why we're here. We want this case to be an example for every other case that has been filed and will be filed.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
This story was originally published on Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:21 AM EDT
Sunil Verma / AP
Controversial spiritual guru Asaram Bapu, center, is brought for interrogation by police at the airport in the Indian city of Jodhpur on Sunday.
JAIPUR, India - A controversial spiritual guru was arrested early Sunday on a rape charge filed by a teen-age girl in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, police said.
Asaram Bapu was arrested at a spiritual retreat in central India and flown to the city of Jodhpur where police say he is wanted for allegedly raping the girl, said Ajay Singh Lamba, a top police officer.
The case is the latest in a series of high-profile rape cases in India that have fueled public protests and raised questions about how police handle the cases and treat the victims.
The girl filed a complaint two weeks ago accusing the Hindu religious preacher of raping her when she visited his retreat in Jodhpur with her mother. The girl's family says they have been followers of Asaram Bapu for more than a decade.
Asaram Bapu, who has hundreds of thousands of followers in India and is well known for his discourses on Hindu religion, has denied the charge.
There was drama Saturday when Rajasthan police arrived at his retreat to arrest Asaram Bapu. Hundreds of his supporters thronged the ashram and attacked television crews.
Asaram Bapu was questioned for nearly three hours before he was arrested, police said.
Asaram Bapu outraged many Indians earlier this year when he said the victim of a gang rape on a New Delhi bus would have been let off if she had addressed her attackers as brothers and pleaded with them to spare her.
Police escort men (face covered) accused of a gang rape, outside a police station in Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi, Aug. 31, 2013.
An Indian teenager was sentenced to three years in juvenile detention on Saturday for the December gang rape of a trainee physiotherapist, the first verdict in a case that sparked debate over whether India is too soft on young offenders.
Police say the 18-year-old and five adult men lured the 23-year-old woman and her male friend onto a New Delhi bus where they repeatedly raped her and beat them both with a metal bar before dumping them on to a road.
The woman died in a Singapore hospital two weeks after the Dec. 16 attack. The case turned a global spotlight on the treatment of women in India, where police say a rape is reported every 20 minutes.
"The juvenile has been found guilty under rape and murder charges, and accordingly sentenced to three years of jail," Rajesh Tiwari, a lawyer for the juvenile, told reporters.
Indian activists shout slogans during a protest demanding harsher punishment for the juvenile accused in the New Delhi rape case in New Delhi, India, Aug. 31 2013.
The lawyer said the juvenile would be sent to a reform home to serve the term, taking into account the months he has already spent in detention since his arrest.
Four of the teenager's co-accused are still on trial and face the death penalty if convicted. Closing arguments began on Aug. 22 and verdicts are expected within the next fortnight. A fifth accused, the alleged ring-leader, killed himself in his jail cell in March.
The teenager, who may not be named, was tried as a juvenile as he was 17 at the time of the attack. The maximum penalty that could be imposed by the Juvenile Justice Board was three years.
In January, authorities ruled he was 17, citing school records, which shocked the victim's family and others clamoring for him to face the death penalty.
The mother also said she would appeal against the verdict in a higher court.
"I am not happy with this judgment. At least in this case, the juvenile should have been sentenced to life," the victim's brother told Reuters.
In response to the public outcry after the rape, the government fast-tracked tougher laws against sex crimes, but it resisted calls to change the juvenile law and return the adult age to 16 from 18.
Supreme Court petition
India's Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition filed by Subramanian Swamy, an opposition politician and lawyer, that calls for the law to be reinterpreted rather than changed.
Swamy wants a minor offender's "emotional, intellectual and mental maturity" to be assessed when deciding whether to try them as a juvenile, rather than basing the decision on age alone.
"I felt that, with the kind of rape that took place, if (the juvenile suspect) got off lightly it would send a bad signal to society," Swamy told Reuters. He plans to launch an appeal against the verdict reached on Saturday if the Supreme Court rules in favor of his petition later this year.
The teenager pleaded not guilty to all 13 charges including rape, murder and robbery. His trial was held behind closed doors to protect his identity and media were barred from reporting on any details of the proceedings.
During his trial, he has been held at a juvenile detention facility for violent young offenders in Delhi and kept away from other inmates for his safety.
The youth left home when he was 11 and got work in a roadside eatery, his mother told Reuters in January. In recent years he lived as a semi-vagrant, washing buses and collecting fares, according to a police report.
After leaving home, he never returned and his mother said she thought he was dead until police arrested him in connection with the gang rape.
Some 33,000 crimes were committed by juveniles in India last year, the highest number in a decade, but there has not been a large spike, according to Home Ministry figures. Juveniles commit a tiny proportion of total crimes in India and far less than other nations such as the United States.Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.
Danish Siddiqui, Reuters
Police officers escort a man (face covered), who was arrested in connection with the gang-rape of a photo journalist, at a court in Mumbai on August 25, 2013.
NEW DELHI — Indian police have arrested all five suspects in connection with the gang-rape of a photo journalist in Mumbai last week, a senior official said on Sunday, in a case that has revived uncomfortable questions about women's safety.
News of the attack on Thursday sparked street protests and uproar in parliament, a reaction reminiscent of the outcry that followed the rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December.
Authorities vowed to get tougher on sex crimes in response to the December rape and police have promised swift and severe justice for those responsible for the latest assault.
The arrests followed a manhunt by 20 police teams who fanned out across Mumbai and beyond to hunt for five young men suspected of carrying out the rape of the journalist in an abandoned Mumbai textile mill.
Sadanand Date, a joint commissioner of Mumbai police, told Reuters that the last two suspects had been arrested, including one detained in the capital New Delhi, hundreds of miles north of Mumbai. New Delhi police declined to comment.
The gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi in December set off a wave of protests and debate about the safety of women in a society that has remained largely patriarchal despite two decades of accelerating economic growth.
The victim of the Mumbai assault, whose name cannot be disclosed in India for legal reasons, was in a stable condition in hospital where she said she wanted to get back to work.
Tsering Topgyal, AP
An Indian man shout slogans during a protest against rape in New Delhi, India on Sunday. The placards refer to the brutal gang rape in New Delhi in December, of a 23-year-old student who died two weeks later from her injuries.
"Rape is not the end of life. I want strictest punishment for all the accused and want to join duty as early as possible," the CNN-IBN television channel quoted the victim as saying, in a statement made from her hospital bed.
The woman was on assignment with a male colleague at the mill in Lower Parel, an up-and-coming district in India's financial capital where trendy bars and offices have sprouted where factories once stood.
The two were separated by the attackers and her colleague was tied up with a belt and beaten while she was assaulted, police said on Friday.
The grandmother of one of the suspects told television channels that her grandson was a minor. One of those suspected of carrying out the December rape in New Delhi is being tried separately in a juvenile court.
India introduced tougher rape laws in March in response to the December attack, and they include the death penalty for repeat offenders and for those whose victims were left in a "vegetative state".
India has a clutch of powerful women politicians including Sonia Gandhi, the chief of the ruling Congress party and arguably the country's most powerful lawmaker.
But the realities for many Indian women stand in grim contrast. Statistics show that a woman is raped every twenty minutes in India and discrimination against girls and female foeticide are common.
Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.
Rafiq Maqbool / AP
Police officials escort an accused, with the head covered with black cloth, in the gang rape of a photojournalist after producing him before a court in Mumbai, India, Sunday.
The 22-year-old victim of a gang rape in Mumbai, India issued a defiant statement Sunday, saying “rape is not the end of life” as police arrested the last of five suspects in the case.
The photojournalist told the newspaper in a statement that she was anxious to return to work after Thursday night’s attack, in which five men repeatedly raped her while her male colleague was beaten and tied up.
Police arrested the fifth suspect Sunday in New Delhi, the capital, after rounding up the other four in Mumbai.
"We will file a comprehensive charge sheet soon," Mumbai's police commissioner, Satyapal Singh, told The Associated Press.
He added that police have enough evidence to prosecute the suspects, including the victim's testimony and medical samples taken at the hospital after the assault.
In a statement from her hospital bed, reported by the Times of India newspaper, the victim said: "Rape is not the end of life. I want strictest punishment for all the accused and want to join duty as early as possible.”
In accordance with local law, the woman has not been named.
The five suspects — including two picked up overnight and two arrested earlier — are likely to face prosecution under a strict new law that sets the maximum prison term for rape at 20 years.
Police said the suspects targeted the photojournalist as she and the male colleague were taking pictures on a magazine assignment in a Mumbai neighborhood where luxury malls and condominiums stand alongside sprawling slums and abandoned mills.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.