Mar 16
Her eye on the news
Longing for home

An inquest into the death of Naika Venant, a 14-year-old foster child who broadcast her own suicide by hanging on Facebook, has revealed that the teenager had been sent to more than 14 foster homes and endured years of sexual and physical abuse.

According to a report released by the Florida Department of Children and Families on Monday, Venant’s relationship with her allegedly abusive mother Gina Alexis may also have played a tragic role in her death.

“Despite everything that had occurred between Naika and her mother, Naika longed to be home,” the report said. “Naika often told her therapist that she greatly missed her mother and really wanted to go back home.”

The report detailed a number of disturbing incidents, including a case when 4-year-old Naika was left unattended by a male baby-sitter without food or running water. The next year, the child welfare agency was contacted after Naika was sent to the emergency room with an undisclosed chronic health condition. Alexis, reportedly, had called her daughter “a liar and a faker.” When Naika was 6, the report found that Alexis had beaten her with a belt for being sexually aggressive with another child. According to Naika’s therapists, the child told them that she slept in the same room as her mother’s boyfriends and watched “sex movies.”

At the age of 11, Naika reportedly ran away from home out of fear of being beaten by her mother. Alexis then refused to take Naika back, telling investigators that she would beat her if they insisted on returning the child to her. Against the recommendations of caseworkers and Naika’s court-ordered lay guardian, a Miami judge ordered the girl returned to her mother two months later. Last April, Alexis returned custody of Naika to the state — reportedly because she’d had enough of the child’s “behavior.”

Naika hanged herself with a scarf on January 22 in the shower stall of her latest foster home, streaming the horrific scene on Facebook Live. The report concluded that mental health professionals had failed Naika by not sufficiently treating the trauma caused by her abuse and her failed relationship with her mother.

A lawyer for Alexis has questioned the veracity of the report, describing it as “an apparent whitewash of the systemic failures” of the care system.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


12-year-old girl alleges sexual abuse by relative, commits suicide on Facebook Live

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French woman live-streams her own suicide on social media

Privacy breach

In an incident reminiscent of Celebgate in 2014, photos of Emma Watson have reportedly been stolen and distributed online. Images of the actress trying on clothes circulated on websites such as 4chan on Tuesday, alongside nude images that did not show the subject’s face.

“Photos from a clothes fitting Emma had with a stylist a couple of years ago have been stolen,” a publicist for Watson reported. “They are not nude photographs. Lawyers have been instructed and we are not commenting further.”

Images of other celebrities were also rumored to be included in the leak, but none of the celebrities mentioned have confirmed the veracity of the claims.

The latest photo leak is only one in a number of incidents over the past few years. During Celebgate in 2014, a host of Hollywood A-listers including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton had nude images stolen from their Apple or Google accounts and distributed online. In a similar case this summer, hackers stole nude images and personal information of the actress Leslie Jones. And on Wednesday, actress Mischa Barton admitted that an alleged “sex tape” of her was revenge-porn that had been recorded without her consent. Barton said that the footage was recorded using secret cameras by someone “I thought I loved and trusted,” adding that “my absolute worst fear was realized.”

Celebrities aren’t the only ones being affected by nude image leaks. At Penn State University, a secret Facebook page was reportedly created by a fraternity in order to share nude images of unconscious women without their consent. A secret Facebook page was also used to disseminate nude images of current and former military servicewomen in a case currently under investigation by the United States Marine Corps.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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Teacher forced to resign after student steals phone, circulates nude photos


With Texas laboratories still struggling to catch up with a gigantic backlog of untested rape kits amid a dearth of funding from local and state governments, one local Texas lawmaker is hoping to crowdfund testing for rape kits in an attempt to help at least some of the state’s victims of sexual assault get justice. The bill, proposed by Texas Representative Victoria Neave, a Dallas Democrat, would ask Texas drivers to donate a dollar or more for rape kit testing when they applied for or renewed their driving license.

“It’s really horrifying that we find ourselves in a situation where evidence testing for survivors is reliant on charitable donations by the public,” said Kristen Lenau, response coordinator for SAFE, an Austin-based support group. “We believe the onus to test this evidence is on state and local governments. But also as advocates for survivors, we’re in support of anything that’s going to get them a little closer to the justice and the resolution they deserve.”

In 2011, the state made a nominal attempt at decreasing its estimated backlog of 20,000 untested rape kits by passing a law requiring investigators to conduct forensic tests on evidence from sexual assaults within 30 days and granting the Texas Department of Public Safety $11 million to test all kits collected between 1996 and 2011. The money, however, was insufficient — according to state records, more than 3,600 of the pre-2011 kits remain untested as of January 31, 2017, and the backlog of new rape test kits continues growing.

“What that tells us is that for many years, sexual assault evidence and sexual assault survivors were not taken as seriously as we would like them to be,” said Lenau. “There is a story of neglect here around sexual assault survivors.”

According to Chris Kaiser, Director of Public Policy for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, the new backlog of kits is likely even larger than the backlog from 2011.

“Here in Austin, the experience very often is that in the course of a year and a half of prosecution, by the time it’s set for trial, the forensics still aren’t back,” said Kaiser. “That affects the prosecutor’s ability to go to trial. If you don’t have the forensics on time, your options are limited.”

Read the full story at The Daily Beast.


Woman had to visit 3 hospital emergency rooms before finally being given a rape kit

Federal judge prevents Texas from cutting Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood

Texas enacts rules that will require aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated

Oh, Canada

Ivanka Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat together on Wednesday night at a performance of new Broadway show Come From Away, a musical celebrating the acceptance of travelers in a small town in Newfoundland after thousands from around the world had to be diverted from American airspace during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Trump sat between Trudeau and American ambassador to the U.N. Nikki R. Haley, who was a vocal opponent of Trump and his proposed immigration ban on Muslims during the presidential primary. Speaking on stage before the performance, Trudeau said that the show symbolized the friendship between Canada and the United States — a message perhaps complicated by the show’s emphasis on welcoming foreigners and the recent news that President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries had been blocked by a federal judge.

The musical, written by Canadian couple Irene Sankoff and David Hein, targeted a number of issues that have been sore points for the Trump administration — including scenes that portrayed the embarrassment caused to Muslims by discrimination in air travel, and the fears of a black traveler that he might be racially profiled as a thief and shot.

The Canadian consulate general in New York brought a delegation of 600 people to the performance, including more than 125 ambassadors to the United Nations. Asked about Ivanka’s impression of the show, Trudeau reportedly said that she “liked the musical like everybody else.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


‘SNL’ spoofs ‘complicit’ Ivanka Trump in withering parody video

Justin Trudeau pledges $650 million in funding for women’s abortion services worldwide

Pic of Ivanka Trump with dad and Justin Trudeau triggers huge uproar online

Boys' club no more

One of the oldest boys’ clubs still in existence has fallen. Members of the Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland, which holds the distinction as the world’s oldest private golf course, in a dramatic vote this week decided to admit women as members for the first time in its history. The club, founded in 1744, is synonymous with golf — it’s founder literally wrote the rules of golf there that year — and has welcomed exclusively male members during its 273 years in operation. Women have been allowed on the grounds as guests and visitors, but denied membership. The club has also hosted 16 British Open events, but last year, after its members narrowly voted to uphold the men-only policy, was stripped of its privilege to host the prestigious tournament. A two-thirds vote was needed to overturn the longtime policy and those in favor of admitting women accounted for only 64 percent of last year’s vote.

This year was a different story as the vote was a landslide. Eighty percent of voting members gave the nod to accept women. Still, though, some 123 members, desperately trying to hold on to old times, voted against admitting women. The Royal and Ancient, the body that organizes the British Open, acknowledged the vote and announced that Muirfield would again be eligible to host the iconic tournament.

Despite the landmark policy change, women still won’t be showing up at Muirfield to play golf right away. It could still be several more years before women are actually admitted as members.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


A Sudanese husband and wife whose daughter fled to Libya in August of 2015 to join ISIS have chosen to take in their daughter’s 4-month-old infant shortly after first being informed of their daughter’s death — as well as the child’s existence.

“They told me on January 17 that my daughter Aya had been killed in fighting in Sirte,” said businessman Alithi Yousef, who lives together with his wife in Khartoum, Sudan. “But they also said they had some good news — Aya had a 4-month-old baby.”

Speaking with Agence-France Press journalists, Yousef said that Aya had grown up listening to Western music and reading English novels. Aya’s mother, Fadlallah, shared pictures of her daughter with reporters as she spoke, pointing out images of her sitting next to Santa Claus in Abu Dhabi and on the beach with her family in Alexandria.

“She loved going to school wearing new clothes for celebrations like Christmas,” Fadlallah recalled. In Aya’s second year of university, however, Fadlallah said that their daughter swapped her trousers and t-shirts for conservative clothes and a headscarf.

“She just went into a shell, into her own world which was hidden from us,” said Fadlallah. “When we asked her who was behind this, she told us, ‘Now I know my God.’”

Together with four other female friends from Khartoum, Aya reportedly snuck into Libya by road. Once there, she married a Sudanese ISIS fighter who Yousef said had attended her university in Khartoum.

After first hearing about his granddaughter’s existence, Yousef confessed, his first reaction was to refuse the Sudanese officials who had offered to escort him into Libya to collect her.

“I’d lost my daughter,” he said. “What was the point of bringing the baby here?”

But after a few days, he said he changed his mind. In February, baby Lojien joined his family in Sudan.

“We have a major responsibility,” said Yousef, adding that the presence of the infant had helped soften the blow of their daughter’s death. “Lojien is very dear to us. She is Aya’s daughter and Aya was special.”

Read the full story at Yahoo News.


TV journalist Shifa Gardi killed in Iraq covering battle to reclaim Mosul from ISIS

Yazidi woman traumatized by ISIS explains how her 2 sisters have been able to mentally overcome the ordeal

1st British woman to travel to Syria to fight ISIS joins all-female Kurdish militia