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Why are rape victims being denied therapy in the UK? | USA

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I first visited the United Kingdom in 2013. I was 20 years old with a sparsely stamped passport, intending to spend the summer in London studying acting.

I arrived five months after Frances Andrade, a 48-year-old professional violinist, committed suicide after being accused of lying on the stand during what would become an infamous rape case against conductor Michael C Brewer.

Andrade’s death led to a national conversation about how rape victims are treated by the criminal justice system and launched a brief dialogue about why police had advised against Andrade seeking therapy until after her trial was complete. 

Brewer was eventually handed a six-year sentence and stripped of his OBE. Andrade was laid to rest.

The media reported on Andrade’s death as if she had been one of the unlucky ones lost through the cracks of the justice system. In May 2019, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, acting Shadow Attorney General for England and Wales, wrote an article for Vice addressing the legal hurdles a victim must navigate in order to receive aid in the UK. Once again, national dialogue was started. Once again, the outrage was fierce but fleeting. Public outcry alone is not efficacious.

Access to therapy by qualified professionals is stretched thin in the UK. It is estimated that the average wait time to access a therapist through a rape crisis centre in the UK is nine months, with a 20 percent increase in demand since 2018, despite funding remaining the same since 2013. Once therapy is secured, the services that can be offered to victims of rape who are going through court cases are limited.

In 2001, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) updated its guidelines under the Provision of Therapy for Vulnerable or Intimidated Adult Witnesses Prior to a Criminal Trial. These are as follows: “Any detailed recounting or re-enactment of the offending behaviour may be perceived as coaching and the criminal case is almost certain to fail as a consequence of this type of therapeutic work.”

These guidelines, according to rape crisis centres throughout the UK, must be adhered to. It is increasingly common for rape victims to be told that having therapy will adversely affect the chances of their rapists being successfully prosecuted.

Even when the police do not advise victims of rape against therapy, reporting a rape to police is an effective gag order on the victim.

Enter “Pre-Trial Therapy” (PTT), a limited therapy that forbids the victim to speak of anything she may have mentioned in her victim statement.

A victim of assault can talk about how they feel but cannot talk about the root cause of why, for fear that any mention of the actual assault may hamper the success of the case.

In rare instances the prosecution can even subpoena the notes from the victim’s counselling, even if they adhere to these guidelines.

This has become a law that pigeonholes a victim and their therapist, encouraging a formal dance around ‘The Crime That Must Not Be Named’ in counselling sessions that should be free of restriction or judgement.

In January 2019, a petition advocating for a change in therapy laws in the UK was closed after failing to reach 10,000 signatures, the required minimum to receive a government response.

In September 2019, a second petition was closed after receiving 13,380 signatures calling for a review of the CPS Guidelines, spearheaded by a rape victim whose case had been dropped by the CPS.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) responded to the petition stating: “With the assistance of the police, government departments and voluntary sector providers, the CPS is currently updating its guidance on this subject. A consultation has taken place and the guidance is due to be published later this year after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) reports.”

As it stands, limited PTT is still all that can be offered to victims of rape. While the AGO insists that counselling notes will only be requested if it is believed there is information pertinent to the case, victims – fearing privacy violations – are still being faced with the dilemma of dropping their investigations rather than consenting to their counselling notes or personal digital data being turned over to the police.

Meanwhile, the UK is in the throes of a rape epidemic. In 2019 it was reported that half of all reported cases are dropped, even after the suspect has been positively identified. Between 2014 and 2018 the UK saw a 173 percent increase in reported rapes, but there was a 19 percent decline in police referring cases on and a 44 precent drop in cases being prosecuted by CPS.

Three years after Andrade’s death, I was raped. Like many victims of rape, I document time less by the passing of the seasons and more by the relentless coverage of rape in our media.

In February 2016, Michael Brewer was released from jail after serving half his sentence. On June 3, 2016, Emily Doe’s Victim Impact Statement (known to the world now as Chanel Miller) went viral after being published on Buzzfeed.

The next day, I was raped in my own home by an Englishman visiting Dublin for a stag-do. At the time I was wrapping up a year of life in the city, having moved from the United States to Ireland in Spring 2015 to produce and tour my play “By the Bi” with my colleague Caroline Downs. I had just been accepted into graduate school in London at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Over the course of 24 hours I went from feeling on top of the world to being set adrift in an endless sea.

At the time of my rape, abortion was illegal in Ireland. Some of my most vivid memories of that time are of being on the top floor of FlyeFit, a 24-hour Dublin gym, staring out the window at the view of Dublin Castle in the early hours of the morning with the heaviest kettlebell I could muster pressed against my abdomen. Like a trapped animal, I was desperate and manic until my next menstrual cycle came to ensure that my rapist had not left any part of him lingering inside me. I was fortunate and did not have to travel across the Irish Sea to maintain my bodily autonomy, although 3,265 women and girls did make that trek in 2016, joining ranks with 168,705 women and girls who had made the journey since 1980.

I moved to the UK in September 2016 and did not go back to Ireland for almost a year after moving because I did not think I could bear it. It would be two years before I would report my rape. It would be a year-and-a-half before I decided to stick with therapy.

In 2018, I entered therapy for the fourth time since my assault. I was living in Los Angeles while finishing my graduate dissertation remotely. I had spent the previous eight months running away from the UK and Ireland. I wanted to put as much geographical distance between myself and my rapist as possible. I was still refusing to speak to the police.

I was also on a severe mental decline; shedding weight, sleep and tears in a stubborn attempt to hold myself together on my own. I was fortunate to find a godsend of a therapist when I needed one most. I was notorious for dropping therapists for superfluous reasons up until that point; I did not like their voice, their tone, their gaze, relentless deflections from the poison mounting inside me.

In April 2018, I wrote an article that went viral documenting my reasoning for not reporting my rape. The response was overwhelming; two years later, I am still receiving emails from victims thanking me for speaking up. I was afraid of telling my story on the Internet, so notorious for its penchant for cruelty under the mask of anonymity. I was shocked to see an army rallying behind me, encouraging me to report.

So, in May 2018, with my therapist by my side, I finally reported my assault to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). I was told my case would be transferred to the Garda (Irish police force), but that since my assailant was British, it may be covered by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Any apprehension I had once harboured towards the police and the justice system as a whole was briefly replaced by the monumental relief that had come from finally being able to speak candidly about the night of my assault. No one told me I had unwittingly put a stopper on access to the one resource that was keeping me afloat.

I returned to the UK a month after reporting to finish graduate school. I applied to continue counselling at a London-based rape crisis centre. I was told there was a 10-month waiting list. I never heard back from the centre. The second time I applied, a year later in June 2019, I was told there was an eight-month waiting list, and that group therapy had openings but that I was disqualified because I had reported my assault and had an open investigation pending.

By now, the healing bandages that my therapist and I had so carefully crafted were starting to lift. I applied for therapy a third time in September 2019. It was then that I was told that even if I was matched with a counsellor, I was only eligible for PTT since my case was still open. I could speak with a therapist but could not speak about my rape itself.

“I’m aware that the news about the restrictions on therapy may be new to you and is frustrating,” the email I received in early October 2019 read.

Rape is not a palatable subject. While I believe that it is a necessary dialogue – I would not be opening myself up like this if it were not – the precise details of my own rape were not something I wished to unload on my loved ones.

I did not want to burden my mother or my sisters. My best friend had shared a room with me – the room in which the assault took place – and had cleaned up the heaps of broken glass and bloodied condoms she found after I had left. My then-boyfriend had accompanied me to the hospital.

Our traumas were shared and, while they continue to be some of my strongest pillars, it is unfair and unconscionable to ask those people to bear the burden of my memories.

Those, rightfully, should be hashed out with a licensed professional. My healing had begun when I was shown a safe place and open arms to speak candidly about what I had experienced. It is not just frustrating to be silenced; it is maddening, and in cases like Andrade’s, it can be deadly.

Shortly after the UK locked down due to COVID-19, the lead detective on my case in Ireland called me, two months after I had written to him expressing growing concerns about my mental health. He told me that the police in the UK were not being cooperative and that he had filed motions to help push things along but he could not make any promises.

“These things are slow-moving,” he told me, a month shy of the two-year anniversary of reporting the rape. He asked me to consider if it was worth continuing with the investigation if it meant not being able to attend therapy.

There is no winning when you pursue justice, it seems; you are either barred from resources that can keep you alive or you recuse yourself and allow a man to be positively rewarded for his crimes just so you can be extended a lifeline.

Playing into an archaic system built on a foundation of rape apologist myths will not undo my rape.

As I write this, my case is still open. I am still barred from receiving full therapy.

I am living in a purgatory crafted from uncertainty. A part of me died four years ago in a tiny flatshare in Dublin when a man felt so entitled to a woman’s body that he decided his sexual gratification meant more than my autonomy, my consent, my future.

The necrosis that took root in my soul did not begin to be dealt with until I asked for (and was given) help.

As I wait for my case to reach one of two endings – being dropped for lack of evidence beyond all reasonable doubt or being progressed to trial – I wonder if I would still be here today if I had not been allowed access to full therapy.

As the CPS vows to review the guidelines set down for rape victims, I must ask the UK, the CPS and the world: How do you mourn the death of yourself when the law insists those best qualified to aid in your recovery turn a blind eye to the relentless battering that preceded it?

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Year of the Overcomer-Prophet Elvis Mbonye

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The eagerly awaited first fellowship of controversial Prophet Elvis Mbonye left viewers shocked as he declined to issue his now famous prophecies citing a refusal to settle for the new normal. In an on online service watched by thousands, the Prophet said him prophesying would “ be a concession to gathering online, rather than physically” further stating that it is not the will of God that church should meet online!

The Covid-19 SOPs given by the government and Ministry of Health have heavily impacted gatherings and as a result, ministries with large congregations have resorted to online services. The prophet however insists that this is a ploy to diminish the influence of the Kingdom of God.

He however proceeded to give the Prophetic Word of the year , saying “This is the year of the Overcomers” amidst cheers from those present. He also stated that this would not be a “gloomy” year, probably meaning that this would be a good year. Given that many of his prophecies have actually come to pass, should we pay more attention to him? We eagerly await the prophecies this year.

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Kabuleta blasts Media over “COFIT” reporting in new rant.

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Presidential hopeful Joseph Kiiza Kabuleta has expressed dissatisfaction with the media over what he says was”alarmist reporting” over the Covid-19 pandemic which he calls “COFIT” a term we believe is a wordplay between covid and profit, a view held by many that claims that the disease was exaggerated to maximize funding and corruption. Kabuleta has come to be known for his straight shooting style and admirable command of facts and policy, even being touted as the “smartest candidate” in the race.here is the full statement:

MEDIA AND THE COFIT ENTERPRISE

By Joseph Kabuleta

“Don’t look at where you fell, but where you slipped”
AFRICAN PROVERB

We know where the media fell. They fell when they were caught in the crossfire between opposition politicians and trigger-happy security hitmen; when they were unfairly targeted as they went about their noble duty of covering this explosive elective season. Sadly, some journalists are nursing wounds; others weren’t so lucky.
But it’s important for us to understand where they slipped.

If someone is sitting by the roadside sipping on his brew and he sees a gang of people sprinting past him, as if for their lives, it’s understandable if he impulsively joins without asking questions. But if after nine months he is still sprinting, and has still not asked any questions, then there’s something terribly wrong with him.

When we first went into lockdown in March, it was probably the best course of action because we didn’t know the full extent of the Cofit threat. But in the first 90 days, it was clear to all and sundry that it was never going to rank among Uganda’s top health challenges. And that’s not my opinion.

The Daily Monitor on July 15th quoted Dr Baterana Byarugaba, the Mulago Hospital Executive Director, describing the Cofit strain in the country as a mild form of flu which does not require hospital admission since it can be treated at home or in lower health facilities.
“l told Ugandans right from the beginning that the type of coronavirus we expect in Uganda is the mild one. It can be treated at health centre II, III, IV or the district hospital,” the top Medic said.

I read the story with glorious delight supposing that finally common sense, (or should I say science sense) would inform our decisions as a nation. But it’s difficult to know where science stops and politics starts. It’s become clear over the months that Cofit is not just a virus that causes respiratory problems, it’s a lot more than that; it’s a weapon in the hands of politicians that gives them power beyond their wildest dreams. In America, for instance, Democrat Congressman Jim Clyburn said Cofit is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our (leftist) vision” while actress and activist Jane Fonda said that Cofit was “God’s gift to the left.”

Our media could have taken the side of poor Ugandans by showing the immense suffering and death from preventable sicknesses that resulted from the harsh Cofit measures; they could have highlighted the plight of businesses permanently closed and workers rendered redundant and sent back to villages. They could have wondered why truck drivers were testing negative in Kenya and positive in Uganda, or wondered why Cofit deaths only started after Prophet Museveni showed us a macabre lineup of coffins in his address, or why every celebrity who dies since then is ruled as Cofit (no autopsy required)

They could have told us that according to Worldometer, Cofit has a 0.28% mortality rate (or a 99.72 survival rate) and that it doesn’t rank anywhere in the Top 10 of Uganda’s health challenges; they could have told us that a child dies of malaria every two minutes (and Uganda accounts for 3% of the world’s malaria fatalities), which means that more Ugandans die from mosquitoes in ten days than Cofit has (allegedly) killed in the nine months it’s been on our lips.

Ugandans (especially of my age) have lived through real pandemics. As a young man growing up in the early 90s, nobody had to remind me that AIDS was real. Goodness me, I knew it was! And I didn’t need police to force me to wear protection, I knew the consequences. The fact that we are constantly being reminded that ‘Cofit is real’ tells a story of its own.

The media could have asked why Uganda, with one of the lowest Cofit cases or deaths, still holds on to a 9:00pm curfew when Kenya moved to 11:00pm in September, as did South Africa and several countries. The media could have told us that Malawi, Burundi, Tanzania and, recently, Ghana all held successful elections with full blown campaigns in 2020, and we aren’t hearing people dropping dead from Cofit in any of those countries. May be they should have tried to find out if people are dropping dead in Tanzania which altogether ignored all Cofit measures and went on to acquire middle-income status while Ugandans were still in lockdown.

They could have told us about the asymptomatic Cofit patients who were filmed dancing the night away in hospital wards, or of people suffering from other diseases who dare not go to hospital because they fear to be given a fake Cofit label and held for two weeks against their will.

The media could have told us that Cofit deaths across the world have been grossly inflated. Minnesota lawmakers say Cofit deaths could have been inflated by 40% after examining death certificates (according to The Washington Examiner) while Fox News reported that in Colorado 45% of Cofit corpses “were also found to have bullet wounds”.

They could have told us that 22 European countries, all of which had tens of thousands of Cofit deaths, opened their schools in the fall, and there has not been any reported spikes in cases as a result. They could have told us that more people have been killed by security men enforcing Cofit measures than by the virus itself.

Well, they could have…but they didn’t. And that’s where they slipped.

Instead they chose to go down the path of alarmist reporting and in so doing became, inadvertently or otherwise, enablers of Uganda’s trillion-shilling Cofit enterprise. Like Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the media used flowery language to drum up fear by keeping people’s eyes transfixed on swelling numbers while the thieves carried their loot and stashed it away, and loan money was distributed among family members or used in regime prolongation.

The recent joint television news bulletin, and the adverts that followed, were the peak of hysterical reporting. “Zuukuka Tusaanawo” (wake up, we are perishing) screamed an advert featuring top media personalities. What a load of……(fill in appropriate word).

Remember, all the tyranny we have witnessed in this season has been done in the name of Cofit, and such sensationalist reporting justifies it; it gives dictators like Museveni the perfect pseudo-moralistic cover to unleash their most despotic fantasies while actually pretending that it’s for the good of the people. Unfortunately, the terror has now spread to the very media people whose hyperbole enabled it in the first place. There is such a thing as the law of cause and consequence, after all.

Instead of the media walking out of pressers and threatening to boycott government functions, let them threaten to stop all Cofit reporting. Museveni himself would come running with chocolate in hand.

If the president extended curfew by just two hours, for instance, he will have put as many as 200,000 Ugandans back to work especially in the hotel, restaurant and entertainment industries; but he doesn’t care, and sadly neither do many middleclass Ugandans who suppose that it’s their moral obligation as responsible citizens of the Global Village to fret over Cofit just because their ‘fellow citizens’ in Europe and America are doing so. Of course they can afford to do that because their corporate jobs have, for the most part, insulated them from the devastation of the government-instituted Cofit measures. They can enjoy working at home, beer in hand, as they listen to CNN and BBC and still expect the full complement of their salaries at the month end, and that makes them feel every bit like ‘their brothers’ overseas.

Such aspirational conformists are more likely to be offended by my stance on Cofit because they haven’t traversed crook and creek of this country and seen the damage reigned on this fragile society; not by the virus, but by the measures supposedly instituted to mitigate it.

You see, perhaps the most enduring damage this regime has done to our society is creating a three-part hierarchy of class and needs. At the zenith are a handful of connected ‘1986 generation’ and their families who feel entitled to all power and wealth. Beneath is a small (and shrinking) middleclass, and at the bottom of the pyramid is a mass of peasants. Every society, to various degrees, is ordered in the same fashion, but what makes Uganda unique is that the megalomaniacs at the top don’t give a nickel about the plight of the middleclass and the middleclass in turn don’t care a bit about the quandary of the peasant. The charlatans at the top will impose punitive taxes on the middleclass, then dip into NSSF coffers at a whim to share out their savings, and no one can stop them.

And the middleclass Ugandan, armed with his medical insurance, and safe in the knowledge that his wife is unlikely to die in child birth (20 Ugandans do EVERY DAY), and his children are very unlikely to die of malaria (20 do EVERY DAY), or from malnutrition (thousands do every year), will go around trumpeting Cofit because it’s more relevant to his status than malnutrition or malaria.

I could just as easily go down that path. I could also close my eyes to mothers failing to get breast milk because they can only afford half a meal a day (black tea with a piece of cassava), and the malnourished babies that emerge as a result; I could close my eyes to the teenage girls that were given out in marriage because schools closed, or those given out to meet family needs; I could ignore the fact that our president is opening 5-star markets in cities which have 1-star referral hospitals; I could also choose to look the other way and enjoy my middleclass lifestyle, but as an aspiring leader, I cannot.

As a leader, my aspiration is to remove the privileged/entitled class, to expand the middleclass (and their income), and to shrink the peasantry; but mostly to blur the lines that separate each category.
It doesn’t bode well for our country if the average Corporate Ugandan knows more about racism in America than about extreme poverty in Teso or Busoga because that disqualifies him/her from the solution to those local problems.

And finally, I have come to the realization that the biggest pandemic afflicting our country is poverty and the virus that causes it is called M7-1986. Vaccination against it is January 14

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Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge

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Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

STATEMENT
Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.

ChangeYouCanTrust

CountryBeforeSelf

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