Comment: How to become a rape mythbuster

If you pay any attention to Twitter you will know that Mia Freedman wrote an article about how she will teach her daughter that getting drunk puts you at greater risk of being raped.

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You will also know that a lot of people were very upset about this and a number of people have written excellent pieces about why this is the wrong way to think and an example of victim blaming. I’m not going to repeat their excellent points. What I’m interested in is a respectful examination of why Freedman and people like her seem determined to “find excuses” or “explain” rape and sexual assault. Why is there a compulsion to set out fairly arbitrary guidelines that supposedly prevent assaults?

So today, apparently I’m ‘victim blaming’. Please. 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/nZ6X2Zkagd

— Mia Freedman (@MiaFreedman) October 20, 2013

Lightbulb moment about this post: 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/nZ6X2Zkagd after some heavy internal debate at Mamamia today.

— Mia Freedman (@MiaFreedman) October 21, 2013

Those at @Mamamia who disagree most strongly are 20-something women who fear shaming sexual assault victims about alcohol.

— Mia Freedman (@MiaFreedman) October 21, 2013

They fear any talk about the connection between alcohol and sexual assault make victims feel worse afterwards.

— Mia Freedman (@MiaFreedman) October 21, 2013

My perspective, however, is from the point of view of a mum, thinking about the girls it hasn’t happened to and wanting to keep them safe.

— Mia Freedman (@MiaFreedman) October 21, 2013

It explains the divide in the reaction to this post between parents and (some) young women.

— Mia Freedman (@MiaFreedman) October 21, 2013

Perhaps it is about avoiding the reality that you could be a victim at any time. By talking about victims as a certain type of woman, who is not like you, it becomes easier to believe that rape or assault won’t happen to you. You don’t drink too much, you don’t walk down dark alleys alone, you don’t wear short skirts, so this won’t happen to you.

Are we witnessing the Just World Hypothesis in action? It’s an irrational belief that people deserve what happens to them. Rape is a terrible experience; under Just World Hypothesis you can make sense of this heinous crime by determining that bad things happen to bad people, or at the very least people who have done something wrong or erred in some way. It is disconcerting to acknowledge that the world is random and unfair and we have very little control over the behaviour of others. It is comforting to believe that you can control what happens to you simply be being a good person.

The phenomenon of Rape Myth Acceptance has been widely studied. There is even a handy guide called the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale that measures a subject’s willingness to find a victim culpable in their rape. Research using this scale has demonstrated very interesting patterns. There is a direct link between high acceptance of rape myths and hostility towards women.

This isn’t just theoretical. Studies have demonstrated that police officers have higher levels of acceptance of rape myths than others. This has serious consequences for victims as further investigations proved that people who have higher levels of rape myth acceptance are more likely than others to utilise these misconstructions to interpret and explain an ambiguous situation involving an alleged rape. They also show less empathy for victims.

Challenging rape myths is one of the most effective tools we can utilise in preventing rape. By exploring and addressing common myths like ‘She caused it by her own carelessness/stupidity/drunkenness’ we can begin to unpick a culture that routinely accepts that victims of rape and sexual assault are culpable to some degree.

Unfortunately articles like Freedman’s have the unintended consequence of putting women in more danger. The repetition and reinforcement of these myths empowers rapists and potential rapists. It teaches them that their actions will be mitigated. If you want to keep your daughters safe from rape, check where you fit on the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale, adjust your thinking and educate your community.

Become a rape mythbuster.

Elly Michelle Clough is a publicist and writer.


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Roger Federer into Basel quarters

Roger Federer stormed back after a slow start to turn the tables on Denis Istomin for a 4-6 6-3 6-2 second round win at the Swiss Indoors in Basel on Wednesday.

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The third seed and five-time champion at his hometown tournament thrilled a sellout 9,200 crowd at the St Jakobshalle with the fightback which keeps him solidly in the chase for a place in the ATP season-ending event in London next month.

Federer, now into the quarter-finals, stands provisional seventh in the field but needs strong showings this week at home and next week at the Paris Masters to ensure his passage into the year-end event which he has won six times.

The 32-year-old Swiss advanced in just under two hours, recovering after losing the first set against the Uzbek outsider, then claiming the second to level.

The third set was a true test for the 17-time grand slam winner who has had a dismal 2012 season, Federer laid down a marker as he held serve for 1-1 in the final set, winning that eight-minute game after saving four break points.

From then on, the momentum shift was complete for the Swiss favourite, who coasted into the last eight, firing a backhand winner on his first match point.

“I stared poorly, making too many errors, especially on the forehand,” said Federer.

“I was risking too much and it was not paying off.

“I had to cut that risk and was a bit lucky to win. I started fighting back and got better as the match went on.

“I’m happy that I was able to turn it around, I needed a match like this.”

Holder Juan Martin del Potro began his title defence in the first round with a defeat of Finnish-born Swiss youngster Henri Laaksonen, 6-4 6-4.

Top seed Del Potro is riding a run of form after winning Tokyo and playing the Shanghai final.

“I played OK for the first match of the week,” said the winner who has already qualified into the World Tour Finals year-end field.

“He was nervous at the start. I took my break points when I could and that was that. I served well and took my chances.”

France’s Richard Gasquet put himself in the danger zone for qualifying for London as the fatigued fifth seed lost 6-4 6-2 to compatriot Michael Llodra.

The first-round defeat in 70 minutes still leaves Gasquet standing a provisional ninth in the points race.


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API says consumer confidence improving

Drug distributor and health and beauty products retailer Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API) says consumer confidence is improving, but the company is facing intense competition.

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API supplies health and beauty products and drugs to pharmacists under the Priceline Pharmacy, Soul Pattinson Chemist and Pharmacist Advice banners.

Also, API operates the Priceline health and beauty stores.

The company says its Priceline stores generated a 1.9 per cent lift in like-for-like sales in the seven weeks to October 19.

“While it is still early days, there are encouraging signs that there is a lift in consumer confidence,” API said on Thursday.

API on Thursday booked an annual net profit of $24.3 million for its fiscal year to August 31, down 19.8 per cent on the profit of $30.3 million in the prior year.

API said its retail business, which excludes dispensary sales, recorded sales growth of 2.9 per cent to $676.5 million over fiscal 2013 amid intense competition from discount stores, supermarkets, online shopping and department stores.

API’s Priceline network expanded to 363 stores over the year – a net increase of 14.

API’s pharmacy distribution sales fell 1.5 per cent to $2.3 billion, following price reductions to drugs covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

API said pharmacies would continue to feel the impact of PBS reforms over the next 12 to 18 months.

This would put the onus on front-of-store health and beauty product sales to make up for lost pharmacy revenue.

Shares in API were one cent higher at 57 cents at 1114 AEDT.


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Syria to submit chemical plan

Syria is expected to hand over a detailed plan for the destruction of its chemical arsenal in the next 24 hours, days ahead of deadline, the world’s watchdog says.

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The detailed plan is the next step for Damascus under the terms of a US-Russian deal to head off military strikes on Syria agreed last month which calls for all its chemicals to be destroyed by mid-2014.

“We expect Syria’s initial declaration of its chemical weapons programme within the next 24 hours,” spokesman Michael Luhan told reporters in The Hague on Wednesday.

President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has already handed over an inventory of its chemicals, weapons and facilities, and international inspectors are already busy inspecting and destroying them.

Syria has until October 27 (Sunday) to submit its “initial” plan of how to destroy its weapons, in accordance with Article III of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

A joint OPCW-UN mission has now checked 18 of 23 declared sites in Syria, destroying production equipment at almost all of them, Luhan said.

The OPCW’s Executive Council will use the Syrian declaration to decide by November 15 on “destruction milestones” for Syria’s arsenal.

With the first stage of the OPCW’s work in Syria nearing completion, Luhan said that some inspectors would be leaving Damascus next week, temporarily reducing the watchdog’s staff there from 28 to 15.

The combined OPCW-UN team in Syria is currently around 60-strong.

“We’re reaching the end of this first stage, during which we needed to verify the chemical warfare programme by visiting all the disclosed sites,” Luhan said.

A combined OPCW-UN logistics team has also been deployed to nearby Cyprus, he added.

Mission co-ordinator Sigrid Kaag said in Damascus on Tuesday that Syria was co-operating with the task of destroying its chemical stockpile.


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V8 rivals prepare for Surfers street-fight

Mark Winterbottom’s dramatic Bathurst 1000 victory has ignited a traditional Ford vs Holden rivalry ahead of this weekend’s V8 Supercars event on the Gold Coast.

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The Ford star’s Mount Panorama win, where he held off a challenge from Holden ace Jamie Whincup to land his – and his team’s – first Bathurst crown sets up an intriguing battle going into the Surfers Paradise races.

While this year’s championship had looked set to be a bragging rights competition between Whincup and his Red Bull Racing teammate Craig Lowndes, Winterbottom has stormed into contention with his past few rounds.

Noone has scored more points than the 32-year-old since the Townsville event, taking a 202 point chunk out of Whincup in the process to now sit just 142 points off the lead.

It means just one bad race for Whincup and Lowndes at the unforgiving 2.96km Surfers street circuit and Winterbottom could be in front going into the last two events of the year.

Not that the Ford man, who announced a four-year contract extension to keep him at FPR until the end of 2016 on Thursday, believes he’s in the box seat in the championship race.

“We’re within striking distance – 142 points. It’s going to be hard to catch there’s no doubt because Jamie, 99 per cent of the time, is bullet-proof,” Winterbottom told AAP.

“If we can keep scoring well and that little bit of confidence just takes us to another level, you’re not looking for a lot, but you need three solid rounds coming home.

“We don’t have the luxury of having a mistake up our sleeve, whereas they do.”

Winterbottom has a great record on the Gold Coast, finishing on the podium in seven of the last eight races in Surfers.

He says his victory over Whincup shows FPR can match it with Red Bull Racing when the push comes to shove but the Gold Coast is also a happy hunting ground for Whincup.

The four-time driver’s champion has taken pole position for the last four races at the venue, going on to win three of those races.

Lowndes’ record at Surfers is less spectacular, having struggled despite winning the event back in 2005.

The other championship contender, Will Davison, sits 181 points off the lead but Winterbottom’s teammate did win at Surfers in the final race last year.

“Always mega-critical, and it will be again this year,” Whincup told AAP.

“Four horse race. Like it was last year and the year before. So crucial, we’ve just got to keep our head and hopefully do a good job.”

The Gold Coast 600 gets underway on Friday with four practice sessions before a 300km race each on Saturday and Sunday.


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Chubby George shown off at christening

Britain’s baby Prince George has been christened in a private ceremony, with his proud parents Prince William and Kate giving the world a rare glimpse of the chubby three-month-old boy.

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Wearing a frilly cream lace gown, the third in line to the throne was carried on Wednesday into the Chapel Royal of St James’s palace by his father, his mother Kate close by, elegant in a cream Alexander McQueen outfit.

Queen Elizabeth and the couple’s parents and siblings, including William’s younger brother Prince Harry, were among just 22 guests at the ceremony, including seven newly-named godparents.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual head of the world’s Anglicans, performed the baptism, which involves pouring holy water from the River Jordan on the baby’s head.

Television pictures showed the light-haired George Alexander Louis appearing wide awake and calm. He even gave the semblance of waving at the 87-year-old queen, his great-grandmother, when his father moved his arm up and down.

“He’s all ready,” William, 31, told the assembled party, which included his father Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, adding: “So far so good.”

The low-key ceremony reflects the fact that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge want their son to have a relatively normal upbringing and have closely guarded his privacy. He has only appeared in public once before, when they left hospital after his birth on July 22.

The couple broke with tradition by naming only one royal, William’s cousin and champion horse-rider Zara Philips, among the godparents, with the others being childhood, university and work friends.

The ceremony welcomes Prince George into the Church of England, which he is destined to lead as future king and “Defender of the Faith”.

During his address, Welby spelt out George’s responsibilities as a Christian, saying he “is to share the life of Christ.

“That sharing may be in words, or generous actions – most likely both – but it will be both very costly and infinitely rewarding,” he added.

Harry and Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton, who had both been wrongly tipped as potential godparents, both read passages from the Bible.

Each of the godparents was asked to commit to providing Prince George with guidance as he grew up.

They include Zara Phillips, pregnant with her first child with rugby player husband Mike Tindall; William’s childhood friend William van Cutsem; Hugh Grosvenor, the son of William’s godmother the Duchess of Westminster; Julia Samuel, who was close to William’s mother Diana; and Emilia Jardine-Paterson, who went to the private Marlborough College with Kate.

Rounding out the list are Oliver Baker, a friend from St Andrew’s University in Scotland, where the royal couple met, and William’s long-time aide Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a former soldier in the elite SAS army unit.

A handful of royal fans camped overnight outside the palace hoping for a glimpse of the Queen and her three direct heirs – Prince Charles, his son Prince William and baby George, who is third in line to the throne.

“This is a very special moment. We will see three kings in the making,” said John Loughrey, a 58-year-old fan wearing a raincoat bearing the pattern of the Union Jack flag.

He slept out overnight in the rain, but said it did not bother him, adding: “This is a unique, historic moment.”

In the House of Commons, Prime Minister David Cameron urged MPs to “join me in celebrating” the event.

The christening was in sharp contrast to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s lavish 2011 wedding, which was broadcast live on television across the world, and to the media frenzy surrounding the birth of their first child.

Just six members of the royal family attended, along with Kate’s parents Michael and Carole Middleton and her siblings James and Pippa.

The service was conducted behind closed doors although an official photograph by celebrity snapper Jason Bell will be released to the public on Thursday.

Afterwards the guests were invited for tea at Charles’s official London residence, Clarence House, where, following British tradition, a portion of William and Kate’s wedding cake was a tier in the christening cake.

The official photos are expected to gain iconic status, the first time four generations of monarchs have been pictured together since 1894, at the christening of the future king Edward VIII.

Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former private secretary, said the christening sent a strong message about the royal family’s durability as a dynasty.

“It reinforces the public perception that the British royal family is going to be around for a long time to come,” he said.


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South Pole ozone hole smaller this year

Scientists say warm upper air this September and October has helped shrink the man-made ozone hole near the South Pole slightly.

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The hole is an area in the atmosphere with low ozone concentrations. It is normally at its biggest this time of year. The US space agency says on average it covered 8.1 million square miles (20.9 million sq kilometres) this season. That’s 6 per cent smaller than the average since 1990.

High-altitude ozone shields Earth from ultraviolet radiation.

NASA chief atmospheric scientist Paul A. Newman says the main reason for this year’s result is local weather.

The upper air has been warmer than normal, which led to fewer polar stratospheric clouds. These clouds are where ozone is destroyed by chlorine and bromine, which come from man-made products.

James Butler, director of the global monitoring division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab, said on Wednesday that the new figures are “sort of encouraging news.

“It’s not getting worse,” Butler said. “That’s a good sign.”

Butler said it stopped getting worse around the late 1990s. But he added, “We can’t say yet that it’s a recovery.”

Newman and Butler said they can’t tell if the ozone hole changes are related to man-made global warming.

While warm upper air helped keep the ozone hole small, the surface of the Southern Hemisphere was also warm last month, with the second-highest average temperature on record for September, NOAA announced on Wednesday. Records go back to 1880.

For the entire globe, last month tied 2003 for the fourth hottest September on record. September was the 343rd consecutive month that global temperatures have been higher than the 20th century average.

This year, after nine months, is on track to be the sixth warmest on record globally.


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Confident Froome eyes Tour repeat

When the route for the 2014 Tour de France was revealed in Paris, it almost looked like the organisers had deliberately attempted to reduce reigning champion Chris Froome’s chances.

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Kenyan-born Briton Froome was dominant in the 2013 edition of the greatest cycling race in the world, winning by more than four minutes from new young talent Nairo Quintana from Colombia.

That hardly told the story of just how much Froome had controlled the race, winning three stages, two at the top of mountains and one in a time-trial.

His winning margin would have been over five minutes but for a celebratory stroll down the Champs Elysees, arm-in-arm with his surviving Sky teammates on the final stage.

Although the likes of Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde attacked incessantly, and then in the final two mountain stages Quintana and Joaquim Rodriguez successfully put time into Froome, the 28-year-old still never looked in danger of losing his grip on the yellow jersey once it was on his back, as early as stage eight when he sauntered up to Aix 3 Domaines on his own.

Froome proved strongest in the mountains and in the time-trials, making it seem unlikely anyone could challenge him.

But there was some hope when in the final two summit finishes both Quintana and Rodriguez proved stronger, and it cannot be forgotten that Vincenzo Nibali, who beat Froome in the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico stage race earlier in the year, had opted to compete in the Giro D’Italia instead of the Tour, where he had finished third behind Bradley Wiggins and Froome in 2012.

Froome himself suggested there was hope for the others – more specifically the specialist climbers – just before the Tour announcement when he said he was hoping for more and longer time-trials and alluded to the 2011 Tour of Spain where he finished a distant fourth behind Contador, Valverde and Rodriguez, saying that it had too many summit finishes and didn’t suit him.

So when the 2014 programme became known, showing just the one time-trial the day before the Champs Elysees finale in Paris, and six mountain stages, including five summit finishes, there was a genuine feeling that Froome could be challenged.

Tour Director Christian Prudhomme denied the route had been designed to favour those aiming to topple Froome, but there was palpable excitement among the press corps – here was a route that could prove interesting.

And yet that excitement was tempered slightly by Froome’s own supremely confident reaction.

“We’ve got five mountain top finishes, that’s (one) more than this year. That’s a good thing for me and also with the penultimate stage being a 50+ kilometre individual time-trial, that’s something that suits me,” he said.

“So, yes, I’m getting excited about the prospect of taking on next year’s Tour.

“If you look at this year’s 30km time-trial and the time gaps we had, then just imagine what time gaps we could have on a 54km time-trial. That could be quite substantial.”

Froome had put two minutes on Contador and three into Quintana and Rodriguez on the 33km stage 11 time-trial that finished at Mont St Michel.

It seems Froome was not reading from the same book as Prudhomme, though, who assumed the route would favour the little men, like Quintana, Rodriguez or Nibali, if he choses to compete rather than defend his Giro title.

“Time-trials provide greater time gaps than the mountains, sometimes insurmountable ones,” explained Prudhomme.

“Having the time-trial at the end is so the climbers don’t have to chase but can ride in front and not become demoralised.”


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Witness thought screams were a junkie

At first Joshua Rathmell thought the noise he heard as he was walking to work through Hyde Park was the “deranged” screams of “a junkie on an ice bender”.

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And Mr Rathmell initially thought the shirtless man he saw on the 15th floor of an apartment block was throwing black luggage off a balcony.

But after talking to some nearby tradesmen, he realised what had hit the ground on Liverpool Street was a body, a murder trial heard on Thursday.

Mr Rathmell was on Thursday morning giving evidence at the trial for the murder of 30-year-old Lisa Harnum in the NSW Supreme Court.

Her former fiance Simon Gittany, 40, has been accused of throwing her off the balcony on July 30, 2011.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Under examination from the crown, Mr Rathmell told the court what he had witnessed.

He said his attention was drawn to the apartment in The Hyde building after hearing “deranged” screams while walking to the ABC’s Ultimo office, where he worked as an editor, at about 9.55am.

“The noise was not unlike guttural noises I have heard in the past from junkies,” Mr Rathmell told the court.

Looking up at the balcony, he saw a shirtless man holding what he thought was luggage in his arms, he told the court.

“I saw a man carrying … black luggage or a black object,” he told the court.

The man then “unloaded” the object and went back inside the apartment.

He did not see the object hit the ground as his view was impeded by cars and busses on Liverpool Street.

But he went to see what had happened and told the court a group of people were trying to resuscitate what appeared to be a body.

He told the court he then saw a man, who he believed to be the same person he’d seen on the balcony, exit the building.

The man observed what was going on from a distance, before moving to speak to the group trying to assist the person on the ground, Mr Rathmell said.

Mr Rathmell continued on his way to work where he later called police to report what he’d seen.

Mr Rathmell will be cross examined by defence lawyers on Thursday afternoon.


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Slain Boston bomber linked to 3 murders

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of two brothers suspected of the Boston Marathon bombings, has been implicated in a triple murder in which the victims were covered in marijuana and their throats slashed.

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In a document filed on Monday as part of preparations for the younger brother’s trial, Tamerlan was formally linked to the earlier 2011 triple homicide in the Boston suburb of Waltham.

The killings, which took place on September 11, 2011 – the 10-year anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks on the US – remain unsolved.

All three bodies were found nearly decapitated, covered with marijuana and thousands of dollars in cash.

Tamerlan, 26, who was killed in a shootout with police after the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon, allegedly carried out the Boston attacks with his then 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others on April 15.

Tamerlan’s potential involvement in the Waltham murders was first reported after a Chechen man, investigated for his links to the brothers, was questioned by the FBI.

Ibragim Todashev, 27, was shot dead by agents allegedly acting in self defence after he lunged at them, while being questioned at his Florida home in May.

Investigators said Todashev had been on the verge of signing a confession that he and Tamerlan were involved in the September 2011 murders.

It is not yet clear whether there are any other suspects in the 2011 killings.

US attorney Carmen Ortiz said it would be premature to share documents that relate to Tamerlan’s involvement in the triple murder at Dzhokhar’s bombings trial.

Information about Tamerlan’s criminal past would be relevant only if his brother faces a hearing to determine whether he should be sentenced to death, she said.

Dzhokhar is set to go on trial next year over charges that could carry the death penalty.

His lawyers may try to save him from the death penalty by arguing he fell under the murderous influence of his older brother, legal experts say.

The outlines of a possible defence came into focus this week when it was learned that Tsarnaev’s lawyers are trying to get access to investigative records implicating the dead brother in the 2011 murders.

The younger Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued in court papers that any evidence of Tamerlan’s involvement is “mitigating information” that is critical as they prepare Dzhokhar’s defence. They asked a judge to force prosecutors to turn over the records.


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