home Must Reads Must reads: Rikers Island, rape, child marriage, deportation, ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Must reads: Rikers Island, rape, child marriage, deportation, ultra-Orthodox Judaism


Good morning, gentle readers! This week we’re exploring reads on subjects from Rikers Island to child marriage, so settle in — and when you’re done, why not pop into comments to tell us what you’re reading, and pass along a link to a friend?

Why Men Rape‘ (Sandra Newman for Aeon)

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so we feel like it’s a fitting time to delve into this rich, lengthy exploration of the motivations behind sexual assault — and how, as a society, we can stop it.

But perhaps the most startling fact that emerged from this new research was that it was possible to find unincarcerated men who would admit to being rapists. Most of the subjects were college students, and it seems incredible that this group would confess sex crimes to total strangers. However, as long as the word ‘rapist’ didn’t appear in the questionnaire, men were comfortable answering ‘yes’ to questions such as: ‘Have you ever had sexual intercourse with an adult when they didn’t want to because you used or threatened to use physical force?’ In interviews conducted by the psychologists David Lisak and Susan Roth at Duke University in North Carolina, and later by Lisak and Paul Miller at Brown University in Rhode Island, it turned out that respondents somehow didn’t realise that this was a description of rape.

The High Price of Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Life‘ (Taffy Brodesser-Akner for the New York Times)

The world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism is a complicated one, and stories like this that provide a glimpse into the lives of the people who choose to leave the faith are fascinating and instructive.

Another woman in her early 20s, sitting on the sofa in jeans with one leg slung over its arm, told us she had spent most of her life being molested by her father. She told the group that recently she had taken to advertising online, saying she followed the laws of family purity — going to a ritual bath after menstruation, not having sex during her “unclean” week — and that she was available for sex in exchange for money. Ultra-Orthodox men visited her at all hours, and they cheated on their wives, having sex with this ritually pure young woman in her apartment. When the men finished, they told her what a shame it was that she was off the derech, that she seemed nice, that she should try again at a religious life.

The Trauma of Facing Deportation‘ (Rachel Aviv for the New Yorker)

A troubling medical mystery is unfolding in Sweden, where some refugee youth are simply falling unconscious, unable to be roused, in response to extremely traumatic news.

The next day, a doctor inserted a feeding tube through Georgi’s nostril. “He showed no resistance,” Soslan said. “Nothing.” Georgi was given a diagnosis of uppgivenhetssyndrom, or resignation syndrome, an illness that is said to exist only in Sweden, and only among refugees. The patients have no underlying physical or neurological disease, but they seem to have lost the will to live. The Swedish refer to them as de apatiska, the apathetic. “I think it is a form of protection, this coma they are in,” Hultcrantz said. “They are like Snow White. They just fall away from the world.”

The 15-Year Old Single Mother‘ (Natalia Otero for Der Spiegel)

Millions of girls are pressed into child marriage around the world annually. This story, the first installment in a multi-part series, delves into the life of one girl in Brazil.

Brazilian girls face many of the same repercussions: male violence, an early departure from school and health problems from early pregnancies. It is a problem that societies and states ignore and forget.

‘Belly of the beast’: former inmates hail New York plan to close Rikers Island jail‘ (Joanna Walters for The Guardian)

Rikers Island is infamous. As calls for closure mount, transforming into the beginnings of a plan to shut down the horrific prison for good, former inmates speak out.

Many jails and prisons are violent, but Guzman said Rikers was in a league of its own. He ended up in a medium-security prison upstate, sentenced for robbery and drug offenses. He felt safer there, he said, than he had at Rikers.

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Photo: Alec Perkins/Creative Commons

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