Fierce

Study: Police In The Dominican Republic Are Abusing Women Sex Workers With Impunity

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Sex workers in the Dominican Republic, where the profession is illegal, are vulnerable to violence, but many don’t feel safe reporting these crimes to law enforcement because, in many cases, it’s police officers who are responsible for their abuse.

This month, Amnesty International released a report detailing how law enforcement in the Caribbean country rape and torture women sex workers. The study, harrowingly titled “If They Can Have Her, Why Can’t We,” includes interviews with 46 cis and trans sex workers who discuss the abuse they experienced at the hands of local police.

According to the report, of the 24 cis women interviewed, at least 10 had been raped by law enforcement, several at gunpoint. Similarly, many trans women disclosed being violently mistreated, some even tortured, by officers.

“The interviews reveal how a deeply engrained culture of machismo within the National Police, coupled with intense societal stigma and discrimination and conservative religious values, embolden law enforcement officials to unlawfully abuse their powers and punish women who engage in sex work as a form of social control,” reads the report.

One woman shared her account of being gang-raped by three policemen. In October 2017,  the woman was pulled over by an officer who spotted her waiting for clients when he forced her to enter his police van. There, he and two other patrols started groping the woman and ripping off her clothes.

“I was afraid. I was alone. I couldn’t defend myself. I had to let them do what they wanted with me,” she told Amnesty International. “They threatened me, that if I wasn’t with them they would kill me. They (said) that I was a whore, and so why not with them?”

The woman, whose shocking account influenced the title of the report, said that the officers called her a “bitch,” among other expletives, adding: “They saw me, I guess, and they thought ‘Well, if they (clients) can have her, why can’t we?’”

This mentality isn’t uncommon. The report notes that the government, and society at large, often views sex workers as less than human and are thus “deserving” of the violence they experience.

“The harrowing testimonies that Amnesty International has gathered from the Dominican Republic reveal that police routinely target and inflict sexual abuse and humiliation on women who sell sex with the purpose of punishing and discriminating against them,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said. “Under international law, such treatment can amount to gender-based torture and other ill-treatment.”

While this particular study looked at the problem in the Dominican Republic, Guevara-Rosas says police violence against sex workers isn’t unique to the region but rather follows a pattern of gender-based violence across Latin America and the Caribbean. She calls it an “epidemic” and notes that marginalized women, like sex workers, are at increased risk because of fear arrest.

Samantha Barbash Said Jennifer Lopez Should Not Have Played Her In ‘Hustlers,’ It Would Have Been Better With Cardi B

Entertainment

Samantha Barbash Said Jennifer Lopez Should Not Have Played Her In ‘Hustlers,’ It Would Have Been Better With Cardi B

Jennifer Lopez cannot believe the incredibly positive reviews she’s getting over her lead role in the film “Hustlers.” She was so moved that she cried on national TV. Last week while being interviewed by Hoda Kotb, Lopez expressed her emotional reaction over the surprising reviews for her role, which some critics say could get her an Acadamy Award nomination. Here’s just a snippet of what film critics are saying about the film that made a big debut this weekend. “Hustlers asks what a movie like Goodfellas looks like with women at the center of the story,” one film critic said. “If nothing else, we get to see Jennifer Lopez command the screen as easily as Ramona does the stage, offering up a seductive awards-worthy performance that makes us remember why she became a movie star in the first place,” another said

There is at least one person who isn’t raving about Lopez’s role, and that’s the one who inspired the film. 

Samantha Barbash, the woman who inspired “Hustlers,” said she would have liked to have seen Cardi B in the lead role instead of Jennifer Lopez. 

Credit: Instagram/@iam_missfoxita

The 45-year-old said in an interview with Hollywood Life that rapper Cardi B should have portrayed her instead of the veteran actress, even though this is Cardi’s first film. “I said it from day one, even to the producer. Cardi doesn’t have the acting skills that Jennifer does, but Cardi could relate more to who I was because even though she wasn’t in the same club, we were in the same industry,” she told the lifestyle website. “If Cardi took some acting lessons and shadowed me, I’m sure that she would have played a better role for my character.”

Barbash goes on to say that she is flattered that Lopez wanted to play her in a movie but stresses that the film got several things wrong about her. 

Credit: Instagram/@iam_missfoxita

For starters, Barbash wasn’t a stripper at all. The film, based on a 2015 New York magazine article, shows Lopez as a stripper who ends up drugging wealthy bankers and robs them of their money. However, Barbash said she was never a stripper. Barbash actually worked at a strip club in New York City as a hostess. Yes, the other stuff about the drugs and taking their money is correct, but seeing Lopez play her a stripper didn’t sit well with her. Barbash also said that Lopez never reached out to her in order to learn about her mannerisms, which is what actors do when they’re portraying real-life characters. Even when the real-life character is deceased, actors still study old footage to learn more about the role they are playing. You may recall the extensive research Lopez said she did to portray Selena Quintanilla. She even slept in her bed to get into deep character.  

Earlier this year, Barbash said she would release her own memoir about the ordeal (which she did) that got her 5 years probation and said she planned to sue the filmmakers. 

Credit: Instagram/@iam_missfoxita

“This is a living nightmare,” Barbash said in April in the New York Post after videos leaked of Lopez on a stripper pole. “So now I’m going to have to do a lawsuit. I’m getting a gag order.” Bruno Gioffre, also said back then, that Barbash was “considering all legal avenues with the possibility injunctive relief, including a lawsuit.” The movie was made despite her legal threats. Today, Barbash is an entrepreneur and owns her own spa business. 

We can see why she would have preferred to see Cardi B in the title role. 

Credit: Instagram/@iamcardib

The Bronx rapper did admit to drugging men and robbing them, just like the characters did in the movie “Hustlers.” In 2017, Barbash was charged for conspiracy, assault, and grand larceny in exchange for five years probation

In March, Card admitted on social media that during her stint as a stripper in New York she too did what the “Hustlers” did in the movie. “I had to go strip, I had to go, ‘Oh yeah, you want to f*ck me? Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s go to this hotel,’ and I drugged n*****s up and I robbed them. That’s what I used to do.” 

Soon after that post, Cardi said she it was wrong of her to do that and has since tried to make a better life for herself. 

READ: Critics Think Jennifer Lopez Gave An Oscar-Worthy Performance In ‘Hustlers’

 
 
 

A Judge Denied R. Kelly Bail After He Pled Not Guilty, Is This The Beginning Of His End?

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A Judge Denied R. Kelly Bail After He Pled Not Guilty, Is This The Beginning Of His End?

Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images

On the heels of Dream Hampton’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series on Lifetime, which detailed multiple sexual abuse allegations against Robert Kelly, it appears the alleged pedophile may finally face some consequences. Hampton’s six-part docuseries, along with the hashtag #MuteRKelly created a firestorm of renewed public interest in what might be at least three decades of possible abuse from the singer R. Kelly. Since February, Kelly has been indicted on multiple criminal charges, spanning incidents across four states: Illinois, Connecticut, California, and New York. 

However, the Eastern District of New York’s federal case against Kelly is just one of many legal battles the singer is up against as he faces what many feel is an overdue reckoning. 

R. Kelly is “irritated” by bail denial according to his lawyer. 

R. Kelly was denied bail pending his trail during an arraignment hearing at the Eastern District federal court in Brooklyn, New York today. The R&B singer pleaded not guilty to a host of charges, including sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, forced labor, and racketeering. U.S. District Magistrate, Judge Steve Tiscone, who was “extremely troubled” by allegations that Kelly intimidated witnesses, ordered him to remain in custody until the trial. 

Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes argued Kelly should be denied bail. Geddes alleged Kelly paid off witnesses to not appear in court while out on bail during the 2002 child pornography case against him. It should be noted Kelly wasn’t acquitted until six years later — that’s quite a while to be out when charged with such serious crimes. 

The judge agreed with Geddes. Later, Anton told reporters Kelly was “irritated” about the denial. Nevertheless, Kelly will be flown back to Illinois by U.S. Marshals within 48 hours of the hearing. 

Kelly’s alleged victims have waited a long time to see justice. 

The 52-year-old has dodged rumors and allegations of sexual assault since 1997 when Kelly, then 27 years old, was rumored to have married the 15-year-old pop star Aaliyah in secret. Kelly has denied rumors that he married or dated Aaliyah for years. However, in Surviving R. Kelly, Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer of Kelly’s, claims he saw the two together firsthand. 

“On a tour bus, there really aren’t many confined spaces. When you get on the bus there are bunks and so these bunks have little curtains you can pull at night if you don’t want anybody to see you sleeping,” Cunningham recalled

“So it just so happened we were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing,” Cunningham continued. “When the [room] door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah.”

 In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 charges related to child pornography but was acquitted of all charges by a jury in 2008. Gloria Allred, who represents three Jane Does in the Eastern District’s case, said there are reportedly 13 victims in total involved with all of Kelly’s cases.

It appears the tides are turning for R. Kelly after decades of organizing and sounding the alarm largely by black women. 

The “Ignition” singer has multiple cases against him. 

In February, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal abuse which alleges that from 1998 to 2010, Kelly filmed himself engaging in sexual acts with minors. In July, federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago indicted Kelly on 18 charges including child exploitation and violating the Mann Act by coercing and transporting women and girls across state lines for illicit sexual activity or sexual assault. 

Not everyone is convinced of R. Kelly’s guilt. 

While many have joined the #MuteRKelly movement, others remain unconvinced of the singer’s guilt. Kelly’s two girlfriends Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage appeared at the arraignment. They weren’t his only supporters — a group of women, one wearing a “Free R. Kelly” t-shirt, appeared in solidarity outside of the courthouse. 

One of the women, 50-year-old Ruthie Castro, told CNN, “I’ve always supported him for many years,” and remains convinced of his innocence.  

Many believe that Kelly uses his fame and falses promises of stardom to attract young, vulnerable girls only to coerce them into joining a cult-like harem. Kelly’s “mind control” techniques were revealed in a BuzzFeed News exposé, which seemed to further fan the flames of public and legal fury in the singer’s direction. 

In an era where we have a racist reality TV star as President of the United States, it is all the more important we remain critical and ever-scrutinizing of any man with a cult-like personality who adorns himself with young, starstruck women.