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A Latina In Maryland Believes She Was Raped By This Police Officer Because Of Her Undocumented Status, Others Are Saying She Was Targeted Because She Was Alone

A Maryland police officer was arrested last Monday and charged with raping an undocumented Latina during a traffic stop.

According to a news release from the Prince George’s County Police Department, Ryan Macklin, a six-year veteran of the division, pulled the woman over at about 1 a.m. on Oct. 11.

The woman alleges that the officer attempted to touch her breasts before telling her to pull behind a store in Langley Park, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him. The assault was interrupted when a witness, who the woman had called earlier, arrived at the scene. Macklin returned to his cruiser and drove away.

The woman’s accounts have been corroborated by the witness as well as video evidence.

CASA, a Maryland-based immigrant advocacy group, said the woman believes she was targeted because of her immigration status.

“This is a man in power who thought that because she was undocumented, he was going to get away with it,” Ingrid Zelaya-Ascencio, a spokesperson for CASA, told NBC News.

Unauthorized immigrants in Maryland are able to receive driver’s licenses by confirming their identity and proving Maryland residency, among other criteria. On these special licenses read the phrase “not acceptable for federal purposes.” The woman, who says she was attacked after the officer asked for her ID, believes he took advantage of her because her identification signaled she was living in the U.S. illegally.

“He knew that she was undocumented and after she handed over her ID, that’s when everything started, so she does believe and we believe too, that’s why she was targeted,” Zelaya-Ascencio added.

The Prince George’s County Police Department, however, don’t think the woman was targeted because of her status but rather because she was driving alone. Jennifer Donelan, director of media relations for the department, said other women have made similar allegations against Macklin and they were all “females driving by themselves.”

“Others have reached out to us, they are not Latina. They are American citizens of different races,” Donelan, who added that she did not want the alleged assault to “create fear in a community that is already fearful.”

The woman, initially uncertain to involve authorities, made a crime report after friends encouraged her “several hours” following the event.

According to a report released by the ACLU in May, fear of deportation, heightened under the Trump administration, is preventing undocumented crime victims from making reports and participating in court proceedings. More than 50 percent of law enforcement surveyed in the report said that offenses were more difficult to investigate because survivors were too scared to work with them.

Police Chief Hank Stawinski said he hopes his team’s handling of the alleged assault quells the fears of undocumented immigrants who are afraid to interact with officers.

“It may stimulate concerns particularly within the Latino community, but my hope is that this will further the efforts that we’ve made over the last decade to make clear that we enforce the law and protect people in Prince George’s County, we do not enforce immigration law,” Stawinski said.

Macklin, 29, has been charged with first-degree rape, second-degree rape, perverted practice, second-degree assault and fourth-degree sex offense in addition to being suspended without pay. He is currently being held on no bond at the Prince George Corrections Department.

Read: HBO’s Latest Documentary “The Sentence” Sheds Light On How Unjust Mandatory-Minimum Sentences Can Break A Family

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

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

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.

Read: Mothers, Students And Teachers Protested — And Were Attacked By Police — At Puerto Rico’s May Day March

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In Brazil, Four Women Have Been Killed Every Day This Year

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In Brazil, Four Women Have Been Killed Every Day This Year

Since the start of 2019, four women have been killed daily in Brazil — and human rights leaders want the South American country to tackle the gender violence crisis more aggressively.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the human rights arm of the 35-member Organization of American States, described the deaths as “alarming” and stressed that more needs to be done to combat violence against women at its roots.

“The commission calls on the Brazilian State to implement comprehensive strategies to prevent these acts, fulfill its obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible, as well as to offer protection and comprehensive reparation to all victims,” the Washington-based IACHR said in a statement.

In 2015, Brazil, joining nations across Latin America, took its first major step to address the growing killing of women, passing a law that gave a legal definition to the crime — femicide — and instituting jail sentences for convicted offenders up to 30 years.

But, nearly five years later, IACHR is calling for the Brazilian government to do more, particularly in strengthening prevention and protection measures.

“It is inadmissible that women with protection orders are murdered, that they do not have sufficient shelters or that their complaints are not properly taken into consideration,” Commissioner Margarette May, IACHR’s president and rapporteur for women’s rights, said.

According to Human Rights Watch, while Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, has a population of more than 200 million, there are only 74 shelters for survivors of domestic violence in the nation.

IACHR added that many of the fatal victims of gender violence in Brazil, disproportionately Black, Indigenous and queer women, are often shot dead in their own homes by current or former intimate partners who have a history of abuse.

“The commission notes with concern that in most cases, the murdered women had previously denounced their aggressors, faced serious acts of domestic violence or suffered previous attacks or attempted homicides,” the IACHR said.

With Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president who has been compared to Donald Trump, taking office last month, activists are concerned the matter won’t be wholly addressed. As a candidate in 2018, Bolsonaro, who has already renamed the existing ministry of human rights to the ministry of women, family and human rights, combining indigenous rights with women’s issues, was the only person running for president who did not denounce the murder of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman and Afro-Brazilian defender of human rights Marielle Franco.

Read: One Of The Men Suspected In The Slaying Of Councilwoman Marielle Franco Has Been Arrested

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