Saturday, February 28, 2009

GABNet LA: FREE Political Fashion Art Show

In Commemoration of International Women's Day

Honoring Women Defenders
A FREE Political Fashion Art Show with Special Performances
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Pre-Show: 4:30pm
Show Starts: 5:00pm
Eagle Rock Plaza, Center Court: 2700 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90041

Join GABRIELA Network Los Angeles of the Mariposa Alliance as we commemorate International Working Women's Day by holding an event that will celebrate the brave and courageous journeys made by Women Defenders of human rights. We invite all peace loving, justice seeking and militant women to join us as we combine performance art and fashion with various women's organizations to proclaim our latest fashion statement: "Free Our Sisters, Free Our Selves!"

This March 14, 2009, we honor the journeys that Women Defenders have taken around the world and in our own local areas. We honor the road they have taken in advancing the rights and liberation of women and peoples everywhere. Though the rate of violence against women is most rampant; and though there is the highest rate of modern day slavery, especially of women, ever in history, Women Defenders have not given up. From Nepal to Venezuela to Kenya to the United States, women defenders have been organizing, demanding their rights, and fighting for countless others.

GABRIELA Network Los Angeles invites you to join us in this celebration of successes, of women who are true sheroes for their heroic acts of courage, compassion, and commitment. We celebrate women defenders past, present, and future who have never ceased to step up, stand up and perch high!

============ ========= ========= ========= ========

February 23, 2009
Amanda Martin, Gabnet LA Coordinator
losangeles@gabnet. org
Tel: 510-502-6522


On Saturday, March 14th, Gabriela Network Los Angeles of the Mariposa Alliance will host "A Mile in Her Shoes: Honoring Women Defenders." The political art and fashion show will highlight the lives of women who defend women's and human rights, honor everyday sheroes in our communities, and comment on the plight of women and children today.

"A Mile in Her Shoes: Honoring Women Defenders" is the 6th of annual political fashion shows Gabnet Los Angeles has hosted; each year, different issues women face are addressed, ranging from sex trafficking, to workers' rights, to domestic violence. This year, as the global economy sinks deeper into crisis, political repression concurrently rises. Women who struggle to survive through poverty and marginalization turn to political activism as a vehicle to change their realities, and they are punished for their resistance. Gabnet and its community partners – women's, community, youth, labor, and non-profit groups - will honor the brave women who defend their rights and their people's rights.

Please join Gabnet and its partners at "A Mile in Her Shoes: Honoring Women Defenders." Admission is free, and all justice-loving people are invited to join us. A silent auction of all fashion show pieces will follow. Photo opportunities will be available.


Date: Saturday, March 14th

Time: Pre-Show 4:30pm; Show 5:00pm

Location: Eagle Rock Plaza, Center Court; 2700 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, 90041


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Politics of the Plate: The Price of Tomatoes

If you have eaten a tomato this winter, chances are very good that it was picked by a person who lives in virtual slavery.

March 2009, Driving from Naples, Florida, the nation’s second-wealthiest metropolitan area, to Immokalee takes less than an hour on a straight road. You pass houses that sell for an average of $1.4 million, shopping malls anchored by Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, manicured golf courses. Eventually, gated communities with names like Monaco Beach Club and Imperial Golf Estates give way to modest ranches, and the highway shrivels from six lanes to two. Through the scruffy palmettos, you glimpse flat, sandy tomato fields shimmering in the broiling sun. Rounding a long curve, you enter Immokalee. The heart of town is a nine-block grid of dusty, potholed streets lined by boarded-up bars and bodegas, peeling shacks, and sagging, mildew-streaked house trailers. Mongrel dogs snooze in the shade, scrawny chickens peck in yards. Just off the main drag, vultures squabble over roadkill. Immokalee’s population is 70 percent Latino. Per capita income is only $8,500 a year. One third of the families in this city of nearly 25,000 live below the poverty line. Over one third of the children drop out before graduating from high school.

Immokalee is the tomato capital of the United States. Between December and May, as much as 90 percent of the fresh domestic tomatoes we eat come from south Florida, and Immokalee is home to one of the area’s largest communities of farmworkers. According to Douglas Molloy, the chief assistant U.S. attorney based in Fort Myers, Immokalee has another claim to fame: It is “ground zero for modern slavery.” Read the rest of Politics of the Plate. >>Read more

Facts on Abortion & Contraception

1.94 Million Unintended Pregnancies And 810,000 Abortions Are Prevented Each Year By Publicly Funded Family Planning Services

February 24, 2009: Six in 10 Clients Consider a Family Planning Center Their Main Source of Health Care. $4 Saved for Every $1 Invested; Expanding Medicaid Services to More Low-Income Women Would More Than Pay for Itself

By providing millions of young and low-income women access to voluntary contraceptive services, the national family planning program prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies, each year. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report.

Absent publicly funded family planning services, the U.S. abortion rate would be nearly two-thirds higher than it currently is, and nearly twice as high among poor women.

Publicly funded family planning services are highly cost-effective. More than nine in 10 women receiving them would be eligible for Medicaid-funded prenatal, delivery and postpartum care services if they became pregnant. Avoiding the significant costs associated with these unintended births saves taxpayers $4 for every $1 spent on family planning.

“The national family planning program is smart government at its best,” says Rachel Benson Gold, the study’s lead author. “Publicly funded family planning is basic health care that empowers disadvantaged women to decide for themselves when to become pregnant and how many children to have. It reduces recourse to abortion. And it saves significant amounts of taxpayer money.”

More than nine million women received publicly funded contraceptive services in 2006. Most (7.2 million) received their care from the national network of family planning centers. Another two million women received Medicaid-funded family planning care from private doctors. Six in 10 women who get care at a family planning center, including three out of four who are poor, consider the center to be their usual source of health care, according to the report.

“Many low-income women get their basic health care for the year during an annual visit to a family planning center,” says Gold. “The package of services they receive not only includes contraceptive counseling and the provision of a contraceptive method. It also includes pelvic and breast exams, tests for HIV and other STIs, screenings for reproductive cancers, high blood pressure and diabetes, and referrals to other health providers when necessary. This is essential, preventive health care for disadvantaged women.”

Public expenditures for family planning in 2006 totaled $1.85 billion, with 71% of those funds coming from the joint federal-state Medicaid program. The role of Medicaid in funding family planning has risen dramatically since the 1980s. The increase was driven by efforts in 21 states to expand eligibility specifically for family planning for low-income women who otherwise would not qualify for Medicaid.

“States as varied as Texas, New York, South Carolina and Missouri have decided to undergo the cumbersome and time-consuming process to seek federal permission, known as a waiver, to expand family planning services to more women who need them,” says Gold. “It’s a popular policy because it helps women while saving public dollars. It more than pays for itself.”

The report recommends that Congress eliminate the waiver requirement. Instead, states should be allowed to use the same income criteria to determine eligibility for family planning under Medicaid that they use to determine eligibility for pregnancy-related care.

“Cutting through the red tape and doing away with the waiver is a crucial first step that should be a high priority for policymakers,” says Gold. “Our report recommends other policy changes to help the national family planning program maintain and increase its effectiveness. These include increased funding for the federal Title X program, which provides critical support to the national family planning provider infrastructure. Policymakers also need to take a more comprehensive look at how Medicaid and Title X can best complement and strengthen each other.”
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4th most illegal migrants in US from RP

Filipinos make up the fourth largest group of unauthorized migrants in the United States as of January 2008, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a report released Tuesday.

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipinos make up the fourth largest group of unauthorized migrants in the United States as of January 2008, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a report released Tuesday.

Of the 11.6 million unauthorized migrants believed to still be in the US, the DHS said Mexicans comprised the most, with 7.03 million.

After Mexico came El Salvador (570,000), Guatemala (430,000), the Philippines and Honduras (300,000), Korea (240,000), China (220,000), Brazil (180,000), Ecuador (170,000), and India (160,000).

“The ten leading countries of origin represented 83 percent of the unauthorized immigrant population for 2008,” the report said.

North America, including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America, accounted for 8.8 million of 11.6 million unauthorized migrants in the US until last year. Asia follows with 1.2 million, and South America with 850,000.

The DHS also tracked where most of these illegal migrants are, with California hosting the most, with 2.85 million.

By Veronica Uy, Posted date: February 24, 2009. Read more at
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As we commemorate the enduring legacy of the global women’s movement this 2009 International Women’s Day, GABNet of the Mariposa Alliance calls for the laying down of a New Women’s Agenda attuned to the tactical needs of our time and the strategic requirements for full liberation for womankind. LAY DOWN THE NEW WOMEN’S AGENDA FOR FULL WOMEN’S LIBERATION!

February 27, 2009
Jollene Levid, GABNet Secretary-General
secgen@gabnet. org
Tel: 323-356-4748

BAY AREA, CA: As we commemorate the enduring legacy of the global women’s movement this 2009 International Women’s Day, GABNet of the Mariposa Alliance calls for the laying down of a New Women’s Agenda attuned to the tactical needs of our time and the strategic requirements for full liberation for womankind.

In this era of impending profound social transformation, when class society faces crisis upon crisis, and imperialism itself is reeling from the very catastrophe it has wrought upon the world, GABNet, in consonance with the cooperating organizations of the MARIPOSA ALLIANCE, calls for the coming together of all the disparate elements and forces of the women’s movement.

The changing demographics of our societies make this imperative. We are witnessing the rise of transnational women and their communities, with their own special cluster of issues. Women and men of two passports, of two cultures, of two or more languages and who are bi-racial are slowly becoming the majority population in the US. Indeed, within less than a decade, the US will become bi-lingual.

And because we are women of action, GABNet is spearheading the start of this discourse, with the founding congress of the Mariposa Alliance this Fall, in the Bay Area, California, with a gathering of individual women and representatives of women’s organizations to launch a higher level of cooperation among women of diverse origins and backgrounds.

We have reasons to celebrate the past year: the passage of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which recognizes gender discrimination as a continuum, the defeat of Proposition K for the legalization of prostitution, the extension of the International Marriage Brokers Regulatory Act (IMBRA), the impending passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York, the full surge of women’s participation in the last elections that wrote finish to the Bush/GOP administration, the rise of women’s voices the world over activism over a great range of issues, from reproductive rights to right to historical signification.

GABNet of the Mariposa Alliance can boast of two decades of consistent work for the emancipation of women of Philippine ancestry. Among its accomplishments for the past year alone are:
  • Holding four national meetings of GABNet membership and leadership;
  • Organizing ten school-based committees working on the Purple Rose Campaign Against the Traffic of Filipinas;
  • Engaging, on a national basis, on daily activities to commemorate 16 Days of Activism on Violence against Women;
  • Launching a mini-campaign on a Divorce Bill for the Philippines;
  • Holding a Los Angeles to San Diego Caravan Against the Trafficking of Women;
  • Holding a concert against the Trafficking and Violence against Women;
  • Organizing a rally of women in Los Angeles on International Women’s Day which earned the support of the West Hollywood City Council;
  • Organizing women’s delegations to all anti-war marches;
  • Organizing new GABNet high school units;
  • Holding a Feminist Valentine Dinner in commemoration of the Purple Rose Anniversary;
  • Initiating and deepening the organizing committee for the Mariposa Alliance.
In addition to this, all GABNet members participated in theory-building sessions and educational activities to enhance their understanding of women’s oppression and social activism.

This rich and long-standing experience in work for the liberation of women of Philippine ancestry is the solid foundational basis of the Mariposa Alliance, a coalition of individual women and women’s organizations in formation.

We have reasons as well to be upset: the same-sex marriage ban in California which deprived thousands of a basic human right, the emphasis on male-dominated industries in the stimulus package passed by Congress, the huge gender-gap in political and economic leadership which continues the pervasive masculinist rule in class society that women should be “responsible but with no power; accountable but with no authority;” the continuing redaction of women’s social and political roles to being place-holders of power for others, their political work deemed of no historic value, the continued violence against women which rests on the denial of their right to historical significance, and the patriarchal surge that enables their transformation into commodity under imperialist globalization.

It is time. Machismo is so obsolete; authoritarianism is passé and women considering their collective interests as secondary went out with whalebone girdle. The need for a new women’s agenda grows greater each passing day, the imperative for coming together more urgent. Let us begin lest we be left again holding the bucket – and an empty one at that -- as women have been in the past. The Future begins Today.

To the Bay, this Fall, to lay down the New Women’s Agenda!
Liberate women, liberate all!
Free ourselves, free our sisters!
End war and all violence against women!
Dismantle gender-based oppression and exploitation!
Equality in Unity, Justice in Strength!

-- ###
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Access Denied

Countless women are sexually assaulted as they attempt to immigrate into the United States. What happens to their reproductive rights when they wind up in U.S. custody?

When sexual-assault counselor Elia Alvarado first met Maria in 2007, Maria was wearing a blue prison uniform, sitting in a doctor’s office at the Port Isabel Detention Center. She was in her early 30s, but looked haggard, Alvarado recalls, older than her age. Two months and more than 1,500 miles after leaving Honduras, she had been detained at the border and taken to the immigration holding facility north of Brownsville.

Maria, a single mother, had left her 8-year-old daughter at home, she told Alvarado, and paid a man to take her to the border. Her ultimate destination, she said, was the Northeast, where a friend had promised to find her work as a housekeeper. “I went to send money home for my daughter,” she told Alvarado in a subsequent counseling session. “This was how I planned to support my family.”

Maria and several other Hondurans were guided on a journey by car and train, she said. At night, they stayed in ramshackle homes, sleeping on crowded floors. One of those nights, just before she reached the border, she said that a man grabbed her near an abandoned shack where the immigrants were staying. He forced himself on her, leaving Maria defenseless, the only witness to the violent act. Afterward, Maria blamed herself. She wondered if this was what she deserved for leaving her daughter. Read on at By Kevin Sieff | February 20, 2009 | The Texas Observer. >>Read more

Monday, February 16, 2009

2 US sailors charged with prostitute's murder, attempted murder of another in Mexico

Feb. 11, 2009, AP: Two U.S. sailors have been charged with the murder of a prostitute and the attempted murder of another in this northern border city, Mexican state prosecutors said.

Witnesses and a hotel camera place the two men at the same hotel where a 19-year-old prostitute was smothered to death on Jan. 17, the prosecutors said Tuesday.

On Feb. 4, prosecutors say, police found the men in a bloodstained hotel room with a prostitute and a hotel employee, both of whom had suffered stab wounds.

The sailors were taken into custody and charged with attempted murder. Authorities say they later found evidence linking them to the January killing.

A U.S. Navy statement on Wednesday said that Jarrett Monzingo and Joshua Dockery, active-duty petty officers assigned to the San Diego area, face murder and attempted-murder charges in the death of a Mexican citizen and are being held at La Mesa Prison in Tijuana.

The statement did not elaborate on the alleged crime but said that the Navy has hired Mexican lawyers to represent the petty officers. >>Read more

UN surprised at female role in 'modern slavery'

Surprisingly, the perpetrators behind human trafficking around the world are often women, the U.N. reported Thursday.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Surprisingly, the perpetrators behind human trafficking around the world are often women, the U.N. reported Thursday.

Women are the majority of traffickers in almost a third of the 155 nations the U.N. surveyed. They accounted for more than 60 percent of the human trafficking convictions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

For many, human trafficking is a world they had been pulled into themselves.

"Women commit crimes against women, and in many cases the victims become the perpetrators," Antonio Maria Costa, director of the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said in an interview. "They become the matrons of the business and they make money. It's like a drug addiction."

Most of the world's nations reported some form of "modern slavery" last year involving mainly the sex trade or forced labor.

And the number of victims should grow as the global financial crisis deepens, Costa said.

The report by Costa's office was based largely on human trafficking convictions reported to the U.N. between September 2007 and July 2008. About 22,500 victims were rescued during that time. About four of every five reported cases involved sexual exploitation; most of the rest involved forced labor.

But Costa's agency gave no overall figures for how many millions of people might be affected. He said most countries' conviction rates for human trafficking rarely exceed 1.5 per 100,000 people.

Two of every five countries covered in the report had not recorded a single conviction from 2007 to 2008.

"Either these countries are blind to the problem or they are ill-equipped to deal with it," Costa said.

"We only see the monster's tail," he said. "How many hundreds of thousands of victims are slaving away in sweatshops, fields, mines, factories, or trapped in domestic servitude? Their numbers will surely swell as the economic crisis deepens the pool of potential victims."

The report's release coincided with the appointment Thursday of Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino as a U.N. goodwill ambassador to help Costa's office fight human trafficking.

"Until a few years ago, I blissfully believed that slavery was a thing of the past. ... Well, obviously I was terribly wrong," said Sorvino, a mother with two young children.

"If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong," she said, repeating a famous statement by Abraham Lincoln, whose 200th birthday was celebrated Thursday.

The report also pointed out that women and girls suffer most from sexual abuse. About 20 percent of victims globally were children, mainly in Southeast Asia's Mekong region and parts of Africa.

Costa, who serves as the U.N.'s chief crime fighter, said it's difficult to get nations to address human trafficking because "it's at the crossroads" of other complex occurrences such as human migration and prostitution.

Sixty-three percent of the nations in the report had adopted some laws against human trafficking. The U.N. said most did so only after its protocol against human trafficking entered into force in December 2003.

U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime at
UN surprised at female role in 'modern slavery', The Associated Press, February 12, 2009, via International Herald Tribune at
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5 found guilty of forcing women into prostitution in L.A.

5 found guilty of forcing women into prostitution in L.A. The illegal immigrants were convicted of a plot to lure poor young Guatemalans to the U.S. with the promise of legitimate jobs.

Feb. 12, 2009, L.A. Times: A federal court jury on Wednesday convicted five people in connection with a plot to lure impoverished young women from Guatemala to the United States with the promise of legitimate jobs, only to then force them into prostitution to repay their supposed debts for being smuggled into the country.

All five defendants are illegal immigrants themselves, four of them women from Guatemala who also worked as prostitutes.

As the verdicts were read, the five defendants sat expressionless, as they did through much of the monthlong trial before U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow. Each of the five faces a potential life sentence, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

The case presented by prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of 10 young women who said they were forced to work as prostitutes and turn over their pay to the defendants.

Only one woman said she knew she was going to work in the sex trade before arriving in Los Angeles. The others said they were expecting to work as baby sitters, housekeepers, waitresses or in other jobs in which they hoped to earn up to $10 an hour, far more than they could in Guatemala.

Only after they arrived in the U.S., the young women testified, were they told the truth about what they would be doing.

"These defendants exploited their hopes for a better life in the United States," Assistant U.S. Atty. Cheryl Murphy told jurors shortly before they were given the case last week.

After five days of deliberations, the panel convicted all five defendants of the most serious charge they were facing: sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. The defendants were also convicted of conspiracy and importing and harboring illegal immigrants for the purpose of prostitution.

In often tearful testimony during the trial, the victims described having sex with up to 30 men a day. Several testified that they were forced to work while ill or menstruating, or both.

The victims said they were almost always watched by the defendants and were beaten and threatened with violence, even witchcraft, to keep them from trying to escape.

A girl identified as Esperanza, who was allegedly 17 when she arrived in the U.S. in 2005, said she was told her legs would be cut off and her entire family killed if she tried to escape. Another girl, identified as Rosaura, sobbed throughout her testimony and told jurors that defendant Gladys Vasquez Valenzuela threatened to throw acid on her face if she ever tried to leave.

After Wednesday's verdict, two of the five women on the jury said they were too upset to discuss their deliberations. Another, a 52-year-old grandmother from Altadena who asked that her name not be used, said: "It was nauseating, difficult to listen to."

At trial, prosecutors argued that five of the young women were under 18 when they arrived in the U.S. One had never left her rural village before making the dangerous trek north in the company of human smugglers. Two others continued to dress in costumes for Halloween and decorate their bedroom with stuffed animals, even after they had been taught to dress like hookers and were shown how to use condoms.

But jurors said prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the young women were underage.

"Not that they didn't look young -- they did," said Daniel Williams, a 59-year-old Exxon Mobil employee from Hawthorne. "But they didn't have proof."

The main defendant in the case was Valenzuela. According to prosecutors, Valenzuela, her sister, Mirna, and two of their nieces came to Los Angeles years ago and began working as prostitutes in the area around MacArthur Park. The women, along with Mirna's husband, Gabriel Mendez, then hatched the plot to force other young women from their rural Guatemalan village into the sex trade. They were arrested after a former employee helped some of the women escape and began cooperating with the FBI.

During the trial, defense attorneys sought to portray the young women as lying opportunists who had agreed to work as prostitutes before they left Guatemala.

They pointed to inconsistencies between their courtroom testimony and statements the women made when they were initially interviewed by FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents more than two years ago.

They also told jurors the women had motive to lie because if they were victims in the case as opposed to defendants it would help them secure legal residency in this country.

Though the women may have appeared weepy and vulnerable on the witnesses stand, they were in fact "seasoned liars" who came into court "ready, willing and able to lie," attorney Jeff Price told jurors during his closing arguments.

Dana Cephas, another defense attorney, suggested during his closing that the women may have willingly turned to prostitution to escape the poverty and despair of their lives in Guatemala.

This drew a stinging retort from Murphy, who prosecuted the case with Assistant U.S. Attys. Curtis Kin and Anthony Lewis.

"It's better to be a whore in the United States than it is to be poor in Guatemala," the prosecutor said rhetorically as she addressed the panel before they began deliberations.

"That is an insult not only to the whole nation of Guatemala," she said, "but to all of the women in this case."

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Buffalo Man beheads his Wife

Buffalo Man Who Launched TV Network to Show Muslims in Positive Light Arrested -- for Beheading His Wife: A prominent Buffalo area businessman who founded the BridgesTV network to improve the image of Muslims in the U.S. has been arrested and charged with murdering his estranged wife – by beheading her at his company’s office in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Thursday.

Feb. 13, 2009, A prominent Buffalo area businessman who founded the BridgesTV network to improve the image of Muslims in the U.S. has been arrested and charged with murdering his estranged wife – by beheading her at his company’s office in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Thursday.

Police have charged the husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, with second-degree murder in the death of Aasiya Z. Hassan, 37.

In its logo, BridgesTV boasts of “connecting people through understanding” via its dish network available in several states. Its Web site quotes comments about the company by Jay Leno, Brian Williams and others, plus a screen shot of a CNBC interview with Hassan conducted by Maria Bartiromo.

The site also shows a picture of Hassan with his slain wife, described as playing “an instrumental role in the creation of Bridges TV since she came up with the idea for the network.” The alleged killer is called “Mo S. Hassan” at the web site.

NPR's "All Things Considered" profiled the Hassans in 2004. The segment opened, "A new cable network for Muslim-Americans is up and running in Detroit. Bridges TV says it wants to inform and entertain Muslims and, at the same time, give viewers who aren't Muslims a glimpse into their culture ...

"Mo Hassan was traveling from Buffalo to Detroit a few weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks when his wife came up with the idea for the new network. They were in the car listening to the radio when they heard some derogatory remarks about Muslims."

Programs include kids shows, "American Muslim Teen Talk," Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" and an interview show with James Zogby. Its news program "brings you balanced coverage from around the world. News you can trust."

He is CEO of the company after stints as a sales rep at Proctor & Gamble and as a banker in Buffalo. He got his MBA at the University of Rochester. The bio concludes: “Mr. Hassan brings to Bridges TV vision, persistence, data-based decision making and financial discipline.”

Police say the wife had an order of protection from the man. A murder weapon has not yet been recovered. The couple had two children, ages 4 and 6.

Khalid J. Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, said, “There is no place for domestic violence in our religion — none. Islam would 100 percent condemn it.”

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Amazon selling rape simulation game

A game that involves the player stalking victims and then raping them in a virtual world is being offered for sale by online retailer, the Belfast Telegraph reveals.

Feb. 12, 2009, Belfast Telegraph: A game that involves the player stalking victims and then raping them in a virtual world is being offered for sale by online retailer, the Belfast Telegraph's website reveals.

The shocking 'rape simulator', Rapelay, is set in Japan and carries a sickening game description on the Amazon website. An MP said last night that he plans to raise the issue in Parliament.

Reviews by gaming websites have expressed horror at the basis for the game. One website review describes "tears glistening in the young girl's eyes" as she is attacked in graphic detail.

Players begin the game by stalking a mother on a subway station before violently raping her. They then move on to attack her two daughters described as virgin schoolgirls.

Players are also allowed to enter 'freeform mode' where they can rape any woman and get other male game characters to join the attacks.

Pregnancy and abortion are listed as 'key features'. One review said: "If she does become pregnant you're supposed to force her to get an abortion, otherwise she gets more and more visibly pregnant each time you have sex.

"If you allow the child to be born then the woman will throw you in front of a train!"

Most of the descriptions and screenshots of the game are too graphic for publication here.

The game's producer, Illusion is a company from Japan famous for making similar 3D Hentai games.

The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, says: "Due to Illusion's policy, its games are not intended to be sold or used outside of Japan, and official support is only given in Japanese and for use in Japan."

Despite this policy consumers, including those in the UK and Ireland, are now able to buy the game through the Amazon website.

Last night Labour MP Keith Vaz said he was shocked that Amazon are allowing people to purchase such a game and plans to raise the issue in Parliament after being contacted by the Belfast Telegraph website.

Mr Vaz said: “It is intolerable that anyone would purchase a game that simulates the criminal offence of rape.

"To know that this widely available through a major online retailer is utterly shocking, I do not see how this can be allowed.

“I will be raising this matter in Parliament and hope that action is taken to prevent the game from being sold.”

Last year the MP for Leicester East was criticised for claiming such games exist.

Mr Vaz was speaking in support of of Conservative MP Julian Brazier's Private Member's Bill – which sought to introduce an official governmental body that can challenge rulings by the British Board of Film Classifications (BBFC).

Vaz stated: "People who are watching a film at the cinema cannot participate in what is happening on the screen, or if they do they are removed from the cinema.

"However...when people play these things, they can interact. They can shoot people; they can kill people. As the honourable Gentleman said, they can rape women."

Vaz's claims were questioned by Tory MP for Wantage Edward Vaizey.

He told Parliament: "...the right honourable Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), who chairs the Home Affairs Committee, mentioned that some video games allow the participant to engage in a rape act...

"I checked the point with the BBFC and found it to be completely unaware of any such video game.

"Is the honourable Gentleman aware of any video game that has as its intention the carrying out of rape or that allows the game player to carry out such an act? The BBFC and I are unaware of any such game."

At the time hundreds of gaming blogs slated Vaz for his comments. One blog poster said: "This guy has no idea what he's talking about he's more likey to of never even played a game in his life just plain stupid if you ask me."

Only one comment appears on the Amazon website. The user says: "1.0 out of 5 stars. The fact that this exists as a game makes me sad. I am saddened and appalled by the mere idea of this game. is this for real?"

Last year the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Amazon had listed a Barack Obama mask as terrorist costume. The online retailer said the offensive category was put there by someone using its "tag" feature and had removed it immediately.

After being contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Amazon today removed the web page (still viewable from Google's cache). The company would not comment on the item or say why it had been offered for sale through their website.

Rapelay Japanese PC game, by Illusion
Game description on Amazon: Rapelay is an offshoot of the Illusion series, Interact Play. You, like in previous installments, play as a public nuisance that gets away from captivity and starts scouting for new targets. This time around you find a family of a single mother and her two daughters. You quickly begin your hunt and capture each woman one by one. The gameplay involves an amusing training/disposition system with which to break each respective target to your liking....

>>Read more