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Taking stock of life for Arab women; Tale of Marie reveals mistrust of rape victims in US

Aired March 8, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, on International Women's Day, my conversation with two inspiring pioneers for gender equality. From

Egypt to Afghanistan, we hear from women throwing down the gauntlet in some of the toughest parts of the world to be a woman.


MONA ELTAHAWY, ACTIVIST AND AUTHOR, "HEADSCARVES AND HYMENS": Look patriarchy in the eye and we will dismantle you because this has been going

on for too long. It's unjust and it's wrong and it must end.


AMANPOUR: Plus, in America, exposing injustice in the justice system, a shocking story of rape and the woman whose account was not believed. Will

the #MeToo movement change all that now?

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Let this moment sink in, it is International Women's Day in the year of #MeToo and Time's Up, movements that have seriously dented the patriarchy

as never before.

So, there is much to celebrate, and yet there is still so much to accomplish. In getting women of the world into positions of power and

authority, in ending systemic violence against women and in paying women the same as men to do the same job.

The #MeToo tsunami started in Hollywood and it has moved to other industries and professions as well. But what about women in the developing


A piece of good news, child marriage has significantly decreased in India and South Asia. So, that's the region we start today, with Fawzia Koofi, a

member of the Afghan Parliament, and Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American activist and author of the book, "Headscarves and Hymen: Why the Middle

East Needs a Sexual Revolution".

Welcome ladies. Welcome to the program on this International Women's Day. So, let me start with you Fawzia there in Kabul. This has been known, your

country, as the worst place in the world for women. What is it like today for you and your fellow women and young girls?

FAWZIA KOOFI, AFGHAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, I guess, things have changed a lot comparing to before 2001 for women in Afghanistan, in terms of

education, in terms of political participation, et cetera.

But still the problem of the violence against women and, of course, the threats of losing the gains we have still remain a challenge for a woman


AMANPOUR: So, you are a pioneer, you're a member of parliament. You just talked about violence. Eight-seven percent of Afghan women have

experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence during their lifetime.

And you are trying to sponsor and enact a bill, a law to prevent this kind of thing. It isn't informally in law yet. Do you think it will be?

KOOFI: Christiane, it's always challenging all over the world, I guess, if you want to work for equality, if you want to work for women and human


In Afghanistan, it's much more challenging. It's kind of putting your forehead in the stone every day. We failed to approve the law on violence

against women in 2013.

We still continue to struggle to make this law get approved by parliament, but it is not an easy thing to get something related to the woman approved

by a parliament, which not only elite and open-minded people sit there, but people who have a different understanding of religion and they try to

impose their own understanding on women.

So, it becomes very challenging when there is a different interpretation of religion and Islam, especially, and they try to impose that on women.

That's why I think we have still a long way to go when it comes to laws related to the women.

AMANPOUR: Yes. So, let me move on to Mona then because regarding that sort of religious aspect, Mona, you're sitting there in New York, but you

are Egyptian and you were raised for long time in Saudi Arabia.

So, you've seen the whole gamut. And you, like many people expected, you were very active during the Arab Spring to see a wholesale new reality for

women. How has it turned out for Arab women?

MONA ELTAHAWY, ACTIVIST AND AUTHOR, "HEADSCARVES AND HYMENS": Well, I think Tunisia remains the best inspiration for me because Tunisia, as you

know, Christiane, was the first country to have a revolution in December of 2010 and it inspired so many other countries, including my country of

birth, Egypt.

And Tunisia last year passed a revolutionary law to protect women from domestic violence, but also from what they call economic violence and

emotional violence.

[14:05:07] And Tunisia also, through that revolutionary bill, ended something that's called the marry-your-rapist law, which unfortunately

remains on the books. It's a colonial law that was imposed on Tunisia by France when it occupied Tunisia. And last year, Tunisia got it off the

books, inspiring Lebanon to remove a similar law and also Jordan.

So, I always look to Tunisia because other than that it also lifted a ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men and it is also working to make

inheritance between Muslim women and Muslim men equal, which I fully support, but which is considered very controversial because the clerics in

Al-Azhar University, Islamic University in Egypt, have all spoken out against it.

So that's by way of telling you the positive things that happened last year.

But, of course, when we look at countries like Syria and Libya where the violence is much more obvious - Syrian women are caught between the regime

and the Russians and Iran and also the so-called rebel groups.

And then, when I look at my country of birth, Egypt, where there's an insurgency in Sinai, that insurgency is usually portrayed as the military

forces of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, our military-backed president, who himself used to be a general, and the insurgents in Sinai, and we never hear about

women. We never hear about the women in Sisi's prisons. We never hear about feminists who have been prevented from travel and who have had the

assets of their NGOs for women's rights frozen.

So, again and again, we see women falling through the cracks even though women were side by side with men marching against the oppression of the


AMANPOUR: Fawzia, as Mona is talking about the dangers, and you have as well, what is your view of your president offering unconditional talks with

the Taliban to change the constitution and potentially open it up to reflect a new peace deal to give them legitimacy as a political party. And

they, of course, were the most anti-women group that we've seen in more modern history.

KOOFI: Well, that was a very generous proposal by our president, to be honest. In many occasions, women were not consulted and it's very, I

guess, kind of natural unfortunately when it comes to women inclusion in the peace process.

Women have not been involved in war globally, but when it comes to their involvement in peace process, the perspective, the general perspective, is

that they will be included once the decisions are made.

During Taliban, particularly, but also before that and after that, but during Taliban, as you rightly mention, women have been deprived of basic


I was living in Kabul during that time and I know what does that mean when you live under Taliban regime. So, I believe that women should be


And there is a fear, and there is a legitimate fear, among woman in Afghanistan that we might lose some of the gains we have because if you

open up the talks for peace and amendment of constitution, there are other articles, that there are people who are seeking to change, especially when

it comes to kind of the positive discrimination and quota for women, political participation that a lot of people in Afghanistan oppose it.

When it comes to equality, Article Number 22 of Afghan Constitution state that Afghan - both man and woman, all the genders have equal rights. And

there are people who are sitting, watching the momentum to change that.

And, I guess, to make such statement is easy, but to actually bring it to practice without making anybody lose anything would be a challenge.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And you're absolutely right. This idea that you've had progress, you've won your rights, and yet they're still at risk and

everybody has to be vigilant.

I think, even in the West, people believe that because even though we have rights, there is still a massive disparity in enforcing those rights.

Mona, you have written a lot recently about #MeToo and you've been very bold about how you reacted physically against people who have even recently

tried to sexually assault you.

ELTAHAWY: Yes, Christiane. One of my favorite movements of the past few months was when I was sexually assaulted at a club where I was dancing with

my beloved, having a great night in Montreal, Canada of all places. And a man sexually assaulted me and I grabbed him and I punched him about 10 to

15 times until he ran away from me.

Now, a lot of people asked, well, don't you think you were too violent and my response, of course, was this is self-defense. And I think what this

particular movement, the #MeToo Movement reminds us, is that this is one of many revolutionary moments.

This isn't the first time that woman have said #MeToo, but now we're asking what can we do to make #MeToo more than a hashtag. We don't want this to

be a moment that is looked in about famous white Hollywood actresses and what powerful white Hollywood producers do to them.

[14:10:01] I want this to be a moment that is for women all over the world, for marginalized women, for women from queer communities, for women from

faith communities. So, I was very happy to see #ChurchToo by Christian women in the US, who were exposing sexual violence in their context.

And as part of what I wanted in order to widen the space for Muslim women, I began a movement called #MosqueMeToo. And it was actually in support of

a young Pakistani woman called Sabica Khan, who herself was inspired by #MeToo. And she wrote about being sexually assaulted in Islam's holiest

sites in Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

So, you are seeing women from different groups, which is what is absolutely necessary. Women talking about sexual assault, harassment, misconduct in

various parts of their lives.

AMANPOUR: Fawzia, I wonder what you think when you look from Kabul across to Saudi Arabia, for instance, and you see that this country, which is even

further behind Afghanistan in its women's rights, is trying to reform and would allow women to drive. What kind of hope do you take from that? Do

you think it's real and meaningful?

KOOFI: Well, you know that Saudi Arabia is kind of followed by many people, many Muslims around the world. And, I guess, what they do in terms

of freedom for women is basically a role model for Muslims around the world, especially in Afghanistan because it's a good judgment, it's a good

justification for us also to use in our arguments with some of these the kind of religious clerks when they try to impose their own understanding of

religion on us, on women.

So, I think it's a good step forward, but let me also mention here that Afghanistan has a long history of women participation - politically,

socially. Through our history, we had woman somehow participating in the society.

It was only during Taliban and the Civil War that we have so much (INAUDIBLE). We went back. And I think this kind is kind of a dark spot

in our history.

Now, from 2001, we have started again everything from scratch, basically from scratch. I remember when I was doing the back-to-school campaign for

girls to go to school, we were setting up tents for girls to go to school because there were no schools basically.

Now, of course, things have changed. 40 percent out of 11 million children that go to school are girls. These are huge progress.

But if there is no assurance and if all the progress is fragile, then, of course, there is the worry. And, of course, we do hear from our

international partners also that we will not go back to 2001 or during Taliban.

We need to have that in meaningful - in practice. We need to have women in the negotiations table when there are talks with Taliban or with other

groups because sometimes they make the decision and then they tell, well, the decisions were not important.

I mean, we need to include women from the beginning, so that all these concerns and worries are addressed.

AMANPOUR: Exactly. And we really do need to keep an eye on all of this from a woman's perspective, from a human perspective.

Finally, to you, Mona, you have written a book with a very provocative title "Headscarves and Hymens" and you say the Arab world, the Muslim world

needs a sexual revolution. What exactly do you mean by that?

ELTAHAWY: I mean, by sexual revolution, the declaration that I own my body. And from that, everything that I fight for is a revolutionary act.

So, when I fight against domestic violence, it's a revolutionary act. When I fight against female genital mutilation, it's a revolutionary act. When

I fight against the guardianship system in Saudi Arabia, which I think lies at the heart of the misogyny and patriarchy there, it's a revolutionary


And when I say I own my body, it means it doesn't belong to the state or the street or the home or the church or the mosque or the temple, and it's

my right to have sex with whomever, obviously, with their consent, whenever I choose, with a man, with a woman, with whatever permutations and


And from that comes that #IBeatMyAssaulter when I punched that man who sexually assaulted me in a club because when I talk about the sexual

revolution in the Middle East and North Africa, I'm also talking about the entire world. That's just a part I happen to be from.

But I'm speaking to you from New York and I think this moment is a revolutionary moment. There was this global rage that you will see whether

you're following Tunisia or Afghanistan or the United States. There was a global wave of women's rage and women are saying we are done.

And when I punched that man in the club, I'm now 50 years old and I am shameless, I am no longer the teenager who was sexually assaulted during

pilgrimage and frozen, burst into tears because she didn't know what to do because she was horrified by it.

And when I started #MosqueMeToo and #IBeatMyAssaulter, Christiane, I heard from women all over the world with their own individual stories of rage.

[14:15:00] So, I think this moment of global women's rage is a truly revolutionary moment in which each of us can say I own my body and you

cannot touch it with my consent, you cannot prevent me from exercising my rights, guardianship or the sponsorship system because we also must

include, as I was saying, all women, including the domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and other countries of privilege.

So, let's take advantage of this global women's rage and tell patriarchy, look patriarchy in the eye and we will dismantle you because this has been

going on for too long. It's unjust and it's wrong and it must end.

AMANPOUR: Fantastic perspective from two really important parts of the world. Fawzia Koofi there in Kabul, Mona Eltahawy in New York, thank you

so much for joining me on this International Women's Day.

And, of course, #MeToo highlights the importance of listening to women. But as the book, "A False Report" shows, even in violent and unambiguous

cases of rape, some victims are met not only with doubt, but downright suspicion.

"A False Report" tells the extraordinary story of Marie. She's a young woman who was raped at knife point and then she was charged with lying

about it. Her life spiraled downwards until agent Stacy Galbraith helped uncover the truth.

Agent Galbraith joins me now with the book's co-author Ken Armstrong.

Thank you both for joining us on this day. Let me start with you, Ken. You have written this amazing book called "False Report". We're in the

#MeToo moment. And if anything, it's about finally listening to women when they complain about this kind of victimhood. Why are they still not being

listened to in these cases?

KEN ARMSTRONG, CO-AUTHOR, "A FALSE REPORT: A TRUE STORY OF RAPE IN AMERICA": That is, I think, the question of the moment. And Marie's case

in Washington exemplifies that very problem.

At the heart of the #MeToo movement is this frustration with not being heard, with not being listened to. Marie's case exemplifies that in the

most tragic way possible. If Marie wasn't believed, a woman who was raped at knife point by a stranger, a woman who had bruises on her wrist, who

went to the hospital, who cooperated with police each step of the way, if she wasn't believed, how much faith can others have when they come forward.

AMANPOUR: Well, one of the complicating factors, Ken, is that she confessed and then recanted and then confessed and, of course, there was

all sorts of pressure that she felt she was under during the police investigation and interview.

Describe how a victim to whom something actually did happen then recants her explanation.

ARMSTRONG: It's difficult to believe. And I think it's difficult in some ways to understand, particularly because, in Marie's case, this all

happened within one week of her having been raped.

But what happened is that, a day after she was raped, a foster mother in her life called police and said she had concerns about Marie's credibility.

At that moment, the investigation pivoted and the detectives began treating Marie as a suspect rather than as a victim. They then interrogated her

rather than interviewing her. And under the pressure of that interrogation, she took her story back. The way she viewed it, it was the

easiest way out of an untenable situation.

Once that happened, the detectives in essence stopped investigating.

AMANPOUR: So, now we pivot to you, Stacy Galbraith, detective there in Colorado. Just explain to me how you come into this amazing story and how

you pretty much figured out who the rapist was. The story is incredible.

STACY GALBRAITH, AGENT, COLORADO BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: My case that I worked on in Golden, Colorado was this rapist's last known victim. So,

when we got the case, we started investigating.

I immediately started reaching out to partners in the metro area and was able to find a case out of Westminster, Colorado. So, we started meeting

regularly and putting our heads together. And rather quickly, we were able to come up with the suspect in this case.

AMANPOUR: And then, what happened to Marie and what happened to the person who you discovered actually was her rapist?

GALBRAITH: Well, we reached out to the Washington Department and Washington handled the case with Marie. She was prosecuted in Colorado as

well as Washington.

So, I've talked with Marie one time on the phone since all of this had happened and she's very appreciative. And as far as what happened to the

suspect in the case, he's still in custody in Department of Correction.

[14:20:08] AMANPOUR: It seems like standard operating procedure that you would share information between districts and different areas on these

crime cases. Is it standard operating procedure or is what you did kind of not standard operating procedure?

GALBRAITH: Well, it should be standard operating procedure. It's just a matter of access to a multitude of avenues to reach the right detective,

the right person who investigated the case.

We have crime computers that we can communicate information through. This particular reach-out was through email, a vast group of investigators that

I was able to get the information to.

AMANPOUR: Ken Armstrong, I mean, it kind of give you chills - I don't know whether it gives you chills - to think that that might not have happened

and Marie may still have been disbelieved and she may still have been penalized and the guy may still be out there as a serial rapist.

What do you think about the police investigation that Stacy was part of, the collaboration, and what was the rapist banking on? Was he also trying

to game the system?

ARMSTRONG: Chilling is the right word and I've thought about that often. And in terms of Marc O'Leary, yes, he studied police practices. He even

had a book, the rape investigation handbook, and he knew that at times police did not share information.

So, he made sure to commit his crimes in different jurisdictions each time, assuming that that would make it less likely that he would ever be caught.

And I can tell you, in Washington, that is indeed what happened. He raped two women in Washington two months apart in two different suburbs of

Washington. And there were striking parallels between the two cases.

And even though the police were aware of those similarities, they never wound up pooling resources and investigating the cases jointly.

AMANPOUR: So, what - did the police make reparations to her? Was there anybody fired? Was there a sort of a reorganization of how you actually

handle these cases? What was the upshot from Marie from, first of all, the police mishandling of this?

ARMSTRONG: Yes. The police in Lynnwood, to their credit, have owned this mistake and have worked hard to learn from it.

They apologized to Marie personally not just from the head of the department, but the lead detective in this case. He met with Marie

personally and apologized.

And Marie, she is remarkable. She not only is remarkable for her perseverance, but also for her ability to forgive.

The department has taken steps to learn from this. They have more advanced training now on what trauma looks like. They have more protocols in place

for what circumstances under which they are allowed to doubt a victim's account.

And in terms of - if they ever file charges, they now have more hurdles they have to clear.

AMANPOUR: And agent Galbraith, do you think that the fact that you're woman detective played any part in you believing her maybe more than the

other detectives who interviewed her and actually gave you this impetus to collaborate, share information and try to widen the net around this Marc


GALBRAITH: Well, I think we have a lot of capable male sex crime detectives. But as a female, it may be easier to open up to, say, a female

detective or an interviewer to some degree.

But the males are trained the same as the females are, but we tend to interact with one another slightly differently. And if we have a female

sex assault victim, it may be easier for her to talk to another woman about what happened versus a man.

AMANPOUR: And just to end, it apparently seems that still, in the United States, only one-fifth of women contact the police after they have been


So, agent Galbraith, if you had to sum up, what do you hope the future brings in these cases?

GALBRAITH: I hope that we, in law enforcement, can set aside any biases or anything we have preconceived and just listen to the victims - men, women,

children - that are coming to report crimes.

It's not on us to even judge them on truth or that they're not telling the truth at that moment. It's our duty to listen to them and investigate from


[14:25:02] AMANPOUR: Agent Galbraith in Colorado and Ken Armstrong in Seattle, thank you so much for joining us this evening.

Extraordinary and thoughtful women and men working to make people's lives better.

And we continue our streak of women making a difference in our show tomorrow as we go back to Hollywood history and the life of actress and

secret inventor Hedy Lamarr. Plus, one of the most successful female singers of our time and a committed campaigner for gender justice, Annie


When I interviewed her here in the studio, I put her on the spot by asking her to belt out a tune. Here's a sneak peek.


AMANPOUR: That was a very special rendition, acapella of her legendary feminist anthem, "Sisters" and you can see my full conversation and more of

that song with Annie Lennox on tomorrow's program.

And that's it for our program tonight. R2emember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.