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A ‘witch girl’, Esther, rescued for the second time

Jun 16th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe
A ‘witch girl’, Esther, rescued for the second time

Yesterday, I rescued for the second time an 8 year old girl, Esther Obot Moses who was branded a witch and exiled by her family in Nsit Ubium in Akwa Ibom state in Southern Nigeria.

Some weeks ago, I was informed by my local contacts that Esther, who was handed over to the Ministry of Women Affairs of the Akwa Ibom state government for proper care and rehabilitation, had returned to the ‘lunatic’, Okokon, who kidnapped her some time ago.

I met Esther and Okokon wearing pants in the same filthy house where I found them in January this year. Esther looked depressed and traumatized. Okokon, who is believed to have some mental problems, lives alone in a dirty two-room … Read the rest

Humanists to Hold Anniversary Conference in Abuja

Jun 11th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

In September, humanists from across the Federation will  be gathering in Abuja for their national convention. This event, to be held at Vines Hotel Durumi, will be the first of its kind at the nation’s capital. It promises to be the largest gathering of non-religious people in the history of Nigeria. The convention marks the 15th anniversary of the Nigerian Humanist Movment (NHM). Founded in 1996, NHM provides a sense of community to non-religious people who often identify themselves severally as atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, skeptics, rationalist or brights. In the last 15 years, NHM has worked to ensure that the voice of non-believers is heard and that the humanist perspective is brought to bear on issues of national importance. NHM … Read the rest

Homosexuality – a Survival Advantage for Early Man

Jun 10th, 2011 | By John Hayman
John Hayman is a retired pathologist with experience in the diagnosis of diseases associated with HIV infection. He has looked for a reason as to why same sex sexual orientation, with greatly diminished genetic survival prospects for the one individual, should be present with such high frequency in all human populations. ‘Kin selection’ offers an explanation;  survival prospects as a whole are enhanced in those family groups having one or more members with same sex orientation.  



History of Homosexuality


              Homosexuality is not a recent phenomenon; it is recorded in the earliest human writings and is depicted in petroglyphs. It is well documented in the Greek and Roman civilizations, in the cuneiform writings of the earlier societies along the Tigris Read the rest

‘Baby Farm’ Girls and the Sale of Children in Nigeria

Jun 4th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

The rescue by the Nigeria Police of 32 pregnant girls allegedly held by a human trafficking ring in Aba in south-eastern Nigeria has literally shocked the world. But to anyone acquainted with the ‘culture’ of women and child rights abuses in the country, it should not come as a surprise. The police raid has brought to global attention and knowledge new layers of horrific abuses and exploitation of women and children in the country.

According to the report, these girls, between the ages of 15 and 17 years, were locked up and used to ‘produce’ babies, who were then allegedly sold for ritual witchcraft purposes or adoption. Unicef estimates that at least 10 children are sold daily across Nigeria.

This … Read the rest

Their Feet Don’t Touch The Ground

Jun 2nd, 2011 | By Bruce Everett

In the middle of May, a report, The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010[1], was presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by researchers from John Jay College. Circulated more broadly on the 16th of May, the document has (not without reason) been viewed as flawed to the point of being suspect.

Almost predictably from the usual quarters, the way in which the mere laity have viewed the report has been met with a near pre-reformation style of contempt. Apparently the masses need the clergy to spell it out for them!

In Australia, this high-handed misanthropy finds archetypal expression in Scott Stephens’ Catholic sexual abuse Read the rest

A system designed to maim women into submission

May 26th, 2011 | By Lauryn Oates

Last year, at a women’s community centre in Kabul I met Hamida.* A Herati, she was staying with relatives in the teeming capital, after her husband left her destitute when he left to go work in Iran, where she suspected he maintained another family. She had been married to him for seven years before divorcing him three years ago. In her married life, she had experienced extraordinary abuse at the hands of both her husband and her in-laws, with whom she lived. After making the courageous decision to leave her husband, she tried to return to her father’s household but was turned away, hence the reason she was boarding with an aunt and an uncle in Kabul, far away from … Read the rest

Let Us Now Excuse Famous Men: Schwarzenegger, Strauss-Kahn and Male Entitlement

May 23rd, 2011 | By Phil Molé

We recently learned that former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who recently separated from his wife Maria Shriver, fathered a son thirteen years ago with another woman. Worse, the mother of this child was the family’s trusted housekeeper for 20 years, and Schwarzenegger did not tell Shriver about the infidelity or the child until earlier this year. We also saw the initiation of sexual assault charges this week against French politician, economist and International Monetary Fund (IMF) director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. According to police reports, Strauss-Kahn came out of the bathroom of a New York hotel room naked while a female housekeeper was cleaning the room, chased her through the hotel room, cornered her, and forced her to perform oral sex on … Read the rest

Forceful Evacuation of Children from CRARN Center by Akwa Ibom State’s Commissioner for Women Affairs

May 20th, 2011 | By James Ibor

On May 10, 2011, the Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations and Child Rights Abuses, established by the Government of Akwa Ibom State and led by Hon. Justice Godwin Abraham, concluded its sitting which was initially held at Akwa Ibom State Judiciary headquarters, Uyo, and was later adjourned to Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat, Uyo and then to Nigeria High Commission, London, United Kingdom.

On May 16, 2011, a mere six days later, Mrs. Eunice Thomas, Akwa Ibom State’s infamous Commissioner for Women Affairs, together with her team, stormed the premises of Child’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), with a centre at Esit Eket, abducted over one hundred of its children, forced them into Akwa Ibom Transport Company … Read the rest

Witchcraft Accusations and Politics in Akwa Ibom State

May 18th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

On Monday April 16, 2011, the government of Akwa Ibom state, through its Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, started taking away children from a local shelter managed by a non governmental organisation, the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) and its partners, to a supposed state-owned shelter.That brings to a head the long running tension between the state government, this local NGO, and other child rights activists in the state. The Akwa Ibom state government had accused CRARN and its local partners of exaggerating the problem of child witch hunting and using it to make money.

The campaign against witchcraft accusations and child rights abuses in Akwa Ibom has been mired in intricate politics. This article takes a … Read the rest

Chomsky, bin Laden and the struggle for a shining future

May 15th, 2011 | By Andrzej Koraszewski

Translation by Małgorzata Koraszewska and Sarah Lawson

On Friday, May 6, a towering figure of the left, Noam Chomsky, published his comments on the tragic death of Osama bin Laden in the magazine Guernica. There the learned linguist expresses great doubt whether bin Laden’s statement about his own responsibility for the attack on the World Trade Center can be taken seriously. According to Chomsky, Obama was lying when he said, after the operation in which an unarmed man was killed, that the United States quickly learned that the attacks on the  WTC were carried out by al Qaeda; after all, even “the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, … Read the rest

Mr. Obama: We, the Real Americans, Demand That You Show Us More Stuff

May 1st, 2011 | By Phil Molé

President Obama (if that is your real name), we are real Americans, the ones who’ve patiently demanded that you release your long-form birth certificate – a demand you have apparently now met thanks to the counterfeiting skills you learned in your true birthplace of Kenya. Your clever forgery may quell the suspicions of some Americans, but not us. We’ve already swapped demands for your long-form birth certificate for demands that you show your college records. But that’s just the beginning. We demand that you show us more stuff, and that you show us now.

Here is a list of what we will need to see, at a minimum, if we are ever going to stop drawing Hitler mustaches on your … Read the rest

Comment 29

Apr 26th, 2011 | By Paul W

Prologue: James Croft wondered about some fundamental value not shared among gnu atheists and accommodationists. Paul offered an answer which many readers found illuminating, too illuminating to be hidden as comment 29 on a long thread.

I think that gnu atheists and accommodationists disagree mainly over one thing: is there too much forthright criticism by atheists of religion generally, or too little?

Gnu atheists think more people ought to regularly speak up critically about bad religious ideas, and that those bad religious ideas are common to “liberal” religion as well as, e.g., fundamentalism.

The reasons why gnus think there’s too little forthright criticism and accommodationists think there’s too much vary considerably.

Accommodationists typically think some or all of the following, … Read the rest

Q and A on The Good Book

Apr 23rd, 2011 | By A C Grayling

 When and why did you become an atheist?

I was brought up in a non-religious family, and when I first encountered religion it simply seemed incredible, no more believable that the fairy stories and Greek myths that I had read and enjoyed as a child.

What motivated you to write The Good Book?

Several decades ago, while studying the ethical theories and systems of the world, I saw a fundamental difference between religion-derived ethics and what I call ‘humanism’, that is, non-religious ethics, namely, that the former present themselves as the commands and requirements of a monarchical deity whereas the latter premises itself on efforts to understand human nature and the human condition – and whereas the former typically cut … Read the rest

Muslims Should Learn to Tolerate Offence and Dissent

Apr 19th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

My article on the Afghan Koran protest – an unfortunate incident which left over 20 people dead and many more injured – generated many comments and criticisms on the internet. In fact somebody said the piece was informed by ‘racism and islamophobia’. Well I guess this fellow thought I was a white or a Christian or someone living in the West.

 I do not in this article intend to respond to issues raised by those who read the article. For me let the debate continue. I have made my point. What I said in that piece – and in this very one – applies to many Muslims, not all.

So, once again in reaction to the protest over the Koran Read the rest

Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape

Apr 16th, 2011 | By Ophelia Benson

Sam Harris asks an interesting question in the introduction, after laying out his central (and not really controversial) claim that questions about values are questions about the well-being of conscious creatures. “Is it possible,” he asks, “that certain people are incapable of wanting what they should want?” Of course, he answers; there are always people who get things wrong. But that question doesn’t exhaust the difficulties that arise in moral discussion, yet Harris separates it out as if it did. The really hard question, which he generally gives short shrift, asks “is it possible that there are many people who are incapable of wanting what other people want?” In other words is it possible that many people do just fine … Read the rest

Charles Darwin’s Illness

Apr 15th, 2011 | By John Hayman MD


Darwin’s Illness

Charles Darwin suffered from a persistent, debilitating illness for most of his adult life with a wide range of bizarre symptoms.[1] Attacks of nausea and vomiting were his most distressing complaint but he also experienced headaches, abdominal pains, ‘lumbago’, palpitations and chest pain, numbness and tingling in the fingers, sweating, heat and cold sensitivity, flushing and swelling of his face and extremities, eczema, recurrent boils, attacks of acute anxiety, a sensation of dying and hysterical crying. His abdominal symptoms were associated with much flatulence with the noisy expulsion of pungent gas both ‘upwards and downwards’. In addition to all of this he also suffered from episodes of severe lethargy when he was virtually confined to his sofa.… Read the rest

The Postmodern Interpretation of Witchcraft

Apr 10th, 2011 | By Joshua Leach

Today, the great wave of postmodernist and poststructuralist academic writing, with its epistemological relativism and obfuscating rhetoric, has largely subsided.  It may never disappear, as few things do, and it may have become so thoroughly embedded in certain disciplines as to color them for the foreseeable future.  However, the vogue for “discourses” and “hermeneutics” has largely passed its prime, and disciplines which once felt themselves to be engaged in a life-or-death struggle with the new wave of academics (anthropology, history, e.g.) now seem to be regaining their footing and reclaiming a scientific basis. 

History cannot be written if we do not believe that any one narrative of the past is more “true” than another, or that it is possible, despite … Read the rest

Koran or Human Life: Which one is more important to Muslims?

Apr 2nd, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

I have been asking myself this question for some time but I have now decided to ask it out loud following the chilling news coming out of Afghanistan. The news is not something new. It has become a recurrent feature in many Islamic countries.

Yes, my question is this – which one is more valuable to our muslim friends – is it the Koran, or human life? Is it Islamic piety or respect for this one life we have? Is it this real temporary life in this world or the imaginary eternal life in the hereafter?

Because it is now confirmed that at least 10 more people have been killed and over 45 injured in Southern Afghanistan during a protest … Read the rest

On reading with a modicum of scepticism

Mar 29th, 2011 | By Allen Esterson

That recycled accounts of events or reports frequently contain inaccuracies going beyond anything in the original is a phenomenon well documented in the psychological literature.[1] I recently happened upon an extreme example of this, made more notable by the fact it occurs in an issue of the highly respected magazine, National Geographic – though not, I hasten to add, the familiar English-language publication. The article in question was published in the Hungarian National Geographic in 2005, the “Einstein Year” centenary of the publication of Einstein’s celebrated 1905 articles in Annalen der Physik. It pays tribute to several individuals whom it describes as “forgotten Hungarian collaborators” with Einstein, albeit that in the next paragraph it is acknowledged that for the … Read the rest

Preventing Witchcraft Accusations and Child Rights Abuses in Akwa Ibom State, part 2

Mar 22nd, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

The Prevent the Abuse of Children Today (PACT) campaign team has concluded its school outreach program in Eket senatorial district in Akwa Ibom state. The outreach targeted schools because we believe they are places where we could ‘catch them young’ in terms of preventing the abuse of children today – and tomorrow – in Akwa Ibom state. The schools are places that we can empower children and young people to defend themselves. In the first leg of the tour (February 28 to March 4), the PACT team visited schools in Oron, Okobo, Urue Offong Oruko, Udung Uko, and Mbo .  And the second leg of the tour (March 7- 11) the team was at Esit Eket, Eket, Ibeno, Onna, Eastern Read the rest