All entries by this author

An overriding view that women should laugh it off

May 22nd, 2016 12:36 pm | By

French women MPs are protesting sexism from colleagues.

Isabelle Attard, a French MP from Normandy, stood outside the French parliament flanked by dozens of protesting female politicians and feminist campaigners. Armed with placards and loudspeakers, they demanded an end to a dangerous French taboo: the everyday groping, harassment, sexist comments and sexual assault that women are still subjected to in parliament by male politicians.

Attard, 46, an independent MP in Calvados, is one of eight women who came forward this week with allegations against the Green MP and deputy speaker of parliament, Denis Baupin, ranging from harassment to sexual assault.

Between 2012 and 2013, Baupin allegedly sent Attard and other MPs barrages of lewd daily text messages in

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Do women even go out?

May 22nd, 2016 10:56 am | By

From PRI’s The World in November 2014:

More than half of women [in Bombay aka Mumbai] don’t have indoor toilets. In a typical Mumbai slum, there are something like six bathrooms for 8,000 women. Sometimes those bathrooms have collapsed, have dogs or rats living in them, or simply have no water.

Sarita, who works as a cook, gets to a bathroom maybe three times a day — if she’s lucky. She wakes up at 5:30 every morning to line up to use the facilities.

“I leave home at seven and I have to wait until I get back home — sometimes it’s nine hours, sometimes 12,” she says. “My stomach hurts when I hold it, but what can I

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May 21st, 2016 6:09 pm | By

Calvin Klein gets rich and richer by advertising his stuff in ways that degrade women, because the degradation attracts attention and thus multiplies the effect of all of Calvin Klein’s advertising. That’s what the Huffington Post quotes a scholar saying, at least (and I don’t doubt it).

What ad is it this time? An upskirt one. Geddit? That’s great because it’s something guys do stealthily without the consent of the women and girls whose skirts they peer and photograph up.

Commenters voiced their disapproval on a number of aspects of the ad, including how Kristin’s youthful appearance prompted many to confuse her for a minor (she is 23,  for the record). They also took issue with the pose

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A sex tourism destination

May 21st, 2016 5:06 pm | By

Here’s something I didn’t know – Montreal is numero uno in North America in prostitution. Meghan Murphy writes:

A film by Ève Lamont called The Sex Trade (Le commerce du sexe) reveals that the situation in Quebec is much worse than many had imagined (myself included) — more women are sold in prostitution in Montreal than anywhere else in North America.

Lamont interviews pimps, johns, strip club owners, law enforcement, porn producers, and, of course, the women who work in the clubs, the massage parlours, on the street, and out of apartments and hotels in la belle province. A police officer explains that Montreal has 30 strip clubs and 200 massage parlours, never mind the escorts and street

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No one helps

May 21st, 2016 4:41 pm | By

Tarek Fatah tweeted this yesterday. It’s painful to watch.

I especially hate the way she hugs the yellow bag to her for comfort for a few seconds, as if it were a teddy bear – she’s so alone and so comfortless.

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Four stolen years

May 21st, 2016 12:04 pm | By

It’s hard to call it good news when a wrong that never should have been committed is terminated after four years, but…all the same: Maria Teresa Rivera is out of prison.

A woman has been released from jail in El Salvador after spending four years behind bars accused of having an abortion, according to Amnesty International.

Maria Teresa Rivera, 33, was jailed in 2011 and sentenced to 40 years in prison for aggravated homicide after having a miscarriage.

But today, Amnesty International said a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to prove the charges against her, ending what had been the longest ever sentence imposed on a woman in the Central American nation for an abortion crime.


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The market for flesh will grow

May 21st, 2016 11:26 am | By

Sanctuary for Families, an anti-violence-against-women group, posts some responses to Emily Bazelon’s article on prostitution in the NY Times magazine last weekend.

Last weekend, the New York Times Magazine’s cover feature asked the question: “Should Prostitution Be a Crime?” 

The article courted controversy and failed to include the viewpoints of survivors, activists and service providers who know firsthand the deep harm and gender inequality perpetuated by the commercial sex industry. 

Today, the Times published letters in response to the article. Here are a few letters that didn’t make the LTE page, among them critically important perspectives from survivors that were left out:

To the Editor:
Re: Should Prostitution be a Crime?

If the small group of privileged “sex workers” highlighted

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Return of the “chastening instrument”

May 21st, 2016 10:09 am | By

A public Facebook post:

They’re back…..

Run out of business by “external pressure”, the Christian marketers of nylon child whipping devices are back in the business of selling child-abuse implements for profit. When a parent in New York was arrested for abusing his child with a nylon “whipping stick”, I interviewed a young man who described his experiences growing up with one of these in the house — and watching his parents use it to train his toddler sister to automatic obedience “like a dog”.

They stopped selling their “chastening instruments” in 2006 because of – cough – “external pressures” (like attention from law enforcement maybe? or just critical outsiders?). Now they’re selling them again, but strictly on a … Read the rest

Shakespeare at Roswell

May 20th, 2016 4:12 pm | By

CFI-LA is having an event next Wednesday featuring skepticism about Shakespeare. Oy. Skepticism about Shakespeare is like skepticism about vaccinations, or the collapse of the twin towers, or the moon landings. It’s skepticism turned inside out, skepticism in the service of silly conspiracy theories.

Doubts about the authorship of Shakespeare’s works have been raised over the years, most recently by the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC). To support those doubts, John Shahan, chairman and CEO of SAC, will speak at Café Inquiry on Wed., May 25, at 7:30 p.m.

In 2007, SAC launched its Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare, first in the U.S. in same-day signing ceremonies at UCLA’s Geffen Playhouse and at Concordia University

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Pogge is still at Yale, directing the Global Justice Program

May 20th, 2016 3:07 pm | By

Another one of these: prominent male academic has a long string of allegations of sexual harassment, proceeds on his way regardless.

Thomas Pogge, a protégé, is a Name in global ethics and one of the few who actually has an influence on policy debates.

A self-identified “thought leader”…

Ok there’s one hint right there. If he calls himself a “thought leader” his ego is too big, and guys with hypertrophy of the ego tend to feel entitled to get women by whatever means necessary.

A self-identified “thought leader,” Pogge directs international health and anti-poverty initiatives, publishes papers in leading journals, and gives TED Talks. His provocative argument that wealthy countries, and their citizens, are morally responsible for correcting the

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Bad company

May 20th, 2016 12:30 pm | By

More petty narrow-minded nastiness disguised as “morality” because god-based – the OIC keeps 11 LGBT groups out of a UN meeting on ending AIDS.

Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member General Assembly on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to object to the participation of the 11 groups. It did not give a reason in the letter, which Reuters saw.

The OIC is a horrible organization, and should have no clout at the UN.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations, wrote to General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft and said the groups appeared to have been blocked for involvement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy.

“Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely

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The school’s understanding of a biblical lifestyle

May 20th, 2016 11:25 am | By

Things that students at Trinity Academy, a private Christian high school in Wichita, Kansas, are not allowed to do:

  • have sex before marriage
  • drink alcohol
  • have a gay relative

Blah blah blah Bible blah Jesus blah body is the temple of god blah no likker smokes or drugs or any other illegal or inappropriate activity…

That’s elegant, isn’t it – first no alcohol, no tobacco, no illegal drugs, no abuse of prescription drugs – and then everything else. Don’t do drugs, and don’t do ANYTHING WRONG. Nailed it.

Blah blah blah church blah marriage blah and then, for a rousing finish, a long tangled fret about all these confusing newfangled things like not being HeterOSexual.

What always strikes me … Read the rest

A highly visible critic of religious extremism

May 20th, 2016 10:58 am | By

A press release from CFI yesterday:

A secular writer and activist targeted for death by militant Islamists in Bangladesh has been granted asylum in Germany. After receiving several threats due to her advocacy, Shammi Haque sought help from the U.S.-based Center for Inquiry, which supplied her with emergency assistance to help ensure her safe relocation.

22-year-old Shammi Haque has built a reputation in Bangladesh as a respected, outspoken, and fearless activist on behalf of secularism and free expression. On her blog, she wrote in support of democracy and human rights, and spoke against radical Islam. In public protests and demonstrations, she became a highly visible critic of religious extremism, a recognized symbol of secular resistance. This made her a

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Portrait of a groper

May 20th, 2016 8:02 am | By

The stand up comedian Ria Lina was groped on the street…and took a photo of the groper.

It’s a wide pavement where I walked, along London’s High Holborn, and the streets were not crowded at 10.30am. But a man was walking in the opposite direction towards me; directly towards me. There was no need for him to walk anywhere near as close as he did.

As he approached, he took his hand out of his pocket. That set off a signal in my mind: I immediately put my hand to my jacket pocket over my phone, because I assumed he might be about to attempt to pickpocket me. How wrong I was.

Now he was so close I 

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A step toward getting rid of abortion altogether

May 19th, 2016 1:19 pm | By

That was Oklahoma, today. Tuesday, it was South Carolina.

The South Carolina legislature passed a bill yesterday that bans abortions after 19 weeks, and is now on its way to Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk, where she will likely sign it. That would make South Carolina the 17th state to pass the ban.

Rep. Wendy Nanney, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act’s sponsor, said the bill is a step toward getting “rid of abortion altogether.” The bill does allow for exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger, or if a doctor determines the fetus cannot survive outside the womb. There are no exceptions for rape or incest, and it would be illegal to abort a fetus with a severe

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An assault on women

May 19th, 2016 12:51 pm | By

The Oklahoma legislature has passed a bill making abortion a felony. That seems pretty blatantly unconstitutional, but I’m not a lawyer.

The bill passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 59-to-9 last month. On Thursday, the state’s senate passed it with a vote of 33-to-12.

That’s a horribly large majority of legislators who believe women have no rights.

“This is a ban on abortion, plain and simple,” Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement about the legislation after the state’s house passed it. “Punishing doctors for performing a legal, medical procedure is an assault on women.”

Women apparently don’t deserve rights.

Since taking office in 2011, [Republican Governor

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They’ll never forget who her father is

May 19th, 2016 11:45 am | By

The NY Times reports on much sadder outcomes for other victims of Boko Haram.

Zara and her little brother thought they were finally safe.

After being held captive by Boko Haram for months, they made it to this government camp for thousands of civilians who have fled the militants’ cruelty. But instead of a welcome, residents gathered around, badgering them with questions and glares.

They beat her 10-year-old brother, convinced that anyone who has spent time among the militants, even a young kidnapping victim, could have become a sympathizer, possibly even a suicide bomber.

She had a baby with her, via a Boko Haram fighter who raped her.

Zara knew the crowd would still doubt her loyalties. So

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In the Sambisa forest

May 19th, 2016 11:02 am | By

One of the Chibok girls has been rescued. She was out collecting firewood, and a group of volunteer searchers happened to be in the right place at the right time to encounter her, so she’s free.

Amina Ali Nkeki, 19, was found with a baby by an army-backed vigilante group on Tuesday in the huge Sambisa Forest, close to the border with Cameroon.

She was one of 219 pupils missing since being abducted from a secondary school in the town of Chibok in April 2014.

After her escape from Boko Haram, Ms Nkeki had an emotional reunion with her mother.

Ms Nkeki was reportedly recognised by a fighter of the civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), who was

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Are you or are you not?

May 18th, 2016 4:06 pm | By

Oh gawd there’s so much silliness in this NY Times think piece on How Do We Count the Trans Children?

How many students needing inclusive restrooms are we talking about? the Times asks plaintively.

No one knows for sure. Researchers have not figured out how to obtain consistent, reliable answers from teenagers, much less younger children.

Ah now why might that be, do you think? Could it be because the concept is ridiculously fuzzy, and constantly expanding and shifting, bulging here and collapsing inward there? Could it be because people aren’t even talking about the same thing half the time? (Half?! What am I saying? How about 99% of the time?) Could it be because the whole idea is quite … Read the rest

The doctors found 24 metal pieces in her legs and hands

May 18th, 2016 12:12 pm | By

This story is from 2010 but worth noting anyway, especially given the fact that nothing has changed. How people in Saudi Arabia treat foreign domestic servants:

Doctors have removed 13 nails and five needles from a Sri Lankan housemaid who said her employer in Saudi Arabia hammered them into her body.

LP Ariyawathie, 49, told staff at Kamburupitiya Hospital her employer inflicted the injuries as a punishment.

X-rays showed that there were 24 nails and needles in her body.

The nails were up to two inches (5 centimeters) long.

Ms Ariyawathie travelled to Saudi Arabia in March to become a housemaid.

Last week, she flew back to Sri Lanka and was admitted to hospital in the south of the

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