Notes and Comment Blog

That’s a doesn’t follow if I ever saw one

Oct 28th, 2013 3:52 pm | By

Joking aside, though, I really do have profound contempt for this whole “there are bigger issues so shut up about your issues because they’re not the biggest issues” line of patter. It’s even worse because it’s not even serious, or really meant, it’s just a pretext for saying some kind of shit, however desperate. But it wouldn’t be very respectable even if it were meant.

It’s just fucking dumb. The world is a big place, with a lot of people in it, and it’s a good thing that different people work on different things in different ways. It’s not a reason to spend a big chunk of time using social media for the purpose of badmouthing people who work on things that are not The Most Important Things Anyone Could Possibly Work On.

Saudi women are not allowed to drive, therefore people who blog about feminism should shut up.

Wut? Why should they? Why should we? And who made random creepers on Twitter the experts on the subject?

They shouldn’t, we shouldn’t, and no one did.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

His observations may not be politically correct but

Oct 28th, 2013 3:31 pm | By

Dan Fincke sent me the link to an inspirational discussion on William Lane Craig’s Q and A page.

Dear Dr. Craig,

I have usually found your words to be a source of information and reassurance  in my Christian faith, and have often sought out your writings and videos in  times of doubt or questioning.

So I was really disappointed, almost shocked, when I read your newsletter of  April of this year in which you casually stereotypes men and women, and complain  that the church is becoming increasingly feminized, and has difficulties in  attracting men.

Your compared the audiences at a couple of your speaking engagements to the  audience from a clip of a Downton Abbey Q&A at another location – concluding  that they were all men at the former and almost all women at the latter “simply  because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing  to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is  more appealing to men.”

Wuhay! It’s dear old “it’s more of a guy thing” again. Women like fluffy stuff like relations and big huge expensive houses with expensive dresses, and men hard bony stuff like intellectual talks.

His correspondent goes on,

I believe that you are using stereotypes here, which you justify by making a  ridiculous comparison that holds zero statistical significance. Not only is your  statement unreasonable, it is potentially damaging – especially when made so  carelessly. Stereotypes are shortcuts in classifying people. They can, and often  do, limit and distort the way we perceive others and the world. Stereotypes are  a lazy way of thinking that can lead to discrimination, and their use should not  be encouraged.

So he turns red with rage and tries to stomp her into the ground, yes?

No, he’s better than that. He just talks a lot of patronizing bullshit.

My observations about the peculiar attraction that Christian apologetics has  for men involves several claims. Let’s tease these apart to see which of them  are objectionable.

First is my observation that apologetics seems to have far more interest for  men than for women. That observation is based upon an enormous amount of  experience in speaking on university campuses, at apologetics conferences, and  in classroom teaching. It is a realization that gradually and unexpectedly  forced itself upon me. It became very evident to me not only that the audiences  which came to these events were largely male but that in event after event only  the men stood up to ask a question. These facts seem to me to be undeniable.

Second is my hypothesis that this disparity is to be explained by the fact  that men respond more readily to a rational approach, whereas women tend to  respond more to relational approaches. Of course, this is just my best  suggestion, and if you’ve got a better hypothesis to explain the disparity,  Alexandra, I’m open to it. But there has to be an explanation.

Well, Bill, could part of the explanation be stereotype threat? Which you are doing your bit to re-enforce right here? Could it be that blather like that boils down to “women are kind of stupid, though in the nicest possible way” and that it makes women hesitant to open their mouths lest stupidity come tumbling out?

I think it could. I think patronizing crap like that is part of the very explanation you claim to be looking for.

Please understand that what I’m doing is not stereotyping but generalizing.  There’s a difference between a stereotype and a generalization. A generalization  admits of exceptions but remains an accurate characterization of most members of  a group. Most women do respond better to relational appeals, whereas men tend to  like the rational approach. Books on marriage improvement strongly emphasize  this difference. In her fascinating book You Just Don’t Understand: Women  and Men in Conversation, Deborah Tanner, for example, says that the way men  and women communicate is so different that when a man talks to a woman it’s a  case of cross-cultural communication!

Ah yes, generalization is obviously nothing like stereotype at all. Notice how he demonstrates that: by using the word “do” before “respond better” – that way we know it’s true. Then he makes us know it even more by saying the name of a book.

I thought at first that maybe the reason women almost never stood up to ask a  question was due the intimidation factor: they just feel less comfortable than  men getting up publicly to ask a question. That’s why the experience of seeing  the Downton Abbey panel was so intriguing to me. Though there were men in the  audience, everyone who got up and asked a question was a woman! When a man  finally stood up and asked something, this was almost a cause of celebration and  was noticed by everyone. Now obviously, this evidence is anecdotal, not  statistical, as you point out, but still this was not just accidental. What is  the explanation? Those of us who, like Jan and me, are fans of Downton Abbey  know how relational the program is, as it follows the personal lives and  struggles of those in the house. It’s striking that women didn’t feel  intimidated about getting up publicly and asking questions about very relational  matters.

What is the explanation? Here’s my hypothesis. It’s that there are no William Lane Craigs running around saying that Downton Abbey is an intellectual subject and that’s more of a guy thing.

He ends on a courageous note. That’s the guy thing coming into play again.

I doubt that what I’ve said in response to your question, Alexandra, will do  much to rebuild your faith in my words! My observations about the peculiar  attraction that Christian apologetics has for men may not be politically correct, but I believe that they are accurate, even if disappointing and  shocking to some.

His observations may not be politically correct, but he believes that they are accurate. Well that’s good enough for me, William Lane Craig!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

One pernicious aspect, you may see a stranger

Oct 28th, 2013 2:52 pm | By

I posted a short excerpt from The Collected Tweets of Someone Very Angry About Something on Facebook, and people couldn’t even figure out what it was supposed to mean, so I thought I’d crowd-source it another way.

One pernicious aspect of identity politics favored by social justice warriors is it tends to subvert any concern with the horrors of poverty

Something about a tricycle is it?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Bishop Chukwuma

Oct 28th, 2013 12:27 pm | By

Pink News reports a Nigerian bishop raging at the archbishop of Canterbury for not hating teh gaze.

The Most Rev Justin Welby risks allowing the Church of Nigeria to break away from the worldwide Anglican Communion, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma warned during a conversation with journalists at Nigera’s Akanu Ibiam International Airport.

Bishop Chukwuma had returned from Nairobi, where he’d been attending the Global Anglican Future Conference, along with 500 other Nigerian bishops.

He said: “We are not going to compromise. And we have made it quite known even to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the whole Europe and America, that there is no compromise as far as the scripture is concerned. So, if they do not repent, we are ready to stand on our own and go ahead with that authority of the scriptures and confess that faith as Anglicans for the future of church of Anglicanism.

“We secede. We are ready to secede because if you look at Ephesians chapter 5, verse 7, it says that you should not have anything to do with those people [homosexuals] who are becoming disobedient. So, why should we yoke with unbelievers. So, if they do not repent, we are ready to say, go away, we go our way. We love them but we hate their sins.”

Who cares what Ephesians chapter 5, verse 7 says about what you should not? Ephesians was written many centuries ago, and morality has improved since then. What pathetic bungling ignorance it is to point at a page in one single book and treat it as dispositive of anything.

Let’s take a look at the conversation-stopping wisdom of Ephesians 5. The New International Version.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a]Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

Well there you go – it’s just some ignorant anal-compulsive narrow pseudo-morality about being pure. It’s ethically impoverished. It’s barely adequate even as advice on polite manners in a public place, and as for being an irrefutable reason to treat LGBTQ people as tenth-class citizens, it’s beneath contempt.

Your morality is shit, Bishop Chukwuma. You’re a bad man doing bad things. You may not mean to be, but you are.




(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Greece v Galloway

Oct 28th, 2013 11:18 am | By

One thing I learned (or was nudged into noticing more clearly) at the CFI event is that I should be paying more attention to Greece v Galloway.

Or to put it another way, it’s the Supreme Court, stupid.

Eddie Tabash points out that we are one justice away from being second-class citizens. The “we” in that sentence is atheists and secularists.

As the Center for American Progress puts it,

The Supreme Court’s decision in Greece will serve as the basis for what is and is not permitted when it comes to prayers before official public meetings—guidance that could also be applied in cases involving all aspects of religion in the public sphere.

SCOTUS will hear the case November 6. It all hinges on Kennedy. (The ruling will come months later.)

Part of me thinks I should pay less attention to it instead of more, on the grounds that I like to remain cheerful. But that’s just cowardly.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

If we want to be good

Oct 28th, 2013 9:44 am | By

I thought it was a great conference, and I know I had a great time there. But there are dissenters registering their dissent.


Sara E. Mayhew @saramayhew

If we want to be good at popularising skepticism, orgs need to cut cheap imitation speakers; Myers, Watson, Benson, Szvan, Skepchick/FTB.

That’s how to popularize skepticism.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Oct 27th, 2013 5:20 pm | By

And from the Halloween party last night – the winner of the costume contest – Martin Marvin the Martian, who was hilarious in person, being very tall, so it was like a 10-foot-tall cartoon character.

Embedded image permalink

Michael DeDora was a convincing Clark Kent.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Now that is doing something

Oct 27th, 2013 4:59 pm | By

The last talk at the CFI Summit was perhaps the most inspiring of all: it was by Bill Cooke, the Director of International Programs at CFI, telling us what the programs do. They do enormously important things with a very small budget. I was frankly unaware of the International Programs before. I feel a little less embarrassed about that because I’m not the only one; lots of people were exclaiming that they’d had no idea. Bill said he blames himself for not publicizing it more, because he’s not very techy. Well!! Neither am I, but I do happen to have this noisy blog here, lying around not doing anything, so I can use it to give the International Programs a signal boost.

Herewith begins the signal boost!

(I told Bill I want to do that, and to send me pictures and stuff. Division of labor. He can do the hard work and stretch a tiny budget to do big things, and I can do the soft job of spreading the word about that online.)

There’s a report from last February at CFI.

In January, the Center for Inquiry’s director of international programs, Bill Cooke, journeyed to Kenya, Uganda, and Egypt to meet with CFI’s affiliates in those countries and discuss their work. The trip was very informative, as it revealed the impact these organizations are having in their countries as well as the extent of their need for support to further the cause of critical thinking and humanism.

Here we focus on Bill’s trip to CFI–Kenya, where he spent much of his time.

First on the itinerary for Bill’s five-day engagement, he met with the children involved in the CFI–Kenya program “Humanist Orphans.” This is an ambitious initiative for the education and assistance of kids and their families from all
across rural Africa who have been accused of witchcraft. Bill met with teachers, students, and families, shared stories, and gave them an excellent lesson on humanism and the dangers of superstition, of which they have direct experience.

Bill later met with leaders from various community organizations on the ground in Nairobi, sharing strategies and insight on skepticism and combatting superstition. He even got to spend time engaging with the brilliant young minds of the University of Nairobi Humanists and Freethinkers, giving them a firmer grasp on the ideals of humanism.

Reporting on the visit, George Ongere, director of CFI–Kenya told us that Bill was “inspiring” and that it “instilled confidence in us,” particularly because exposure to international members of the organized global freethought community gives these local activists the opportunity to be “more prepared to defend their stance intellectually” as well as “more confidence in our activities.”

Ok that’s another reason this signal needs to be boosted. I wanted to boost it so that more people will DONATE to the International Programs (which you can do easily just by donating to CFI and earmarking the donation for the International Programs), but of course international solidarity is another huge reason.

I talked about that in my part of the panel, as a matter of fact. The panel was about how humanism and skepticism relate to each other, and I ended up finding it oddly difficult to figure out what to say, so in the end I said I’m not sure I care all that much, because I care more about internationalism and human rights, and that I think if there’s one thing that’s actually useful about my writing, it’s boosting the signal of people like Leo Igwe and Maryam Namazie. I was the last person to speak and Bill was the first person to comment, and much to my surprise he started by warmly agreeing with what I’d said. I’ve gotten used to annoying people whenever I open my mouth or type words, so that made a change.

So anyway – donate to Bill’s program if you can, and spread the word if you have a word-spreading machine.

It heartens all of us at CFI to know what fantastic work is being done by George and everyone at CFI–Kenya, and that interactions that bridge national and cultural divides, like Bill Cooke’s sojourn, make this worldwide movement stronger and more closely-knit.


 Bill Cooke in Kenya 2



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Extended lunch hour is over

Oct 27th, 2013 2:53 pm | By

I’m back! So if you’ve been holding any complaints, suggestions, insults, compliments, orders until I had more time to deal with them. you can send them now.

I kid. As if anyone would wait.

But I am back. I had a great time. They’re a great bunch of people.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Saturday at the CFI Summit

Oct 26th, 2013 6:04 pm | By

Well for the last talk before lunch I could see Bill Nye in profile a couple of tables away listening seriously.

In the afternoon Leonard Mlodinow talked about the unconscious mind. One item I can’t make any sense of, which is that touch increases trust, even (and especially) very slight unobtrusive touch. There was a study in France that involved (of course) a guy going up to a woman and saying “You’re very pretty and I have to go to work now but can I call you later?” The study found that if the guy touched the woman on the shoulder very lightly- he did better. Syd and I looked at each other and shook our heads. Mlodinow said the study had been replicated in other countries. (Which answered my first question.)

I seriously don’t get that. I could see it in an emergency situation, but a “yer hawt gimme your phone number” conversation? More trust because touching by a stranger?

I don’t understand that.

So that’s interesting. It’s interesting to be puzzled.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Friday at the CFI Summit

Oct 25th, 2013 1:49 pm | By

Here I am. The panel I was on was this morning, and it was good fun. I went last so I thought I might as well tease everyone by preaching on the sermon “Reason isn’t everything.” Surprisingly, though, no one objected (that I heard, anyway).

Ron Lindsay just did an excellent talk on the 10 Commandments. He said just what I think, so naturally it was excellent.

Michael DeDora and I had a chat about movements and allies and rifts and working together.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Skepticism v denialism

Oct 24th, 2013 12:11 pm | By

And another item, from the ever-valuable David Robert Grimes: Climate change is real, ignore the denialists in the Irish Times.

…climate change has been scientifically beyond doubt for a long time. Yet despite virtually all climatologists and researchers confirming this with vast swathes of supporting evidence, there are still loud voices doing their utmost to persuade us that the issue is still somehow open for debate.

In the US roughly half of media reports on climate change have doubted its existence. Publications like the Daily Mail, the Wall Street Journal and numerous Murdoch press give editorial support to these views.

Cynical and insulting

Such contrarian writers and broadcasters paint themselves as climate “sceptics”, but this is a calculated misnomer. Scepticism is an essential part of scientific endeavour. It demands all claims are treated as unproven until evidence and experience either confirm or falsify them. Denialism, by contrast, is the stubborn and persistent refusal to acknowledge what the evidence shows beyond all reasonable doubt.

Evidence for climate change is overwhelming, confirmed by measurement, theory and experiment. Self-proclaimed climate “sceptics” are nothing of the sort; they are rank denialists, deliberately refusing to accept the incontrovertible evidence that their position is untenable.

There’s a lot of that around, on a number of subjects.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Two sides of the same counterfeit coin

Oct 24th, 2013 12:00 pm | By

I have to leave for Tacoma and the CFI Summit soon, so I’ll just point to an item or two for your reading pleasure, and possible discussion later.

There’s Jaclyn Friedman in The American Prospect on the “Men’s Rights” movement.

What makes the MRAs particularly insidious is their canny co-optation of social-justice lingo. While Pick Up Artists are perfectly plain that all they care about is using women for sex, MRAs claim to be a movement for positive change, with the stated aim of getting men recognized as an oppressed class—and women, especially but not exclusively feminists, as men’s oppressors. It’s a narrative effective enough to snow the mainstream media: Just this past weekend, The Daily Beast ran a profile of MRAs that painted them as a legitimate movement overshadowed by a few extremists. Trouble is, even the man writer R. Todd Kelly singled out as the great “moderate” hope that other MRAs should emulate—W.F. Price, of the blog “The Spearhead”—is anything but. According to Futrelle, “This is a guy who … blames the epidemic of rape in the armed forces on women, who celebrated one Mothers Day with a vicious transphobic rant, and who once used the tragic death of a woman who’d just graduated from college to argue that ‘after 25, women are just wasting time.’ He published posts on why women’s suffrage is a bad idea. Plus, have you met his commenters?”

And Dawn Foster in Eurozine on (the dearth of) women in journalism.

If there are plenty of women working as correspondents and reporters, but relatively few female opinion writers and editors, then this indicates a problem in the industry. Women may be blogging more, make up more than 50 per cent of Twitter users[3], and piling into varieties of journalism, but the biggest newspapers in the United States, Britain and Europe still reserve pages of the most serious political and foreign policy analysis for older men, and unsurprisingly, they’re usually white.

A study by Women in Journalism earlier this year found that across national newspapers, 78 per cent of bylined front page stories were written by men, and of those quoted as experts or sources in lead stories, 84 per cent were men.[4]The Women’s Media Centre in the United States, on conducting similar research reported that during the 2012 presidential election, 75 per cent of front page bylined articles at top newspapers were written by men and that women made up a mere 14 per cent of Sunday TV talk show interviewees, and 29 per cent of “roundtable” guests.[5] Women in Journalism were quick to highlight one of the most worrying aspects of this imbalance: most stories involving women in the four week period surveyed, portrayed them as either victims or celebrities.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Anarchism at Fox News

Oct 24th, 2013 11:08 am | By

Amanda Marcotte is just a little surprised to find Fox News pundits saying “You can’t legislate behavior.” Huh, yeah, I’m surprised by that too. You can’t legislate behavior? So there are no laws against murder, theft, assault, fraud, rape, kidnapping, extortion? Or are we to understand that murder, theft, assault, fraud, rape, kidnapping, extortion are something other than behavior?

And whatever happened to the old law&order brand of conservatism? Did it get washed away in the flood of tea, or what?

Anyone who has ever subjected herself to right-wing talk radio or Bill O’Reilly’s show knows that conservatives have an affinity for a good, old-fashioned bully. Even so, it was a bit surprising to see Shannon Bream on Fox News host a segment worrying that anti-bullying rules at schools violate “free speech.” Bream was deeply concerned that homophobes and anti-choicers wouldn’t be able to express their “political views” at school.

Maybe Bream really does think that people of her political persuasion really can’t make their case without bullying. That would be a bit…incriminating.

“But we see in some of these cases in some of these schools that kids who want to put on pro-life displays, who are pro-Second Amendment, those kinds of things, things that are viewed as a more conservative viewpoint, in some cases the bullying stuff is being used against them so they can’t speak their positions,” Bream argued, declining to offer any examples. Does “speak their positions” mean arguing for an abortion ban in debate class, or is it more a situation where kids are “speaking their positions” by targeting individual students for harassment because they believe those kids are gay? I guess we’ll just have to assume the worst!

Exactly. Bream herself said it! It wasn’t those pesky liberals!

“You can’t legislate behavior,” David Webb, Fox News contributor, said, causing one to wonder when it was that conservatives decided that having school rules is fascism, man. Where was Webb when kids needed him after getting detention for cutting class or speaking out of turn?

He actually said that. Well at least there’s no law against laughing at Fox News contributors.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Guest post: Compare and contrast

Oct 24th, 2013 9:48 am | By

Guest post by Stacy Kennedy.

The Men’s Rights Movement emerged in the early 1970s. If we set the beginning of American Second Wave feminism at the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1963, the two movements are approximately ten years apart.

Inspired by the recent mini-surge of interest in the MRM from 20/20 and The Daily Beast, I decided to compare and contrast the two.



  •  By 1971, eight years after The Feminine Mystique, everybody in the United States had heard of the Women’s Movement (aka “Women’s Lib”). Everybody was talking about it. Everybody was arguing about it. Numerous books on the subject had been published. Movies, television, theater, fiction, and magazines reflected the movement and its impact.


  •  In 2013, after approximately forty years, mention the Men’s Rights Movement and most people will give you a quizzical look and ask, “The wutnow?”



  •  Large body of feminist theory (more accurately, theories.) Vigorous intramural and extramural debate with general intramural agreement that obligatory conformity to gender roles oppresses men, women, and the genderqueer. General intramural agreement that there are internalized and unexamined biases that work against women’s equality and that these biases are at least mostly cultural in origin.


  • MRAs think traditional gender roles are just fine, and they resent women’s incursions into “men’s spheres.” At the same time, they complain a great deal about the ways in which the traditional masculine role harms men. An incoherent framework exists in which traditional masculinity is simultaneously held up as praiseworthy and natural AND as evidence that men qua men are, and always have been, oppressed.
  •  Women have all the power because pussy.



(partial list)

  •  Increased presence of women in workforce, including professional, blue collar, academic, STEM, and military spheres.
  •  Abortion and women’s access to contraception legalized. (Defense of legal abortion and access to it is ongoing.)
  •  Laws regarding domestic violence have been transformed. Greater awareness of domestic violence. Creation of domestic violence shelters and hotlines..
  •  Greater awareness of rape. Fight to change public and law enforcement attitudes toward rape ongoing. Existence of rape hotlines and victim’s advocates.
  •  Creation of laws regarding sexual harassment. Anti-sexual harassment policies and training now commonplace.
  •  New perspectives have led to scientific findings, including evidence for the existence of unconscious sexist biases, and corrections to previous stereotyped views of human and animal behavior.
  •  Stigma against unmarried mothers significantly decreased.
  • Ongoing fight against sexual double standard.
  •  Women admitted to military academies. Fight to allow women in military combat positions all but won.
  •  All the “Firsts”—first female astronaut, first female Vice Presidential candidate on a major-party ticket, first female Presidential candidate on a major-party ticket, etc.
  •  Widespread recognition of the many problems inherent in societal insistence that people conform to gender roles.
  •  Stereotypes regarding women, and gender roles generally, no longer sure to go unchallenged.
  •  Countless little girls have grown up hearing the message “You can be anything you want to be.”



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Bangladesh’s only Nobel prize winner

Oct 24th, 2013 9:26 am | By

The first duty of a desperately impoverished nation most of which is under water is to find somebody or something that is unIslamic and pitch a fit.

After being accused of “sucking blood” from the poor, Bangladesh’s only Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus faces a new state-backed hate campaign seeking to paint him as un-Islamic and a spreader of homosexuality.

Following years of attempts to discredit his legacy as a pioneer of micro-finance – since copied the world over as a development tool – the hounding has turned more personal and dangerous.

The perceived crime of the 73-year-old was to sign a joint statement along with three other Nobel laureates in April 2012 criticising the prosecution of gay people in Uganda.

Little remarked at the time, it has since been seized on by the Islamic Foundation, a government religious body, and amplified through tens of thousands of imams on its payrolls.

Protests have been held, leaflets calling him “an accomplice of Jews and Christians” have been distributed, and a “grand rally” has been called for October 31 in the capital Dhaka to denounce him.

What a disgusting conglomeration of bad reasons and bad actions and bad thinking, not to mention bad governance. When in doubt, whip up hatred at somebody who objects to the whipping up of hatred. The first duty is to hate some people for no good reason.

The hate-object used to be my friend Taslima.

“How can a state-run organisation run a campaign of criminal intimidation? It’ll instigate violence against professor Yunus,” Sara Hossain, a top lawyer and rights activist, warned in an interview with AFP.

The harassment has echoes of another movement against feminist writer and religious critic Taslima Nasreen who was forced to flee the country after being denounced like Yunus.

“It’s unfortunate that he’s facing the kind of campaign that I faced in 1994,” Nasreen told AFP. “I was forced to leave the country because of the campaign by the fundamentalists, which the then government actively supported.”

Don’t do this, Bangladesh.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

At a court hearing she was too sick to attend

Oct 23rd, 2013 5:23 pm | By

A horror I didn’t manage to catch up with last week -

Glenda Xiomara Cruz was crippled by abdominal pain and heavy bleeding in the early hours of 30 October 2012. The 19-year-old from Puerto El Triunfo, eastern El Salvador, went to the nearest public hospital where doctors said she had lost her baby.

It was the first she knew about the pregnancy as her menstrual cycle was unbroken, her weight practically unchanged, and a pregnancy test in May 2012 had been negative.

Four days later she was charged with aggravated murder – intentionally murdering the 38-to-42 week foetus – at a court hearing she was too sick to attend. The hospital had reported her to the police for a suspected abortion.

After two emergency operations and three weeks in hospital she was moved to Ilopango women’s prison on the outskirts of the capital San Salvador. Then last month she was sentenced to 10 years in jail, the judge ruling that she should have saved the baby’s life.

Ten years in prison.

That’s appalling.

Xiomara’s father describes the conviction as a “terrible injustice”.

He testified in court that his daughter had endured years of domestic violence at the hands of her partner. And yet the prosecution – which sought a 50-year jail term – relied heavily on this man’s allegation that she had intentionally killed the foetus.

Xiomara has not seen her four-year-old daughter since the miscarriage.

El Salvador is one of five countries with a total ban on abortion, along with Nicaragua, Chile, Honduras and Dominican Republic. Since 1998, the law has allowed no exceptions – even if a woman is raped, her life is at risk or the foetus is severely deformed.

That’s just outright, frank, unabashed hatred of women.

More than 200 women were reported to the police between 2000 and 2011, of whom 129 were prosecuted and 49 convicted – 26 for murder (with sentences of 12 to 35 years) and 23 for abortion, according to research by Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion. Seven more have been convicted since 2012.

The study underlines that these women are overwhelmingly poor, unmarried and poorly educated – and they are usually denounced by public hospital staff. Not a single criminal case originated from the private health sector where thousands of abortions are believed to take place annually.

That sounds like Ireland, where poor women were locked up in the Magdalene laundries and poor children were locked up in industrial not-schools.

Munoz has worked with 29 of the incarcerated women, helping secure the early release of eight. “Only one intentionally induced an abortion, the other 28 suffered natural obstetric complications but were jailed for murder without any direct evidence,” he says.

Last year when Maria Teresa Rivera suffered a miscarriage, she was sentenced to 40 years in jail for aggravated murder.

Like Xiomara, Teresa, 28, had no pregnancy symptoms before sudden severe pain and bleeding, and was reported to police by the public hospital where she had sought emergency help.

The scientific evidence was flimsy, according to Munoz who will soon lodge an appeal, and the prosecution relied heavily on a colleague of hers, who testified that Rivera had said she “might be” pregnant a full 11 months before the miscarriage.

A textile factory worker, she was the family’s only breadwinner and her eight-year-old son is now living in dire poverty with his grandmother.

There’s much more. Read the whole thing. The BBC does do a good job of reporting on subjects like this. Outrages like this.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Cupcakes? Dumplings? For real?

Oct 23rd, 2013 12:05 pm | By

There’s a Facebook group called Misogyny Overheard at Oxford University. It’s an open group, so its content is public. (Our Alex is a member, because he’s been an Oxford student.)

It has this poster, which has appeared at university poster sales.

First things first, eh?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Then again

Oct 23rd, 2013 11:46 am | By

A UN Human Rights Council resolution against child marriage is only that, but it is a start. But not everyone even agreed to that much. Want to know one country that refused? India. Yes, the world’s largest secular democracy said No.

India, the world’s child marriage capital, has once again failed its under-age brides.

The country has refused to sign the first-ever global resolution on early and forced marriage of children led by the UN.

The resolution was supported by a cross-regional group of over 107 countries, including almost all countries with high rates of child marriage—Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Guatemala, Honduras and Yemen.

Almost all? That doesn’t look like almost all to me. Nowhere near almost all.

Brides Not Wives provided the list:

The States presenting the resolution were: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Armenia, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, Congo, Cuba, Czech Republic, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Djibouti, DRC, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Hungary, Honduras, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Maldives, Montenegro, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Timor Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uganda, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia. 

Missing? Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Mali, Algeria to name a few.

The Centre for Reproductive Rights says governments in the South Asia region have failed to enact and enforce adequate laws that prohibit child marriage.

“The practice persists with impunity. In South Asia, 46% of women between ages 20-24 report having been married before age 18 in 2010. This translated to 24.4 million women in the region. Estimates project that from 2010 to 2030, 130 million more girls in the region will be married.”

“Child marriage does not constitute a single rights violation – rather, every instance of child marriage triggers a continuum of violations that continues throughout a girl’s life. Child marriage endangers the survival and well-being of women and girls by exposing them to forced initiation into sex and sexual violence as well as to early, unplanned and frequent pregnancies. Further, women and girls married as children are often denied educational opportunities, are isolated from society and face a lifetime of economic dependence,” the Centre said.

And so far there’s not even official government-level agreement that that’s a bad thing.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

44% of girls are married before the age of 18 in Sierra Leone

Oct 23rd, 2013 11:31 am | By

Last month the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for the elimination of child, early and forced marriage to be considered in the post-2015 development agenda. This is a first.

Girls Not Brides reports:

The Ambassador of Sierra Leone, Yvette Stevenes, introduced the resolution to the Human Rights Council, stating that “efforts [to end child marriage] need to be strengthened to address this breach of human rights of some of the most vulnerable groups in society”. According to UNICEF, 44% of girls are married before the age of 18 in Sierra Leone; 18% before the age of 15.

The resolution also stresses the value of empowering and investing in women and girls for “breaking the cycle of gender inequality and discrimination, violence and poverty” and for bringing about “sustainable development and economic growth.”

It acknowledges the multi-faceted impact of child, early and forced marriage on the “economic, legal, health and social status of women and girls” as well as “the development of the community as a whole”.

The Human Rights Council is the leading UN body responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. The resolution calls for a panel discussion on the issue of child, early and forced marriage at an upcoming session of the Human Rights Council in 2014.

A resolution is only that, but it’s a step.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)