Notes and Comment Blog

The withdrawing room

Jun 22nd, 2014 11:25 am | By

It’s a play on The Lounge, geddit?

Never mind.

A derail on another thread made me think maybe we needed a place for general conversation, so that derails can be avoided while still allowing off topic discussion. I doubt it will thrive, because I don’t have PZ’s approximately 10% of the global population commenting on my blog, but I’ll give it a shot.

So – how about that Norway, huh? Got any questions about it you’ve always wanted to ask?

Or characters in Jane Austen novels?

Or pets?

Or gossip?

Travel plans?

This thing you wanted to talk about here but it didn’t seem to fit anywhere and you forgot about it?

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

Three hooded strangers

Jun 21st, 2014 5:02 pm | By

Alex considers how seriously vandalism and intimidation should be taken, especially in the case of a group that already faces intimidation.

At Patheos, JT Eberhard writes of a young British couple jailed for a year for harmlessly pranking mosque members with ‘easily removable’ bacon, whose small child will suffer in foster care while the parents ‘rot in jail’ ‘because this building and the people who own it are special’ – a ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ for what was only strictly speaking vandalism.

There’s another story about three hooded white supremacists who trespassed on private religious property to intimidate Muslims, harassed the only man inside as he tried to pray, threw objects around and desecrated the area to cause occupants distress, humiliate them and make them feel unsafe. I find this one more plausible.

Yes – I do too. Public discourse is one thing, but getting up in people’s faces is another. Disputing or mocking a religion is one thing, but putting the frighteners on people is another.

This part of Alex’s account is telling.

When Lambie’s mobile phone was examined by authorities, sent messages reveal her having bragged of ‘Going to invade a mosque, because we can go where we want.’ She and her accomplices hoped to intimidate worshippers by telling them they’d entered it unbidden – orders of magnitude more disturbing, fairly obviously, than an immature couple’s misjudged practical joke. According to the Scotsman, ‘a man who was inside the mosque praying [described by EEN as the only person in the building] . . . heard something hitting the prayer room window’, and judging by EEN‘s reference to a ‘glass partition‘, this was an interior window. Whoever threw uncooked bacon at it, which had been bought a few hours beforehand, did indeed invade the building.

The Edinburgh Reporter replicates this account but also states the man had already ‘noticed the trio at the door appearing to wave at him and (assuming they were coming in to pray) returned to his worship’. Rather than ‘hanging bacon on door knobs and tossing a few strings inside’, Lambie, Cruikshank and Stilwel – all of whom were hiding their faces under hoods – threw an object at the window of the room where they knew he was. I can’t speak for JT, but if three hooded strangers walked into my private building, found me alone and started hurling things in my direction, I’d feel attacked.

So would I.

That doesn’t mean I think the sentence was necessarily the right one; some good old community service and re-education seems more to the purpose. But the mosque invasion sounds like very overt bullying, which is not a minor thing.

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

Hey, you over there, fancy an MBE?

Jun 21st, 2014 4:18 pm | By

Oops. Bit of a slip-up, Ma’am.

A consultant surgeon who was appointed an MBE in last week’s Queen’s Birthday Honours for “services to patient safety” is a serial fraudster who has harmed patients and was struck off the medical register in 2002 for gross professional misconduct.

Lots of red faces around the Palace or Number 10 or whichever place it is that does the choosing. “I say, Clive, did we really give a gong to this frightful bounder who got himself struck off all that time ago? Time for us to bugger off to Melbourne right about now, don’t you agree?”

It appears the Cabinet Office Honours Committee, which selects candidates for the awards, was unaware of Dr Banerjee’s background. In 2000 he was involved in one of the most notorious cases of research misconduct in recent medical history. He was found guilty of falsifying a scientific paper which had been published in 1990 but was covered up for a decade.

He was awarded a degree by the University of London and made a professor by the Royal College of Surgeons based on the fraudulent research. He was later suspended from the medical register and his co-author, Professor Tim Peters, was also found guilty of serious professional misconduct for his part in the cover up.

Two years later Dr Banerjee was again found guilty of serious professional misconduct for financial dishonesty and was struck off the medical register. He had misled patients about the length of NHS waiting lists to induce them to go private and had sought payment for treatments not performed.

That…is not nice.

Peter Wilmshurst, a cardiologist at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and a campaigner on medical research fraud, said: “Mr Banerjee did awful things and only eight years after getting back on to the medical register he is rewarded with an MBE.

“If you have got a record of misconduct going back to the late 1980s, you would have to do something very remarkable in the next eight years to deserve an award. But I have not heard of him doing anything.”

Bit of a snafu, Ma’am, if you’ll pardon the expression.

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

Let Girls Learn

Jun 21st, 2014 3:44 pm | By

The US State Department has a new program to help girls go to and stay in school.

Around the world 62 million girls are not in school. Millions more are fighting to stay there.


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

Shut up and make me a cucumber roll

Jun 21st, 2014 3:30 pm | By

Apparently in Japan the manners aren’t always as good as you might expect.

[Tokyo] City assembly member Ayaka Shiomura, 35, was talking about measures to support child raising and boost fertility during a session on Thursday when male lawmakers interrupted her with cries of “Go and get married” and “Can’t you give birth?”

She later said most of the calls came from the direction of seats where majority assembly members, including those from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, were sitting.

What’s the thinking here? That if you talk about measures to increase something it then becomes your responsibility to increase it yourself, right then and there, or face heckling? Or is it just crude “Hur hur why are you talking woman go squeeze out a baby hur hur”?

The heckling prompted a flood of complaints to the government of Japan’s capital, which will host the Summer Olympic Games in 2020.

Abe has long vowed to take steps to mobilize the working power of women to revitalize the economy and offset a big, looming labor shortage.

His economic reform plan, due out next week, calls for raising the proportion of women corporate managers to 30 percent by 2020 from last year’s 7.5 percent as well as creating 400,000 new day care places to enable women to raise children and work.

But women in Japan are often encouraged to leave their jobs after having children. Many working women face menial demands such as serving tea to male colleagues.

Or making them some sushi?

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

Slammers for cash

Jun 21st, 2014 11:52 am | By

The ACLU reports (November 2011) on the prison for profit industry.

The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and an economic one — especially at a time when more and more Americans are struggling to make ends meet and when state governments confront enormous fiscal crises. This report finds, however, that mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group — the private prison industry — even as current incarceration levels harm the country as a whole. While the nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom, wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards. As the public good suffers from mass incarceration, private prison companies obtain more and more government dollars, and private prison executives at the leading companies rake in enormous compensation packages, in some cases totaling millions of dollars.

Wouldn’t you think we – as a nation – could manage to figure all that out and do better? I would. Other countries do, why can’t we? Is it solely because our politics is so dependent on money for campaigns run on advertising and thus so corrupt?

The United States imprisons more people — both per capita and in absolute terms — than any other nation in the world, including Russia, China, and Iran. Over the past four decades, imprisonment in the United States has increased explosively, spurred by criminal laws that impose steep sentences and curtail the opportunity to earn probation and parole. The current incarceration rate deprives record numbers of individuals of their liberty, disproportionately affects people of color, and has at best a minimal effect on public safety. Meanwhile, the crippling cost of imprisoning increasing numbers of Americans saddles government budgets with rising debt and exacerbates the current fiscal crises confronting states across the nation.

Leading private prison companies essentially admit that their business model depends on high rates of incarceration. For example, in a 2010 Annual Report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company, stated: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by . . . leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices . . . .”

Just as the demand for potato chips could be adversely affected by people learning to eat more sensibly, or the demand for alcohol could be adversely affected by people learning to drink more moderately, or the demand for cigarettes could be adversely affected by people deciding they don’t want bad lungs after all. So be it. We shouldn’t keep doing bad things simply because they’re profitable for a few people (or a lot of people).

Certain private prison companies employ shrewd tactics to obtain more and more government contracts to incarcerate prisoners. In February 2011, for example, a jury convicted former Luzerene County, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy in connection with payments received from a private prison developer. Tactics employed by some private prison companies, or individuals associated with the private prison industry, to gain influence or acquire more contracts or inmates include: use of questionable financial incentives; benefitting from the “revolving door” between public and private corrections; extensive lobbying; lavish campaign contributions; and efforts to control information.

So the corruption is indeed a big part of it, which I already knew. But – stop and think, citizens and legislators!



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

Frivolous interlude

Jun 21st, 2014 11:02 am | By

There’s a big apartments plus shops complex being built in the middle of the main shopping eating gathering street of my neighborhood. It’s getting the finishing touches now; a few weeks ago the decorative bits in front were installed. One such bit is Boomer.

Towne sign and puppy

Boomer is the work of Georgia Gerber. Boomer absolutely cracks me up because look.

Cooper Mag BlvdThat’s Cooper age 9 weeks. Do admit.

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

Millions for selling children into slavery

Jun 21st, 2014 8:53 am | By

Kuwait has a form of slavery, but then so does the US. A 2013 New York Times book review gives details:

In “Kids for Cash,” the investigative reporter William Ecenbarger tells the story behind a corruption scandal so brazen and cruel it defies imagination. Between 2003 and 2008, two Pennsylvania judges accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks from a private juvenile detention facility in exchange for sending children — girls and boys, some as young as 11 — to jail.

It is a harrowing tale, lucidly told by a journalist with a good eye for detail. The children’s stories continue to unsettle long after the book ends: the 13-year-old incarcerated forthrowing a piece of steak at his mother’s boyfriend; the 15-year-old for throwing a sandal at her mother; the 11-year-old for calling the police after his mother locked him out of the house; the 14-year-old for writing a satirical Myspace profile. Another 14-year-old, an A student, was sentenced for writing “Vote for Michael Jackson” on a few stop signs; she had a seizure while in detention, banging her head so hard she cracked her dental braces.

Mark Ciavarella is the judge who sent away all those children — and several thousand others — in cahoots with Judge Michael Conahan.


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

Or that makes our gathering toxic

Jun 20th, 2014 6:16 pm | By

This is almost funny, but really – it’s not, it’s disgusting. Paul Elam warning his posse not to talk violent threatening crap at their shiny conference because someone might hear them. David Futrelle at We hunted the mammoth has the story:

Well, you probably shouldn’t post a public announcement warning the raving misogynists who will be attending your conference to refrain from launching into violent anti-woman rants at the drop of a hat because someone might hear them. Because the fact that you feel it necessary to issue such a warning is kind of a giant clue that a significant number of the conference attendees are raving misogynists given to launching into anti-woman rants at the drop of a hat.

I bring this up because Paul Elam posted just such a warning on his site last night in a post that he labeled “Important Message for AVFM Conference Ticket Holders.”

[T]here will be ideological opponents to the MHRM, including some members of the media, present at the event. Some will be looking for anything they can to hurt us with. They will be listening, eavesdropping, and if they can, gathering things to harm us with.

For that reason, ANYONE sitting around trash-talking women, men, making violent statements, even jokingly, will be brought to the attention of security who will issue ONE warning (or less). After that, they will be directed by security to leave. There are no exceptions.

Please, for all here who are attending, keep this in mind with everything you do and say. Even at after-hours social events, if you hear anyone saying anything that can be used against us, or that makes our gathering toxic, pull them aside politely and say, “Hey, you are hurting us with this. If you want to hang with this group you have to stop it.”

You have to stop it because…because…because it makes us look bad, which we are, but we want to hide the fact that we are while this conference is on.

I’ve never run across this sort of warning at any other conference I’ve been to, or read about. I’m guessing that when the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery holds its annual trade show it doesn’t have to warn attendees not to bad-mouth their sworn enemies: Ear, Nose and Throat specialists. Or that the Electronic Transactions Association has to specifically forbid its convention-goers from publicly threatening to kill people who still like to pay with cash.

Maybe they do. Maybe they’re just a bit more discreet about it.

I’ve never heard that either. I’ve been to a few conferences – not many, but a few – and I’ve never been told not to sit around threatening people where someone might overhear me. It just never came up. I wonder why that is.

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

How they josh each other at Eton

Jun 20th, 2014 6:03 pm | By

Meanwhile, among Britain’s political elite…a Tory MP says publicly that he’d like to punch Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the throat to shut her up.

She was on a tv chat show with the vile (and misogynist) Rod Liddle, and she told him she loathed him.

Fabricant, who has his profile picture on Twitter as ice skater Jimmy MacElroy from Blades Of Glory, chipped in.

I could never appear on a discussion prog with @y_alibhai I would either end up with a brain haemorrhage or by punching her in the throat

He then retweeted someone who called for Alibhai-Brown to be deported.

Then later he said he was just out of the dentist and anybody who knows him will know he didn’t mean it (which is slightly irrelevant since he said it on Twitter and also he’s an MP).

Alibhai-Brown told The Huffington Post UK: “I am of course appalled that a Tory MP thinks it’s OK to fantasise aloud about wanting to beat up an Asian woman, but not surprised.

“Some years ago a Tory councillor in Birmingham called for me to be stoned to death. They can’t bear it that there are now women like me out there, not being their ayahs or selling them curries.”

Maybe Fabricant is of the Penn Jillette school of joking, and if you don’t get the humor, it’s your own damn fault and he’s a professional.

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

All 30 girls in one class

Jun 20th, 2014 5:48 pm | By

Meanwhile in Norrköping in eastern Sweden, there’s a lot of FGM going on.

Some 60 cases of genital mutilation have been discovered in Norrköping in eastern Sweden since March with all 30 girls in one school class found to have undergone the procedure.

Of the 30, some 28 of the girls were found to have been subjected to the most severe form of genital mutilation, when the clitoris and labia are completely cut away and the genital area sewn together except for a small opening.

Infibulation, in other words. What volumes that speaks of the horror of women. Why not just seal the whole thing off with a few inches of concrete? That would be fatal of course, but what the hell, at least it would be clean and pure.

Female genital mutilation has been illegal in Sweden since 1982 and can be punished with up to four years in prison. If the offence is considered to be aggravated then the penalty can be up to ten years.
Since 1999 it is also an offence under Swedish law if the procedure is performed in a different country.
When school breaks up for the summer holidays the risk of being exposed to the surgery increases for many Swedish girls due to the prospect of visits to their parents’ home countries.

But the parents love the daughters; they have them carved up out of love, right? No, not right.

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

Fugitive slaves in Kuwait

Jun 20th, 2014 5:37 pm | By

One of those times when the jaw actually drops in astonishment. Al Jazeera reports:

Kuwaiti domestic workers are being named and shamed on an Instagram (link is external) account called Mn7asha, or “runaway”.

The account description reads, “An account to display pictures of servants fleeing in Kuwait, together to put an end to this phenomenon.” The account lists a number to send photos to via the mobile messenger Whatsapp and says, “Hand in hand we can make a difference, even a small one.”

“Runaways” are “fleeing” – quite as if slavery were legal.

The Kuwait Society for Human Rights estimates(link is external) 600,000 domestic workers contribute to the country’s migrant labour force. Foreigners make up the vast majority of Kuwait’s private workforce.

As in other Gulf countries that use the kafala (link is external) (sponsorship) system, migrant workers are tied to the employer sponsoring their visas. Most cannot leave the country without their employer’s permission. Foreign workers trying to escape employers in Kuwait can face (link is external) criminal charges for “absconding”.

Kuwait is very fucked up.

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

Some huge blinders

Jun 20th, 2014 4:45 pm | By

Penn Jillette’s assholeness goes way back. (I wasn’t paying attention to him then. I can’t pay attention to everything. I’m a nerd. Quit looking at me like that.) Massimo Pigliucci was pointing it out way back in 2009.

…as we have learned recently from the Atheist Alliance / Dawkins Foundation / Bill Maher fiasco, “skepticism” is sometimes too broad a label, as someone can be properly skeptical in politics but not about pseudoscience (Maher), while someone else may be great at debunking astrology and magnetic therapy, and yet also unable to shed some huge blinders when it comes to politically charged issues. The latter is, unfortunately, P&T’s case, as made excruciatingly clear by the 2008 (season 6) episode “Being Green” of Bullshit!

P&T’s libertarian blinders simply do not allow them to accept something that is so obvious to anyone who looks at the data and listens to the actual experts in atmospheric science: yes, Penn, global warming is happening; and yes, Teller, a good part of it is caused by human beings. Instead, the best P&T can do is to resuscitate a television weather man from the 1970s to assure us that global warming is a myth. And of course we have the predictable appearance of a guy from a libertarian think tank (the Cascade Policy Institute), who has no credentials that we know of, except being President of said think tank. (Note to self: create own think tank and declare yourself President. Make sure to have web site and business card. No thinking is actually necessary.) Needless to say, no one with a knowledgeable alternative viewpoint is presented during the show.

Instead, our libertarian heros keep telling us to relax, enjoy life, and drive SUVs, despite showing at the beginning of the episode a good number of frightening examples of all too real environmental destruction.


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

A libertarian feminist interviews Marwa Berro

Jun 20th, 2014 3:55 pm | By

Oh yes, there are such people as libertarian feminists. No not Christina Hoff Sommers, but there are such people.

Marwa is there to talk about her Ex-hijabi fashion blog.

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

Will’s untutored eye

Jun 20th, 2014 2:55 pm | By

The St Louis Post Dispatch decided it can get along without George Will after that column he wrote last week about how women long for the high status of being a rape victim.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor Tony Messenger writes that readers — both liberal and conservative ones — have lobbied the paper to change its lineup of conservative columnists. But apparently a bit of a push was necessary.

That came from a recent controversial piece by Washington Post columnist George Will — the one about the “supposed campus epidemic of rape” and the way in which “victimhood” serves as a “coveted status that confers privileges.”

It’s so fashionable right now, all this yelling about “victimhood” and “patriarchy” and “ideology.” They’re all just passing the same stale tropes back and forth endlessly, like a joint.

Let’s have a look at that column of Will’s.

Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. And academia’s progressivism has rendered it intellectually defenseless now that progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, has decided it is academia’s turn to be broken to government’s saddle.

Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. “sexual assault.”

It’s odd that it didn’t occur to him to pause for a moment over that, and then delete it. It’s odd that it didn’t occur to him that it’s not a good look for a very safe, established, senior, well-paid, mainstream male columnist to sneer in public about rape. It’s odd that it didn’t occur to him that it’s not a good look to sneer at dangers that other people face while he never will. It’s odd that it didn’t occur to him that rape isn’t something he will ever have to worry about, so it’s unattractive for him to sneer about a supposed campus epidemic of rape or to put scare quotes on “sexual assault.”

But it didn’t, or if it did he shrugged it off, and the column said what it said. This is where reactionary tantrums about other people’s requests not to be raped or whipped or starved or sold into slavery will get you – not just punching down, but dropping cinder blocks on people from the roof of your palace. You don’t look good like that.

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

Evangelical teachings on repentance and forgiveness

Jun 20th, 2014 12:01 pm | By

Libby Anne talks about the way evangelical concern with “forgiveness” makes things harder for victims and a lot easier for perps.

Evangelical teachings on repentance and forgiveness create a tremendous problem when it comes to rape or other forms of abuse. If you commit a sin and repent of it, God forgives you. I remember hearing Psalm 103:12 quoted constantly: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Of course, this was always said in a positive way—isn’t it awesome that God forgives us no matter what? But it doesn’t must mean God forgives us. It also means God forgives rapists, child molesters, and so on—fully and completely.

I was taught that bringing up sins that someone had already repented for was wrong. If the transgressor had repented, after all, God had forgiven him, and had had removed those transgressions “as far as the east is from the west.” Those sins were gone, totally and completely, and should not be mentioned again. The slate was clean. Now this may make sense when applied to more petty offenses—it’s never fun to have your mistakes constantly brought up, even when you’ve tried to make good—it also applies to rapists, child molesters, and so on.

That’s a form of morality that’s very useful to rapists.

This is also in line with a piece I quoted from earlier this week. In that piece, blogger Maureen writes about what it was like to learn, suddenly and unexpectedly, that her husband was a child molester—and what it was like to deal with the aftermath:

Through this whole process, I learned that much is required of those victimized, while little is asked of sex offenders. When my husband began to spin his story, it was received with affirmations of how courageous he was. He was even placed on the worship team within a few months of his confessions.

In contrast, I was expected to never be angry, bitter, or wrestle with forgiveness. I needed to heal quickly and quietly. And, of course, I couldn’t ever question his “recovery.” His was a wondrous redemption story, and to question his trustworthiness was to question God’s work in his life.

This is, quite simply, the natural result of evangelical teachings about repentance and forgiveness—or at least, with the evangelical teachings I was taught growing up. (If there are evangelicals who find different ways to understand these passages, I’d be interested in hearing more, because these passages are in sorry need of reinterpretation!)

The offender need only repent. That’s it. If he repents, his slate is wiped clean. The victim must forgive, and that means never being angry, never being bitter, and getting over what happened post haste.

It’s a disturbing idea. It seems more unforgiving toward victims than toward their victimizers. I wonder if it helps for the victims to just say “Sorry” every now and then – does that make it ok for them to keep on feeling angry?

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

Target – see what they did there?

Jun 20th, 2014 11:51 am | By

I hate most kinds of shopping, and most kinds of shops. Confined spaces, lots of strangers everywhere, no trees or birds or large bodies of water – what’s to like about them? But I can tolerate them for the time it takes me to find the milk or socks or shampoo I need to get, usually. Unless there is Christmas music playing – then I really can’t tolerate them, and postpone non-essential shopping until after the season is over.

But there are some extras I can think of that would make a shop even more hellish. A bunch of polar bears roaming around hungrily? A raging fire? A broken sewer pipe?

Shoppers roaming around with shotguns slung over their backs?

open carry guns in Target

More images have surfaced of gun rights activists carrying weapons inside Target stores in Texas. On May 31, several women went shopping at a Target in Corpus Christi, toting not just kids but also shotguns and semi-automatic rifles.

“We just kind of feel like our rights are being infringed upon, which is against the constitution,” the organizer, Sarah Head, told a local TV station two days before the demonstration.

For several months members of the group Open Carry Texas—mostly men, some of whom have used disturbing intimidation tactics against women—have shown up armed at Target stores to demonstrate their right to carry rifles openly in public and to call for the right to do so with handguns (which is not legal in Texas.) They’ve hung out in the Target parking lot. They’ve carried their weapons in Target’s toy aisles and declared that the company is “very 2A friendly.” In at least one case, as I reported recently, Target has known in advance that they were coming.

That. If I went into a Target and saw people roaming around with shotguns I would be out of there in a heartbeat.

This country is a basket case.

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

Forced to marry at 14

Jun 20th, 2014 11:24 am | By

Another item from the Annals of Brutality – in Iran a woman who was forced into marriage at 14 is going to be executed for killing her husband.

Razieh Ebrahimi was forced to marry at the age of 14, became a mother at 15, and killed her husband at 17. Now at 21, she is on Iran’s death row.

They left out a step: she was raped at 14, no doubt repeatedly.

“I married our neighbour’s son when I was only 14 because my dad insisted,” Ebrahimi was quoted as telling officials working on her case, according to Mehr. “My dad insisted I should marry him because he was educated and was working as a teacher. I was 15 when I gave birth to my child.” Her child is believed to be now six years old.

“I didn’t know who I am or what is life all about,” she said soon after being arrested. “My husband mistreated me. He used any excuse to insult me, even attacking me physically.”

Well she shouldn’t have agreed to marry him then.

Oh wait…

HRW called on the judiciary, which is independent of the Iranian government, to reverse its decision.

“Every time an Iranian judge issues a death sentence for a child offender like Ebrahimi, he should remember he is in flagrantly violating his legal responsibilities to administer justice fairly and equitably,” said HRW’s Joe Stork. “Iran’s judiciary should reverse its execution order of a battered child bride.”

The dispute appears to arise from Iran’s own definition of a juvenile. The country does not provide a clear distinction between the age of majority – when minors cease to legally be considered children – and the minimum age of criminal responsibility, which is 15 for boys and nine for girls under Iranian law. Under the current civil code, girls can marry at 13 and boys at 15, HRW said.

That’s some bad wording – the reality is that girls can be forced to marry at 13, not that they can decide to on their own. (I mean really – how often does that happen in Iran?)

Shadi Sadr, a London-based Iranian lawyer with the rights group Justice for Iran, told the Guardian that the case against Razieh Ebrahimi – also known as Maryan – underlined a hidden social and legal issue in Iran.

“Forced girl marriage in Iran is a hidden social and legal issue,” she said. “However, it should be noted that Maryam Ebrahimi’s case is not a unique case at all. This March, for instance, Farzaneh Moradi, 28, was executed for murdering her husband. She was forced to marriage at 15, gave birth at 16, fell in love with another man at 19 and was accused of murdering her husband at 20.”

She added: “Women such as Maryam or Farzaneh, who are forced to marriage at childhood, are actually being raped constantly under the name of marriage. While they should go to school at that age, they are instead experiencing a life full of violence with no legal support. They eventually kill themselves or their husbands to end this vicious circle.”

My point exactly. When a child is forced into marriage, the sex that happens in that marriage is rape.

Sadr said Justice for Iran’s research shows in 2012 alone, 1,537 girls under the age of of 10 and 29,827 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 were registered for marriage in Iran.

That’s a lot of legalized rape.


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

BQ goes to Brighton

Jun 20th, 2014 10:30 am | By

Have another Big Questions, this one asking: Should the British stop tolerating intolerance? (Michael Frayn got there long ago, in the 60s, with BBC talking heads and all.)

Five minutes in, Maajid Nawaz responds to the host’s devil’s advocate question “If an area is 95% Muslim shouldn’t the schools in that area focus on that?” with a forthright defense of secularism including in state schools.

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

Look for the root sin

Jun 19th, 2014 6:30 pm | By

Bob Jones “University” tells rape victims to look for the sin in themselves that caused them to be raped. No, I’m not making a tasteless joke.

Coming from a conservative Mennonite family, Katie Landry, who at age 19 had never even held hands with a boy, was raped multiple times by her supervisor at her summer job. Two years later, haunted by the attacks, and attending Bob Jones University, she sought help from then dean of students, Jim Berg.

According to Landry,  Berg asked whether she’d been drinking or smoking pot and if she had been “impure.” He then brought up her “root sin.”

“He goes, ‘Well, there’s always a sin under other sin. There’s a root sin,’” Landry explained. “And he said, ‘We have to find the sin in your life that caused your rape.’ And I just ran.”

“He just confirmed my worst nightmare,” she added. “It was something I had done. It was something about me. It was my fault.”

Landry eventually withdrew from the school and didn’t tell anyone else for five more years.


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