Welcome to our articles section. The articles below either have been written specifically for ButterfliesandWheels or are appearing here having been published elsewhere previously.

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Stamping out FGM

Oct 4th, 2012 | By Will Bordell

In the time it takes you to read this article, over 50 young girls will have their clitoris hacked out. What are you going to do about it?

Each girl will be pinned down, with no anaesthetic, whilst 8,000 nerve endings cringe at the touch of an unclean scalpel. Each girl will scream and writhe and howl – but you won’t hear any of them. Each girl will be irreversibly, unbearably, agonisingly mutilated.

“I heard it,” described Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “like a butcher snipping the fat off a piece of meat. A piercing pain shot up between my legs”. Skin rips, blood pours, cries screech. But it wasn’t over for her just yet: next “came the sewing… the long, blunt … Read the rest

Combating Exorcism-related Abuses

Oct 1st, 2012 | By Leo Igwe
Four family members in the UK have been jailed for life for murdering a pregnant woman, Naila Mumtaz, 21. They believed she was possessed by a Djinn or evil spirit. Muhammed Mumtaz, 25, husband, was sentenced by a British court along with his parents, Zia Ul-Haq and Salma, both 51, and brother-in-law Hammad Hassan. Mrs Mumtaz’s in-laws thought she was possessed by a Djinn and killed her in the course of driving out the harmful spirit. The ‘Djinn spirit’was believed to have been sent from Pakistan. This ruling should serve as a wake-up call to authorities across the world to ‘evil spirit’-related abuses in our communities. The belief in demonic forces -the devil and Satan – is very strong and… Read the rest

Spare a thought for philosophy: An interview with A.C. Grayling

Sep 25th, 2012 | By Will Bordell

“As Bertrand Russell said, ‘Most people would rather die than think; most people do’,” quips A.C. Grayling, leaning forward as though offering me a truffle of wisdom for my delectation.  Philosophy is a rather strange business in the modern world of consumerism and commerce, I suppose.  We’re so used to being force-fed ideas these days that we rarely, if ever, dare to stop and think for ourselves.  And that’s where Grayling bucks the trend.

Author of over twenty books including a secular bible (‘The Good Book’) as well as countless newspaper and magazine columns, Grayling has been a paradigm of humanism for many years: Vice President of the British Humanist Association, patron of Dignity in Dying, Honorary Associate of the … Read the rest

Religion versus Atheism in Nigeria

Sep 12th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe

According to a recent worldwide poll called The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism, Africa is the world’s most devout region. Even with a global decline in religiosity, the black continent has the smallest number of self-proclaimed atheists in the world. I think this poll clearly mirrors the state of religion and atheism in the region. Nigeria trails behind Ghana in terms of religiosity with 93 percent of the respondents saying they were religious. I guess fewer Nigerians would identify themselves as religious if there were assurances of safety and no victimization if they proclaimed and declared themselves atheists. In Nigeria, people who do not profess any religion or belief in god find themselves in a perilous predicament. They … Read the rest

…assuming the mantle

Sep 8th, 2012 | By Bruce Everett

I didn’t get it, and I haven’t got it for most of the time. I’m only just getting it – the faux-masculine shibboleths that I’m expected to observe, in order to be ‘one of the guys’.

Especially the degradation of women as rite of passage.

Don’t get me wrong…

I’m nobody’s knight in shining armour (I think this will be the last time I repeat this for some time), and I don’t believe in chivalry towards women – chivalry, as opposed to decency, assumes that women are frail objects to be protected like delicate porcelain in a world they’re not equipped to deal with. Women are no such thing.

I’ve got an interest in this. If pseudo- and actual … Read the rest

I vs. hymen

Jul 24th, 2012 | By Evan Darraji

Scientific definition of Hymen: The thin membrane located inside the woman’s vagina, a few centimeters in depth, tearing after penetration either by sex or otherwise.

Is the Hymen a natural evolutionary requirement (according to Darwin) and not a moral requirement? Some animals also have hymens, such as the platypus, elephants, whales, llamas, sea cows, moles, chimpanzees, rats and lemurs.

Social definition of the hymen: a measure of honour on the basis of the girl’s chastity and virginity – no sex before marriage in Arab, Indian and some African countries!

Scientific definition of me as a woman: A live human being who has all the characteristics of other living things, such as breathing, needing nutrition, growing, reproducing, and who is characterized … Read the rest

Inciting Hatred and Violence in the Name of Witchcraft

Jul 23rd, 2012 | By Leo Igwe
Inciting Hatred and Violence in the Name of Witchcraft

On July 27, a local penticostal church is planning a ‘crusade’ at the Cultural Centre in Calabar in Cross River State. The theme of the event is: Koboko Night: My Father My Father That Witch Must Die.The same church has, in March, organized a similar event in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.


Akwa Ibom is another state where witch belief is strong and witchcraft related abuse is common and widespread. The activities of churches and prayer houses have been linked to the problem of witch hunting in the region, but very little has been done by local authorities to call these religious nuts to order.

Once again I want to draw the attention of the authorities to the activities of this … Read the rest

Millennials’ Religious Doubts Double, Causing Campus Atheism Boom

Jun 12th, 2012 | By Secular Student Alliance

Columbus, OH – Unlike other demographics, Americans 30 and under are
doubting God more than ever before – and organized atheism on campus
is reaping the benefits. The PEW Research Center released a new survey
last week finding that the percent of Millennials reporting doubts
about the existence of God has doubled in five years, from 15% in 2007
to 31% today. No other generation saw a change larger than 2%. The
Secular Student Alliance, a national nonprofit which helps organize
and support nonreligious students, has boomed in the time period.

“Our generation is causing a fundamental shift in how society will see
religion,” said Jesse Galef, the Secular Student Alliance
Communications Director. “The internet has exposed young people to… Read the rest

Boko Haram and Religious Minorities in Northern Nigeria

Jun 9th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe
The radical Islamic sect Boko Haram appears to have taken its ‘jihad’ to religious minorities in Northern Nigeria, and there are clear signs of danger ahead in terms of inter-religious peace and harmony in the country. Today a suicide bomber reportedly drove a car full of explosives into a church in Yalwa, which is on the outskirts of Bauchi state. At least 12 people are said to have died in the attack. Though there is no confirmation yet of those who carried out the attack, Boko Haram militants are suspected to be behind it.

This suicide attack has occurred just a day after the representatives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria met with President Goodluck Jonathan drawing his attention … Read the rest

Atheism and Human Rights Abuses in Africa

May 28th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe
Today around the globe too many atrocities are being committed with impunity in the name of god, allah and other constructs which have, over the ages, been identified or associated with the so-called supreme being. The dream of a secular peaceful world where people of all faiths and none can coexist in harmony continues to elude many across the region. Millions of people – theists and atheists – continue to suffer and are abused due to superstition, religious fundamentalism and supernaturalism. In this piece I will focus on two of such areas. The rights of non-believers. I have heard it proclaimed at the UN that the rights of women are human rights. I have also heard it proclaimed that the… Read the rest

Eroding Feminism

May 26th, 2012 | By Lauryn Oates

When Adele Wilde-Blavatsky’s article ‘To be Anti-Racist is to be Feminist: The Hoodie and the Hijab are not Equals’ on the Feminist Wire garnered a storm of opposers angrily accusing her of everything from attacking the identity of Muslim women, to exercising white privilege, to perpetuating racism and Islamophobia, it led to the Feminist Wire censoring both Wilde-Blavatsky and its own subsequent response.

The “Collective Response” removed from The Feminist Wire, but published later on Jaddaliya.com, is signed by a group of feminist writers, activists, and academics” fromdiverse racial, religious, economic, and political backgrounds.”

But are the signatories really as diverse as they claim to be? It’s worth taking a closer look at the characteristics that … Read the rest

2012 Global Atheist Convention – Redux

May 11th, 2012 | By Bruce Everett
2012 Global Atheist Convention – Redux

I’m back home in Adelaide now, trying to mellow out after the trip, and dealing with things that have popped up in my absence – such as the contents of an abused toilet drain which I’ve had to shove my arm down. The house sitter’s 3-ply was a bit much, it seems.

These are some of the tribulations of travel (and of being too cheap to call a plumber).

Trains, as it happens, are an interesting way to travel across the big dry continent that is Australia. At first, I considered it the scenic option, never having done it before. If I didn’t like it, at only 828k (514Mi), it was one of the shorter interstate train rides in the … Read the rest

The Feminist Wire censorship: An unpublished response

May 1st, 2012 | By Adele Wilde-Blavatsky

Here is my unpublished response to a collective response (signed by over 70 feminists) that was published on The Feminist Wire website opposing my article: ‘To be Anti-Racist is to be Feminist: The Hoodie and the Hijab are not Equals’. I sent this response to TFW editorial collective for publication, prior to their removing both my article and their collective response.

Thank you for this collective response to my article. I absolutely accept and welcome the effort by The Feminist Wire Collective to challenge hierarchies of privilege and build solidarity. I have listened to your concerns and taken them to heart as well. We can all learn something from this debate. I also welcome any initiative for an honest … Read the rest

Day Five – Monday: Night of the Wankers…

Apr 27th, 2012 | By Bruce Everett
Day Five – Monday: Night of the Wankers…

I’m sure you Americans in the readership have the same phenomena where you are, albeit with different tourists, most probably the English; ‘FAWCET-FAWCET-FAWCET-WELL-HOWDY-PARDNER-BATHROOM-FAWCET-MCDONALDS!’

Do you ever get sick of visitors to your country overusing your words, and using them wrong? Technically wrong; wrong connotations; wrong situation; mismatched nuance and misjudged tone?


This is what you look like when you overuse the lingo. It’s not a good look, mate.

I tried preventing this before it even had a chance to happen with CFI’s Debbie Goddard, by confounding her with complete nonsense, and I think it worked. If you ever get the chance to meet her, ask ‘why can’t Fred ride a bike?’

(Don’t ever ask me, … Read the rest

MP hosts Summit to end violent witchcraft abuse

Apr 27th, 2012 | By Press release

London: MP Chuka Umunna, the most senior UK politician of Black African heritage, has hosted the first ever House of Commons Summit designed to end child abuse resulting from witchcraft-branding. Former Home Office Minister Meg Hillier said that the Home Secretary should consider using her power to refuse to allow faith leaders who have branded children as witches to enter the UK.

Chuka Umunna’s position as Shadow Business Secretary and the only black member of the Shadow Cabinet means that he is the most senior politician in the UK who is of African origin. The London MP hosted the Summit in conjunction with AFRUCA, Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, to bring together policymakers, charities, faith leaders and community representatives in … Read the rest

The Excuse-making of Cultural Relativism

Apr 26th, 2012 | By Lauryn Oates

Foreign Policy has a superb series out now called The Sex Issue. In their own words, here is what it’s about:

When U.S. magazines devote special issues to sex, they are usually of the celebratory variety (see: Esquire, April 2012 edition; Cosmopolitan, every month). Suffice it to say that is not what we had in mind with Foreign Policy’s first-ever Sex Issue, which is dedicated instead to the consideration of how and why sex — in all the various meanings of the word — matters in shaping the world’s politics. Why? In Foreign Policy, the magazine and the subject, sex is too often the missing part of the equation — the part that the policymakers and journalists talk about

Read the rest

Dispatches from the Global Atheist Convention

Apr 15th, 2012 | By Bruce Everett

Day one – Thursday: It begins…

… or the fringe events begin, at any rate.

I’ve arrived in Melbourne, being greeted by more than a few pubs with closed doors and ‘For Sale’ signs, and hijab or ten. The voice of an invisible, satirical yokel cries in my mind ‘Sharia law! This was a Christian nation’.

We don’t have the same presence of far-right, totalitarian, Islamic groups here in Australia that Europe has. Our yokels object to Muslims, not Islam (which they don’t know anything about – ask them what they think of Wahhabism, and they’ll probably tell you they don’t like sushi), while our political left remains somewhat oblivious to the ways far-right political Islam can manifest, and don’t … Read the rest

Islam and the Problem of Street Children in Mali

Mar 23rd, 2012 | By Leo Igwe
Islam and the Problem of Street Children in Mali

In Mali, there are strong links between Islam and the problem of street children in the country. Mali is predominantly Muslim. Around 90 percent of the population profess Islam. But Islam in this West African country is said to be ‘moderate and tolerant’. Unlike their counterparts in Nigeria, Muslims in Mali live in relative peace and harmony with themselves and with adherents of other faiths and beliefs. Constitutionally, Mali is a secular state and freedom of religion is guaranteed for all citizens. But this does not mean that all is well in this country in terms of what is perpetrated or condoned in the name of this religion as I noticed during my recent visit. Below the thin layer of … Read the rest

Killing for a Book

Feb 25th, 2012 | By Lauryn Oates

Afghanistan is a complicated place.

It’s full of fierce, brave people challenging entrenched traditions and trying to forge a new kind of society in the wake of the Taliban years. Its government is endemically corrupt and somewhat too keen to flirt with misogynists, but it’s blissfully moderate compared to the theocracy to its west, and the frightening common xenophobic opinions of the population to its east.

But some Afghans – or Afghan men I should say – are easily fooled into embarrassing themselves.

To date, nine people have been killed in violent demonstrations across Afghanistan in reaction to the discovery by some Afghan labourers that two Americans were incinerating bags of books that included copies of the Quran. The … Read the rest

My Visit to Australia

Jan 20th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe

From August 17 to September 5 2011, I visited Australia. I was invited by the the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Skeptics to deliver the Canberra Lecture and to do a speaking tour of the country. It was my first visit to the country and continent. Late in 2010, I was contacted by Kevin Davies to know if I could visit Australia and deliver a lecture as part of events marking the National Science Week. I readily accepted.

What started as an invitation to deliver a lecture gradually ‘evolved’ to become a grand tour that would take me to all states in Australia. It was only the Northern Territory that has Darwin as its capital … Read the rest