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Oct 18 2013

How little girls get their “virginity tested”

Acharya S has had her Facebook account shut down, apparently because she posted a photo of “virginity testing” of little girls in Nigeria. She needs our help pushing Facebook to reinstate her account.

My Facebook account has been permanently disabled because – I’m guessing here – I shared a photo of little African girls suffering a “virginity test.” After I contacted Facebook, I received the following form response, in which, naturally, FB doesn’t give the specific reason:

Hi,
Your account has been disabled because you violated the Facebook Terms.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to reactivate your account or respond to your email directly.
For more information about our policies, please read the Facebook Community Standards: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/
Thanks, The Facebook Team

As we can see, there is no recourse, no ability to communicate, no consideration for the many years and thousands of posts I’ve made on FB, along with the several pages I created there, including my business pages for Stellar House Publishing and my books.

The (uncensored) photo I posted on Facebook is graphic, as it reveals the horrible TORTURE of little girls. It was published in the mainstream media, perhaps in 2009. I found the photo on Google Images, and include a blurred edition here – I don’t want to lose my blog too! Since it was in the MSM, evidently published in a magazine, and since I am a lifelong scholar of anthropology, I didn’t consider that it was anything but an anthropological news item, like those published in National Geographic for the past century. Apparently, by FB standards it was something else.

Acharya used a blurred version of the picture in her post but I’ll give you the original. With a trigger warning.

[Picture removed because I'm tired of the shouting.]

As we can see from the blurred edition to the right, the image is of a man with a row of little girls in front of him, lying on their backs with their lower bodies naked and legs spread, while he feels around inside them to make sure their hymens are intact. These little half-naked girls are lying on the ground out in the open, in public, with others crowding around and also performing these tests. What an utter humiliation!

For exposing this hideous sexist child abuse, apparently, I’m banned from FB for LIFE.

“For exposing this hideous child abuse, apparently, I’m banned from Facebook for LIFE.”

Just looking at this image, blurred or not, is so very upsetting to me. I cannot stress enough how this traumatizing tradition needs to be stopped! But now, instead of being part of the solution, Facebook’s policies here are only helping to keep this misogynistic behavior alive.

Seriously. The problem is not Acharya posting the graphic image, the problem is what is being done to those little girls.

The photo in question may have been taken in Nigeria, where such virginity tests have been performed frequently. In the past years, a principal in Nigeria was suspended for performing this humiliation on students, while we also read this headline out of Nigeria: “Lagos state seeks 50 virgins to avert flooding”:

Spiritualist who ply their trade in Lagos have warned that the state will experience another deluge of torrential rainfall and flooding of Biblical proportions unless 50 virgins can be found for a ritual to appease the gods.

I have many freethinking Nigerian supporters, and I see Nigeria as one of the places globally where the “light” can come in, so to speak. Let us hope that media suppression such as Facebook’s behavior here does not end this budding African “Age of Enlightenment.”

Why I posted the image

I posted the uncensored, shocking photo on Facebook because it is important to see the utter indignity these poor girls must suffer – this horrible abuse is now being done in the West. How can we battle it, if we can’t see what it is? As we can see from this Google Images search, the photograph is still there – is Facebook going to ban Google Images as well?

This abuse of girls can be found in many areas, including among Muslims and Christians in other countries. Such virginity examination is now spreading to the West. In fact, I attached the apparent FB-offending photo to an article about the battle in Canada to put an end to this practice there: “‘Degrading’ virginity tests on women must stop, Quebec doctors’ group urges.”

Time to rattle Facebook’s cage again.

55 comments

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  1. 1
    Anthony K

    Ah. If the Fecebook* page had been titled “Should This Photo of African Girls Getting Their Virginity Tested Be Murdered?” It would probably still be up.

    *Typo that practically begged not to be corrected.

  2. 2
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    That is almost entirely appalling. The picture, the horrific event that’s taking place in it, and the Fecebook* decision to perma-ban someone posting it to try and save other girls from having to undergo it. The poster is the only person with agency in this mess who didn’t do anything appalling. :(

    I don’t have an account with them, and I’ve never been able to find a way to contact them without making one, so I don’t know how to do anything to fight this, other than signal-boosting on this post, which I will do.

    * Hail Tpyos the Giving, Creator of Inadvertent Excellent Humour.

  3. 3
    Kausik Datta

    Facebook’s cage most certainly needs to be rattled. How do you propose we initiate the process? Change.org petition?

  4. 4
    Mythicist Milwaukee

    The information and motivation for Mythicist Milwaukee came from the work of @AcharyaS aka D.M. Murdock in the form of the movie Zeitgeist. Yes, we know all of the critics shun this documentary, but remember it has millions upon millions of views and does a great job of simplifying the evidence that surrounds the mythical Jesus theory. After doing some research of our own, we decided that this information was too uncommon in modern Western societies therefore we created Mythicist Milwaukee.

    Today Acharya has lost her Facebook account due to what the Facebook admins deem inappropriate. As some of you know Acharya is known for pushing the limit by challenging the strangle hold some religions have over societies all over the world. Acharya is ahead of her time with her research and is being punished for her passion of making the world a better place for the unfortunate and objectified women that do not have a voice for themselves.

    Please help us by signing the petition Hopefully we can make enough noise to get the admins of Facebook to reconsider their decision.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/facebook-reinstate-acharya-s-s-facebook-page?utm_source=guides&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_created

  5. 5
    quixote

    What is it with Fecebook? Criminal misogyny is A-OK with them. But trying to do something about it? Omigod! Ban! Ban! Ban!

  6. 6
    johnthedrunkard

    We are groaning under a cultural obsession with appearance and language. What actually is actually DONE to little girls, in Nigera or Yemen, must be allowed to continue. And why? So that no one may be ‘offended’ by learning about it.

    In a long ago interview, John Cleese was asked about censorship of Monty Python. He quoted on of the show’s producers. When asked if he was concerned about giving offence, he replied:

    “THERE ARE PEOPLE ONE MIGHT WISH TO OFFEND”

  7. 7
    theoreticalgrrrl

    The “Dead Hookers” page with accompanying graphic photos is totally fine with Facebook, murder threats fine, rape celebrationists fine, but stopping violence against women and girls = EVIL. Facebook hates women, no doubt about it.

    Acharya S is awesome, I credit her with helping me finally lose my religion.

  8. 8
    ApostateltsopA

    “Acharya used a blurred version of the picture in her post but I’ll give you the original. With a trigger warning”

    How about not doing that? For hell sakes that is a picture of rape in progress. What is happening is beyind evil but posting it is also evil. That is child porn and I doubt you have any kind of permissin from their parrents. Jesus fuck Ophelia I can see your outrage but don’t add to the list of things wrong with the world while trying to oppose the things that are wrong with the world.

    This horror show would have been apalling in text only, in full color it is an additional evil. Please take hat photo down.

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    Child porn? That’s what it is? I consider it documentation of an atrocity. That’s why I posted it. I disagree that posting it was evil. That’s why I agree with Acharya S that her Facebook account should not have been removed.

  10. 10
    ASDSM

    Thank you, Ophelia, for your blog and remarks.

    I am aghast that people are so badly educated as to be unable to recognize an anthropological image of importance and will dismiss it as “child pornography.” Yes, the act could be considered a sexual assault – that’s the whole problem! However, chronicling it in an anthropological manner is not “child porn.”

    As I have stated, I am a lifelong student of anthropology and have seen many images out of Africa that were included in National Geographic magazine. This image was published in a magazine, apparently in Africa. It is part of a series of photographs, as can be found here:

    http://yeyeolade.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/black-virginity-tests-in-zululandsouth-africa-from-easycomeseasygoes-blogspot-com/

    Shall we attack the photographer and publisher for taking and publishing these photos? Or shall we focus on the practice and try to put an end to it, before it spreads throughout our culture as well?

    DM Murdock/Acharya S

  11. 11
    Indigo

    ASDSM

    I’m curious as to why you would describe the image as that being of a man…… when the link you posted states.

    “Girls between the age of seven and 26 lie on a mat in front of the woman doing the test, which only takes a few seconds.”

  12. 12
    Thetaar

    ApostateltsopA and the gang of degenerate snowflakes at the Atheism plus forum think that Ophelia and Acharya S are bad people for posting child porn. WTF?

  13. 13
    ApostateltsopA

    @Ophelia Yes you are bad for posting this crap and getting all splanie and technical defending it. That is an image of a minor being violated next to lots ofothers who apparently got the same. Would you post the rape videos from stubenville? Would you let an image of your child being violated hit the web?! This is like some kind of dark anti-inspiration porn.

    @the defenders
    Take off your hero goggles and self righteousness and look at what is being depicting here! Don’t play false dichotomy with me you can quite easily oppose the events depicted without also depicting them. We don’t name rape victims unless they want to, we do not show rape videos, yet when it is black people in africa, oh well that is anthropology, I totes saw naked people in nat geo once. Show some damn humanity. I expected much, much better of all of you than this.

  14. 14
    Grimalkin

    Someone explain how this is different from someone finding the naked child pictures my abuser has and posting them without my permission to “protest child abuse.”

    You do not post pictures of someone being sexually abused without the person who is being sexually abused’s permission. You do not. Those little girls are PEOPLE, PEOPLE who can go online, go to this website, and be hit with an image of THEM being abused that was posted without permission. They aren’t animals whose faces are in the public domain. They are people and you posted an image of them without their permission, not to mention an image of THEIR. GODDAMNED. ABUSE.

  15. 15
    DMSA

    Firstly, thanks to Indigo for pointing out that it could be a woman in the front of the image in question. I have altered my article accordingly.

    Secondly to the others, it is not difficult to understand how an ANTHROPOLOGICAL IMAGE of a RELIGIOUS and COMING OF AGE RITUAL is different from the trash people keep fixating on. The photo in question was in a magazine story about a initiation ritual performed in Africa. These virginity tests are described graphically on Wikipedia and elsewhere. They are done PUBLICLY and with great pride by an entire CULTURE, not filmed in a back room by a bunch of pedophiles. Honestly, where IS your mind at?

    Moreover, this invasive procedure is now being done increasingly in the West, and entire governments such as the Canadian are now having to deal with this issue. I can guarantee that the doctors dealing with this issue are seeing much worse than what is in this photo – they are undoubtedly also reading medical and anthropological literature with many such images in them, possibly dating back decades, as this CULTURAL PRACTICE is very ancient.

    As I’ve stated repeatedly, I was raised on National Geographic magazine. I have read many anthropological stories, while it appears the barely literate critics are ignorant of the world at large.

    The people making vile comments are displaying their own psyches, and I do not appreciate these disgusting remarks and insinuations – again, they reflect your own minds. And such abuses of persons trying to expose these practices and prevent them from occurring in our lands will only help this tradition to flourish.

    If we allow such ugliness chase activists from the stage, there will be no voices for the millions of women and children who are at risk for this invasive and abusive practice. SHAME ON YOU for trying to bully us into silence with your nasty interpretations and myopic vision.

    By the way, the image in question has been on Google search engine for YEARS, as well as on WordPress for YEARS. It is now on Twitter. An apparently Christian man took it at an apparently Christian ceremony. Unless you are prepared to make vile comments about all those individuals, you should keep your bullying to yourselves.

    In the meantime, Ophelia and I are actually trying to HELP these poor females, while you with your perverse mentalities are standing in the way. Again, for shame! I would also bet that the people making such foul comments are misogynists and sexists in significant part. I reject this mentality and will continue to fight for females globally not to be oppressed by this intrusive practice. An entire state in Indonesia wants to make this abuse MANDATORY for ALL schoolgirls, and you’re going to sit here giving us flack? Disgraceful and disgusting.

    It’s ugliness like this practice that needs to be banned, not those who expose it. Whose side are you on? That of the abusers?

    D.M. Murdock/Acharya S

    (Ophelia, I keep getting the “imposter” nonsense when I try to post, which means I keep having to put a different email address every time.)

  16. 16
    DMSA

    I should add that, when Oprah Winfrey did a show female genital mutilation, she aired some very graphic images, including one with blood cascading out of the girl’s crotch.

    So, shall we rant at Oprah for that graphic program?

    Some of the videos on the following page about FGM are very graphic – shall we go after the producers and accuse them of trash?

    http://www.fgmnetwork.org/reference/femfilms.html

    The following video, in fact, is far more graphic than what we’ve posted – you are warned!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyicR_oeynE

    Note that the video above is not even set to 18+ on Youtube. Note also that children’s faces are showing and that the video has been reproduced many times.

    There are images like THIS all over the internet – I would link it directly, but there doesn’t seem to be that HTML option:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FGC_Types.svg

    I got that one from Wikipedia – all you need to do is click on their “Female genital mutilation” article. Again, shall we now rant and make accusations? Or shall we grow up at last and face our human sexuality in a mature and healthy manner for a change, instead of humiliating and mutilating children?

  17. 17
    Grimalkin

    DMSA- so if a pedo takes a picture of a little girl being assaulted and posts it online against her will, it’s wrong, but if an anthropologist does it it’s *anthropology*?

    Seriously, show me where these *people* consented to their images being used to “save them”, or take the image of ANOTHER PERSON BEING ABUSED THAT WAS POSTED WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT down.

    These are people. Not inanimate objects that illustrate a point.

  18. 18
    qwints

    For the record, pointing to National Geographic’s standards for when and how it displays nudity have been pretty racist over the years. “National Geographic Nudity” (contains nudity).

  19. 19
    Starfish

    During the recent Steubenville rape incident, the rapists took pictures of their victim and shared them around with apparent pride. Would it have been OK for a news outlet to publish those pictures without obscuring the victim’s face or body at all? Why does it magically become OK if the victims are African?

  20. 20
    Monique Boea

    You can’t show the nude bodies of young girls. THAT is why their FB page was disabled.

    IDIOTS!

  21. 21
    ischemgeek

    Ophelia, would you have posted the photo of Reteah Parsons’ rape uncensored? Would you have posted the photos Amanda Todd was coerced into giving to the predator who targeted her? What about the explicit photos of the Steubenville victim’s rape?

    No. Because you recognize that posting those photos in their uncensored version re-victimizes those girls by exposing them to the entire world.

    Why is it different if the girls are brown?

  22. 22
    Nu Ankh

    Well it looks like this image cause so much of a stir that the people forgot the fire is still under them burning. The real issue still is, what are you going to do about it?

  23. 23
    indigo

    DMSA,

    Thanks for making the change to your article

    Hopefully, pointing out that this procedure is usually carried out by a woman would dispel the critic’s fantasies that they’re viewing some sort of rape porn however, they seem rather fixated on seeing it as that. There appears to be no opposition to the actual testing itself, just to the presence of the picture.

    Is there anything from girls and women in Zululand where they state their objections to this practice ?

  24. 24
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    It’s different because what happened is different, and happened in a totally different context, one which is culturally based and public.

    In, say, the US, rape videos are not made public, but you damn well know that police saw them and quite probably a courtroom full of people, too. Because that is how women who are violated get justice in the US. If you want to bring justice against a whole culture, anonymous images of normal occurrences in that culture are not re-victimizing anyone, assuming those who were violated even considered themselves to be victims in the first place.

    You quite sound like the people who think taking pictures of one’s naked baby running around the yard or having a bath are child porn as well. (Because some asshole might get off on it.)

  25. 25
    Ophelia Benson

    Hey, you know who else didn’t give consent to being photographed naked and abused? The piles of corpses being bulldozed into mass graves after the Allies liberated the death camps.

    You know another? Kim Phuc, the nine-year-old Vietnamese girl running naked down a road screaming in pain from the napalm burns on her back. She appeared on the front page of the New York Times.

    The point of showing the photo as I understand it is to make clear that it IS rape. The people perpetrating it call it “virginity testing” and it’s only by seeing exactly what goes on that one can detect how grotesque that is.

  26. 26
    Apostateltsop€

    @DMSA bullshit. You acknowledge that this is a picture of child abuse. Yes I protest all the images you mention where unconsenting children are exploited for any cause. You do not exploit fucking children. Your owh words lael it abuse and you should see consent is not possible, but hey they are brown so it’s magically anthropology now. So answe this, here in the west we havve rape culture, long standing and in far too large a way approved by society, if you or I get raped and it is caught on camera can a south african journalist publish the images without our consent as anthropology? It seems anthropological intent really is magic.

    @indigo, look again here at at A+ we abhore what happened to those children. I just also abhore their further unconsenting exploitation.

    @f, also bullshit. Unless you would be ok with the hypothetical images of me being raped getting published. You can not argue against the exploitation of children and then endorse the exploitation of children. Unless you want to be a hypocrate.

    @Ophelia those corpses are not people, no further harm can be done to them. However the little girl was not she was exploited to end a war. Was it worth it? You are making the eggs and omlets argument. How many and which eggs are you ok with breaking? If I publish an article on the anthropology of rape culture here in the west can I use uncensored images of rape arround sporting events? Quite a few cultures value that all too common practice. If you are right quit spinning and answer the questions you have been asked directly. Or admit this is exploitation, “for a good cause” and that the good cause would be better served without exploiting the victims.

  27. 27
    ApostateltsopA

    Bah, phone post, the above comment is me.

  28. 28
    Ophelia Benson

    I’m making the eggs and omelets argument? Really? That was Stalin’s argument, if you remember, so it’s a justification for murdering millions for the greater good. I’m not attempting to justify murdering millions, here. I’m not attempting to justify murdering one.

    I think what you mean is, I’m arguing that an X that would be wrong if done for no good reason is not wrong or is less wrong if done for a good reason. Is that what you mean? If so, we can discuss that.

  29. 29
    Jacob Schmidt

    Is there any chance that these kids will be mocked and harassed by the viewers of the photo? That is the problem that arose with the Staubenville case and Rehtaeh Parsons. With no apparent negative consequence of publishing the photo (which was internationally published back in 2009), I can’t see how this is wrong.

  30. 30
    Ophelia Benson

    I don’t know. There are several people at the Atheism+ forum who are in a towering rage about this and making a lot of wild claims. One of the stupidest is that I’m posting child rape porn. But the people doing this don’t consider it rape; that’s the whole point. Documenting what it is demonstrates to outsiders that it is rape – it’s people prodding young girls’ genitals for no medical reason whatever.

  31. 31
    Mythicist Milwaukee

    For those of you who DO support Ophelia and Acharya’s effort to spread awareness of these atrocities and their right to continue spreading awareness of other like issues in the world, there is a petition to reinstate Acharya’s Facebook account to give her voice back to that audience. It’s located here: http://www.change.org/petitions/facebook-reinstate-acharya-s-s-facebook-page

    Of course, her voice will continue to be heard on her blog, and through friends and supporters like Opelia, but Facebook helped to amplify her voice to a larger audience. It’s a shame that we’ve lost her voice in our social community there.

  32. 32
    ApostateltsopA

    Thank you for cleaning up my posts.

    Now, you are going to ignore every point I made so you can over react to the eggs and omelets comment? As if only Stalin ever used that phrase and it was only ever used to describe mass murder so I must be calling you a mass murderer?! Hyperbole much? I am not calling you a mass murderer, I am saying that images of children being raped should not be published. That to publish them is exploitation and furthers a harm already done.

    You know this is a picture of rape in progress. You admit as much right above this post. My point is we should not use the pain of victims of rape to win cheap emotional points. To do so is child exploitation, at a minimum. I would like to see you address the points about how the exact same scene taken of westerners, say a polygamist camp would be censored, would not be shown this way. Or would you use it? If you admit that you would publish pictures of a girl being abused in a locker room by a football team, heck, I’ll still say you should not, but I would have to stop calling you on the hyprocracy of this. And don’t tell me the difference is the participants here don’t see it as wrong, plenty of footballers also view sexual abuse as a normal part of being themselves.

    You haven’t made that claim though and I believe that if such a picture were to appear you would be against it’s publishing, even if it were already published somewhere else. So give me an argument for how the benefit of pissing people off about abuse in Africa, who could all be just as riled without the picture, somehow makes it ok to show a picture of a bunch of little girls being raped. We agree it is rape, horrible and wrong, why are you furthering that harm?

  33. 33
    ApostateltsopA

    @Jacob,

    So if you don’t know about it it would be ok for me to publish compromising photos of you? Seriously lets unpack that a little because it smacks of, poor african kids don’t know about the internets. There is racism in that idea.

    However, imagine one of these kids gets a student visa and finds herself online. Image searches are a thing, that technology will only get more accurate as time progresses. There is very real harm possible and that is not taking into account he actual harm happening right now.

    I grew up with a lot of cultural conditioning which made images of african tribal folk rank closer to chimpanzees than westerners. I think I’m past most of that but why is this image ok for you and change the color, if they were white girls or asian girls would you still be ok with this scene? Would you not be outraged then? If you wouldn’t you’ll be the first to admit it, if you would then ask yourself why is this ok if the others aren’t.

  34. 34
    Mythicist Milwaukee

    Facebook has permanently shut down DM Murdock’s aka Acharya’s’ account for trying to raise aware of “virginity testing” in Africa. As some of you may know she is always pushing the limits for human rights. This incident is important not only for Acharya, but all controversial scholars. Facebook has become a very essential part of independent scholars vital source of publication and promotion. Losing that could be detrimental to ones living wages and ability to pursue an independent career.

    The fact that Acharya posted this pictures isn’t the issue. The fact that this disgusting outdated practice is still taking place is the real story. Raising awareness on this topic is critical for steps to promote change.

    Acharya has been receiving support from fellow religious scholars and provocateurs . Peter Joseph has come out in her defense and has generated a lot of traffic to the petition site. David Carrier just wrote a blog about it today and shared in the social world. That also has generated a lot of signatures in the last couple of hours.

    Our goal is to achieve 20.000 signatures. We are motivated by a article that has just been published, on a victory petition story that included Mark Zuckerberg changing the Facebook policy, and reinstating the original offender that was posting breast cancer survivors pictures. They only needed 20,000 signatures. Currently we have over 2300 signatures so we are at 10% of our goal. The following are some articles on the situation:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/4726

    http://freethoughtnation.com/contributing-writers/63-acharya-s/829-facebook-to-allow-beheading-videos-to-reduce-violence.html

    https://www.change.org/petitions/facebook-stop-censoring-photos-of-men-and-women-who-have-undergone-mastectomies

    We hope you see the value in supporting this effort.

    MythicistMilwaukee.com

  35. 35
    Jacob Schmidt

    So if you don’t know about it it would be ok for me to publish compromising photos of you? Seriously lets unpack that a little because it smacks of, poor african kids don’t know about the internets. There is racism in that idea.

    The fuck? I didn’t argue this anywhere.

    I think I’m past most of that but why is this image ok for you and change the color, if they were white girls or asian girls would you still be ok with this scene? Would you not be outraged then? If you wouldn’t you’ll be the first to admit it, if you would then ask yourself why is this ok if the others aren’t.

    Were you high when you wrote this? I’m not OK with this scene.

  36. 36
    indigo

    We’re done with the kiddie porn accusations then, good.

    Moving on, it’s rather difficult to engage in teaching these rapists to rape and attacking this Zulu rape culture without a call for help from Zulu civil society as the issue is easily deflected with charges of western cultural supremacism. See Atheism Plus’s threads on Malala Yousafzai and the spinoff one about the use of the word thug for an example of what going down this road may lead to.

  37. 37
    Ophelia Benson

    ApostateltsopA – You need to stop putting words in people’s mouths and then “arguing” from the result. That’s not a legitimate way to argue.

    I’ve had more than enough of your ludicrous accusations of racism. Either calm down and make a case, or go away.

  38. 38
    ApostateltsopA

    I have made my case, several times. None of the defenders will address my points, all I get is huff and hyperbole. Real simple, any defender, how would you react to this exact same image if they were white girls and football players? Would you post that image? If not then why the double standard here?

    @jacob, your defense of the image was that since they don’t know about it and you think they won’t be made fun if the image is not doing harm. I extended the same logic to a picture about you. Look back at your post and clarify what you meant if I have read your words wrong. My response encapsulates my understanding of your point.

    Point 2, sorry aparently I was not specific enough, would you be ok with the sceen being depicted just like the one above, without consent of the victims if they were as I described?

  39. 39
    Ophelia Benson

    That’s not relevant. It’s not “real simple.” Your simplistic questions are off the mark. You’re more interested in accusing me of racism than you are in paying attention to the issues raised by what is happening in the photo.

    The point of the photo as I understand it, and thus the reason I think it’s worth publishing it, is to make clear what the absurd concept of “virginity testing” actually is. I’ve said what it is in words in the past, but I think making it visually clear makes more of an impact.

    The right comparison is not to football players and rape victims, it’s to “virginity testing” done by and to white people. Suppose some (white) Christian splinter group doing a similar kind of “virginity test” in Utah. Suppose a secularist feminist group published an equivalent photo on Facebook, and Facebook responded by deleting their entire account. Would I post that photo? Yes.

  40. 40
    Jacob Schmidt

    your defense of the image was that since they don’t know about it[1] and you think they won’t be made fun[2] if the image is not doing harm.[3] I extended the same logic to a picture about you.[4] Look back at your post and clarify what you meant if I have read your words wrong.[5] My response encapsulates my understanding of your point.

    1) Nope.

    2) Others brought this up with repeated allusions to staubenville and similar cases. The parallel fails, since the problems in those cases don’t exist with this one.

    3) What harm has the photo done? In what way were the children harmed? Please, tell me. You’ve been quite vague about this.

    4) This is a bad idea. What I’m comfortable with and what’s moral are two separate things.

    5) Or, you know, you could actually read what I’ve already written, rather than making shit up.

  41. 41
    Flewellyn

    I can see where Acharya S and Ophelia are coming from, with wanting to publicize how awful this practice is. Because awful it is; this kind of bodily invasion does not belong in any culture.

    I can also see where Apostate and co are coming from, with feeling that the photograph being posted unblurred is a bit much. It does feel squicky and exploitative to me, even if the intent behind it is noble.

    There’s an important discussion to be had about conflicting activisms and what kind of stance to take in a situation like this, where we’re condemning a cultural practice that is demonstrably harmful and misogynist, and yet we run the risk, if we’re not careful, of falling into colonialist tropes of othering these people.

    Honestly? I don’t know what the right answer is.

    I do know that Facebook could have dealt with this issue without permanently suspending Acharya’s account; simple deletion of the photograph would have sufficed, as far as their terms of service go. Deleting her account permanently is the move that smacks of suppression of activism.

  42. 42
    Jacob Schmidt

    Honestly? I don’t know what the right answer is.

    I do know that Facebook could have dealt with this issue without permanently suspending Acharya’s account; simple deletion of the photograph would have sufficed, as far as their terms of service go. Deleting her account permanently is the move that smacks of suppression of activism.

    Honestly? Neither do I. I don’t fully support the publication of this photo. But I recognize the good it can do, and I think the some of the reactions are too simple.

    Facebook has royally fucked up here, especially given their history on these things.

  43. 43
    ApostateltsopA

    That’s not relevant. It’s not “real simple.” Your simplistic questions are off the mark. You’re more interested in accusing me of racism than you are in paying attention to the issues raised by what is happening in the photo.

    I made it very clear in my initial post, and subsequent follow ups that I consider what was done to those girls, and to the others who have endured that crap abominable. I am interested in combating that crap and willing to do what I can to stop it. Short of opposing it and speaking loudly about how horrible it is what more would you have me do?

    However, in addition to opposing “virginity testing” and all the other rapes and sexual assaults, I oppose things which cause further harm, especially when the person is already a victim.

    Someone asked what harm could this picture possibly do to the victims? This blows my mind, because nothing, at all, has been done to shield their identities. Their faces are just as clearly shown as all the rest of that horror show depicted.

    Now you have stated that I’m all wrong in equating this to any other rape or sex assault because this is “virginity testing” I simply don’t see how that makes it special or how the victims deserve less consideration because of the justification used by the attackers for the assault. I don’t see how you can get your head into that place either.

    Proactively, “Their names weren’t used” I’m just seeing this coming for some reason, and it’s true. However facial recognition software is a thing, on Facebook even. Imagine one of these girls getting tagged in this picture. They may not be online, they may never be online, but why take that risk? Why be the one to decide what horrors will await their children should they use a tool like ancestry.com to go looking for family history?

    Or real simply how is this image not exploiting children?

    The point of the photo as I understand it, and thus the reason I think it’s worth publishing it, is to make clear what the absurd concept of “virginity testing” actually is. I’ve said what it is in words in the past, but I think making it visually clear makes more of an impact.

    I sympathize if you have run into people so foolish they can’t figure out what is meant by virginity testing, however I have trouble believing “Little girls get sexually assaulted and raped to prove they are virgins” wouldn’t cut it as a description. I agree that pictures hit harder than words, and even that graphic pictures can hit harder than non-graphic ones (not always a lot of people just see the gore or horror). However, and a big However, I don’t believe that boost to signal is worth the harm to the victims, and if I would shield victims here in the west, from any form of sexual assault or rape, then I can’t see not doing that anywhere else.

    You have said you’d show this same testing if it were westerners, so then it’s not racism, why do you think that helping a very thick person internalize this concept is more important than protecting the identities of the victims? Why not, at a minimum, obscure their faces? My preference would be use a graphic cartoon along with graphic words. That way no real people can be harmed.

    @Jacob, Here this is a direct quote from you at 29

    Is there any chance that these kids will be mocked and harassed by the viewers of the photo? That is the problem that arose with the Staubenville case and Rehtaeh Parsons. With no apparent negative consequence of publishing the photo (which was internationally published back in 2009), I can’t see how this is wrong.

    So, you seem to be advocating that if no harm through bullying is done to the victims there is no need to protect their identities?

    My response is still, that we don’t know if any of them will find themselves online and could or could not be horribly mortified by these images. I think we should err on caution and show them the same courtesy I would show any rape victim, preferably don’t post the images at all, but if for some reason it was absolutely necessary redact their identifying information, at a bare minimum.

    I am not, in any way, making shit up. I am responding to your words, and you are being very evasive. You have even said that clarifying your point would be a bad idea.

    [4] Look back at your post and clarify what you meant if I have read your words wrong.

    4) This is a bad idea. What I’m comfortable with and what’s moral are two separate things.

    Kindly either explain how your quote does not mean posting the picture is not wrong if they never find out about it or get bullied because of it, or redact that sentiment. I’d also appreciate it if you stopped claiming I am shoving words into your mouth.

    Finally, Ophilia, this is the first exchange where I felt you were responding to me, and not reacting at me. Thank you.

  44. 44
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Would somethng like at least blurring the faces of these kids hekp the situation?

  45. 45
    ischemgeek

    I’m sorry, I don’t follow the, “Their circumstances are different and therefore they don’t need to be protected from re-victimization” argument.

    They are people.

    They deserve to be protected from re-victimization. Full stop. Yes, the world should know about it. But there are ways of letting the world know about it without re-victimizing the girls in question. You could have shown a photo with their faces blurred. You could describe what happens with pseudonyms. You do not have to expose these girls, naked and without consent, to the entire world.

    Just because they were victimized without consent doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to re-victimize them.

    Speaking as a victim of sexual assault here: My abusers took photos. If one of them was released on the internet, I would be humiliated, and I could face professional consequences. If one was shared around to show the atrocity of child abuse and child porn? I would still be humiliated and could still face professional consequences.

    Your intent doesn’t matter to the result. And the result is that you just re-victimized those girls.

  46. 46
    Jacob Schmidt

    I am not, in any way, making shit up.[1] I am responding to your words, and you are being very evasive. You have even said that clarifying your point would be a bad idea.[2]

    1) You accused me of thinking that the poor little africans don’t know about the internet, when such was nowhere in any of my posts. Yes, you were.

    2) No, the number tags go after the point I’m addressing, not before. It’s a bad idea for you to appeal to my comforts.

  47. 47
    Jet

    Is this still going?

    I created an account at the atheism plus forums for the sole purposes of engaging with people who were insisting this is some sort of racist child rape porn. I made it 15 posts in before getting banned :p

    I’ve been hearing since its inception that Atheism Plus members are likely to shout you down with accusations of misogyny if you voice any dissenting opinion. I’d seen a bit of that in the comment sections on FTB, but now I’m coming away with the impression that it may be the prevailing culture at the forums as well. It’s too bad, since we’re on the same side, and progress in these issues is hindered by the level of hysteria that surrounds them.

    For the record, I support Atheism Plus and consider myself a member. I am just expressing sadness at the amount of irrationality on display.

  48. 48
    Ophelia Benson

    I know. I like the concept expressed by “atheism plus” but some of the people at the forum are…self-righteous and uneloquent. That’s not one of my favorite pairings.

  49. 49
    Ophelia Benson

    Jesus.

    Apost-whasit on the forum:

    http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=5552#p96155

    Oh and Ophelia accused me of calling her a mass murderer because Stalin use the eggs and omlets phrase.

    What I actually said:

    I’m making the eggs and omelets argument? Really? That was Stalin’s argument, if you remember, so it’s a justification for murdering millions for the greater good. I’m not attempting to justify murdering millions, here. I’m not attempting to justify murdering one.

    Jesus h fucking Christ. No wonder people hate Atheism plus if that’s a representative sample.

  50. 50
    Jet

    Yeah, I was accused of some nasty things because I don’t believe the photo depicts rape or sexual assault under the common meaning of those terms. Trying to explain what I meant is what earned me the ban. Certainly, they see it a different way. But that was my impression, and I believe it would be the impression of most newcomers.

    It’s enough that I’ll have to think carefully before advocating Atheism Plus in the future. I don’t want someone to google the term, land on that forum, and be turned off the concept on those grounds.

  51. 51
    Ophelia Benson

    I know, I just skimmed through the whole thing. Ugh ugh ugh.

    Deep rifts.

  52. 52
    Flewellyn

    Yeah, I was accused of some nasty things because I don’t believe the photo depicts rape or sexual assault under the common meaning of those terms. Trying to explain what I meant is what earned me the ban. Certainly, they see it a different way. But that was my impression, and I believe it would be the impression of most newcomers.

    Jet, you referred to the treatment of these girls as though it were a gynecological examination, and not the rape that it is.

    Allow me to quote you:

    They’re checking for the presence of the hymen. That doesn’t involve penetration, hence, it isn’t rape under the common meaning. It’s more akin to a gynecological examination (as Carrier has already pointed out). It’s terrible, but it’s not rape (unless, again, we’re using that word to mean something different).

    Now, HOW is that okay? The whole point of Acharya S and Ophelia trying to call attention to this atrocity is that it is rape, and you minimizing that is meant to accomplish…what, now?

    Rape need not involve a penis to be rape; that these young girls were violated physically is clear by the photo and by the description. The operative definitions of rape in feminist circles include intimate physical contact using hands or other means. I would have thought you’d know that.

    If you feel that our objections to your dismissal of that fact is grounds for not recommending A+ to others, well, I daresay we didn’t need your recommendation anyway.

  53. 53
    Ophelia Benson

    Don’t bring some forum argument here. I’m not interested.

  54. 54
    Flewellyn

    YOU brought it here, Ophelia, when you linked to us above, and discussed our forum thread here with Jet. And you’ve felt perfectly fine in slamming us with barely-concealed contempt because we dared to criticize you.

    And y’know, I didn’t even agree with some of the criticisms, not entirely, and I could see where you and Acharya were coming from…but no, apparently the mere fact that some of our members criticized you means that you can throw all of us under the bus and push the “Atheism+ is unreasonable and irrational” meme. Thanks heaps.

  55. 55
    Ophelia Benson

    No, not the mere fact that you criticized me; the stupid and bad-tempered way some of you did it. Apostwhatever hasn’t bothered to withdraw the dishonest assertion that I said Apostetc had accused me of mass murder.

    Also, what I bring here is my business.

  1. 56
    D. M. Murdock, AKA Acharya S., banned on Facebook | God Discussion

    […] her page, requesting people to sign it.  She has also received support from others, such as Ophelia Benson, blogger of Butterflies and Wheels, requesting people to help Acharya get her Facebook page back […]

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