The Muslim Brotherhood calls it beautification

Via Deeyah, via Mona Eltahawy: Azza El Garf of the Freedom and Justice Party – the Muslim Brotherhood party – disapproves of the ban on FGM.

She condemns the notorious “virginity tests”  that military officers and doctors are accused of perpetrating on a group of female  protesters in March 2011.

But she disagrees with Egypt’s 2008 ban on female cutting,  which opponents call genital mutilation. The World Health Organization defines it  as the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury  to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

“It is a personal decision and each woman can decide based on her needs. If she needs it, she can go to a doctor,” El Garf said,  adding that the Muslim Brotherhood refers to the practice as beautification plastic  surgery. She was adamant that it was a woman’s choice, and hers alone, to have the  outlawed procedure and should be done in consultation with a trained medical professional.

But it’s not about “women” making a “choice” to get their external genitalia sliced off. It’s about women “choosing” to have that done to their very young daughters. Prattling about “choice” as if it were a fucking manicure or a haircut is insulting.


On second thought, let’s keep women down after all

From the F Word

The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific) and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) have released a joint statement on the failure of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to adopt agreed conclusions at its 56th session earlier in March.  They draw particular attention to the role that arguments about protecting “traditional values” have played in preventing consensus on the human rights of women.

We say NO to any re-opening of negotiations on the already established international agreements on women’s human rights and call on all governments to demonstrate their commitments to promote, protect and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedoms of women.

We are particularly concerned to learn that our governments failed to reach a consensus on the basis of safeguarding “traditional values” at the expense of human rights and fundamental freedoms of women…

…it is alarming that some governments have evoked so-called “moral” values to deny women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Sexual and reproductive rights are a crucial and fundamental part of women’s full enjoyment of all rights as well as integral to gender equality, development and social justice. Social and religious morals and patriarchal values have been employed to justify violations against women. Violence against women, coercion and deprivation of legal and other protections of women, marital rape, honour crimes, son preference, female genital mutilation, ‘dowry’ or ‘bride price’, forced and early marriages and ‘corrective rapes’ of lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and inter-sexed persons have all been justified by reference to ‘traditional values’.

“Traditional values” are just what get in the way of women’s rights. If you make an exception for them, you’re giving up on the whole idea.

Livingstone promises to cement London

Glory for Ken Livingstone: Iran’s Press TV reports

Ken Livingstone to make London a beacon of Islam

Ken Livingstone, Labour party’s candidate for mayor of London has promised to turn London into a “beacon” for the words of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) in a sermon at one of the British capital’s mosques.

Livingstone pledged to “educate the mass of Londoners” in Islam, saying:  “That will help to cement our city as a beacon that demonstrates the meaning of the words of the Prophet (PBUH).”

Livingstone described the Prophet (PBUH)’s words in his last sermon as “an agenda for all humanity.” He praised the Prophet’s last sermon, telling his audience: “I want to spend the next four years making sure that every non-Muslim in London knows and understands [its] words and message.”

What happened? They forgot the last (PBUH). A disgraceful lapse, if not outright blasphemy!

But anyway, how lovely of Ken, forcing Islam on all Londoners that way. Good that he won’t be frittering away his time on things like public transport or libraries.

Galloway’s dog whistle

In a letter or pamphlet before the election:

God KNOWS who is a Muslim. And he KNOWS who is not. Instinctively, so do you. Let me point out to all the Muslim brothers and sisters what I stand for:

I, George Galloway, do not drink alcohol and never have. Ask yourself if you believe the other candidate in this election can say that truthfully.

How does Galloway KNOW that God KNOWS what Galloway says it knows? How does Galloway KNOW that there is such a thing as “God”?

Oh, he doesn’t, it’s just electioneering, I know. But I wanted to say anyway.

It appears that Cristina Odone wrote a piece blaming Merat’s killing spree on – wait for it – secularism, but alas, the piece has been removed and can no longer be found. A bit too much, was it?


Her family refused to attend her funeral

A young woman of 19 in Mersin, Turkey, Hatice Ferat, ran away from home to live with her boyfriend. Her brother Mahsun did not approve.

Mahsun visited her in her new home and invited her out to take a walk along the beach. He then lured her in[to a] secluded area, slit her throat, stabbed her forty times, and disposed of the body in a river. When it was eventually found, her family refused to attend her funeral.
The investigation is ongoing – no trial has yet taken place. The funeral was held by 50 women, who took the opportunity to make it clear that such behavior would not be tolerated under their watch, shouting slogans that included “We are not going to be anyone’s honor,” “End honor killings,” and “Hands that hurt women should be broken.”


 H/t Deeyah.

Who me?

Rock Beyond Belief is going on right now. Toooot!

Dan Fincke has a post saying that, and that Ed Brayton is the MC, and that he had a good time hanging out with Ed at the Reason Rally, and that Jessica Ahlquist rocked the Reason Rally, and that you can buy evil little thing T shirts which go into her scholarship fund…

…and that the evil little thing T shirts were my idea. Whoa, what?!

Oh yes, so they were. I’d actually forgotten that!

That’s too bad, because it means I didn’t think to introduce myself to Jessica that way in Orlando. “Hi, I’m the one who had the evil little thing T shirts idea.” If I remember correctly I just did the bumbling fan thing, instead.


Two things.

One, will someone please explain to me how Republicans keep getting away with playing the “anti-elitist” “I hate Harvard/Yale/people who speak French” card when they themselves went to Harvard or Yale and speak French?

How did Bush keep getting away with it? I’ve never understood that. Andover, Yale, Harvard Business School, grandfather a Senator, father the President, oil money up to the eyeballs, and he got away with pretending to be a Texas workin’ stiff just by drawling and being pig-ignorant.

Now apparently Romney’s getting away with it.

Mitt Romney likes to take jabs at President Barack Obama for representing the values of the Harvard faculty lounge. He should know.

Like the president, the former Massachusetts governor is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Unlike the commander-in-chief, Romney also has a second Harvard graduate degree, in business.

While bashing Harvard is intended to paint Obama as an ivory tower theorist out of his depth in the presidency, Romney owes his chief White House credential — his business career –to the school.

That Ivy League pedigree undercuts Romney’s appeal to many Republicans who already doubt that he shares their values. So as he heads for his party’s nomination, Romney lacerates his alma mater on the campaign trail, seeking to channel the resentments of voters soured on elite institutions.

“I didn’t learn about the economy just reading about it or hearing about it at the faculty lounge at Harvard,” Romney, 65, said on March 18 in Illinois, in a swipe at Obama.

Why don’t people just shout “You pathetic liar!” when he tries that?

Two, oh for the good old days.

Brains and determination were taken for granted at Harvard, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, institution that is consistently ranked among the world’s top universities. Romney, seen as smart, though not exceptionally so, stood out for the intensity of his work ethic and his commitment to his Mormon faith.

“He was very serious about his religion and his relationship with God,” says Mark Mazo, a member of Romney’s law school study group. “That was highly unusual at the time.”

Ohhhhhhhhhhh wouldn’t it be nice if it were still highly unusual?



A confrontational mindset

Rachel Maddow on Fresh Air the other day.

On why she came out in the Stanford student newspaper when she was 17

“I think because I was 17 and incredibly cocky and full of myself, and I thought that everything I had to do had to make a statement. I think I had a confrontational mindset. I think I was frustrated by the casual anti-gay stuff that I saw among college freshmen in the milieu that I was in. And my attitude toward that was not to try to bring people along gently, gently, and show people by my evident humanity their callousness. I just wanted to throw something up in peoples’ faces. I’m not sure that I would do it that way now. I don’t really have any regret about it. I wish I had been more sensitive to my parents. But I certainly don’t regret coming out. I think that everybody has to find their own way on coming out issues. And some people decide never to. I tend to think it is always better to be out than not out. But not everybody has the option. And when I was a freshman in college, I felt like I had the option, and I exercised it with an exclamation point. I think it says more about being 17 than it does about being gay.”

Not everybody has the option – but some of us do, so we go to Reason Rallies or we write confrontational blog posts. Ya.

Leo in Geneva

Leo Igwe has an excellent article about religious laws versus human rights, which I think is a statement he made to the UN Human Rights Council a few days ago. Leo has very concrete, in your face, up close and personal experience of the relationship between religious “laws” and human rights, since he spends much of his time trying to repair the damage done by witch hunts and witch hunters and people who make claims about child “witches” in order to get money from the children’s parents to get rid of the “witches.”

Religious laws are legalised religious doctrines. They are “revelations” turned into rules to govern society. Religious laws are sacred dogma institutionalised. They are sins criminalised. They are religious hatred, intolerance, discrimination and fanaticism turned into state policies. In most parts of Africa, the negative impact of religious laws on democracies and human rights systems is clear and compelling – from the wars, conflicts and anarchy in Somalia, Northern Uganda, and in the Sudan, to the threats posed by Islamism to the Arab Spring in North Africa and the peaceful coexistence of people in Nigeria; from the witch hunts in Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Kenya, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique and the Central African Republic, to the wave of homophobia sweeping across different countries with overt and covert support from the OIC, the Vatican and other religious agencies that foster religious laws and its discontents across the globe. How we address this ‘sensitive’ issue of religious law – particularly here at the Human Rights Council – will go a long way in determining the future of democracy and human rights in the world.

I hope the HRC listened very attentively to Leo, and thought hard about what he said.

Also inspired by religious laws are those persecuting alleged witches in Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, the Congo, Central African Republic, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Angola. Even where there are enabling state laws to address the problem, in many cases the religious laws in the minds of the people overwhelm, and take precedence over state laws. Or the existing law will be twisted and misinterpreted to convict the alleged witch and acquit the accuser.

Hence it should not surprise anyone that theocratic agencies like the Vatican, the Church of England, the OIC and their member states have not come out openly and categorically to condemn accusations of witchcraft and spirit possession sweeping across Africa and Asia and among African and Asian overseas communities.

It’s a good question, isn’t it. The Vatican is terribly terribly concerned about fetuses…why is it so unconcerned about children accused of being witches? The OIC is terribly terribly concerned about “defamation” of religion and “blasphemy” and cartoons and the like – why is it so unconcerned about children accused of being witches? Why do theocratic organizations have such horribly twisted priorities?

Homophobia: And now compare the deafening silence and indifference of African states to combating witchcraft related abuses with their vehement and strident opposition to recognizing the human rights of gay people. The reasons often cited to justify and sanctify homophobic legislations in the region are as follows: That homosexuality is unbiblical, un-Koranic and ungodly! In other words, the African states have these sacred texts, not their constitutions, as their grundnorm.

Recently, many African states and most of the OIC member states walked out of the session convened by the Council to discuss violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With that walk out, they have made their position clear:  they do not want these human rights violations to be discussed or addressed, nor will they be party to addressing them. They should not be held responsible and accountable. In other words, they are saying that the human rights abuses on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity should continue, because that is in accordance with the ‘divine’ law in these countries.

Exactly so. How terrible it is that Leo’s voice is such a singular one.

Sliding back

Shannon Rupp went to a “Wellness show” in Vancouver.

The Wellness Show — or as I think of it, Current Trends in Snake Oil — attracts an audience of about 30,000 to see a disparate collection of businesses hoping to find new customers in the demographic that’s chasing wellness…

Office assistants act like barkers pulling in the punters, and on hearing I have no back problems one swears her boss can cure my allergies with a spinal adjustment. On hearing I have no health problems at all, another assures me chiropractic is about prevention. It’s like going to the gym, she says: it’s how you prevent illness!

Then there’s the guy selling “transnasal light therapy” – a new gizmo that shines a light up your nostrils and promises to heal everything from diabetes to dementia along with a variety of viral infections.

It’s funny, in a Duke and Dauphin sort of way, but then there’s

Dr. Divi Chandna, a licensed medical doctor and a “certified medical intuitive”…

Last year Dr. Divi billed the Medical Services Plan $294,290.53 for services rendered to patients in her conventional medical practice. Simultaneously she runs a user-pay business peddling the sort of magic and mysticism usually associated with the dark ages. She runs The Bridge Health Center with husband Ed Light, an energy healer, and she offers readings based on her “gifts for intuition.” She explains that this includes being clairvoyant and “clairsentient” — she gets messages from spirit guides…

Dr. Divi doesn’t mention what her very own six week long “holistic” program for treating depression and anxiety costs, but the brochures list her medical intuition readings at between $99 and $199 a session. The deluxe reading comes with a written report and a little energy healing.

Dr Divi peddles woo, and she uses her genuine medical training for extra credibility. Regulators are leery of messing with “anyone’s spirituality” so generally nothing is done.

Ironically, the American Association for the Advancement of Science is sharing space with the Wellness show at Vancouver’s convention centre, and they’re discussing climate change and its deniers. President Nina Fedoroff is widely quoted as saying she is “scared to death” by the anti-science movement that is sweeping North America and most of the western world.

“We are sliding back into a dark era,” she tells The Guardian. “And there seems little we can do about it. I am profoundly depressed at just how difficult it has become merely to get a realistic conversation started on issues such as climate change or genetically modified organisms.”

I’d like to say something optimistic here, but I got nothin.