A mission to the preachers

Janet Heimlich wants to get atheists talking to clerics in order to do a better job of fixing the (enormous and terrible) problem of religious child abuse. She has a post on the subject on her blog.

I’ve been speaking on the subject of religious child maltreatment for some time, and a glance at my speaking schedule shows what groups have been most eager to have me come talk about this topic. While some religious organizations have extended invitations, I have been welcomed by atheist groups more than any other by far. I can think of all kinds of reasons why this would be, but the fact remains, atheists are willing to learn about religious child maltreatment more than any other group. [Read more…]

Giles Fraser versus human rights

Giles Fraser strongly disapproves of the idea (and the judicial finding) that non-medical circumcision is what it is: genital cutting of an infant for religious reasons.

Generally, the logic behind these moves is that circumcision is an act of unnecessary violence against a child and that it is imposing a belief system against a child’s will. If an adult wants to be circumcised, so be it. [Read more…]

Children were born

Some ways of living are better than others. Some basic constituents of a good life are fresh air, freedom of movement, access to the wider world. Ways of living that provide more of those basic constituents are generally better than those that don’t.

Living underground, for instance. Not ideal.

MOSCOW – A self-proclaimed prophet had a vision from God: He would build an Islamic caliphate under the earth.

The digging began about a decade ago, and 70 followers moved into an eight-level subterranean honeycomb of cramped cells with no light, heat or ventilation.

Children were born. They, too, lived in the cold underground cells for many years — until authorities raided the compound last week and freed 27 sons and daughters of the sect.

Ages 1 to 17, the children rarely saw the light of day and had never left the property, attended school or been seen by a doctor, officials said Wednesday.

Human moles, in other words. Not ideal. Not one of the better ways of living. Not responsible parenthood.



Marry the nice rapist, dear

Oh, human beings, sometimes I despair of you. The arrangements you come up with! Do you just get shit-faced drunk one night and decide all the rules, or what?

There’s this idea that letting a rapist avoid jail by “marrying” the young girl he repeatedly raped, for instance – that’s a real dud. I’ll tell you why. You forgot the girl!! It’s about the man who did the raping, and the men who own the girl. This means a shit life for the girl! Did you just not notice that, or what? Pay attention, ffs.

In April, the unidentified girl was shopping in the northern city of Zarqa when a 19-year-old man kidnapped her, took her to the desert where he had a pitched a tent and raped her for three consecutive days, judicial sources said.

She’s 14. [Read more…]

Those “moderate” Islamists running Egypt

Like Freedom and Justice Party MP Azza al-Garf, who publicly supports FGM.

Egypt’s New Women Foundation said they are suing Islamist Parliament member Azza al-Garf over her pro-female genital mutilation (FGM) statements. The women’s rights foundation sent a letter to the speaker of parliament Saad al-Katatny, informing him of legally going after Garf and asking for his permission to be allowed to take the MP to court.

Garf was reported saying that FGM is an Islamic practice and that the anti-FGM laws should be amended. Garf is a Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) member, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

“We are on our way to sue Garf to preserve our rights and the gains of Egyptian women,” said the open letter to the speaker.

“We are suing her for going against Egyptian laws that criminalize sexual harassment and FGM, practices that goes against women rights and human rights.

“We completely refuse Garf’s statements and announce that she does not represent us.”

But Garf thinks Allah wants little girls’ genitalia chopped off. Garf worships an evil shit.

Mary Raftery

RTÉ remembers Mary Raftery.

Ms Raftery was best known for her ‘States of Fear’ documentary series, which revealed the extent of physical and sexual abuse suffered by children in Irish industrial schools and residential institutions.

It led to the creation of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse.

In 2002, her ‘Cardinal Secrets’ programme for RTÉ’s Prime Time led to the setting up of the Murphy Commission of Investigation into clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.

So did survivors of abuse. [Read more…]

Compassion in action

The Irish government again notes that the Catholic church failed to prevent child abuse by its own employees, failed to follow its own rules, failed to call the cops, failed to protect children, failed to act like decent human beings, failed failed failed. It succeeded at protecting itself and its own people, and that’s it.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has highlighted the failure of the Catholic Church to bring child abuse allegations to the attention of gardaí, following the publication of previously redacted portions of the Cloyne report. [Read more…]

Mutilate the baby tastefully

Parents shouldn’t mutilate their children, amirite? I think that’s a pretty safe claim. But….

But it turns out it’s ok, as long as you make a show of angst about it first. It’s ok as long as you go on and on and on about your feelings on the subject, demonstrating how sensitive you are, and then in the end agree to lopping off a bit of your baby’s penis. The show of angst makes it ok, so it turns out that the mutilation of the baby is actually all about the feelings of the mommy.

Ever outspoken about what I considered the “barbaric” nature of the bris ritual, it is no wonder I was blessed with two sons. Experiencing it once was pure agony. But it was as I stood on the sidelines awaiting my younger son’s circumcision, in pensive conversation with my brother, that I realized I — and women like me — deserved to shed our status as victims and claim our own meaning in this tradition.

And so she does, at great and self-indulgent (or is that “pensive”?) length.

These days, the recent ballot initiative in San Francisco to ban the circumcision of minors (ultimately stricken by a local judge on a technical matter) is the latest manifestation of the growing anti-circumcision movement. Like shirking vaccinations, shedding strollers in favor of “baby wearing,” and embracing co- sleeping, it is increasingly popular to resist subjecting your newborn to such a “barbaric” procedure against his “will,” and to casually throw around terms like “genital mutilation.” Great. Just what I needed to add to my ambivalence over the decision to circumcise my sons — a healthy dose of the liberal guilt I thought I safely had left behind in college.

But I did not find the cries of the hyper-liberal terribly persuasive. Yes, choosing to circumcise your son involves making a difficult and significant decision on his behalf — but what in parenting doesn’t? And, after all, isn’t the irrationality bred of cult-like child-centric parenting ultimately akin to religious zealousness? Just trendier.

Yes, parents have to make many decisions for their children, but no, that doesn’t make it ok to snip off a bit of a baby’s penis for reasons of religion or tradition.

I chose to be awakened from my womb-like slumber, along with my new son, and confront that, while his pain may be my own, I cannot always protect him. Neither from physical discomfort, nor from the weight of the traditions into which he was born. For me, the bris served as an important reminder that there are things larger than me and my quest for rationality. Larger than my son and this brief encounter with pain. As one parent wrote about giving his son over for his bris, “I submit him [for circumcision] because I hope there is more to this than I can see or understand.” There are things I can’t explain, things beyond my control, even — especially — when it comes to this new life.

So she just abdicates responsibility, and lets it happen, because religion is bigger than she is. Therefore what? It’s ok to keep children out of school, to forbid girls to go to school, to hire people to hit children with metal poles, to marry little girls to adult men, to mutilate children’s genitals?

It’s a sad spectacle, someone going to all that trouble to come to a hopeless conclusion.

Update: Stewart did a graphic response so I helped myself to it.

Here he is, he’s all yours

Some parents in Irvine California suspected their son, age 15, of smoking. So they sat him down and explained to him how useful it is to be able to breathe freely, how addictive tobacco is, how bad smoking makes you smell, right?

Not quite. They asked a guy to beat the kid up for them (authorities said).

 An Irvine couple who suspected their 15-year-old son of smoking turned to a man believed to be relied on in their church to violently discipline children, authorities said. [Read more…]