Recent Resources for Feminists
Sunday August 26, 2018, page 37
No Pope Francis we don't all share the blame: Pennsylvania report reopens painful wounds for AustraliansBy
Last week in the US we heard the Pennsylvanian Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, refer to the Catholic priesthood's "secret archive", one of the revelations that caused a grand jury [Scroll down for link to Grand Jury Report] to find that the church had covered up the abuse of more than 1000 children by about 300 priests over 70 years.
: Victims of clergy sexual abuse and their family members react as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference (AP)
Shapiro stated that beside each bishop's desk in each diocese was a locked filing cabinet full of complaints received on the rapes and sexual assaults of children and that these files sat there while the bishop worked. He said "secret archive" was not his term, but their term.
What Shapiro didn't say is that each bishop is bound to keep and manage a secret archive by Canon Law:
Canon 489: 1. There is also to be a secret archive in the diocesan curia or at least a safe or file in the ordinary archive, completely closed and locked which cannot be removed from the place, and in which documents to be kept secret are to be protected most securely.
2. Every year documents of criminal cases are to be destroyed in matters of morals in which the criminal has died or in which ten years have passed since the condemnatory sentence; but a brief summary of the case with the text of the definitive sentence is to be retained.
: Now we have the pope using words to muddy the waters as to who is responsible for this massive worldwide criminal outrage. (AP)
In the wake of the aftershock of the Pennsylvanian report, Pope Francis sent out a letter. Most of it is sickening and angering to those of us who have been fighting for the truth and justice from the church priesthood for decades.
The Pope said, "Every one of the baptised should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need … I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord's command."
It is truly sad that the priesthood, that is, priests, monsignors, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and the Pope could not live up to the words that they preach. And the attempt, over the last two pages of the Pope's letter, to share the blame of the decades of rampant child sexual assault on the lay people, that is the parishioners, is an attempt to quell their anger at the bad management of the priesthood. How could holy priests let this happen? And let it happen they did, around the world, in every Catholic diocese.
This bid to share the blame with every parishioner is unfair and wrong. Every parishioner should ignore this blame game and maintain their rage against a corrupt priesthood and its controlling hierarchy.
Every bishop knew about the child sexual assaults in their diocese which were reported to them through the secret archive they manage.
Did our local bishop or archbishop come to Oakleigh and say to the parent parishioners about its paedophile priest, "Listen, your priest has been sexually assaulting children since the 1940s, nearly 50 years now, because we have complaints about him every several years, so we know he is not going to stop attacking kids but do you mind if we leave him here in your parish with your children until he retires soon? Then we will honour him with the title of pastor emeritus." This is what happened in Oakleigh for 17 years where he sexually assaulted the children, including two of my children, with dire and deadly results.
No. No bishop came and told us that, to warn us. Why didn't they come and tell us this? Because even back then, in the 1980s and 1990s, we would have said, "What the hell are you doing? Get rid of the old pervert, ring the police. We don't want him anywhere near our children." But they said nothing because they knew it was not only sinful but criminal. And that we would be very angry with them.
So they said nothing and allowed their many paedophile priests to rape and molest children.
Now we have the pope using words to muddy the waters as to who is responsible for this massive worldwide criminal outrage. The modus operandi, their method of operation, is all the same: Australia's Royal Commission is a blueprint of the Pennsylvania report, as is the Irish report. How could the world of Catholic bishops all be so morally bankrupt as to take the same wicked actions against innocent children being sexually assaulted and raped and then treating them so badly when they come forward to speak of their horror years later? The common denominator is the Catholic priesthood and the canon laws which they abide by.
The Pope himself was a bishop before he was pope, he was probably a bishop for at least 10 years and then an archbishop for at least another 10 years before he continued to climb the corporate ladder, so for at least 20 years he himself was the keeper of his diocesan's secret archive – sitting beside his desk for decades dependent upon him to manage and deal with.
And now the Pope tries to quell good Catholic people's anger at bishops for what they allow to happen through the immunity they granted to paedophile priests through a protective hierarchy and now unfairly implying that ordinary parishioners too share the blame for such blatant criminal acts.
Chrissie Foster is author of Hell on The Way to Heaven with Paul Kennedy.
August 15, 2018, page A1
Catholic Priests Abused 1,000 Children in Pennsylvania, Report Says: Victims of clerical sex abuse and their relatives reacted as Attorney General Josh Shapiro discussed the grand jury report at a news conference in Harrisburg. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)
By Laurie Goodstein and Sharon Otterman
Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it, according to a searing report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.
The report, which covered six of the state's eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1,000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The report said there are likely thousands more victims whose records were lost or who were too afraid to come forward.
It catalogs horrific instances of abuse: a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out; a victim tied up and whipped with leather straps by a priest; and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a young girl and arranging for her to have an abortion.
The sexual abuse scandal has shaken the Catholic Church for more than 15 years, ever since explosive allegations emerged out of Boston in 2002. But even after paying billions of dollars in settlements and adding new prevention programs, the church has been dogged by a scandal that is now reaching its highest ranks. The Pennsylvania report comes soon after the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, who is accused of sexually abusing young priests and seminarians, as well as minors.
"Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability," the grand jury wrote. "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades."
The grand jury said that while some accused priests were removed from ministry, the church officials who protected them remained in office or even got promotions. One bishop named in the report as vouching for an abusive priest was Cardinal Donald Wuerl, now the archbishop of Washington. "Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal," the jury wrote.
The report is unlikely to lead to new criminal charges or civil lawsuits under the current law because the statute of limitations has expired. Only two of the cases in the report so far have led to criminal charges.
In statements released on Tuesday, Pennsylvania's Catholic bishops called for prayers for victims and for the church, promised greater openness and said that measures instituted in recent years were already making the church safer.
But several bishops, including Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh, rejected the idea the church had concealed abuse.
"There was no cover-up going on," Bishop Zubik said in a news conference on Tuesday. "I think that it's important to be able to state that. We have over the course of the last 30 years, for sure, been transparent about everything that has in fact been transpiring."
Church officials followed a "playbook for concealing the truth," the grand jury said, minimizing the abuse by using words like "inappropriate contact" instead of "rape"; assigning priests untrained in sexual abuse cases to investigate their colleagues; and not informing the community of the real reasons behind removing an accused priest.
"Tell his parishioners that he is on ‘sick leave,' or suffering from ‘nervous exhaustion.' Or say nothing at all," the report said.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office initiated the investigation, said in a news conference, "They protected their institution at all costs. As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims."
He said that the cover-up by senior church officials "stretched in some cases all the way up to the Vatican."
No other state has seen more grand jury investigations of abuses in the church than Pennsylvania, where about one of every four residents is Catholic and the local attorneys general have been particularly responsive to victims. Previous grand juries examined the dioceses of Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown; the new report covers the rest of the state.
Mr. Shapiro was surrounded on Tuesday by about 20 abuse victims and their family members, who gasped and wept when he revealed that one priest had abused five sisters in the same family, including one girl beginning when she was 18 months old.
Some victims said in interviews that they were relieved to finally be heard and to have their perpetrators publicly named.
"I had gone to two bishops with allegations over five years, and they ignored and downplayed my allegations," said the Rev. James Faluszczak, an Erie priest on extended leave who was abused as a child and who testified before the grand jury. "It's that very management of secrets that has given cover to predators."
For others, it was too little, too late. Frances Samber, whose brother Michael was abused by a priest in Pittsburgh and committed suicide in 2010, said, "It's good that the public sees this, but where is the justice? What do you do about it? Why aren't these people in prison?"
There has been no comprehensive measurement of the full scope of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States, though some have tried. American abuse survivors have pushed for years for the government to undertake a nationwide inquiry similar to the one conducted in Australia, where a royal commission spent four years examining the sexual abuse of children by a variety of religious and civic institutions, including the Catholic Church.
There have been 10 previous reports by grand juries and attorneys general in the United States, according to the research and advocacy group BishopAccountability.org, but those examined single dioceses or counties.
The Pennsylvania grand jury report lands as the sex abuse scandal in the church has reached a new stage, with calls to discipline bishops who sexually abused younger priests and seminarians, or who have covered up for abusive colleagues.
Catholics are calling for independent investigations into why Cardinal McCarrick was advanced up the hierarchy despite warnings to his superiors in Rome and fellow bishops that he had molested seminarians and young priests. Cardinal McCarrick resigned in July over allegations of sexually abusing minors, but since then priests in the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, and seminarians in Boston and elsewhere have publicly accused their superiors of turning a blind eye to sexual misconduct.
The Pennsylvania grand jury met for two years, reviewed 500,000 documents from dioceses' secret archives, and heard testimony from dozens of victims and the bishop of Erie. The report covers the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. Two of the dioceses Greensburg and Harrisburg tried to quash the grand jury investigation last year, but later backed off that stance.
The report lists each of the accused priests and documents how they were sent from parish to parish, and even sometimes out of state. The grand jury said that while the list is long, "we don't think we got them all." The report added, "We feel certain that many victims never came forward, and that the dioceses did not create written records every single time they heard something about abuse."
In the Greensburg diocese, the Rev. John Sweeney was charged by the attorney general's office with sexually abusing a boy in the early 1990s. Father Sweeney pleaded guilty this month and awaits sentencing. In the Erie diocese, the Rev. David Poulson was arrested in May and charged with sexually assaulting a boy for eight years, starting at age 8. Father Poulson has yet to enter a plea.
The Pennsylvania State Legislature has so far resisted calls to lift the statute of limitations, which has prevented childhood victims from filing civil lawsuits against the church after they turn 30. For many victims, it has taken decades to gain the courage to speak about the abuse, long past when the law would allow them to sue.
The grand jury and the attorney general strongly recommended that the statute of limitations be extended in civil and criminal cases. They recommended opening a temporary "window" that would permit older victims to file civil lawsuits against perpetrators, and the church.
The church has lobbied against any change to the statute or to open such a window, its efforts led by Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg, president of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. But abuse survivors and advocates say that in September they plan to begin a fresh campaign to press lawmakers and Bishop Gainer to drop their opposition.
"If this doesn't start a serious debate on the elimination of the statute of limitation, there's something seriously wrong with my fellow Pennsylvanians," said Shaun Dougherty, now 48, who testified before the Altoona-Johnstown grand jury about being abused by a priest for three years starting at age 10.
About two dozen people named in the report petitioned the court to have their names redacted from it.
In the news conference, Mr. Shapiro, the attorney general, described the "intense legal battle" that played out over the last several months as some people named in the report appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to block its release.
"They wanted to cover up the cover-up," he said.
Mr. Shapiro said his office would continue to fight for a full version of the report to be released with no redactions.
One example of a cover-up detailed in the report concerns the Rev. Ernest Paone, a priest who was caught molesting boys and using guns with young children in Pittsburgh. A fellow pastor intervened in 1962 to stop the police from arresting him. The district attorney at the time, Robert Masters, wrote to the diocese in 1964 to say that he had halted his investigation of the case "in order to prevent unfavorable publicity" for the diocese.
In testimony before the grand jury, Mr. Masters said that he had wanted the church's support for his political career.
Father Paone was relocated successively to Los Angeles, San Diego and Reno in the following years, with Pittsburgh's bishops attesting to his fitness as a priest. Among those bishops was Cardinal Wuerl, now the archbishop of Washington. He accepted Father Paone's resignation from ministry in good standing in 2003, allowing him to collect his pension.
Cardinal Wuerl released a letter to his priests on Monday, saying that while the grand jury report would be "critical of some of my actions, I believe the report also confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the survivors and to prevent future acts of abuse."
As of Tuesday, all six of the dioceses covered by the report had released the names of priests with allegations against them.
Bishop Gainer in Harrisburg recently ordered that the names of accused priests and of bishops who mishandled abuse cases be taken down from all church buildings in the diocese.
The report says that one of the victims who had testified before the grand jury tried to commit suicide while they were deliberating.
"From her hospital bed, she asked for one thing," the grand jury wrote in the report, "that we finish our work and tell the world what really happened."
Correction: August 14, 2018
An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a priest in the Erie diocese who was arrested in May. He is the Rev. David Poulson, not Poulsson.
A version of this article appears in print on Aug. 15, 2018, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Church Hid Abuse of 1,000 Children, Grand Jury Finds.
Grand Jury Report on Catholic Church Sex Abuse in PennsylvaniaThe grand jury report is the government's broadest look yet in the United States at child sexual abuse in the church HERE
Sunday August 12 2018
The 'missing girls' never born in VictoriaBy Aisha Dow
A phenomenon of “missing girls” could be afflicting Victoria, as a study of more than a million births suggests some parents could be aborting unborn female babies or undergoing embryo selection overseas in order to have a son.
If nature was left to take its course, it is expected that for every 100 girls born, about 105 boys will be brought into the world.
But in findings researchers say indicate “systematic discrimination against females starts in the womb”, mothers within some key migrant communities are recording sons at rates of 122 and 125 for every 100 daughters in later pregnancies.
Lead researcher Dr Kristina Edvardsson from Melbourne’s La Trobe University said it showed gender bias persisted in Victoria, despite laws banning people from choosing the sex of their child, other than for medical reasons.
“We believe that some women may be terminating pregnancies after discovering they are expecting a girl and in other cases are travelling overseas to access non-medical sex selection services through assisted reproduction,” she said.
Analysing almost 1.2 million births between 1999 and 2015, the study found while the overall ratio of male and female babies born across Victoria was as expected (at close to 105 to 100), there were notable exceptions.
During 2011 to 2015, mothers born in China had about 108 boys to every 100 girls. The bias towards boys was much higher if they already had two or more children, with boys born at a rate of almost 125 to every 100 girls.
Similarly, mothers from India had boys at a rate of about 104 to 100 for their first child. But after their second child, this blew out to almost 122 boys to every 100 girls.
The rate of males born to mothers from some South-east Asian countries was also more than expected.
Melbourne GP and president of the Australia India Society of Victoria, Dr Gurdip Aurora, said he had recently encountered one likely case of gender selection involving a couple who had migrated from India.
The pair already had three daughters, and the woman was pregnant again.
“They wanted to have an ultrasound done and [then] decide whether they would have the child or not, if it happened to be a female,” Dr Aurora said.
The GP refused to help them.
There is now widespread global access to ultrasound technology to determine the sex of a baby, and Australian parents can find out their baby’s gender from within 10 weeks with a newly-available blood test.
In India, Dr Aurora blames the entrenched preference for males on the country’s illegal dowry system, where people are often compelled to hand over large amounts of cash, goods or property when their daughters marry.
The Indian government has estimated that two million girls go “missing” from its population each year due to sex selective abortion and other forms of discrimination that lead to premature death.
Yet this bias was not felt by all migrants, Dr Aurora said, and he believes that gender selection does not appear to be a major issue in the Australian-born Indian community.
Dr Edvardsson said after some migrants arrived in Australia they had smaller families, which could mean they were more likely to turn to sex selection to have a son, as simply continuing to have children until a male was born was not a feasible option.
Gender selection through IVF is banned in Australia, except in cases where a child’s gender may help avoid the transmission of a genetic abnormality or disease. In Victoria, such cases are assessed through the patient review panel, which considered 69 applications for sex selection between 2010 and 2016.
There are, however, companies that provide gender selection through IVF to Australian parents who travel overseas, while abortion providers may have no way of knowing if a woman is seeking a termination due to a preference for a son.
Dr Cameron Loy, chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in Victoria, said he would strongly advise parents not to put their health at risk by travelling overseas to countries where prenatal sex selection is legal for IVF.
A strong desire to have a child of a certain gender is not necessarily confined to select ethnic groups and many fertility service providers have called for governments to allow sex selection in Australia for the purposes of family balancing.
Dr Jim Tsaltas, a clinical director of Melbourne IVF, said there was support for the use of technology in cases where parents already had two of more children of the same gender.
Researchers will now embark on a bigger project investigating the causes and prevalence of prenatal sex selection across the country. Dr Edvardsson said it had been shown in other countries that law changes had limited effect, instead she believed there needed to be a change to the value people placed on sons and daughters.
~ Melbourne ~ Friday 3 August 2018, page 1
We are right to be horrified by Victoria's toll of dead womenBy Miki Perkins
What horror. The vivacious faces of four women beam from photographs at a moment – striding along a beach, sipping bubbles at a party – when they were full of joy, of life.
And yet, these four Victorian women are now dead.
: Samantha Fraser (Supplied)
Another day, another slew of grim stories about women who have been killed. The grind of the police hunts in each case, the incremental criminal trials and the coronial inquests.
Samantha Fraser, 38, Karen Ristevski, 47, Joy Rowley, 60, mothers all. Their traumatised young and adult children left to grieve.
: Karen Ristevski (Seven News)
And Snezana Stojanovska, 26, who was three-months pregnant with a child who will never take its first breath.
These women were victims of entirely separate violent crimes, and their killers are yet to be convicted in a court (with the exception of James Martin Mulhall, who has pleaded guilty to murdering Joy Rowley).
Each case will be dealt with separately and The Age is not accusing any individual of guilt. The justice system will take its course, and it would be foolish to jump to conclusions.
But we know these women probably died terrifying deaths. And we know that in the three cases where charges have been laid, the accused men had been their husbands or partners.
At least 39 women have died violently in Australia so far this year, according to Destroy the Joint’s Counting Dead Women project.
: Joy Rowley was murdered in 2011. (Supplied)
But somehow we are so inured to this staggering tally that we need some grisly extra quantum to react. Four women dead, not just one. A god-awful day in court and coroner's court where even seasoned reporters shake their heads. How do we make sense of this? And, more importantly, how the hell do we make it stop?
On Thursday Victoria’s state coroner, Judge Sara Hinchey, released her recommendations on the death of Joy Rowley, a mother-of-three. In 2011 she was murdered by strangulation by Mulhall, who had briefly been her partner.
Judge Hinchey found approximately one-third of family violence homicides involved previously known family violence, including Rowley’s murder, yet there was no review of her case.
Today her bereaved family made a statement: "All our friends think you call the police when you’re in danger and they help you. We know that’s not how it works. It’s like Russian roulette, sometimes you get someone who will help. Sometimes, like mum, you get someone who doesn’t take you seriously."
The coroner recommended a systemic review of family violence homicides where there had been previous family violence. It’s a sensible proposal in a state embarked on a decade-long overhaul of its response to family violence.
: Snezana Stojanovska died at age 26 (Supplied)
In last year’s budget the Victorian government committed $1.9 billion to family violence over four years, to stretch across primary prevention, justice, police, the courts and women’s services.
But this area had been woefully neglected for decades. And the major legislative and policy changes recommended in Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence will take time. We're starting from way back. And cultural change is a slippery beast.
We need to talk – again – about gender. There are distinct gendered patterns in the perpetration and impact of family violence. The overwhelming majority of violent incidents and femicides are perpetrated by men against women.
Women are at least three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner. And if you are an Indigenous woman, or have a disability, for example, these figures are far worse.
The only answer is gender equality, and respectful and non-violent relationships that will benefit the whole community, including men and boys.
Speaking generally, we should be furious that women in our state are still getting strangled, hurt and killed by the men who are supposed to love them. That their precious bodies, their children and their unborn babies, have suffered the brunt of violence. As Fiona MacCormack from Domestic Violence Victoria said to me: “Fundamentally, this is about men killing women and children.”
It is right to feel horrified today.
Melbourne ~ Saturday 7 July 2018
A disastrous time for abuse of women in this countryBy Clementine Ford
It’s rare to find a perfect confluence of events that demonstrate the true depths of gender inequality in this country, but this week has certainly delivered following Senator David Lyonjhelm’s petulant attacks on his colleague, Sarah Hanson-Young.
The Senate had been debating a motion that would "call on the government to encourage women to carry tasers, pepper spray and mace to defend themselves from murderers and rapists".
Hanson-Young was one of the 46 member majority who opposed the motion, arguing that we should instead teach men not to assault women. We know what Lyonhjelm did next.
: Sarah Hanson-Young and David Leyonhjelm are on the precipice of a defamation lawsuit. (AAP)
He has since attempted - repeatedly - to justify his misogynist attacks on Hanson-Young by arguing that her call for education on gender violence was actually made using words to the effect of, "all men are rapists" and trotted this absurd fantasy out across almost all of Australia’s broadcast media platforms, where he’s also stated it’s acceptable to call women bitches " when they are bitches", told Richard Di Natale to "grow some balls" and dismissed Malcolm Turnbull’s calls for him to apologise by saying, "The Prime Minister should stop being such a pussy".
"This is about misandry," said the man who organised for Milo "Feminism Is Cancer" Yiannopoulos to have a personal tour of Parliament House and a room with which to address government officials. "This is about criticism of all men. It’s just as bad as criticism of all women".
"Misandry" is the claim made by sexist men and their enablers whenever serious discussions about men’s violence against women arise, because of course being made to feel bad or implicated somehow in the power advantage enjoyed by men is exactly the same as living with an increased statistical likelihood of being beaten, raped or murdered by one.
Women who talk about this reality (even when they adhere to demands to be excessively polite and conciliatory about it) are routinely accused of "hating men", of "doing nothing to help equality" and yes, of thinking "all men are rapists".
Men, on the other hand, feel few ramifications for impotently standing by while sexism is either perpetrated around them or they actively engaging in it themselves. In these cases, it’s "not reflective of who they are as a person" because "no one respects women more than [them]".
Their sexist and occasionally violent "jokes" that position women as objects or rape victims are "just words". Like racism, it’s considered far more egregious to be accused of misogyny (however accurately) than it is to actually perpetrate it.
Here are some of the examples of the gendered violence that’s been perpetrated in Australia in the last month alone.
In Sydney, Qi Yu was murdered and dumped in bushland. Her 19-year-old male housemate has been charged.
In Carlton, Eurydice Dixon was raped and murdered and left on a soccer pitch. A 19-year-old man has been charged. Shortly afterwards, a 31-year-old man vandalised the site of her memorial with crude graffiti of a penis. In the days following her murder, he ranted on Facebook about the demonisation of men and later told media he did it "purely as an attack on feminism".
In Newcastle, an 11-year-old girl was abducted and repeatedly raped over a period of five hours. A 47-year-old man has been charged.
In Carlton, only five days after the murder of Eurydice and less than two kilometres away from where her body was found, a woman was dragged into a car and raped. Two men - cricket teammates - have been charged, a 23-year-old and a 26-year-old.
In Queensland, 16-year-old Larissa Bielby was murdered and stuffed into a barrel. A 34-year-old man has been charged with her murder, and also the attempted murder of another woman that allegedly occurred three weeks earlier.
On Friday, police confirmed that two teenagers fatally shot in NSW were murdered by their father, who later killed himself. The murders were described as being "planned", and in the context of a long-standing custody dispute - because there are some men in the world whose rage and hatred for a woman eclipse the love they have for the children they share with her, but both pale in comparison to the entitlement they feel for themselves.
These are just the incidents we know about.
Some of these crimes were opportunistic. Others were perpetrated by men known to their victims. How can we know which one might be coming for us? We can’t. So instead, we spend our entire lives in a low-level state of hyper-awareness, just as we’ve been conditioned to from childhood by a rape culture that teaches us that improperly patrolled bodies deserve whatever invasions slip past the threshold.
This is the real poison in the pudding of Lyonhhelm and his ilk. They rage against conversations that position rape and violence as a largely male problem (#notallmen!) while conveniently ignoring the fact that women are reminded at every avenue that it’s ultimately our responsibility to avoid both. Don’t walk in parks! Don’t walk at night! Don’t walk at all!
And who does Lyonhjelm think women will be using those tasers and pepper spray on? It’s not monsters. It’s men. Men as a group pose the biggest danger to women's health and safety. We have learned this through instruction but also experience. That's the reality.
No, not all men hurt women. But all women have good reason to fear that a man or men might hurt us one day - either for the first time or again. And while it may not be all men who do, it is at least any man who could. It’s men who have done that to women, not "misandry".
We shouldn’t have to keep tiptoeing around their feelings and qualifying we don’t really mean them when we’re talking about this reality, just because the Lyonhjelms of the world find it blisteringly offensive to acknowledge that if you insist on teaching women to guard their bodies against abuse and violence as a matter of "common sense", you can’t then get mad when they decide this list of potential threats includes you.
Friday July 13 2018
Spotlight on abuse of nuns
An unequal power equation prevails in the church which is steeped in patriarchy; and sexually abused nuns find little support
Sexual abuse of nuns is allegedly rampant in churches (PTI)
By Flavia Agnes. Feminist scholar & women's rights activist
THE Christian clergy in Kerala is gripped in a series of sexual scandals where nuns and lay women have come out and lodged criminal complaints of rape and sexual harassment in recent times. At least 13 priests belonging to either the Roman Catholic or the Syrian Orthodox Church are facing police enquiries. The latest is the complaint filed by a senior nun that Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of Jalandhar (which comes under the Delhi Archdiocese of the Catholic Church), raped her 13 times since 2014.
This is not the first time that allegations of sexual abuse have been made by nuns or by other women against priests. But this time, a bishop is involved, which makes the offence very serious. A bishop is meant to act as a spiritual guide to the diocese.
Sexual abuse and humiliation which nuns and others who serve in church institutions are subjected to has been spoken about in hushed tones. There have been some instances of nuns leaving the religious order, and speaking or writing about their experiences of humiliation and sexual abuse. But most often, the victims do not talk about it for fear that they will be ostracised since the priest is too powerful.
Since the abuse is reportedly rampant and seldom addressed, some Christian women activists and associations of various religious orders, including the Indian Christian Women's Movement (ICWM), the Conference of Religious India (CRI) Women's Section, the Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace (FORUM), have been prevailing upon the Roman Catholic Church to address the issue and bring in remedial measures. But the church authorities have been dragging their feet over it.
The Roman Catholic Church was quick to follow the dictates of Rome regarding the clergy's abuse of young children after various legal cases were filed in the US and elsewhere regarding the abuse of young male children by the clergy where the church had to pay heavy damages and penalties. A child protection policy has been put in place and it is applicable to all church institutions and church-administered schools.
But when it came to sexual abuse of women, the Church hesitated as the authorities felt that it might tarnish its image and that it would be like accepting that sexual abuse is prevalent within churches. But due to efforts of various women activists within the church, a sexual harassment policy was finally implemented. However, it seems to be locked up in a secret chamber and vulnerable persons who need to be aware of its existence are kept in the dark.
In this setting, the alleged sexual abuse by the Jalandhar was a time bomb waiting to explode.
An unequal power equation prevails. In addition, church institutions are steeped in patriarchy which is difficult to dislodge. Religious women (nuns) do not have the power to manage church affairs or church institutions. These continue to be male bastions. Change is extremely slow and women continue to be treated as subordinates and handmaidens at the service of the male hierarchy. Within such lopsided power structures, it is not surprising that women are abused. Very little rights discourse takes place within these institutions.
Where the victims/survivors are concerned, there is apprehension that their superiors also will not support them and a complaint may result in the complainant having to leave the convent and she may not even get social acceptance outside.
But this time, the victim nun has withstood the pressure. When her initial complaints were ignored, she boldly approached the police. The accused is the Bishop of Jalandhar and the abuse allegedly took place in Kerala. Both the victim and abuser hail from Kerala. Hence, the investigations are being carried out in Kerala.
But even this time, sadly, the church's stand has been evasive and Catholic newspapers have put out a narrative blaming the victim. The bishop has asked several lay people to write letters supporting his stand and making the nun look like a manipulator. He has stated that her complaint was an act of revenge. While the nun's statement has been recorded, the bishop, who has dismissed the allegations as baseless, is yet to be questioned. The victim's family says that despite a complaint to the Delhi Archbishop about the abuse, nothing was done. The police have also registered a case against the nun and her relatives on a complaint from the bishop. They say that they received the bishop's complaint first and the nun filed her complaint a day later.
Kochurani Abraham, a women's rights activist in Kerala, says that the cases have opened the floodgates and not just of sexual abuse but also general issues concerning the community. Gender justice, priesthood, confession are now discussed on TV channels, which is a positive outcome.
Virginia Saldanha, Secretary, ICWM, says the earlier interventions have been within the ecclesiastical boundaries in order to save the face of the church. But now things are in the open. She hopes that truth will prevail and it will encourage other nuns to come out and speak about abuse, if any, and that the church leadership will wake up to the reality of women's state in churches.
Christian women's organisations have written to the president of the church hierarchy in India as well as to Pope Francis to take up the issue and ask the bishop to step down "so that the Church is seen to actually practice the 'zero tolerance' it professes to observe in abuse cases". "If the bishop continues to remain in his position, it will erode the faith of the people in the credibility of the Church." The letter is also signed by around 175 individuals. They hope that with their backing, the nun will be able to withstand the pressure exerted on her from the bishop and the church authorities.
Saturday July 14, 2018
Letters urge Catholic officials to remove Indian bishop accused of rape
By Catholic News Service
Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, India, is pictured in an undated photo. ( CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Jullundur.)
NEW DELHI, India - Catholic and other leaders have urged that a bishop accused of raping an Indian Catholic nun be removed from his position.
Ucanews.com reported that in a July 12 letter to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, and another of the same date to Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India, 168 people asked for action against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar.
The unidentified nun, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, complained to police June 29 of being raped in May 2014 and then sexually abused multiple times over the following two years by Mulakkal, ucanews.com reported. The bishop is patron of the congregation.
The letter asked Diquattro to "advise Pope Francis to relieve the bishop concerned of his pastoral responsibilities so that the Church is seen to actually practice the zero tolerance it professes to observe in abuse cases."
The signatories include representatives of the Indian Theological Association, a forum of Catholic theologians; the Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace, an advocacy group for women religious; the Indian Christian Women's Movement, a national conference of women religious and others; and the interdenominational United Christian Forum for Human Rights.
The accused continuing in his position as bishop of Jalandhar "will erode the faith of the people in the credibility of the Church to implement its policy of zero tolerance and act justly in abuse matters," both letters said.
Police have begun to investigate the bishop over the alleged assault that was said to have occurred when he visited a convent in the Diocese of Palai in Kerala state, in southwest India.
The nun alleged that the bishop harassed her when she resisted sexual abuse. She and her family claim that Church authorities have ignored their complaints.
Mulakkal told media the accusation arose only after Church authorities began disciplinary action following allegations that the nun was having sexual relations with her cousin's husband.
The signatories said they are "concerned about the mud-slinging" between the bishop and priests in his diocese and the nun and her family. This has "turned the Church into an object of ridicule," causing "a lot of harm ... to the faith of the people of God" as well as to the "integrity and mission" of the Church, they said.
The letter to Gracias said the representations made by the nun to the bishops "have brought no response, raising issues about the credibility" of the bishops' guidelines on dealing with sexual harassment.
It asked the cardinal to ensure that dioceses "publicize and create adequate awareness" about the guidelines and "institute the structures and procedures" to address allegations of sexual misconduct without delay.
"Sexual abuse is ultimately not about sexuality or celibacy, but about the gross misuse of the disproportionate power assigned to clergy," the signatories said.
"Pope Francis has shown the way by holding accused bishops accountable even at risk to the reputation of the Church. We look to our bishops to follow his example," they said.
Saturday July 14, 2018
Nun complained to me: Pala bishop
KOTTAYAM: Tells police no written complaint was given
The investigation into the alleged rape of a nun by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, head of the Jalandhar diocese of the Catholic Church, is nearing completion with the police on Saturday recording the statement of Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, head of the Pala diocese of the Church. The bishop's statement was recorded as the nun had said that she had complained to him about the issue earlier.
According to the investigation officer K. Subhash, Dy.SP, Vaikom, the bishop's statement corroborated the nun's complaint. The bishop informed him that the nun had complained to him about the issue. She had met him on the advice of Fr. Joseph Thadathil, the vicar at the Martha Mariam Forane Church at Kuravilangad to which the Mission House of Missionaries of Jesus was attached. The complaint was made verbally and there was no written complaint, Bishop Kallarangatt had said. The statement was recorded at the Bishop's House at Pala.
The statement of Fr. Thadathil was also recorded by the police on Saturday. According to Mr. Subhash, his statement also corroborated the complaint of the nun recorded earlier. The statement of the priest was recorded at the office of the Dy.SP, Vaikom.
The police are also trying to record the statements of two nuns from the mission who had left the congregation, allegedly because of mistreatment by Bishop Mulakkal. The statement of a relative of the nun will also be recorded.
Sunday July 15 2018
Rape case: Kerala cops to question Bishop in Jalandhar
By Deepkamal Kaur/Tribune News Service
Jalandhar: A team of the Kerala police will be visiting the city next week to interrogate Bishop Franco Mulakkal, Catholic Bishop of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, against whom they had registered an FIR for allegedly raping a nun.
Now based in Kerala, the victim was earlier superior general of a congregation, Missionaries of Jesus, Jalandhar Cantonment. Confirming the development over the phone, Hari Sankar, District Police Chief, Kottyam, said: "We have already been working on collecting evidence in the case. The 13 occasions, mentioned by the nun regarding abuse by the Bishop, tally with his visitor log book entries at the convent. We have been told that the Bishop was also sending her indecent messages."
The Kerala police have taken the mobile phones of both the nun and the Bishop into custody. When contacted, Bishop Franco said: "I have never sent any personal message to the nun. I always made calls for official works whenever I had to. My relation with her was limited only to work. The complainant has smartly filed the complaint after checking dates from the log book. I will be glad to give my version to the Kerala police."
With cross-FIR filed by the Bishop against the nun, there are allegations and counter-allegations between the two.
The Bishop said: "How can I rape her 13 times over two years (2014-16) and she would still be happily accompanying me to religious programmes?"
The Tribune talked to Father Sebastian Pallasery, a cousin of the nun in Kerala. He said: "The victim is under depression. She is a nun and he was the authority. She kept bearing it till she finally gathered courage to say no. That was in 2016 and the Bishop never went there after that."
Volume 392, No. 10141, p2, 7 July 2018
Cervical cancer prevention in Thailand a model of success
On June 23, the Provincial Health Office of Roi Et, Thailand, received the 2018 UN Public Service Award for its cervical cancer prevention programme and promoting gender responsive public services.
Just two decades ago, cervical cancer was the most common cancer for women in Thailand and the country struggled to provide the standard cytology and referral approach due to lack of infrastructure, accessibility, and an organised screening programme. The trajectory changed in 2000 with the Safety, Acceptability,
Feasibility and program implementation Effort (SAFE) study, which was developed by Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, and led by Thailand-based Khunying Kobchitt Limpaphayom and colleagues. Tested in a rural northeastern province, this single visit approach combined a visual inspection of the cervix using acetic acid (VIA) with cryotherapy. Unlike cytology screening, this approach is low-cost, does not require sophisticated equipment, and can be made available in under-resourced areas. Over 7 months, 5999 women were screened for precancerous lesions. After 1 year of follow-up, 94·3% of the women who received treatment after screening tested negative.
The SAFE study, published in The Lancet in 2003, subsequently informed WHO's recommendations for cervical cancer prevention. 32 provinces have since implemented the approach, providing free VIA and cryotherapy services to women. Among Thailand's five leading causes of cancer death for women, cervical cancer has seen the largest decline in incidence over the past decade. Key to the programme's success was task-shifting to nurses to perform cryotherapy, a crucial allowance in a country where there is only one doctor for every 60…000 people. Partnership between Jhpiego, the Ministry of Public Health, and local organisations ensured the sustainability of the programme and national policy change despite political upheavals between 2001 and 2015.
The programme is an inspiration for other countries striving to implement low-cost, evidence-based public health interventions and shows how partnership efforts can advance women's health and equality.
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