Recent Resources for Feminists
Tuesday February 06, 2018
Female genital mutilation painful, gory reality, world unites to end it AP
'Later when my menstruation began, because the opening was too tiny, the pain worsened even more.'
Deep in Ethiopia's desert region of Afar, about nine in 10 women and girls undergo female genital mutilation, many before their first birthday. (Representational Image)
Bekarredar (Ethiopia): The 25-year-old Kedija had her external genitalia removed and her vagina sewn up when she was just seven days old. She has faced a lifetime of pain.
"I was unable to hold my urine for long," she said.
"I isolated myself from socializing because of that. Later when my menstruation began, because the opening was too tiny, the pain worsened even more. And after I got married it was painful to have sexual intercourse with my husband."
Three childbirths later, she was diagnosed with near-fatal renal complications.
Deep in Ethiopia's desert region of Afar, about nine in 10 women and girls undergo female genital mutilation, many before their first birthday.
Campaigners on Tuesday marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM as they seek to end the practice. Nearly 200 million around the world live with its effects, the United Nations says.
Ethiopia's government has declared FGM illegal.
Addu Abdala Dubba used to perform the circumcisions. She sharpened a small blade against a steel rod to demonstrate how she prepared for the task.
"There were even times when I performed consecutive cuttings in one day with this one blade," she said. "But I carefully sanitized it after each circumcision by heating it in a fire or dipping it in hot water to avoid infection."
She once thought the job gave her a sense of purpose. She thought it helped women preserve their virginity and remain faithful in marriage - seen as essential to a family's honor.
But after attending trainings by the government and religious leaders, "I now understand this practice is wrong and it can destroy a child's future," she said.
Now she is a midwife and spreads the word about the dangers of FGM.
The lone primary hospital in Asaita, the former capital of Afar regional state, struggles to look after the women who have complications from FGM, especially during childbirth. A lack of funds has forced the hospital to operate with reduced staff for most of the past fiscal year.
Dr. Saleh Yusuf Imam, the medical director, said the hospital's counseling service has had some success in raising awareness.
After women who face difficulty with penetrative sex receive pain-free incisions in their vagina and post-treatment counseling, "we hear most of them vow to not let a single woman they know endure female genital mutilation ever again," he said.
There is still a long way to go in changing people's attitudes, he added.
Kedija, the 25-year-old, said she is determined to stop another generation of girls from suffering like she did.
"Whenever I find a parent that still insists on practicing female genital mutilation, I try to convince them otherwise," she said.
"But when my efforts are not enough to change their minds, then I always report them to local health facilities so that they can intervene.”
Monday February 05, 2018
Three in four Bohra girls undergo genital mutilation: StudyPress Trust of India, New Delhi:
Every three in four girls from the Bohra community in India are forced to undergo genital mutilation during their pre-teens, according to a report made public today.
The findings of the study come in the backdrop of the Centre's affidavit in the Supreme Court, claiming that "at present, there was no official data or study (by the National Crime Records Bureau etc) which supported the existence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in India".
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), FGM comprises "all procedures that involve the altering or injuring of female genitalia for non-medical purposes and is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women".
The survey on the prevalence of FGM or "khafd" among the Bohras in the country also highlighted that in the urban areas increasingly doctors in medical facilities also performed FGM in addition to traditional cutters.
The report titled "The Clitoral Hood a Contested Site: Khafd or Female Genital Mutilation in India" was released by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor at an event here.
It has been prepared jointly by a survivors' collective called WeSpeakOut and Nari Samta Manch.
The study included responses from 94 participants, of which 83 were women survivors of FGM and 11 were men.
The survey was carried out in four Indian states with high concentration of the Bohras -- Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan -- as well as Kerala, where a few Sunni Muslim sects are known to practise FGM.
The Bohra community is a Shia sect of Muslims. Today there are three Bohra sects -- Dawoodi, Alvi and Suleimani who practise FGM.
The Bohra expats from Canada, the United Arab Emirates and the US, as well as traditional circumcisers and healthcare professionals, were also included in the sample.
The women surveyed were aged between 17 and 89 years. All the interviewees together had 81 daughters, of which six were too young, 55 were subjected to "khafd" and 20 were not.
This indicated that nearly 75 percent of the daughters underwent FGM, the study pointed out.
Further, these women cumulatively knew 1,248 women within their families who had undergone "khafd", i.e. each participant knew approximately 14 women in their family.
The study also included testimonies of survivors of FGM as well as traditional circumcisers.
One such cutter has been quoted in the report as saying that she has performed 6,000 "khafd" in 20 years of her practice and another confessed to cutting 4,800 to 6,000 girls over 50 years.
Often forceps, scissors, scalpels and blades are used to perform FGM.
Tharoor said that the findings of the study made the government's stance on the issue in the Supreme Court that there was no evidence of the practice "untenable".
The founder of WeSpeakOut demanded a law to ban the practice.
"By turning a blind eye and doing nothing about FGM, the government of India is denying women and girls their rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution. In keeping with its international human rights commitments under numerous treaty bodies, India must at once pass a law that bans the act of providing FGM," Founder of WeSpeakOut Masooma Ranalvi said.
Among the respondents subjected to "khafd", six were cut by medical doctors and 75 were cut by traditional cutters, the report said.
Those who have undergone "khafd" have reported painful urination, physical discomfort, difficulty in walking and bleeding immediately following the procedure. Some suffered from recurrent urinary tract infections and incontinence, in the long term.
Nearly 33 percent women subjected to "khafd" in the study said that it had negatively impacted their sexual life.
Many experienced fear, anxiety, depression, low self- esteem after undergoing FGM.
While supporters of the practice claim that "khafd" was practised by the Bohras and is just "a nick on the clitoral hood", the writer of the report said in reality what was practised was much more grievous.
"Most women subjected to khafd in India undergo Type 1 FGM or clitoridectomy which includes partial or total removal of the clitoral hood or clitoris. Very few younger women may be subjected to Type 4 FGM which includes pricking, piercing or cauterisation," Lakshmi Anantnarayan, writer of the report, said.
The report also warned that in the absence of a law banning the practice in India, the country was at the risk of becoming a hub for FGM for expat and foreign Bohra girls following a crackdown in Australia and the US.
A Bohra doctor was arrested in Michigan, the US, last year for allegedly performing female genital mutilation on two seven-year-olds.
In Australia, three people were convicted of FGM in a landmark trial in 2015.
An online petition initiated by WeSpeakOut on Change.Org has garnered over one lakh signatures. A copy of this was presented to Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi last year.
Subsequently, the minister promised to bring a law as well as write to the Syedna, the spiritual leader of the community, asking him to enforce a ban.
However, neither of these was done and the ministry has been maintaining a silence on this issue.
Tuesday February 06, 2018
Lack of sex education contributing to female genital mutilation in India: Study
Absence of anti-FGM laws in the country has aided rise in incidents
FGM is being performed in the Bohra (a Shia Muslim sect) community and foreign girls in India, the study says. An absence of anti-FGM laws in the country has aided the rise in these incidents. File photo
A lack of sex education within families is an important factor contributing to the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in India, according to a recent study titled "The Clitoral Hood A Contested Site."
FGM is being performed in the Bohra (a Shia Muslim sect) community and foreign girls in India, the study says. An absence of anti-FGM laws in the country has aided the rise in these incidents.
The main sources of sex education for the study participants were through friends, books or pornography. Most respondents had poor knowledge of women's sexual anatomy and were unfamiliar with proper language to discuss their body.
About 32% of study participants revealed that FGM had negatively impacted their sexual life. Several women had questions about FGM, its impact on women's sexual health, sexual pleasure and the anatomical structure. A majority of women did not know what was done to their bodies during FGM.
The study also revealed that about 75% of Bohra women in India (aged seven and above) are victims of FGM. In India, FGM is practised mainly in Dawoodi, Suleimani and Alvi Bohras in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and some Sunni sects in Kerala.
Recently, women have started to speak out against the practice of FGM and anti-FGM movements like WeSpeakOut and Sahiyo have succeeded in breaking the silence surrounding the practice.
Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi announced in May 2017 that the government intended to pass an anti-FGM law if the Bohra community did not abandon the practice.
However, no progress has been made till date. Moreover, the ministry has responded to the Supreme Court stating that “there is no official data or study which supports the existence of FGM/C in India.”
The study has revealed that around 37% of the women in Bohra community support FGM and around 65% are against it. The main reason behind the rise in the number of women against FGM is the daughters' strong position against FGM and confrontations with the parents due to pain and suffering.
Tuesday January 30, 2018
8-month-old baby raped by 28-year-old cousin undergoes surgery, stable
New Delhi: An eight-month-old baby girl was raped allegedly by her cousin in northwest Delhi's Netaji Subhash Place, police said. The accused has been arrested, they said.
The baby is stable after she underwent a surgery.
The 28-year-old confessed to raping the baby under the influence of alcohol, said a senior police officer.
The girl's parents used to go out for work and leave their daughter in the custody of their sister-in-law. Since it was a Sunday, their sister-in-law's son was at home, he said.
When he saw that his mother was not around, the accused allegedly forced himself on the baby, police said.
When the girl's mother, who works as a maid, returned home at around 12.30 pm, she saw blood stains on her daughter's clothes and informed her husband.
The baby was rushed to a hospital where it was found that she had been sexually assaulted, police said.
Subsequently, the police were informed and a case was registered.
Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal visited the girl at a hospital yesterday. In a series of tweets today, Maliwal expressed her anguish over the incident saying the "DCW has been raped".
She said that despite her repeated demands to punish rapists within six months, nothing has happened. The girl underwent a surgery and was doing fine, the police said, adding that she will be discharged soon. Her parents are being counselled. PTI
Tuesday January 30, 2018
Turning pink in attempt to abort son preference
New Delhi: The pink-coloured Economic Survey document today recommended that India must confront the societal metapreference for a son, observing that the adverse sex ratio of females to males has led to 63 million “missing” women.
The colour of this year’s survey cover was chosen as a symbol of support for the growing movement to end violence against women, which spans continents.
Laying special emphasis on gender development, the survey cautioned that on several indicators, notably employment, use of reversible contraception and son preference, India has some distance to traverse despite the country’s economic progress. The survey states that just as India has committed to moving up the ranks in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ indicators, a similar commitment should be endeavoured on the gender front.
The percentage of working women has declined over time from 36 per cent being employed in 2005-06 to 24 per cent of women employed in 2015-16, pointed out the survey.
It acknowledges that the government’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and ‘Sukanya Samridhi Yojana’ schemes, and mandatory maternity leave rules are all steps in the right direction, pointing out that measures such as increasing maternity leave will offer support to women in the workforce.
Given these observations, the states and all stakeholders have an important role to play in increasing opportunities available for women in education and employment, it said.
As per the survey, nearly 47 per cent of women do not use any contraception. The survey highlighted another phenomenon of son metapreference, which involves parents adopting fertility “stopping rules” having children until the desired number of sons are born. PTI
Tuesday January 30, 2018
Thomson Reuters Foundation, Mumbai:
The government's Economic Survey said that around 21 million girl children are 'unwanted' in the country owing to the preference given to sons. Reuters file photo for representation.
Some 21 million girls in India are "unwanted" and receive fewer resources because their parents wanted a son, the government said, as analysts called for action to boost women's earnings.
The government's annual economic survey, presented to parliament on Monday with a pink cover, included a chapter on women's issues for the first time - emblazoned #MeToo in recognition of the global campaign against sexual harassment.
"India must confront the societal preference, even meta-preference for a son, which appears inoculated to development," it said.
While India is set to regain its position as the world's fastest-growing major economy, development "has not proved to be an antidote" for its skewed sex ratio, lack of women in the workplace and low contraceptive use, the survey said.
A sex ratio of 943 females per 1,000 males has led to the identification of some 63 million "missing" women, it said.
While sex-selection abortions are widely prevalent despite a ban, the preference for sons also manifests in parents choosing to keep having children until they have sons, leading to an estimated 21 million "unwanted" girls, the survey noted.
"Consigning these odious categories to history soon should be society's objective," it said.
"A son 'meta' preference ... may be detrimental to female children because it may lead to fewer resources devoted to them."
Many parents prefer sons because they can inherit property while families have to pay dowries when their daughters marry.
Only 24 percent of women in India were employed in 2015-16 and almost 47 percent do not use any contraception, it said.
Analysts welcomed the government's acknowledgement of the challenges to gender justice but said it must do more to ensure equal rights for women.
"There is no recognition of the failure of economic policy with respect to women's rights and women's work - including unpaid labour," said Jayati Ghosh, a professor of economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
"They are also not doing enough to stop violence against women, which is seriously limiting women's labour participation," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Nearly two-thirds of Indian women with college degrees are without jobs, and female labour force participation is among the lowest in the world, according to World Bank data.
Ensuring property rights for women, and ending gender stereotyping in Indian popular culture can also help, said women's rights activist Kamla Bhasin.
Tuesday January 30, 2018
India’s ‘unwanted’ girls: Economic Survey highlights how preference for sons is hurting daughters
By K Deepalakshmi
A scene at Fangadi village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. (Reuters)
The Economic Survey has mentioned that the desire for a male child has created 21 million “unwanted” girls in India between 0 and 25 years.
Chapter Seven of the Survey, tabled in Parliament on Monday, deals with gender equality. While India has shown improvement in several parameters related to women's empowerment, the preference for a son has not diminished. “In some sense, once born, the lives of women are improving but society still appears to want fewer of them to be born,” the Survey stated.
The Survey has taken note of the behavioural pattern of Indian parents who prefer to have children “until the desired number of sons are born.” Calling this the “son meta-preference,” the Survey has found that while an average Indian family prefers to have two children, there are instances where families have more than five children if the last child is not a male.
The biologically determined natural sex ratio at birth is 1050 males per 1000 females. After sex selection was declared illegal in India in 1994, the sex ratio at birth (SRB) began to stabilise. In 1970, the SRB was 1060 males per 1000 females. In 2014, this rose to 1108, contrary to the belief that development would mend the skewed sex ratio.
GENDER AND SON META-PREFERENCE
The Survey pointed out the missing link by analysing the sex ratio of last child (SRLC). The SRLC in India is biased against females and is lower by 9.5 percentage points in 2015-16 in comparison with other countries.
The sex ratio among families with one child stood at 1.82 i.e., 1820 males per 1000 females. This drops to 1.55 for families with two children and rises to 1.65 for three, and drops to 1.51 and 1.45 for four and five children, respectively. Comparing it with the sex ratio of families where the last child is not a male, it stands at 1.07, 0.86, 0.85, 0.84, 0.88 respectively. This shows the Indian families tend to "stop" having children after a son is born.
The Survey pointed out several reasons behind preferring a male child such as compulsion of a woman to move to her husband's house post marriage, inheritance of property, rituals performed by sons, and dowry, among others.
Male child preference lowest in Meghalaya
The male child preference is highest in Punjab and Haryana and lowest in Meghalaya. More than 2 million women go missing across age groups every year either due to sex-selective abortion, disease, neglect, or inadequate nutrition, according to the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS).
While more women are educated, employed and earning than 10 years ago, they still do not have control over their earnings and childbirth. Quoting the NFHS, the Survey pointed out that more women tend to quit their employment after marriage or childbirth.
The Survey recommended that the nation must confront the societal preference for male offspring. Noting that schemes such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, enhanced maternity leave and mandatory creches in workplaces are steps in the right direction, the Survey called for a stronger commitment on the gender front similar to the government’s push for Ease of Doing Business.
~ Issue 1376, (11-17 January 2018)
Challenging times for veiled women
Wearing the Islamic veil has become increasingly challenging for many women in Western societies, where a piece of fabric can be used to exacerbate already rising Islamophobia, writes Gihan Shahine
No to Islamophobia
Many veiled women living in the West may have found great comfort in the heartening call of President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen for all women to wear headscarves in solidarity with Muslims and fight what he described as “rampant Islamophobia”. For the left-wing former Austrian Green Party leader, the veil is a matter of “freedom of expression”, which is “a fundamental right”.
“It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants. That is my opinion on the matter,” he told an audience of school pupils last May.
Safety for Muslims
But not everybody in the West thinks the same way, especially in the light of the rise of right-wing groups. Many observers say that right-wing politicians in Western societies have been using the Muslim veil as a rallying point, claiming that they are protecting secularism and Western identity from the threat of the “Islamisation of Europe”, for example.
They may use the hijab, or Islamic headscarf, as a trigger to rally racist or anti-Muslim sentiments across Europe and America. Many women may be judged, sometimes even misjudged, for what they choose to wear.
“Whenever I open the drawer where I keep my scarves, I look at them and say to myself, what a loss, what a loss that I ever took off my hijab.”
Thus said 33-year-old Ibtisam Al-Zahir with tears in her eyes, as she expressed her regrets at taking off the Islamic headscarf (hijab) or veil in order to be sure to get a job in Spain where she lives.
An emotionally charged interview with Al-Zahir was part of a documentary filmed by the UK website guardian.com following a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in March 2017 that allows employers to ban religious symbols in the workplace. The decision is part of a ruling on the issue of women wearing Islamic headscarves at work in the EU, allowing employers to ban religious clothing.
Chapel Hill funeral
Although the ECJ insists that the ruling “does not constitute direct discrimination” against Muslims, many Muslims and non-Muslims think otherwise. There is almost a consensus among Western Muslims that the decision was part of a wave of Islamophobia that has been sweeping Europe and the West in general.
“I hope that I can wear them again,” Al-Zahir said as she passed her fingers over a set of colourful scarves neatly folded in her bedroom drawer.
Al-Zahir may not be the only one feeling pressured by the ECJ decision. As the guardian.com documentary shows, many Muslim women now face “a stark choice: lose their hijab or their job.”
At least for Al-Zahir, losing the hijab was forced upon her after having spent three years looking for a job. As a divorced and single mother of two kids, she desperately needed a job in order to survive, rent a house and feed her kids.
“I applied to work in a restaurant,” Al-Zahir said. “It was a cleaning job nothing to do with a hijab. In the end, I said, ok I will take it off, just give me work.”
But not all veiled women living in Europe were equally unlucky. Ayan Baudouin from London told the documentary that she had “never had any issues” getting a job in the UK, but that she was “quite fortunate because not everybody’s experience is like that”.
“We’ve had mixed reactions here: some women like myself will never give up the hijab for the sake of Allah, and we are determined to fight for it,” 44-year-old Dalia, an Egyptian-British woman, told Al-Ahram Weekly.
“Some have been deterred and have got scared, so they’ve either changed the way they wear their hijab through hats or Spanish-style hijabs and some have taken it off. But only a minority have taken off the veil altogether, as more often than not those wearing classic abayas and khimars [robes] tend to downgrade their veil by wearing normal clothes or adapting them,” she said.
Dalia does not work at the moment, but says she has ‘“definitely heard of jobs being harder to attain for a hijabi, and yes some have had verbal and physical abuse.” Dalia said she personally had suffered from abuse in the form of “dirty looks mainly by white men” in the street. “Usually they get a piece of my mind if the persist,” she added.
Baudouin similarly lamented how many people in Europe may still tend to stereotype a veiled woman as “illiterate, uneducated and probably not able to speak their language.”
Friends paying tribute to Hassanen
Many Muslims living in the West seem to have had this feeling of disrespect if recent research by the US-based Gallup research firm is anything to go by. “Specifically, 52 per cent of Americans and 48 per cent of Canadians say the West does not respect Muslim societies,” Gallup said. “Smaller percentages of Italian, French, German and British respondents agree.”
THE VEIL AND ISLAMOPHOBIA: According to the Gallup studies, “researchers and policy groups define Islamophobia in differing detail, but the term’s essence is essentially the same, no matter the source: an exaggerated fear, hatred and hostility towards Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination and the marginalisation and exclusion of Muslims from social, political and civic life.”
Although Islamophobia is manifested in different ways, many observers suggest it is becoming more aggressively directed towards veiled Muslim women because the veil acts as a visible sign of Muslim identity. Recent research reports on Islamophobia in the West suggest increasing levels of hostility directed towards Muslim women who seem to be bearing the brunt of attacks against Muslims, with many suggesting that the veil has been used or abused by right-wing politicians and the architects of what they call the “industry” of Islamophobia in the West.
Those talking to the Weekly referred to the many recent hostile attacks on veiled women in the UK and the US as cases in point. In one case a veiled woman was pushed into the path of an oncoming underground train apparently for no other reason than her wearing the veil.
“For Muslim women, Britain’s streets are more hostile than ever” was the headline of a story in the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph last week. “In 2017, we continued to worry a lot about what women wear,” it wrote.
The incident where a veiled Muslim woman seemingly miraculously survived being hit by a London Underground train went viral on social media, showing how she slammed into the train and rebounded onto the platform. The man who pushed her was held on charges of attempted murder, but many insist the attack is only one of many other manifestations of how veiled women have been at the heart of Islamophobic attacks.
US author Nathan Lean, author of The Islamophobia Industry, told the Weekly that “the veil is simply a visible symbol around which anti-Muslim agitators unite.” In Lean’s view, the veil “is not provoking Islamophobia itself, but rather offers people who already hold negative views of Islam an object at which to direct their ire and angst.”
“The Islamophobia industry uses whatever objects and symbols it can to suggest that Muslims are frightening,” Lean elaborated via e-mail. “It may seem that the veil is the symbol most often referenced today, but there have been instances of prejudice directed at mosques, minarets, and other Islamic cultural signifiers” in the West as well.
Erik Bleich, a professor of political science at Middlebury College in the US, similarly noted that “the hijab is one factor among many that Islamophobes use to identify and stigmatise Muslims.” The hijab has always been a controversial issue in both the West and in some Muslim-majority countries, he said. It is largely seen by Muslims as a religious obligation and as such many women choose to don it as an act of piety.
Many in the West, however, also tend to see the veil as a political symbol, a manifestation of a “different” identity, and, perhaps, a refusal to integrate. Politicians designing anti-hijab laws in the West may claim they are doing so in order to emancipate women from “the shackles of veil” and help them better integrate.
“The veil is viewed differently in Europe compared to the United States,” Bleich elaborated. “In many European countries, it has become a symbol for religious fundamentalism and a refusal (or at least a reluctance) to integrate. This is even more true when it comes to niqabs or burqas,” he said, referring to the full-face veil.
In the United States, according to Bleich, although the veil is of less prominent concern because Americans are generally more open to the public expression of religion, it still “functions as a marker of ‘Muslimness’, which is increasingly seen in the United States as a threatening identity to many.”
Lean said that in some cases veiled Muslim women “must feel hurt by the way in which a pious symbol of their religious identity has become politicised and subjected to such unnecessary prejudice”.
“Some of those who welcomed the ECJ ruling said the headscarf was a ‘political statement of oppression’. I find that deeply offensive,” 33-year-old Fayza Hassan, a European Muslim, wrote on the UK newspaper the Guardian’s blog.
“To me, it’s an act of worship, a choice I made, that it has no impact on anyone other than myself. I don’t expect others to understand my reasoning, but I find it strange that people who have very little understanding of my faith feel they have a right to tell me how to interpret it or what to do.”
ANTI-VEIL SENTIMENT IN EUROPE : It has been particularly in France where an estimated eight per cent of the population is Muslim that the veil has provoked intense public debate.
France has passed two laws on the veil, one in 2004 banning the wearing of the veil in public elementary and secondary schools, and another in 2011 banning the wearing of full-face veils in public places, even though these are worn by only a tiny portion of the population. Many countries followed suite, including Holland, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Austria, where prohibitions on religious symbols and full or partial bans on full-face veils were implemented.
The recent ECJ ruling allowing employers in the EU to oblige veiled women to take off their veils at work has been met with wide public acceptance in many European countries, including France where “83 per cent of French people” were in favour of the law, according to the UK Independent newspaper.
In an article entitled “French Muslims Say Veil Bans Gives Cover to Bias”, the New York Times said that in France “the head coverings of observant Muslim women, from colourful silk scarves to black chadors, have become one of the most potent flash points in the nation’s tense relations with its vibrant and growing Muslim population,” adding that “mainstream politicians continue to push for new measures to deny veiled women access to jobs, educational institutions and community life.”
“They often say they are doing so for the benefit of public order or in the name of laïcité, the French term for the separation of church and state,” the report went on. “But critics say these efforts, rather than promoting a sense of secular inclusion, have encouraged rampant discrimination against Muslims in general and veiled women in particular.”
Lean argues that the ECJ decision also “enforces conformity to so-called “Western values”. “But ‘Western’ values include religious freedom and individual civil liberties, which would mean that religious expressions of this sort should be encouraged, not discouraged,” Lean told the Weekly.
Critics of the law also wonder why politicians in France focus on the hijab when other issues related to women’s rights do not get the same level of public attention. According to a report published in the UK Independent newspaper entitled “Why is the Right of Muslim Women to Wear the Veil still so Controversial in France”, “in France, one woman dies every three days because of domestic violence, a woman is raped every eight minutes, the difference in pay between men and women is still 27 per cent, and some political parties would rather pay a fine than abide by the rule of gender parity in elections.”
“Why then waste all this energy on the hijab, a piece of fabric, a personal choice, that doesn’t harm or affect anyone,” the report queried. For Bleich, banning the wearing of the veil by women is a “risky step” because it “may increase integration in some instances, but it will increase feelings of isolation in others.”
Many veiled women living in Europe say that the focus on the hijab and the widening trend of enshrining anti-hijab sentiments into law on the part of politicians has not only affected them economically by denying them jobs, but has also made them targets of abuse by the public, ranging from looks of disdain, to being spat at, to incidents of hijab-pulling and even hate crimes.
The 2009 murder of veiled Egyptian pharmacist Marwa Al-Sherbini, who lost her life for no other reason than her religion in Dresden, Germany, at the hands of a Russian-German racist, will always be remembered as one of the most tragic hate crimes directed against veiled women in Europe. But these crimes seem to have increased since then.
“Following the terrorist atrocity in Paris on 13 November 2015, media outlets reported that the number of hate crimes against perceived Muslims had skyrocketed, particularly in France and Britain,” said a report by the United Nations University (UNU), the academic and research arm of the United Nations. “According to these media articles, the majority of victims were ‘visible’ Muslim women, particularly those wearing the veil.”
Tell Mama, an NGO which documents incidents of Islamophobia across the UK by collecting data independently and in collaboration with 15 police forces, also recorded a 326 per cent increase in anti-Muslim incidents on the streets of Britain in 2015. The organisation received direct reports of verbal and online harassment and abuse from more than 1,100 Muslims in the same year and collected details of a further 1,400 incidents recorded by the police.
Tell Mama said the greatest impact of anti-Muslim hatred was being felt by women, making up 61 per cent of all incidents recorded by the organisation. “75 per cent of all female victims had been easily identifiable as Muslims by wearing the hijab or the niqab,” it said.
THE VEIL IN THE US: Although there is no anti-hijab legislation in the US and freedom is deeply enshrined in the US constitution, Abdel-Sattar Ghazali, editor of the Journal America online magazine, says that anti-hijab sentiments are also on the rise in the US.
“No doubt the veil/hijab is provoking animosity against Muslim women,” Ghazali, who is also the author of Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America (2014) and Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century (2017), said. “This animosity sometimes becomes violent.”
During Ramadan last June, veiled 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen of northern Virginia in the US was assaulted and killed as she walked home after prayers at a mosque near Washington. Police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with her murder, but once again the murder shocked the local Muslim community which was still getting over the Chapel Hill hate crime in 2015 that claimed the lives of 23-year-old American-Syrian Muslim Deah Shaddy and his veiled bride 21-year-old Yusor Mohamed Abu Salha, together with Yusor’s veiled sister 19-year-old Razan. The three were shot dead in a “dispute over parking”, but their family has insisted that the murder was a hate crime motivated by the religious identity of the victims.
“The veil is rarely used by American Muslim women, but simply using the headscarf makes them the target of hate attacks,” Ghazali noted.
Ghazali further referred to another tragic incident occurring last May when two men were murdered while trying to stop a white supremacist from abusing two young Muslim women, one of them wearing a headscarf, in Portland, Oregon, as a case in point. He also referred to a series of chilling incidents of scarf-snatching across the US in public places and in schools.
According to the Pew Research Centre, a US public-opinion survey organisation, “rates of physical attacks on Muslims reached post-9/11 levels” in 2015 in the US, which it said were “spurred at least in part by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, who called for a ban on Muslim immigrants and tapped into a current of Islamophobia running throughout the country.”
A 2016 report by the newspaper USA Today revealed how over one week three women in one location in the US had been targeted because they were wearing the veil. “To protect themselves, some women are uncovering their hair,” the report said. “Others are buying pepper spray, applying for concealed carry permits, or taking self-defense classes.”
WHY ON THE RISE: According to the second annual European Islamophobia Report for 2016, a survey across the continent, “Muslims are seen as the enemy ‘within’. Thus, physical attacks and political restrictions can often be carried out and even defended in an atmosphere of wide distrust and enmity” in Europe.
Analysts mention the rise of terror attacks carried out by the Islamic State (IS) group in Europe and the US and the recent influx of immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria into Europe following the Arab Spring as reasons behind the rise of anti-Muslim sentiments. Others blame the rise of the right-wing groups in Europe and US President Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric for boosting anti-Muslim sentiments.
Some observers stand in the middle, suggesting that extremism is generally on the rise and is turning bloody. It can be blamed on both some Muslims and some non-Muslims who are turning to the right, and in both cases ignorance serves as the greatest enemy. Whereas non-Muslims may have misconceptions about Islam, some Muslims, mainly jihadists, also misinterpret Islamic teachings in their own way.
Religious scholars insist that militant jihad, for instance, has strict conditions in Islam and should take place only on the battlefield or in the case of a country that has been militarily invaded. But jihadists, they say, have violated that strict condition when they have expanded the battlefield to include the streets of Europe and the US.
The Western media, for its part, has tended to focus on terror attacks in order to portray Muslims as the “enemy”, ignoring the fact that these terror attacks are carried out by small groups and are rejected by mainstream Muslims. The Western media also often only mentions Islam in the context of negative news.
“Islamophobia is on the rise because of a variety of factors, but chief among them today is the degree to which politicians in the United States and Europe have intentionally represented Islam and Muslims as an enemy ‘other’ in the service of advancing their political agendas,” Lean said.
According to Bleich, “Islamophobia rises in times of uncertainty, feelings that core national identities are being challenged, and in the light of political leaders taking advantage of these situations.”
“Politicians like Donald Trump, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, and Marine Le Pen in France (among many others) are tapping into a sense that the world is changing in ways that make some individuals and voters in Europe and North America vulnerable,” Bleich elaborated. “Organising Islamophobia is a way for those leaders to gain power, and for their followers to feel more powerful, too.”
Ghazali quotes US journalist Reed Richardson as saying that “fuelled by the president’s nativist agenda and a new alliance with the alt-right, the professional anti-Muslim industry has never been stronger or more dangerous” in the US. Ghazali agrees with Richardson that “like the US military-industrial complex, which wields influence and makes money under the banner of ‘national security’,” there is now also an “anti-Islam industrial complex” at work in the US.
“The Islamophobia industry likewise exhibits interwoven subsidiaries, joint ventures and lobbying groups, which enrich themselves while ostensibly promoting ideals like freedom of expression, women’s rights and national security,” Ghazali told the Weekly.
One recent report by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) has highlighted “how ‘big money’ is channelled to the ‘industry of Islamophobia’ in the West, which revolves around a fear-mongering demonisation of Arabs and Muslims intended to legitimise both US and Israeli bellicose machinations in a region with highly coveted resources.”
“But the problem of Islamophobia is not a Muslim problem only,” Lean said. “It is not the responsibility of Muslims to solve it. It requires everyone’s efforts, and all people who value equality and peace should stand up and reject such bigotry anywhere and everywhere it is present.”
Muslims can also do their bit to fight bigotry. “Muslim communities and individuals can respond effectively by making their case that veiling is an act of piety, not an act of rejection of European values,” Bleich suggested. “They can certainly organise politically and pursue legal cases where needed. The more Muslims can show they are committed to other values that Europeans (and North Americans) recognise as common values, the less veiling can be used as a symbol that Muslims have diametrically opposed values. Building bridges with other faith communities and with non-faith based organisations will help as well,” he said.
Sunday December 31, 2017
Ghost in the Machine, Part 5 Lies, Denial, Deceit and Manipulative ‘Research’
* Vaccines are Big Pharma's new profit center, which has caused an onslaught of manipulative, dishonest “research”
* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation enriches pharmaceutical corporations and wealthy institutions with its questionable overseas vaccination agenda
* To fight a growing number of people questioning the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, the drug industry discredits vaccine injury statistics and has rolled out an aggressive and shocking ad campaign
By Dr. Mercola
In the last decade, vaccines have become Big Pharma's biggest profit center. A report published by MarketsandMarkets estimates the global vaccine market, currently valued at $34.30 billion a year, will grow to an astounding $49.27 billion by 2022.1
Why the boom? As blockbuster drugs like Lipitor, Viagra, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Singular and Concerta have gone off patent, vaccines prove a lucrative replacement. Not only are they priced much higher than pills, governments and NGOs shamelessly help market vaccines to huge swaths of the world's population.
These unethical partnerships, using taxpayer or NGO money, advance misleading research intended to frighten the public. Worse, they discredit vaccine critics who raise legitimate safety and efficacy questions and even discredit the families and victims of vaccine injuries themselves. To cash in on vaccine profits Big Pharma, governments and NGOs have characterized all vaccines as "life-saving." One of the clearest examples is the attempt to present vaccines against the HPV virus as vaccines "against cancer."
"Science" articles warn that as many as 90 percent of adults, especially baby boomers, silently harbor the HPV virus much like articles that warn many baby boomers are infected with the Hepatitis C virus.
In both cases, the drug industry is trying to "grow" the market for its products by inflating the amount of estimated sufferers. Reporters either wittingly or unwittingly help in the effort by repeating the drug industry supplied "facts." The truth is more than 90 percent of HPV infections are cleared by the body2 without symptoms and only 20 percent of HPV infections are the high-risk type that could develop into cancer if not identified and treated.3
Big Pharma's misleading advertising is not working, though. Many families of adolescent boys and girls targeted by HPV vaccine marketing by drug companies and government health officials are refusing the vaccine.4
Reacting to the HPV vaccine dropouts, Big Pharma launched an offensive "shame" campaign last year in which young adults with cancer blame their parents for not vaccinating them when they were adolescents. The ads were so over-the-top even supporters of the vaccine complained. Twitter remarks accused the company of trying to guilt-trip parents to bolster corporate profits.5
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Promotes Vaccines and Their Profits
One of the world's leading funders of vaccine development and promotion is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF).6 In 2002, it began buying billions in drug stocks7 and subsequently added huge amounts of Monsanto stock.8 Two of the B&MGF's research heads were hired right out of Pharma one from GlaxoSmithKline, with whom the B&MGF had a long-standing collaboration, and the other from Novartis.9
Even more shocking, it hired the former president of product development at Genentech to serve as its current CEO, Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann.10 This is how health writer Ruben Rosenberg Colorni describes the true nature of the foundation:11
- "The Bill & Melinda Gates 'Foundation' is essentially a huge tax-avoidance scheme for enormously-wealthy capitalists who have made billions from exploiting the world’s people. The foundation invests, tax free, money from Gates and the 'donations' from others, in the very companies in which Gates owns millions in stocks, thus guaranteeing returns through both sales as well as intellectual-property rights.
- To add insult to injury, the system perpetuates the spread of disease rather than aids in their eradication, thus perpetually justifying his endeavors to “eradicate” them (solving a problem they are creating)."
In a 2011 Forbes interview, Bill Gates admitted the new profitability of vaccines.12 "Ten or 15 years ago, nobody in the drug business would have held up vaccines as profit centers," he said, conceding that "vaccines are so tough, particularly because of liability issues." But now, "people are making money in the vaccine business," he noted.
Questions About Overseas Vaccination Programs
Questions about the ethics of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's overseas vaccination programs have swirled for years, specifically a study aimed at validating a low-cost way to screen for cervical cancer in India.13 This summer, STAT News reported that "new evidence of ethical lapses" has been published.14
- "Dr. Eric Suba, a pathologist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco and co-author of the paper, provided STAT with a copy and links to supporting documents. In an interview, he described the Mumbai study, which ended in 2015, in stark terms: 'catastrophic, 'monumentally unethical, and a radical departure from normal scientific procedures’ …
- "Critics of the 18-year trial said that U.S.-funded Indian researchers used ineffective screening that endangered thousands of poor women in Mumbai. They were told the test could help prevent cancer, but far fewer pre-cancerous lesions were found than expected, suggesting that some lesions were missed possibly leading to an unknown number of deaths."
In 2015, judges in India's Supreme Court heard a challenge claiming the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation failed to obtain the informed consent of the children or their parents and demanded answers about juvenile deaths from the vaccine trial.15
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Is a Big Investor in Monsanto and Promoter of GMOs
In 2012, Bill Gates announced he would try to end world hunger by growing more genetically modified (GM) crops. He had already invested $27 million into Monsanto. At the time, I said Gates was leading the pack as one of the most destructive "do-gooders" on the planet and that his views on addressing poverty and disease in poor countries were short-sighted and misinformed.
Shortly thereafter, a team of 900 scientists funded by the World Bank and United Nations determined the use of GM crops is not a meaningful solution to the complex situation of world hunger. The Seattle Times also called Bill Gates' support of GM crops as a solution for world hunger unsound science. It's an undisputed fact that the introduction of genetically engineered crops lead to diminished biodiversity the direct opposite of what the world needs.
To save the planet and ourselves, small-scale organic and sustainable farming not only must prevail but flourish, and GM crops do not help; rather, they threaten their existence. Seeds have always been sold and swapped freely between farmers, preserving biodiversity, and without that basis, you cannot have food sovereignty. With fewer farmers, "feeding the hungry with GM crops" is nothing but a pipe dream.
A clear example of the false promise of GM crops is seen with the GM Golden Rice designed to bring beta-carotene to the diets of people in poor countries and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's donation of $20 million. The GM crop was ill conceived for two reasons. People eating the low fat, poor diets seen in poor countries generally cannot convert beta carotene to the vitamin A and it was estimated that someone would have to eat 16 pounds of Golden Rice a day to receive the benefits.
Unethical Vaccine Marketing Only Tells Half the Story
As I said earlier, marketing of the HPV vaccine relies on half-truths, scare tactics and alarmist advertising. By manipulatively presenting it as a "vaccine against cancer," which all but neglectful parents would give to their children, vaccine makers hope to occlude the real questions about safety and documented injuries.16,17 A few years after the vaccines were launched, questions about research and transparency had already arisen, according to the Huffington Post.18
- "Critics ask why the primary endpoint in trials was not cervical cancer, but lesions that could become malignant and why placebo data was spun to make the vaccine look more effective ... There are also transparency questions. Why did former First Lady Laura Bush work with Merck-funded citizen front groups to promote the original vaccine and why are governors like Texas’ Rick Perry trying to mandate vaccination of all girls?
- University of Queensland lecturer Dr. Andrew Gunn was silenced by his university when he dared to question the vaccine and ordered to apologize to the vaccine maker, CSL, according to the Courier Mail. Dr. Gunn expressed doubts about the vaccine’s 'marketing as a solution to cancer of the cervix when at best it’s expected to prevent about two-thirds of cases and 'the incorrect and dangerous perception that it might make Pap smears unnecessary'...
- And one of Gardasil’s and Cervarix’s [two HPV vaccines] original developers, Dr. Diane Harper, a consultant to the World Health Organization, also questioned the vaccine’s lack of safety and effectiveness ... only to appear to retract her remarks later."
‘Herd Immunity’ Incorrectly Used to Sell Vaccines
Vaccine makers and the governments and NGOs that help their marketing use the concept of "herd immunity" to sell mass vaccination the idea that the vaccination rate in a given community must be kept high so that those who have not been immunized do not endanger others.
But of course, HPV, which is a sexually transmitted disease (STD), is not spread through mere close proximity to another person like non-STD diseases. You can’t transmit or get HPV infection in a public setting, like in a classroom or crowded elevator. Maybe that is why the "cancer prevention" angle is pushed.
Purveyors of the herd immunity theory never seem to be able to explain why the majority of outbreaks of diseases targeted by vaccines occur in communities thought to have already achieved herd immunity status, i.e., where the majority of people are fully vaccinated and transmission of infection "should" not occur.
In fact, health officials appear to deliberately confuse the public. Natural herd immunity certainly exists but artificial vaccine-acquired herd immunity, which is temporary at best, is a misnomer. Vaccination and natural exposure to a given disease produce two qualitatively different types of immune responses.
Vaccine Injuries Dismissed and Downplayed
Vaccine injuries are well documented and the HPV vaccine is a case in point. Here is what the Indian Medical Journal of Medical Ethics reported in 2017.19
- "The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been linked to a number of serious adverse reactions. The range of symptoms is diverse and they develop in a multi-layered manner over an extended period of time. The argument for the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine overlooks the following flaws:
- (i) no consideration is given to the genetic basis of autoimmune diseases, and arguments that do not take this into account cannot assure the safety of the vaccine; (ii) the immune evasion mechanisms of HPV, which require the HPV vaccine to maintain an extraordinarily high antibody level for a long period of time for it to be effective, are disregarded;
- and (iii) the limitations of effectiveness of the vaccine. We also discuss various issues that came up in the course of developing, promoting and distributing the vaccine, as well as the pitfalls encountered in monitoring adverse events and epidemiological verification."
Yet vaccine makers, government regulatory agencies and doctors administering vaccines continue to insist the many injuries seen after vaccination are mere coincidences and not caused by the vaccines. Controlled clinical trials have found no causal association between HPV vaccination and different adverse effects, say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.20
In addition to inflating the number of people suffering from diseases such as HPV, vaccine promoters inflate the effectiveness of their vaccines. The HPV vaccine has cut infections by up to 90 percent in the past 10 years, brags one science website, as if cutting infections and cutting the incidence of cancer were the same thing. It is especially irresponsible because the cancer rates cannot be determined until years or decades after the vaccine is given.21
Melbourne ~ Friday December 8 2017
Quarter of all youths committing family violence are boys bashing their mums
By Tammy Mills
Mothers of teenage boys are often bearing the brunt of violent attacks in their family home.
In the past year, there were 7000 young perpetrators of family violence in Victoria.
Video: Victorian budget 2017: Tough on crime
The centrepiece of this year's budget was investment in domestic violence protection. Crime reporter Nino Bucci explains.
A quarter of those were men and boys – aged 19 and under – who offended against their mother.
Now, family violence perpetrators will be treated as seriously as those who commit crimes such as terrorism and murder under a new Victoria Police strategy.
Family violence investigation units will mirror major crime squads with specialist detectives targeting repeat offenders and analysts and psychologists working to predict escalating behaviour before women and children are seriously injured or murdered.
Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said the consequences of family violence are the same as terrorism, and it should be viewed with the same gravity.
"The ramifications are the same in the long run. We have death, we have serious trauma, we have serious injury and we have people impacted for the rest of their lives," Mr Patton said.
It signifies another shift forward in police strategy that began with former chief commissioner Christine Nixon in the early 2000s, and moved from awareness-raising and myth-busting to reforming how uniformed officers respond. .
The investigations units, which will operate in a similar way to the sexual offending and child investigation abuse teams (called SOCITs), will replace the family violence teams at 34 of the state's busiest stations over the next two years, police said.
Current family violence teams consist of members rotated from the uniform branch who are not trained detectives.
The investigation units will also be integrated into the multi-disciplinary centres at Geelong, Dandenong and Werribee.
The centres already bring together SOCITs, sexual assault counsellors and child protection workers into the one building.
The units aim to complement the family violence taskforce, which work statewide and target the most serious repeat offenders, and cold case family violence crimes.
The force's latest research, compiled as part of the new strategy, has found:
? In the past six years, more than 11,000 perpetrators harmed three or more victims.
? Almost 1500 had five or more victims and were responsible for family violence, sex offences and child abuse.
? Women and girls are the victims in 75 per cent of cases.
? There were 16 family violence murders in 2016-17, making up 28 per cent of homicides.
Funding for the 415 police and unsworn employees is through the government's community safety strategy.
Police Minister Lisa Neville called it a key milestone in the under-reported crimes of family violence, sex offences and child abuse.
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