Tag Archives: Guardian

Stop Assuming They Think Like Adults

A recent fight within the UK and between that nation and Turkey – a country that seeks admittance to the EU, even though only the small portion of it actually belongs in Europe; the majority is in Asia – has to do with teenage girls from Muslim families. Three of them left the UK the other day. The eldest had stolen her older sister’s passport. The UK does not keep track of who leaves the country. Although the rules state that minors may leave only when accompanied by a parent, the girls (one aged 16, the other two 15) were able to fly to Turkey all by themselves.

Why were they going? To cross Turkey into Syria, there to become the latest in a series of adolescent girls scammed and persuaded to become “jihadi brides”.

It appears now that they have entered Syria, despite their parents’ pleas and the Foreign Service tracking. Turkey, blamed for facilitating both female and male Isis devotees’ border crossing, has in turn become rather stroppy itself, complaining that the UK lost three days in informing Turkish officials of the girls’ intention.

Even the girls’ school has had to defend itself from finger-pointing, noting that it does not permit extremist doctrines and strives to teach its students to accept others. The three girls, it says, were not radicalized on its grounds.

That’s probably true. There are too many places online to read radical Islamist philosophy – who needs a brick-and-mortar school?

The parents, rather than accepting responsibility for teaching their daughters that what Muslim men want is more important than the desires of Muslim women, wants the UK to keep track of exits as well as entries. Not a bad idea.

The girls’ aim is to marry terrorists and murderers. Not the actions of sane, healthy women. And even Isis points out that jihadi brides must prepare to be jihadi widows – which means they will in turn be traded off, potentially sold into sexual enslavement, and almost certainly will die (of beatings, suicide, complications of pregnancy and childbirth) in Syria, probably within five years. The parents will never see their daughters again.

There may be good reasons for keeping them from the UK, as escapees from Isis have been indoctrinated in terrorism. Even when their primary role has been support and childbearing, creating more children to be molded into mini-terrorists.

But now comes the argument in The Guardian that the UK should let its adolescents leave because, well, look, they’ve made their decisions. Let them lie in it. Don’t stop them, even if they’re under 18 years old and legally minors to be protected. We’re better off without them. They want to support brutal and murderous regimes? Fine. They’re old enough to know better.

Except they’re not.

What that Guardian writer fails to understand is that although adolescents may look mature, inside they’re still growing. They certainly aren’t mature when it comes to childbearing, which is hugely more risky for teenagers than for women over 20. Even sex is risky, since their bodies have not finished developing. An immature vagina should not be entered by anyone’s engorged penis, including that of a jihadi “husband”.

And we have evidence that inside these girls’ brains, there is a whole lot of re-assembly going on. Dr. Jay Giedd of the US National Institutes of Health, among others, is engaged in longitudinal research on brain development. What he has found through fMRI examination of healthy people is that teenagers’ brains are entirely different from those of adults. The area really should be cordoned off with “Caution: Undergoing Construction” tape. Teens literally cannot think the way grown-ups do, and it’s wrong to blame them when they don’t.

As Giedd has said, “It’s sort of unfair to expect them to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision-making before their brains are finished being built.” Meaning, just because a brain has acquired adult size in terms of its weight does not mean it’s ready for full and complete use. That’s like saying a house that’s just been put under roof — meaning the slates or shingles are attached – is ready to be moved into. Wait a minute. What about walls? Plumbing? Electrical wiring, floor finishes, paint, all the other things we expect of a house? Not there! Well, it’s not freakin’ done, then, is it. Back to work!

No one in their right mind leaves to support Isis. We don’t see long lines of mature women ready to give up their freedom and families, do we? These girls are just the latest in a series from different Western countries who have been groomed and seduced online, who wish to exchange a fairly restrictive family existence for an entirely restrictive and ultimately painful and fatal one, while imagining they are more holy for doing what terrorists bid them do.

Prime Minister David Cameron has urged that more attention be paid to online radicalization by people promoting the “poisonous ideology” of terrorism, and Europol is enhancing cooperation among agencies to connect the dots between extremist recruiters and those who finance their activities.

Families need to make their children’s passports unobtainable. In a deposit box or held by a non-Muslim friend or colleague. In addition, they must have serious chats with their children in order to teach them of the risks of extremism. Also, the UK ought to be keeping track of the people who leave its shores, especially where they look young.

Because kids and adolescents do not, cannot, think like adults.

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First Comes Love. After That?

 

Marriage. Or, as in The Princess Bride, mawwige

 

We pretty much think we know what marriage is. It’s that time that happens after the wedding, be it ornate or a few mumbled words in a registry office, the months and years together. Sometimes apart. With children or not, through choice or impossibility.

 

We often think it’s a man-woman thing. Or a woman-man thing. In some places, it can also be a woman-woman or man-man thing.

 

Among people of certain religions, it can be a man+multiple women thing. Much less frequently does it involve one woman and more than one man, although anecdotal evidence out of India and China indicate that such marriages, usually involving brothers, are increasing and will continue to do so as the “lost girls” phenomenon (abortion of female fetuses) continues.

 

A lot of people, like this Washington Post columnist, think marriage is a state to be desired for all single people. Tell that to the women assaulted and murdered by their husbands, or the spouses of both sexes married to the insane, the emotionally cold, the manipulative, the sociopathic.

 

Marriage does not carry the cachet it did a generation ago, and with good reason. As divorce became easier, it grew apparent that what we need is a better way to be matched with a loving spouse.

 

It’s no wonder that in some Western societies, people intentionally have children before they marry. Sometimes they never marry. Swedish children are more likely to be raised by two unmarried parents than American children are to be raised by two parents still married to each other. As we know in rearing kids, healthy presence counts.

 

This Australian article mentions the thoughtfulness that the current crop of young-and-in-loves bring to the question of to marry or not.

 

“Australian Institute of Family Studies senior researcher Lixia Qu attributed the decline in the divorce rate to the fact more than 80 per cent of marriages were preceded by couples living together these days and couples marrying later in life. ‘People are quite cautious nowadays about marriage,’ Ms. Qu said. ‘When they do get married, they’re older, they’re a bit more mature, they’ve experienced a sort of weeding-out process.’”

 

They’re also doing less hormone-driven thinking. In the US, studies show that the divorce rate is higher where people are encouraged to marry young and have children right away. When they wait, they are more likely to have healthier marriages.

 

The Guardian interviewed 20 young adults from different nations to learn their takes on marriage. Yes, no, maybe so? Their responses varied from “oh, yes” to “probably not” and several stops in between. What was most interesting were their approaches. Thoughtful, measured, and in this era, with a definite eye toward economics.

 

Which is not to say that the heart has no say. Indeed it does, as well as a concern for both spouses’ well-being. This lovely article lists ten alternative wedding vows, genuinely meaningful ones.

 

“I promise to nurture your goals and ambitions; to support you through misfortune and celebrate your triumphs” – that’s #6 on the list. What a fantastic promise to make and to keep.

 

As the reasons for marriage have altered through the centuries (who in contemporary Western society marries in order to connect adjoining parcels of land? – a common course in the Middle Ages), so our taste for marriage waxes and wanes. If parenthood is no longer as important as in the past, if remaining with a partner is the most essential thing, including tax advantages, emergency care and passports, then we will still marry. We will still risk. Perhaps we will weigh the risks and marry not from obligation or temporary passion, but out of a loving friendship.

 

While searching for a photo, I found this lovely statement:
“If I had my life to live over again, next time I would find you sooner so I could love you longer.”

 

Says it all, really.

 

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Why Do It?

 

A slum in Mumbai, India, where rape suspects were found.

 

 

Why do men rape? A recent survey of 10,000 Asian men (from Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka) published in The Lancet gives some disturbing answers. One 18- to 49-year-old man in each household in several communities was surveyed. The men were asked if they had ever forced sex on anyone.

 

More than 10% answered “yes”.

 

When asked why they did it, as the New York Times reports, “73 percent said the reason was ‘entitlement’. Fifty-nine percent said their motivation was ‘entertainment seeking’, agreeing with the statements ‘I wanted to have fun’ or ‘I was bored’.”

 

So this is what they’re saying:

 

“I was bored”, so I hurt someone else, causing them trauma and PTSD.

 

“I needed entertainment”, so I inflicted pain and terror.

 

“I felt entitled” to create fear, panic, and torture.

 

That’s horrifying.

 

In Kenya, rape has become such an epidemic that it results in a sort of “femicide”, as the Guardian reports.

 

India, whose capital, Delhi, has long been known as a dangerous place for a woman, is now confronting the reality that rape, especially gang-rapes, is rife in other towns.

 

Clearly, a minority of men commit sexual assault, but they often harm many women and children. And because these males do not bear a visible mark, no one can identify them before they attack and thus shun them or call for them to be isolated.

 

In the past, rapists relied on their victims’ feelings of shame, and on the fact that in many societies, the victim would be more blamed than her assailant, even killed. That taboo is falling. After a recent gang-rape in Mumbai, the victim and her friend went straight to the hospital and informed the police. Mumbai police – perhaps appalled at the thought that their city would be compared to Delhi – went on the hunt.

 

According to the New York Times, they “initiated a broad, high-level response, as if an act of terrorism had taken place. The police lighted up their networks of slum informants and all five [rapists] were arrested and gave confessions in quick succession. Several made pitiful attempts to escape. [One] went to the visitor’s room of a nearby hospital and covered himself with a blanket, trying to blend in with a crowd of relatives. ‘It is incredible how quickly the whole thing unraveled’.”

 

If only other police forces worked as diligently on their backlog of rape kits.

 

While alcohol often plays a strong role in rape – some men drink in order to commit rape – it cannot account for the callous, heartless, cruel reasons quoted above.

 

Entitlement. Seeking entertainment. Boredom.

 

Those are frivolous excuses for monstrous acts, acts that carry lifelong implications for other people. In a few seconds rape alters a life, making a survivor of someone whose peace of mind is stolen, and causes changes in the brain that can last forever.

 

This is not a petty crime, nor is it “he said, she said”, when only 6-8% of rape reports are false – the same proportion as with false reports of other crimes, like robbery.

 

I foresee a day when rape will carry the death penalty. It will likely start in China, where fewer girls are born every day. The death penalty would be an easy way for the Chinese to rid themselves of turbulent men and at the same time make life safer for women and children.

 

The more we examine rape, the worse it looks. At long last.

 

 

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