Tag Archives: Slavery

In Sheep’s Clothing: Using Religion to Camouflage Pain

Occasionally, a newspaper report comes out that is so horrifying, so disruptive of inner peace, that it demands re-posting. The front-page New York Times report today on the sexual enslavement of women and girls by the group calling themselves ISIS is one such journalistic event.

Here is the link. Please read it all, even if you have to take breaks in between paragraphs.

Note that the men in this so-called holy group are equal opportunity torturers (yes, rape is torture). As this 2014 Wall Street Journal report shows, they rape and mutilate (FGM is mutilation) at will.

It is the creation of rape and enslavement as a business supposedly underpinned by God that is detailed in the Times report. A few quotes for those who haven’t the stomach to read the whole article:

–“In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

“He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

“When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.

“’I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,’” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “’He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,’” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp here, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.

–“ A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.”

–“[The girls and women] would be held in confinement, some for days, some for months. Then, inevitably, they were loaded into the same fleet of buses again before being sent in smaller groups to Syria or to other locations inside Iraq, where they were bought and sold for sex.

“It was 100 percent preplanned,” said Khider Domle, a Yazidi community activist who maintains a detailed database of the victims. “I spoke by telephone to the first family who arrived at the Directory of Youth in Mosul, and the hall was already prepared for them. They had mattresses, plates and utensils, food and water for hundreds of people.”

— “In a pamphlet published online in December, the Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State detailed best practices, including explaining that slaves belong to the estate of the fighter who bought them and therefore can be willed to another man and disposed of just like any other property after his death.

“Recent escapees describe an intricate bureaucracy surrounding their captivity, with their status as a slave registered in a contract. When their owner would sell them to another buyer, a new contract would be drafted, like transferring a property deed.”

— [From the verified account of a woman also kidnapped and raped]: “’He destroyed her body. She was badly infected. The fighter kept coming and asking me, ‘Why does she smell so bad?’ And I said, she has an infection on the inside, you need to take care of her,’” the woman said.

“Unmoved, he ignored the girl’s agony, continuing the ritual of praying before and after raping the child.

“I said to him, ‘She’s just a little girl,’” the older woman recalled. “And he answered: ‘No. She’s not a little girl. She’s a slave. And she knows exactly how to have sex. And having sex with her pleases God.’”

Regardless of our own political affiliation, regardless of our own gender, our own history or religion, surely we can see what these men are. They’re Nazis, dressed up in robes. They use religion as Hitler and Goebbels used political division and the power to destroy. They’re wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing, bleating how they’re doing the will of God, purifying the race, blah blah blah, whatever is the slogan du jour.

It’s not enough to tear off the sheepskins they hide under.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Jihadi Brides

Female recruits for the so-called Islamic State

One might think that running away from caring families — from a society where a teenager’s main burdens are reaching school on time and studying for exams — in order to join a desert army of thugs, would be a no-brainer. Of course you’d stay. Duh.

Unfortunately, a number of European teens disagree. They have slipped through the departures net (the UK does not check passports upon departure, just on entrance), often using siblings’ documentation, with enough money – three girls traveling together had stolen and sold their mothers’ jewelry to finance their flight tickets – to make it to Turkey. Once on the ground, they are met by people they’ve been in contact with through their mobile phones. Supplied and paid for by parents, naturally.

Those new friends “guide” them to Syria to join the caliphate. The same way as, in Greek mythology, Charon the ferryman guided the souls of the newly dead across the River Styx.

The IS propaganda machine has cranked up – aided by the estimated $2 billion it acquires every year, much of it by selling people into slavery.

Here is an example of presenting IS as utopia. Five-star lifestyles, children who brandish automatic weapons, so cute! Note that the abaya– and niqab-wearing people are assumed to be female. In reality, they could be small men. No one would know.

The adolescent Western recruits see mobile screens filled with “IS rules!” and “Join the jihad!” weapon-bearing men. And with photos of buff young jihadis, often from a different ethnicity than theirs. Whom, they are assured, will make devoted husbands or colleagues.

Excitement, religious fervor, escape from hovering parents – what could go wrong?

Well, this, for a start. It’s the story of how British schoolgirls are married to IS jihadis – for a week. Then they are sold to another to be “married” for another week. And so on. It’s basically rape for seven days by one man, then a week of rape by another, and another, etcetera. It’s an abuse of the Muslim practice of temporary marriage, Nikah mut’ah – the Quran allows temporary marriage, but the “bride” is supposed to be off-limits afterwards (an abstinence called iddah) so that if she is pregnant, paternity can be determined.

Clearly, if girls are being passed around, the so-called caliphate warriors are breaking their own religious laws. In addition to inflicting pain and terror and pregnancy – itself risky as hell for teens – on adolescents who, two weeks ago, were watching TV with their families. The status of sexual slave was, after all, not what they signed up for. But assuming you can enter jihadi territory and emerge unscathed is like pretending a beer drinker wearing a yellow star in 1944 could stroll into a bar full of storm-troopers and befriend them.

Predators don’t work that way. No matter what they call themselves.

In response to the flow of schoolchildren leaving home, the UK government has removed the passports of girls who have demonstrated interest in traveling to Syria. As this article explains, the passports of some of the parents were taken, as well, when they failed to cooperate with those trying to protect their daughters from a fate worse than death.

Yet it’s not just adolescents, their brains still under construction, acting delusional. Nine British citizens of Sudanese descent – four women and five men studying at a medical school in Khartoum – have vanished on their mercy trip to treat wounded people in Syria. Why enter that country? Hordes of needy Syrians populate the refugee camps of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Presumably, these doctors-in-training wanted to aid the jihad.

In Syria, the male medical workers will be co-opted either as IS medics (often forced to collect blood from sick civilians to fill the veins of wounded jihadis) or as soldiers just as likely to commit murder as the next man. The female med students will be raped and handed round, with or without “marriage”, since as women they are not allowed to treat wounded men – and the needs of sick civilian women and children are low on the IS list.

When some of your best and brightest buy into the 1930s-style claptrap peddled by IS, and when your minors sneak off with dreams of victory and loving marriages – only to be horribly deceived and entrapped – you must take measures to reinstitute sanity. For too long, multiculturalism has waved its own flag, and British police and government agencies have kowtowed for fear of looking racist (note that race and cultural identity are two very different things). Which provides an enormous loophole for people looking to deceive and abuse the vulnerable.

The UK is stirring. A recent op-ed piece by a Muslim woman called veil-wearing “regressive”. Theresa May, the UK home secretary, has declared an end to “tolerating the promotion of sickening and violent ideologies for Islamists and other fanatics” and has called for the “proud promotion of British values” to be at the core of the drive against extremism and terrorism. She also will ban radical preachers and organizations from speaking at schools, which have been fertile places to initiate jihadist recruitment that continues online.

Back in the 1930s, the saying goes, there were two kinds of non-Aryan people in Germany: optimists and pessimists. The pessimists took what they could and moved as far away as possible. The optimists stayed and were killed.

No one was stopping Hitler. No one countered Nazi lies. If Twitter had existed, maybe he would have been undermined earlier.

IS is the new Reich. The time is now to save children from being caught in its devouring jaws.

Mothers, put your children’s passports in storage. At a bank, at a neighbor’s – better still, the home of a non-Muslim neighbor. Start monitoring their mobile use (or simply take the mobile away – yes, they’ll scream, but better their scream at your heavy-handedness than your shrieks of sorrow knowing they are forever lost). Who are they talking to? Who is advertising to them? Do the same thing with their computer use. Find out what their friends are doing and saying. Ask their schools to keep a watchful eye. Put your jewelry in safe storage. Don’t keep large amounts of cash in the house. You may think it’s hidden, but a determined adolescent will find it.

Most importantly, talk to your children. Explain bait-and-switch. Tell them how predators lie and cheat and steal. Explore the similarities between World War II Nazis and the current Islamic State. Educate them, for their own sakes. Just because terrorists call themselves Muslim doesn’t mean they are. They’re wolves draping themselves in the skins of “we’re just like you only more holy”.

Mammas, keep your kids from joining up with the thugs. They will thank you later. They will be alive to thank you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

To Slice Or Not To Slice

Waiting to contract

 

If you are pregnant in the US, if you know someone who is, or who wants to be, read this. It will give you some idea how much Caesarean section – heavy-duty abdominal surgery designed to help a baby live when the mother cannot give birth vaginally – depends, not on medical emergency or advice, but on culture. Yes, within America.

 

In order to avoid “but the patient wanted it” whingeing, let’s first take a look at who has the power in childbirth and Caesarean sections.

 

One can give birth by oneself. Alone in the woods, within an earthquake-devastated building, in a cave while fleeing rapacious soldiers. All have been done. On the other hand, no one can perform a Caesarean section on herself. Not one person. With that kind of surgery, there must be a practitioner. That puts that second person in charge. No one is holding an IED to physicians’ heads to demand that they slice. Obstetricians (obstetrics is a surgical specialty; historically, few female medical students have been encouraged to specialize in surgery) have the power to just say “no” to a medically unnecessary request or demand for Caesarean section. They have every right to do so – pointing out that the patient shows no risk factors to indicate it – and they have the power. They alone.

 

That takes care of the whinge. Now:

 

Recently, much has been made of the fact that the American C-section rate is quite high. This nation is #15 from the top in global high section rates, and its rate of 30.3 is significantly higher than in other first-world nations.

 

It has been observed that of the top 10 countries worldwide, in terms of high C-section rates, eight have Roman Catholic majorities. (The remaining two high blade users are Iran and South Korea.) Eighty percent of the nations where a person is most likely to undergo C-section with its attendant risks – shock and sepsis; developmental harm to newborns; longer maternal recovery – and extra expense, have high or very high populations identified as Roman Catholic. Clearly, then, that religion and/or its physician adherents are somehow driving the C-section rate to much higher levels than the 15% recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). In Brazil, which stands at #1 in the world, the rate is an alarming 45.9; nearly half of Brazilian births happen under the knife.

 

The C-section rate in the United States varies up to 15-fold. Some states have very low rates. Yet some – see this graph – have rates that rival the highest global rates (New Jersey’s extraordinary C-section rate is nearly equivalent to #2 Dominican Republic and #3 Iran, where over 41% of people in labor are cut). Those states pull the US average up.

 

From the graph, there are 19 states (plus the District of Columbia, making 20 data-specific areas in all; they are listed in order at the end of this article) whose rates exceed the American average. As noted above, that US average is already high compared to other first-world nations. I wondered what cultural effects could be driving these very high rates of abdominal surgery, so I examined graphs and maps.

 

What I found is this:

 

Of those 20 areas with high C-section rates, three states also hold high percentages of residents who are Roman Catholic (3 million people or more): California, New York, and, as mentioned above, New Jersey. Only three. How, then, do we account for the remaining areas? Is there some distinguishing cultural “mark” common to them?

 

There is indeed. If we examine the pre-Civil War slave status of these high C-section districts – where legal ownership of human beings was permitted – we find that 14 of them were slave-holding at the start of hostilities in 1861. From lower percentage of C-sections to highest, bearing in mind that all these states’ rates surpass the US average, they are: Tennessee, Georgia, District of Columbia, Virginia, Arkansas, Maryland, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, West Virginia (which broke from Virginia during the Civil War, but prior to it had been the western portion of that “slave” state), Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana.

 

Note that Maryland and Kentucky were among four “slave states” that remained in the Union. Nonetheless, both permitted the ownership of human beings in 1861.

 

That is an extraordinary commonality.

 

There are, however, three states remaining of the 20 with higher-than-US-average rates of Caesarean sections, and these three – from lower to higher C-section rates they are Nevada, Oklahoma and Connecticut – seem to have nothing in common.

 

However, each of these three high C-section states borders at least one state noted above.

 

Nevada shares along border with California (with a high Roman Catholic population). Oklahoma borders both Arkansas and Texas (both former slave-holding states). Connecticut’s western border runs along New York State (with a high proportion of Roman Catholics).

 

It seems reasonable to conclude, therefore, that high C-section rates  in Nevada, Oklahoma and Connecticut are due in part to the cultural influence of their neighbors. It is worth noting that California has an outsize cultural influence on Nevada; New York impacts the most populous areas of Connecticut, in the southwestern section of that state, where many commuters live; and despite sports rivalries between Oklahoma and Texas, the latter sends thousands of its residents north to the former.

 

As others are doing, we can speculate what it is about Roman Catholicism that encourages, absent medical emergency, slicing into a laboring person rather than allowing her to labor and give birth vaginally. It could be institutional disrespect. Women are not yet allowed to be RC priests and are permitted only minor roles in the church. It could be a continuation of the cult of Eve-like and Marian suffering. A Caesarean section is so painful it requires anesthetic, and the recovery period is long and arduous – these new mothers must struggle to rebuild their abdominal muscles. It could be that Roman Catholicism encourages a mindset that rewards male intervention (nearly all obstetricians are male) and denies female bodily integrity and power.

 

What of the former slave states? There, too, we see a history of power inequities. Pre-Civil War, the dichotomy between the influential and those who had little say in their lives was much starker than in states where slavery had been abolished. It takes little effort to note the transition from imposing on vulnerable people who were black to imposing on vulnerable people – the hours of childbirth put one at risk – who are female. It puts the obstetrician in control of a process he normally would simply observe. He inserts himself into the labor and is thus in control of a person’s life and health, just as slave owners were in 1860.

 

To those who protest – “hey, what about all those obstetricians who aren’t Roman Catholic, who aren’t descended from families that owned other human beings?” – you’re right. However, when one enters into a culture, and wants to fit in, one adapts. One adopts the customs and traditions of the culture. Fail to do that, and you risk being considered a dangerous renegade. Of course there are physicians in all areas who are not Roman Catholic; likewise, some obstetricians in former slave-holding areas are descended from ancestors who never lived there.

 

To get along, go along. There is pressure on obstetricians. Patients apply some, but there is  more from the culture they work in. If fellow obstetricians are posting high C-section rates, and you’d rather not, how do you become what Australians call the tall poppy – reducing your section rate to the WHO-recommended 15%, or lower – without getting cut down and criticized?

 

Probably, you don’t. Most likely, you make excuses to yourself. You look for aspects of the labor, or the pregnant person, to blame. You form a foundation on sand before you slice.

 

That’s unethical and unnecessary. It harms both the patient and the new child.

 

As a society, we need to make Caesarean sections dependent not on culture but on true medical necessity. That means insisting on all levels – grassroots to hospital to national watchdogs – that obstetricians just say no to cultures that encourage appallingly high C-section rates.

 

Note: The 19 states (plus District of Columbia) whose C-section rates exceed the already high US average are (from lower to highest): California, Tennessee, Georgia, Nevada, District of Columbia, Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Arkansas, Maryland, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Connecticut, Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pregnancy

Let’s Stop Saying Women. Let’s Say People.

These are people, people.

 

 

The minute you say “women”, all of a sudden listeners place them in a separate mental pocket.

 

Close your eyes for a moment. When you imagine people, you see all sorts of humans, right? (Some of you may envision only men. Men are not the default, so go back to your caves.) Nevertheless – eyes open – the humans pictured above are people first. Yes, they’re people who are female, granted. Still, human beings, people, first and foremost.

 

An interesting thing has been happening over the past few years with regard to humans who were bought and sold prior to the Emancipation Proclamation in the US, and those who now live the same tragic existences all over the world, primarily in India.

 

They used to be known as slaves. These days, most journalists and even the guides at Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, refer to them as people held in slavery or enslaved people.

 

You can tell the difference, right? A slave is not as human as an enslaved person. The latter is a person held in a temporary state of non-liberty. The former is, perhaps, subhuman and born to be owned.

 

Huge difference.

 

Think how a similar enormous difference impacts the human beings shown above. Referred to as people, they remain human. Called women, however, and something happens in the mind of the listener, particularly if dangerous cultural or political baggage gets in the way, as in this article regarding the politics of sexual violence in Egypt.

 

They become something less than people, as if we were speaking of dolphins or aardvarks.

 

Farfetched? No. Language carries enormous cultural weight and can cause confusion. In Spanish, for example, mujer is the word for both woman and wife. Asked by authorities if she is the “wife” of an injured man – spouses may give consent for medical care – a woman may well answer “yes” even though she is not legally married to him.

 

Language gives order to how we learn and remember. Language has power, and it offers power, as well. Witness the rise of Welsh-language schools in Wales, the persistent efforts of French speakers to make Quebec a separate country, and the efforts of billions of people to learn and improve their English, the current linguistic coin of power.

 

It’s just not wise to dismiss how we use words when their use either reduces power or increases it.

 

We should not have to keep making signs saying “Women Are People, Too!”. That’s so 20th-century.

 

We do need to begin replacing the words woman/women with person/people as much as possible.

 

It might sound awkward at first to talk about pregnant people, people with breast cancer, people who have survived FGM.

 

Though we do speak of pregnant whales, giraffes giving birth, and elephants that have survived poachers’ attacks.

 

If one, why not the other?

 

Doing so would point up the humanity of people who are female, rather than consign them to a lesser status in the mind of the listener. Calling them people gives primary acknowledgement to their personhood. Qualifiers – like the word female – are the secondary identification. Then again, speaking of people means that if they carry XY chromosomes, they too will need a qualifier. Male.

 

When we talk of people, we’ll make more sense than if we used words that mistakenly relegate others to a status below humanity.

 

Words like slave. And, unfortunately, women.

 

Stand firm. Use words with care. Up with people !

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Feminism

Prostitution Is Temporary Slavery

No shackles, no chains. Still lack of freedom.

 

It sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? I hear the arguments. Prostitution is more like rental or leasing, it’s nowhere near shackles and chains.

So shackles and chains define slavery? In what universe?

People in 1850s Georgia, especially children, would never have been able to pick so much cotton in shackles and chains. Yet they were no less slaves.

Oh, but there was a bill of sale, too. Proof that the owner, well, possessed human beings.

There has to be a bill of sale? Tell that to the millions of slaves in India, many of them children who are given over to slavery because of their parents’ debts. No bill of sale there.

But . . . but . . . it’s not ownership of a female or male prostitute. It’s like a rental car – you take it out for a spin and return it.

Let’s examine that repugnant analogy. First, humans aren’t “taken out for spins”. Second, when you rent a car, you are responsible for its condition when you return it. Crack the windshield, you pay. Tear off a hubcap, you pay.

If a prostitute, female or male, were truly “rented”, the johns who beat them would pay damages at the end of their session. Truth is, they don’t. People who are beaten and assaulted are never recompensed. In fact, they might be beaten again by their pimp.

Not do most prostitutes have much control over the acts they are required to perform or the ways their bodies are penetrated. Especially not if they’ve been trafficked, have been forcibly addicted to drugs, are mentally ill because of the way they’re treated (over 90%) and/or are under 18.

What the johns do is acquire temporary possession over someone else’s body without her/his informed and valid consent. Sometimes they return that body in relatively unchanged condition. Sometimes, they don’t.

You know what that makes them? It makes them possessors – even for a brief interlude – of another human being. It makes them slave-owners.

Despite weird apologists like Cliven Bundy, people in Western nations claim to hate slavery as an human rights offense, so where is the outrage over this? We despise the Shia Islamic notion of temporary marriage, nikah mut’ah, viewing it as just another excuse for abuse of women and girls, so why is the temporary slavery of prostitution okey-dokey?

It’s because few people have made the connection between the two. Just as in pre-Civil War times, most white citizens in the southern US accepted that darker-skinned people had fewer rights. That was regarded as immutable law. Until the truth came crashing in.

Paying for sex ought to be illegal. That’s what the Nordic countries have legislated, and a similar push is on in the UK.

Not because prostitution is unhealthy – though it is – not because it’s demeaning and dangerous, though it’s that, too.

It should be illegal because it turns johns into temporary slave-owners, and slavery is an offense against human rights.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse, Prostitution