Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Losing my religion for equality

Posted in News by Skepdude on July 22, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THEAGE.COM

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THEAGE.COM

God is merciful, but only if you’re a man

Posted in News by Skepdude on June 8, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “THE GUARDIAN”

There is plenty to criticise in Islam‘s view of women. Last year, the Observer told the story of a man in Basra who stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed to death his 17-year-old daughter for becoming infatuated with a British soldier. The relationship apparently amounted to a few conversations, but her father learnt she had been seen in public talking to the soldier. When the Observer talked to Abdel-Qader Ali two weeks later, he said: “Death was the least she deserved. I don’t regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honours his religion.”

This was clearly extreme, but the truth is that the God many people believe in – whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish – hates women. Take America’s Southern Baptist Convention, which declares in its faith and mission statement: “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” That’s fair enough, isn’t it? After all, he’s probably stronger than she is.

Or there’s the Catholic church. The Pope put things more suavely in an address in 2008: “Faced with cultural and political trends that seek to eliminate, or at least cloud and confuse, the sexual differences inscribed in human nature, considering them a cultural construct, it is necessary to recall God’s design that created the human being masculine and feminine, with a unity and at the same time an original difference.” The insistence on difference is the necessary first step to insisting on inequality and subordination and it is a step that popes have been taking at regular intervals for decades.

In November 2006, Nicaragua enacted a ban on all abortion, with no exceptions, even to save the mother’s life. The law was ratified by the National Assembly in September 2007. Both the original enactment and the vote in September 2007 were widely attributed to the influence of the Catholic church. In a report this month, the United Nations Committee against torture called Nicaragua’s total ban on abortion a violation of human rights.

Then there is Judaism. In one neighbourhood in Jerusalem, religious seminaries flank streets with yellow signs that warn: “If you’re a woman and you’re not properly dressed – don’t pass through our neighbourhood.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “THE GUARDIAN”

Thank God…or Allah….or whoever you want to thank

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

Finally, this has been resolved. Let’s hope this is the beginning of some real change in Saudi Arabia. It still sucks that it all hinged on the father giving up his claim basically, but I guess we have to take what little scraps come our way.

Media reports say an arranged marriage between a Saudi girl aged eight and a man in his 50s has been annulled, in a case attracting worldwide criticism.

The Saudi Gazette says the divorce was agreed in an out-of-court settlement after a judge rejected two attempts to grant the girl a divorce.

The case prompted Saudi officials to say it would start regulating the marriages of young girls.

Rights groups say some Saudi families marry off young daughters for money.

The judge who first heard the case in the town of Unaiza refused to end the marriage at the request of the girl’s mother , but he stipulated the groom could not have sex with the girl until she reached puberty.

The girl’s father is said to have married her off against her mother’s wishes to a close friend in order that he could pay off a debt.

A new judge was appointed to oversee the case, who issued the annulment after the husband finally gave up his insistence that the marriage had been legal, reports say.

Taleban ‘kill love affair couple’

Posted in News by Skepdude on April 14, 2009

The Taleban in Afghanistan have publicly killed a young couple who they said had tried to run away to get married, officials say.

The man, 21, and woman, 19, were shot dead on Monday in front of a mosque in the south-western province of Nimroz.

Nimroz is an area where the Taleban have a strong influence.

Governor Ghulam Dastageer Azad told the AFP news agency the killings followed a decree by local religious leaders and were an “insult to Islam”.

Dangerous region

Mr Azad said: “An unmarried young boy and an unmarried girl who loved each other and wanted to get married had eloped because their families would not approve the marriage.”

Officials said the couple were traced by militants after they tried to go to Iran. They were made to return to their village in Khash Rod district.

“Three Taleban mullahs brought them to the local mosque and they passed a fatwa (religious decree) that they must be killed. They were shot and killed in front of the mosque in public,” the governor said.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “BBC”

Mothers hacked in albino attacks

Posted in News by Skepdude on November 14, 2008

Two mothers in western Tanzania have been attacked by gangs who were after their children who have albinism.

The women were hacked with machetes when the attackers failed to find the two children.

Albinos have been targeted in a series of killings around the country due to a belief their body parts can make magic potions more effective.

At least 30 people with albinism have been killed since March, including a seven-month old baby.

On Wednesday, attackers forced a woman to take them to her home, looking for her nine-year-old daughter in Kibondo District, close to the Burundi border.

The girl was not in the house and so the men attacked the mother.

In the second attack, a gang of four men broke into a house at the Lugufu camp in Kigoma, which hosts refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, looking for a child with albinism.

The child, aged two, escaped kidnap after falling under the bed unnoticed.

The women are undergoing treatment for their injuries.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “BBC NEWS”

URGENT: Forced Electroshock

Posted in activism by Skepdude on November 10, 2008

MindFreedom International — 7 November 2008
Human Rights Alert: Involuntary Electroshock

by David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International

The past Wednesday morning after the historic USA election what were you doing?

I know what Ray Sandford, 54, was doing.

Each and every Wednesday, early in the morning, staff shows up at Ray’s sheltered living home called Victory House in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, adjacent to Minneapolis.

Staff escorts Ray the 15 miles to Mercy Hospital. There, Ray is given another of his weekly electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments, also known as electroshock. All against his will. On an outpatient basis.

And it’s been going on for months.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THE TROUBLE WITH SPIKOL

‘Child-witches’ of Nigeria seek refuge

Posted in News by Skepdude on November 10, 2008

Mary is a pretty five-year-old girl with big brown eyes and a father who kicked her out onto the streets in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. Her crime: the local priest had denounced her as a witch and blamed her “evil powers” for causing her mother’s death.

Ostracised, vulnerable and frightened, she wandered the streets in south-eastern Nigeria, sleeping rough, struggling to stay alive.

Mary was found by a British charity worker and today lives at a refuge in Akwa Ibom province with 150 other children who have been branded witches, blamed for all their family’s woes, and abandoned. Before being pushed out of their homes many were beaten or slashed with knives, thrown onto fires, or had acid poured over them as a punishment or in an attempt to make them “confess” to being possessed. In one horrific case, a young girl called Uma had a three-inch nail driven into her skull.

Yet Mary and the others at the shelter are the lucky ones for they, at least, are alive. Many of those branded “child-witches” are murdered – hacked to death with machetes, poisoned, drowned, or buried alive in an attempt to drive Satan out of their soul.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THE TELEGRAPH.

California Proposition #8

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on November 5, 2008

Unfortunately for human rights, it looks like Proposition #8 will pass. With 95% of precincts reporting both Proposition #8 & Proposition #4 have a  52% to 48% lead (Passing is bad). You can check the updated results yourself at the CNN Election Center.

For your infor here are the short summaries of these propositions as reported at the CNN website.

Proposition #8This measure would amend the state constitution to specify that only marriages between one man and one woman would be recognized as valid in the state. If passed, the measure would trump a May 2008 ruling by the California Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage.
Proposition #4This measure would amend the state constitution to require physicians to notify the parents or legal guardian of a pregnant minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion involving that minor. The measure does not require that parent or guardian’s actual consent in order to perform the abortion. Exceptions are provided in the cases of medical emergencies. Also, an adult family may be notified instead if the minor fears abuse from the parent or guardian. Parents may also waive the notification requiremen

Can someone clarify something for me though? Doesn’t a constitutional amendmente require 2/3rds of the votes to pass? Or does that apply to the US constitution only. I don’t know much about that.

Californians: vote no on hate

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on November 4, 2008

Are you guys up and voting yet? Remember to vote down the horrible little pro-bigotry ballot measure, proposition 8. If you don’t believe me, read Charlie Stross’s explanation. And if that’s still not good enough for you, look who is bankrolling 8: the Knights of Columbus, Howard Ahmanson, Jr. (he’s got some money left after keeping the Discovery Institute afloat, apparently), and John Templeton (not the Templeton Foundation, mind you…just the chairman and president contributing as a private individual). Isn’t that enough to tell you it must be wrong?

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “PHARYNGULA”

Amnesty: Rape girl, 13, killed for adultery

Posted in News by Skepdude on November 2, 2008

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A 13-year-old girl who said she had been raped was stoned to death in Somalia after being accused of adultery by Islamic militants, a human rights group said.

Dozens of men stoned Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow to death Oct. 27 in a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing witnesses. The Islamic militia in charge of Kismayo had accused her of adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, the rights group said.

Initial local media reports said Duhulow was 23, but her father told Amnesty International she was 13. Some of the Somali journalists who first reported the killing later told Amnesty International that they had reported she was 23 based upon her physical appearance.

READ THE REST OF THIS STORY AT CNN.