Paraguayan protest against raping 10-year-old girl, banning abortion


This video says about itself:

Pregnant 10-year-old ‘denied abortion after being raped by stepfather’

2 May 2015

Amnesty International is calling on Paraguay’s government to allow a 10-year-old girl to get an abortion for the sake of her health. Report by Sarah Kerr.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Paraguay march poised to draw record crowd after 10-year-old denied abortion

As authorities insist child rape victim must give birth, hundreds are expected to protest sexual abuse in Asunción: ‘Her case is emblematic’

Jonathan Watts, Latin America correspondent and Sarah Boseley, Health editor

Thursday 28 May 2015 12.00 BST

Fury over Paraguayan authorities’ refusal to allow an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim is expected to bring unprecedented numbers of pro-choice protesters to the streets of the country’s capital, Asunción, this week.

The case has prompted outcry around the world and prompted a national debate about the prevalence of child abuse and underage pregnancies.

But that debate has focused more on adult violence than child health. And while many have called for tougher penalties for adults who abuse minors, few expect any change in the Catholic country’s strict abortion laws.

Despite a plea from the girl’s mother, Paraguayan authorities have ruled that the 10-year-old who is now 25 weeks into the pregnancy must give birth, unless she develops complications that put her life in danger. A medical panel is monitoring her condition.

Pedro Pablo Guanes, a gynaecologist based in Asunción, said the authorities are likely to release a tentative date for the birth soon. One option is for a cesarian section to be carried out in the next few weeks to avoid the biggest risk, which is that the girl’s body may not yet be developed enough to accommodate a fetus in its final stage.

On average, two girls under the age of 16 give birth each day in this country of 6.8 million, according to local media reports which have reflected fears that the rape of minors has become “normalised”.

Congressmen have proposed raising the maximum sentence for the rape of a minor to 30 years in prison, up from 10 years. But attempts to raise awareness over the issue of sexual abuse have been modest: the government has urged people to wear green ribbons on the National Day Against Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse on 31 May.

A day earlier, hundreds of demonstrators are expected to attend a march from the Plaza Uruguaya to El Panteón in the capital with banners declaring “My body, my territory, not for use or abuse”. Similar small rallies have been staged every year, but organisers expected double the usual number of marchers this year because of the commotion caused by the 10-year-old’s pregnancy.

“Her case is emblematic and motivates many people,” said Rosana Ríos of the Grupo Luna Nueva, which is one of the participating organisations in the protest. “We are marching against the inaction of the state in the face of this problem.”

Petitions have been sent to the Ministry of Children demanding the government stop treating this problem as “normal” and asking for the establishment of a medical board to evaluate the options for the girl’s well-being. The global online campaigning organisation Avaaz presented a petition to the Paraguayan congress with half a million signatures calling for the decriminalization of abortion for women under 15 years of age.

This coincided with a public hearing in Asunción on whether to reform the nation’s abortion laws. Feminist and pro-choice groups argued that decriminalisation was long overdue because more than 50,000 illegal abortions are carried out each year for those who can afford them, while the poor have no choice but to bear the health and economic risks associated with an unwanted pregnancy.

The situation in Paraguay reflects that across Latin America, where abortion is illegal or severely restricted in most countries. Nicaragua, Chile and El Salvador ban abortion completely, even if the pregnancy threatens the life of both the mother and the foetus.

The World Health Organization has said botched abortions are a leading cause of maternal death worldwide, and in 2008 accounted for 12% of all maternal deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean.

But the strong influence of the Catholic church in the region makes reform unlikely. Earlier this week, Peru’s congress rejected a bill to decriminalise abortion in the case of rape. …

“This shows how the situation here has become normal, at least to those who work with these cases,” said Cecilia Caniza, a psychiatrist based in Asunción. “Everyone needs to understand that this is not normal. Just because there are lots of cases does not make the situation OK.”

International research suggests the potential hazards for very young mothers are considerable: even though a 10-year-old may be able to conceive, her pelvis is not fully developed, raising the likelihood of complications during birth.

“One big study in Bangladesh showed a five-fold increase in risk of death among 10- to 14-year-olds compared to women aged 20 to 24,” said Dr Mickey Chopra, Unicef’s global chief of health.

“Even if the mother doesn’t die, the physical complications of pregnancy can be quite severe, running from prolapses to being physically disabled,” said Chopra.

Young girls who become pregnant also experience higher rates of pre-eclampsia – dangerously high blood pressure – which can be life-threatening for mother and baby.

And even when rape is not an issue, adolescents can have difficulty adapting to motherhood when they are still growing up themselves, said Daghni Rajasingam, a consultant obstetrician and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK.

According to Unicef, the teen and adolescent birth rate in Paraguay is 63 per 1000 girls aged 15 to 19. In the UK, which has one of the highest rates in Europe, the rate is 25 per 1000 and in the US, which has the highest rates in the OECD, it is 39.

Religion is not the only factor. Some Catholic countries do not have high teenage pregnancy rates – in Italy it is seven per 1000 and in Ireland it is 16. “Access to abortion is obviously important, but it is also about social norms,” Chopra said.

Additional reporting by Shanna Hanbury

Sexually abused by a monk, a survivor speaks out


This video from the USA says about itself:

Zen Buddhism Sex Abuse Scandal

16 November 2013

Even Zen masters can be deviants. Inside the new book that unearths a disturbing pattern of affairs at the top of one of the largest Buddhist communities in the U.S…

Read more here.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

‘The monk patted me on my head, I was not used to that’

Today, 16:30

by Bas de Vries, NOS Net editor

He has never told the story to anyone. Even his wife does not know he has been abused by a Thai Buddhist monk in the second half of the 1970s when he was a 12-year-old in Waalwijk. “Or maybe I was even younger, I was in any case still in elementary school.” We will call him Huub, but that’s not his real name.

Huub did not like it at home. Therefore, he wandered about the streets. He became fascinated by the corner house a few hundred meters away. A temple where a large golden Buddha statue stood in the living room. Sometimes there were festivities and then the whole Talmastraat street was full of people in orange robes. Not exactly a commonplace spectacle for a little boy in Waalwijk of those years.

Bare feet

One day, one of those Thai men spoke to him. The monk was still relatively young. “At least not as old as those dirty old men you saw in the abuse cases in the Catholic Church.” The monk asked Huub if he wanted to come inside. He walked barefoot in slippers. Huub only now knows from the publicity of the past few days he was Mettavihari, the monk who – as far as is known now – in twenty years abused certainly dozens of young men and minors.

Huub was timid, but also very curious. So he went into that “strange-smelling” house. Huub got a cup of lemonade. To truly have a conversation with the five or six men there was not possible; he spoke no English. But that friendly smiling monk patted him on the head a few times. “And that did something with me. I experienced it as a form of love. I was not used to that at home. He seduced me completely.”

Fifteen minutes later he was outside again. With some brochures about Buddhism. Without pictures, just text. In this incomprehensible English.

A few times he went back. And still he got that lemonade again. Huub remembers that he thought: this house is built exactly in the same way as ours. A temple in a private house. The third or fourth time he had to go upstairs to the bedroom of the monk.

He starts crying uncontrollably when he tells what happened next. “I had to masturbate him. The expression is ‘as if transfixed to the ground’, but I was transfixed to the ground. Then I ran back down the stairs as fast as I could. Downstairs there were still the same five men.”

“I never went back. That temple a few years later moved to another street. I have very bad memories of that house. I live somewhere else now, but in my neighborhood there is a Buddhist center on a main street. If at all possible, I try not to drive along there.”

Shameful

He never told police about this. Once he went to the police in Waalwijk because of ill-treatment by his stepfather. But the abuse by the monk, he did tell them then. It was too shameful. “I just did not dare.”

“I have always kept this nasty experience to myself, but when those Catholic church affairs began to become known, then it all came back. I saw the news on the NOS [about other Buddhist clerical abuse cases] and I thought: I have been there as well!

Islamic poetess against ISIS


23-year-old Sana al-Yemen recites a poem at anti-war conference in London, May 2009 (photo: MEE)

From Middle East Eye:

‘A message written in blood’ – British poet takes on Islamic State

After writing a poem attacking preachers calling on Muslims in Europe to take up arms in the Middle East, Sana al-Yemen found herself at the centre of a media frenzy

Tom Finn

Wednesday 20 May 2015 11:40 BST

Last update: Thursday 21 May 2015 11:58 BST

Hours after Sana al-Yemen posted a video of herself last month reciting a poem about the Islamic State (IS) on YouTube her phone started to ring.

This video says about itself:

This is not my Islam: A message to ISIS and all extremists

3 February 2015

The Muslim Vibe presents ‘This is not my Islam’ by Sanasiino. A spoken word poem speaking out against the hijacking and tarnishing of the name of Islam, by extremist militants such as ISIS and others. (Arabic subtitles available).

The Tom Finn article continues:

A producer at Al-Jazeera news channel who had seen the clip wanted to interview her. Minutes later CNN called, then the BBC. Sana’s poem, a blistering attack on the militant group that has overrun large parts of Syria and Iraq, had gone viral.

“It just exploded. Hundreds of strangers started messaging me saying how much they appreciated the poem… I got a message of support from a soldier in the US army. It’s been crazy,” said Sana.

While the Islamic State has stirred fear – at times hysteria – amongst people in the West and the Middle East, the militant group’s rise to prominence has also prompted a cultural backlash.

Through soap operas, rock musiccartoonssatire and parody Twitter accounts, young Arabs have used art and humour to denounce IS.

Sana, a 23-year-old journalism graduate who was born in Yemen and raised in west London, wrote her first poem about the Islamic State last year after a friend sent her an IS propaganda video showing young British recruits bombing tanks and carrying out drive-by shootings in northern Iraq.

“There are plenty of people my age, from my area in fact, who have left and gone to Syria,” Sana explained on a recent afternoon in a juice bar near London’s Oxford Street.

“People are obsessed with knowing who these men are and what went wrong in their lives. But for me it comes down to who it is they’re listening to. Who are the religious figures giving them that push to leave their lives here in Britain?”

In a video of her poem This is not my Islam: a message to ISIS, Sana appears in a dimly lit room. Dressed in jeans and a purple headscarf, a shadow across her face, she denounces what she calls “layman preachers,” clerics who cite religion to encourage Muslims in Europe to take up arms in the Middle East.

“My crusade is against those who manipulate the message. Split my people in half and misguide the masses,” she recites, staring at the camera as images of young men with beards – IS recruits in Syria – and radical Saudi clerics delivering angry sermons flash across the screen.

Sipping at a banana smoothie, Sana smiles and glances at her phone. She speaks in the same careful way she recites her poetry; pausing for thought, then unleashing words in rapid fire.

“I wanted to get this message across to preachers… to tell them that, despite their religious education, playing with people’s emotions – dashing in a verse from the Quran – it’s manipulative and unethical. It’s not religious guidance, it’s a way of getting what you want politically.”

“I’m wary of religious sheikhs who are involved in politics, because of who they are aligned with. They have relationships with politicians.”

Spreading the message

Sana moved to the UK in 1991 with her father, an architect who worked under the British in occupied south Yemen.

She grew up on a housing estate in West London. Her life, she says, was rooted in “British society but infused with Arab culture”.

As a teenager she was an introvert. She stayed at home on the weekends and wrote poetry in a book she kept under her bed, “mainly about life and friendship… If I got depressed, it was my line of expression,” she said.

She admired American rapper Eminem. “I like how he plays with words and their properties, splitting language into musical bits. He has flow.”

In 2010 Sana started sharing online the poems she’d written about women’s rights, US drone strikes, the Israel/Palestine conflict and the rise of the right in British politics.

In one poem, Mr BNP, she challenges the anti-immigration policies of the far-right British National Party: “I tell you what, I’ll wear my hijab, I’ll risk it, because regardless I’m more British than your tea and biscuit.”

This poetry video is called Sanasino-Mr BNP.

Later she released “My name is not Irak” which laments the destruction inflicted on Iraq after the 2003 US/UK invasion and mocks the American pronunciation “I-rak” (“The difference is one is an American fake, and the other is Arab, genuine and great”).

When uprisings broke out across the Arab world in 2011, Sana and a group of “politically minded young Arabs” began organising rallies outside Arab embassies in London in solidarity with protesters in the Middle East.

“It was a shock… we’d been constricted for so long as a people. Seeing women on the frontlines in Yemen, as a poet it fired me up. I wanted to write more…spread the message,” she said.

In 2012, as many of the Arab uprisings descended into civil war and sectarian strife, Sana’s revolutionary crowd started to splinter.

“It got complicated, suddenly there were all these divisions and difference of opinions between us,” she said.

“Some were pro Egypt’s revolutionary, but anti-Syrian. When the Arab Spring got really complicated people didn’t want to be involved anymore.”

This video says about itself:

10 December 2011

Yemeni poet, activist and journalist Sanasino reciting her poem “Mr BNP” for Revolutionary Rhymes.

The Tom Finn article continues:

‘A ripple effect’

Her poem about Islamic State has not been without criticism. IS sympathisers on Twitter, who Sana refers to as “trolls”, have called her poem misguided.

Others, pointing out that only Sunni and not Shia preachers feature in her video, accused her of being sectarian.

Sheikh Mohamed al-Areifi, a Salafist cleric from Saudi Arabia who has been accused of encouraging young British Muslims to head to Syria and Iraq, appears three times in the clip.

With over 9 million followers, al-Areifi is the most followed individual on Twitter in the Middle East. He has said a huge conflict in Syria “will herald the end of the world”.

“I understand that al-Areifi has respect within the Muslim community around the world but he was one of the most vocal in trying to engage the youth and encouraging them to leave their homes and go to Syria,” said Sana.

“The fact that he was inciting our youth, to go out there to Syria while his own kids were in his home, is something that annoyed me a lot.”

Sana finishes her smoothie. Her thumb pauses above her phone, before flicking downwards as she hunts for a message in her inbox.

“Here it is,” she reads it out. “Thank you. It’s good to see a strong Muslim woman on camera.”

Asked if she feels there are stereotypes about Muslim women in the UK she says: “Definitely, the only thing you hear about is how oppressed we are; I’m definitely not oppressed,” she says laughing. “Neither are my family members. I’m glad I’m breaking the stereotypes.

Women banned from driving, after Saudi Arabia, London


This September 2011 video from the USA is about women in Saudi Arabia.

Do I really have to point out to those ultra-orthodox rabbis in London, that, just like the ban on women driving cars is not in the Quran (not even in the Saudi royal family‘s copies of the Quran … well, it is not Saudi law either … but still, Saudi women get flogged and jailed for driving), it is not in the Torah, or in the Talmud, either …

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Leaders of Jewish Hasidic sect in Stamford Hill ‘ban’ women from driving

Letter signed by Belz rabbis also reportedly said children driven to school by women would be banned from classes

Heather Saul

Thursday 28 May 2015

The leaders of an Orthodox Jewish sect in north London have reportedly declared that women should not be allowed to drive in a letter sent out to the community.

Rabbis from the Belz Hasidic sect in Stamford Hill have said women driving cars contravenes “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp” and goes against the conventions of hasidic institutions, according to a report by the Jewish Chronicle (JC)

The letter, which was signed by Belz educational leaders, also said women would be banned from their schools if their mothers drove them there from August.

It cited increasing numbers of “mothers of pupils who have started to drive” which it said had led to “great resentment among parents of pupils of our institutions”.

Stamford Hill’s residents are predominately Hasidic Jewish and only New York is believed to have a larger community of Hasidic Jews outside of Israel.

Dina Brawer, UK Ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, confirmed she had seen a copy of the letter to The Independent.

“The instinct behind such a draconian ban is one of power and control, of men over women,” she told JC. “In this sense it is no different from the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia. That it masquerades as a halachic imperative is shameful and disturbing.”

Will innocent Guantanamo prisoner be free at last?


This music video about the Guantanamo Bay camp is the song We Are America by Esperanza Spalding from the USA.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Shaker Aamer could be weeks from freedom

Thursday 28th May 2015

Last Briton in Guantanamo gets scent of home

THE last British prisoner in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp could be released within weeks, it was revealed yesterday.

Shaker Aamer, whose wife and four children live in Battersea in London, has been unlawfully held in the United States’ camp in Cuba for 14 years after being arrested in Afghanistan in 2001.

His release was authorised by US authorities seven years ago, but he has remained in Guantanamo.

A cross-party delegation of MPs including Jeremy Corbyn and David Davis travelled to Washington on Monday to lobby President Barack Obama to finally release him.

In a BBC interview, Mr Aamer’s solicitor Clive Stafford Smith said that US government officials have told him Mr Aamer is going to be released in June.

However, a Reprieve spokeswoman told the Star that Mr Stafford Smith “did caveat what he said quite heavily — there have been positive noises and we are optimistic, but there’s no confirmation or timeline or anything like that.”

Mr Obama pledged to close the camp, which still holds 57 prisoners, in his 2008 presidential campaign.

Mr Aamer has never been charged with any offence or stood trial. He has suffered ill health through his detention and treatment at the hands of his US military captors, and has never met his last-born child.

When he was arrested in 2001, US authorities alleged he had led a unit of Taliban fighters and met former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

But Mr Aamer has maintained throughout his imprisonment that he was in Afghanistan with his family doing charity work.

Mr Stafford Smith praised campaigners around the world, and particularly in Britain, for their actions demanding the release of Mr Aamer.

Earlier this month, as reported in the Morning Star, one volunteer spent 14 hours locked in a cage in Trafalgar Square — one hour for each year of Mr Aamer’s incarceration.

Mr Stafford Smith said: “So many people have done so many great things to help him and I think that’s had a great impact.”