Posts Tagged ‘child abuse’
I am aware that my pseudo name “Homo economicus” does confuse some people who do not understand the term, cannot use google or bother to read the About Me section. It is based on my love of economics and rationality (it is a concept about people as an economic agent). However when I write about gay rights this confusion multiplies. Frankly, that does not bother me.
What does bother me is human rights – and when people are denied them because they are considered not just less human but less worthy. The last Pope Benedict described homosexuality as a “defection of human nature”. The new Pope Francis gives little optimism the church will be less hostile from the top to bottoms of others:
However he strongly opposed same-sex marriage legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine government, calling it a ‘destructive attack on God’s plan’.
In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: ‘Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God.
‘We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.’
In the past, he has also called the adoption of gay couples child abuse, saying it was discrimination against children. [Source]
If we are going to use the term child abuse so loosely (the pope making more of a mockery of the term then Dawkins saying calling a child a religious child is abuse) lets consider the alternatives of state orphanages and being brought up in the care system. Where real child abuse and significantly reduced life chances as an adult beckon. A loving couple, with legal recognition of their union is infinitely preferable.
Yet again though the pope shows that the catholic church’s mission does go beyond saving souls, and bringing the truth of the gospel to the world. Seeing politics it disagrees with as the devil’s work even in the 21st century, and will do what it can as part of God’s mission.
Remember, Pope Francis has mentioned spreading the gospel (and sadly St Paul’s views) should be the image for the church rather than a “compassionate NGO”. To the point of scrutinising legislation that meeting scriptural authority. Mercifully, majority of Catholics seem inclined to ignore the church, making the new pope out of step. One hopes secular leaders will ignore too and look at the welfare of citizens and not supposed dictates from Iron Age gods.
Breaking news right now is the pope has called for a “poor church for the poor”. Generously compensating victims of child abuse conducted by church officials, and in church premises, is my suggestion to help in this goal. I am sure Francis of Assisi would agree.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
The Daily Mail states (emphasis added):
In typically incendiary style, Professor Dawkins said the mental torment inflicted by the religion’s teachings is worse in the long-term than any sexual abuse carried out by priests.
What did Dawkins actually say in 2006 in The God Delusion (emphasis added):
“Being fondled by the priest simply left the impression (from the mind of a 7 year old) as ‘yucky’ while the memory of my friend going to hell was one of cold, immeasurable fear. I never lost sleep because of the priest – but I spent many a night being terrified that the people I loved would go to Hell. It gave me nightmares.”
… if your whole upbringing, and everything you have ever been told by parents, teachers and priests, has led you to believe, really believe, utterly and completely, that sinners burn in hell (or some other obnoxious article of doctrine such as that a woman is the property of her husband), it is entirely plausible that words could have a more long-lasting and damaging effect than deeds.
Not actual, but plausible. His further clarification since the article (emphasise added):
Anecdotes and plausibility arguments, however, need to be backed up by systematic research, and I would be interested to hear from psychologists whether there is real evidence bearing on the question. My expectation would be that violent, painful, repeated sexual abuse, especially by a family member such as a father or grandfather, probably has a more damaging effect on a child’s mental well-being than sincerely believing in hell. But ‘sexual abuse’ covers a wide spectrum of sins, and I suspect that research would show belief in hell to be more traumatic than the sort of mild feeling-up that I suffered.
Mission set out above now
One wonders if the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) will fund such research into psychological impact of believing in hell, because I remember when promoting the foundation at conferences in 2007/8 one of the aspirations was:
“Among its planned activities, RDFRS will finance research into the psychology of belief and religion, finance scientific education programs and materials, and publicise and support secular charitable organisations.” (Wikipedia)
This was on the website at the time in 2007, with a host of other points, as the mission statement. Going there now you find:
Mission Statement for the US Foundation
The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.
Yet I remember the mission to fund research, which Wikipedia retrieved from the mission statement, in 2006.
Try looking up http://richarddawkinsfoundation.org/foundation,ourMission and it no longer exists which listed 11 mission points. Whether you see this as an old site being taken down, or 1984 deleting of history up to you.
Fortunately bloggers out there did copy and paste the original mission statement of RDFRS which reads on research:
1. Research. We intend to sponsor research into the psychological basis of unreason. What is it about human psychology that predisposes people to find astrology more appealing than astronomy? At what age are young people most vulnerable to unreason? What are the correlations between religiosity and superstition on the one hand, and intelligence, educational level, type of education etc. on the other? Research of this kind would be supported in the form of grants to universities in America and Britain or wherever the best research can be done.
Was this aspiration (ranked number one) just dropped, because as far as I am aware no scientific research has been funded by the foundation. Yet this was something we really were excited about as campaigners so many years ago raising funds at the Atheist Alliance International Conference in 2007 for the RDFRS from willing donators when asked what would RDFRS be doing.
The most recent statement from Richard Dawkins mentions nothing about this aspiration when asking for donations.
Richard, time to put the foundation’s money where your mouth was.
Related blogs: What hell is this?
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
The BBC Director General, George Entwistle, has resigned following errors in current affair reports on child abuse both involving the flagship current affairs programme on BBC2 Newsnight. Past colleagues have spoken about someone with integrity, and honesty. It seems however that when you are the boss, there is only so many occasions you can say you did not know before you have to quit. He had only been in the post 54 days.
Jeremy Paxman, most famous anchor on Newsnight made the following comment:
Full statement from Jeremy Paxman via @capelland-
“George Entwistle’s departure is a great shame. He has been brought low by cowards and incompetents. The real problem here is the BBC’s decision, in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry, to play safe by appointing biddable people. They then compounded the problem by enforcing a series of cuts on programme budgets, while bloating the management. That is how you arrive at the current mess on Newsnight. I very much doubt the problem is unique to that programme. I had hoped that George might stay to sort this out. It is a great pity that a talented man has been sacrificed while time-servers prosper. I shall not be issuing any further statements or doing any interviews.”
What is striking is that for all the heads to roll, the first are at the BBC who had nothing to do with alleged child abuse on BBC premises by Jimmy Savile. Not police officers that did not pursue allegations made against him, or hospital managers that allowed unprecedented access for a celebrity non health worker who raped children in the private rooms they gave him as a night porter. Or the care homes that fawned on his presence. His fame as a radio, TV presenter, and the tens of millions he raised for charity allowed him access despite concerns media and celebrity circles had about him. He abused children for over 40 years.
There is a jewel in British broadcasting that has international renown. From the World Service to Doctor Who, has a global audience. The British Broadcasting Corporation has a reputation that was once the envy of the world. The way it is funded, by a universal TV license, market share and values have made it’s media rivals outspoken in wanting to change it to a shell of it’s former self. The fear is this will give them the chance.
I put my concern that Entwistle should have known what was going on to Rory Bremner, well known satirical impressionist that knows the celebrity and news scene:
The two cases where the former Director General claimed ignorance: not knowing that a news report on Jimmy Savile being a paedophile on Newsnight was dropped just before a Christmas tribute to the late Jimmy Savile on the BBC last year. The last was Newsnight wrongly accusing a senior Tory figure of being involved in a child sex scandal in Wales in the past few days.
The director general’s brief includes responsibility over the news division. So he should have known or been informed given the sensitive nature. However, smaller fry clearly did not review the latest report to go out. The rumour mill in media circles are other senior managers are going at some point.
As a figure head, Entwistle is an easy scapegoat. Perhaps with better management this could have been avoided. Yet this is a sideshow in what is an horrific scandal to have happened in post modern Britain. There are culpable people who need to answer to justice for allowing such easy access to vulnerable children.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
Yaseen, a seven year old boy was allegedly hit by his mother with a hammer, rolling pin, and a slipper. When nothing was to hand, she would punch him repeatedly. And her excuse is her frustration that he could not or would not memorise the Koran. Did this happen in a far flung country? No this happened in Cardiff, Wales. And she stands accused of his murder and trying to burn his remains.
Child abuse in the name of religion. Some may totally blame the mother, who is playing the religious minority card. Regarding discipline in Islam:
Abusing a muslim is not allowed. But “spankings” and appropriate discipline as means of correction are Islamic.
Hadith – Bukhari (#883) and Abu Dawud
Nafi’ said, “Ibn ‘Umar used to beat his children for mistakes in diction.”
The Prophet said: Order your children to pray at the age of seven. And beat them [lightly] if they do not do so by the age of ten. And separate them in their bedding.
The Prophet also gives excellent advice to avoid the face. Must have had a premonition of social services. If we are literal about the text the mother clearly went beyond the text in terms of brutality and age. I am not inclined to be kind however because the text is used to justify brutality to a child for the sake of faith.
Absolutely we would reasonably regard the chastisement of a child over this as child abuse. We may state that Muslim parents would and do could cherry pick and avoid this. Yet there is a reason why Muslim parents are keen for their children to memorise:
“The Quran will come on the Day of Judgment like a pale man saying to its companion, “Do you recognize me? I am the one who made you stay up at night and made you thirsty during the day. Today every merchant is after his merchandise and today I am for you behind every merchant.” Then he will be given dominion in his right hand and eternity in his left, and a crown of dignity will be placed upon his head, and his parents will be clothed with garments which far surpass everything to be found in this world. They will say, “O Lord, how did we earn this.” It will be said to them, “Because you taught your child the Quran.” [Al-Albaani: Saheeh] [Emphasis added]
The source for the above quote also mentions what some teachers think about beating as a teaching tool:
The most important difficulty is the weakness of the children’s abilities and their failure to achieve the desired progress in addition to dyslexia. Nevertheless, I know the best methods that suit each child and achieve the best results. In fact, children are very different, some of them do not memorize without beating, while others only need little instruction. It is natural to maintain a strong connection with the parents to encourage them to take care of their children and follow up their progress with them. [Emphasis added]
Another teacher – and both we hear from are women:
When the children hear these words, I feel as if light flows from their faces. I do not like beating. Instead, I punish the children who do not memorise through showing anger for a while.
This makes me call into question whether such things are happening on a widespread level in my own back yard behind closed doors. This is not the Sunday School I used to go to.
So when RDF says Religion Kills Again it is not the hyperbole some would have us think, that this was just the lone act of a crazed woman, because religion can take the maternal instinct and use it to make a mother beat her child out of love and concern for their future after life.
That is the problem when people take faith at face value, just like the prophet said earlier. Modernity needs to give this practise the slap in the face it deserves.
UPDATE 4/4/2013 mother has been sentenced to minimum of 17 years; father has been found not guilty.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
Nepal has ridden itself of the divine right of a monarch to rule. Traditions associated with that corrupt rule however continue, one of which is the practise of selecting an infant girl to be a goddess (Kumari a virgin girl) till she starts menstruating, only then being returned back to her family. Because with menstrual bleeding divinity ends.
Matani Shakya, just three years young was chosen for this supposed accolade, to the sounds of buddhist and hindu mantras. Flower and grains of rice washed over her nimble frame as she was escorted from the bosom of her family to her new home at the ancient palatial temple in the capital Katmandu. With a silk scarf, like a chain, around her neck.
The selection process:
A panel of judges conducted a series of ancient ceremonies to select the goddess from several 2- to 4-year-old girls who are all members of the impoverished Shakya goldsmith caste.
The judges read the candidates’ horoscopes and check each one for physical imperfections. The living goddess must have perfect hair, eyes, teeth and skin with no scars, and should not be afraid of the dark.
As a final test, the living goddess must spend a night alone in a room among the heads of ritually slaughtered goats and buffaloes without showing fear. [Washington Post]
Having passed these tests she will be worshipped as the incarnation of the deity Taleju (from whom the King’s power was said to come from), her feet touched by the forehead of devotees. She will be wheeled around in a chariot by devotees. With menstruation she will be cast out, coming back to earth as all too human. Superstition claims that men marrying such a woman will have a short life. The life of such a woman is one of relative hardship and adjustment.
There is talk about these practises violating even Nepal Child rights laws. The United Conventions of Human Rights of the Child has said that this practise had almost ended when it reported in December 2002, stating that she has basic facilities and a teacher with a normal life once she retires. Yet with the fall of the King and the rise of the Maoists the practise continues in 2008.
Yet supposed child’s rights seem not worth the paper they are printed on. Children found in brothels, often end up in “protective custody”:
In Nepal, 85% of children and young people interviewed in prisons reported abusive treatment while in the custody of police or security forces, and 58.6% reported torture with methods such as electric shocks, beatings with hard objects, beatings with their hands tied,and beatings while blindfolded. [Unicef]
A culture of child abuse has developed in the country through adoptions:
The intercountry adoption business in Nepal has created a culture of child abuse including the abduction, trafficking and sale of children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and a non-governmental organization (NGO) said in a report released today…
“The vast majority of children in centres don’t need to be there,” said Joseph Aguettant, Tdh Country Representative in Nepal.
“They have family… The first priority, therefore, should be to reunite 80 per cent of the children in institutions with their families, not to re-open intercountry adoption.” [UNHCR]
If you are concerned about such such child abuse in Nepal, whether in Matani Shakya’s case or indeed the plight of children in Nepal please contact the Nepal embassy to voice your concerns and encourage them to ratify the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (1993) and tell them that the world is watching.
Despite compelling his children to flog themselves with a five bladed whip during the Ashura ceremony, Syed Mustafa Zaidi was handed a suspended sentence. He claimed that it was his religion, and that he believed he was doing nothing wrong encouraging his children to flog themselves.
Judge Robert Atherton stated:
“I reject the suggestion that they were forced to participate, although I consider it likely that the fervour of events is also likely to have affected their wish to participate.”
The father handed his 15 and 13 year old son the zanjeer whip. How on earth a child can be said to voluntarily, under his father’s direction and instruction, commit self flagellation is a mystery. This was not just a lack of parental care. Religious fervour does not excuse such encouraged acts of brutality by a father done by a minor to themselves. This was child abuse in the name of faith.
The judge further commented:
“You must realise that the law recognises that children and young persons may wish to take part in some activities which it considers they should not.
“It is sometimes expressed as protecting themselves from themselves.
“Your wrongful act was providing the means by which they were able to participate.”
I hope that the sentence provokes an out cry. His wrongful act was not just supplying the means, but encouraging his children to partake in an act of violence that they could not reason for themselves. This is a shameful verdict, given that this was an unprecedented case brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.
All quotes from BBC News.
The father, after whipping himself with a five bladed whip, hands it to his 15 year old son and demands he do the same, followed by his 13 year old brother. However, in court the father claims that he had done nothing wrong. For it is his religion, the Ashura Ceremony. Had he known the law would have been against him would he have spared his children the ceremony.
People sometimes tell me that only through faith can you know what is right and wrong. I wonder if they could do that while looking at the photo of the whip with five curved blades that was used, below reposted from BBC News. There has to be more to what you do then saying it is my religion.
UP DATE 24 September 2008:
Man convicted over Shia flogging
Zaidi had denied child cruelty
A devout Shia Muslim has been convicted of child cruelty after forcing two boys to beat themselves during a religious ceremony, in an unprecedented case.
The jury at Manchester Crown Court found 44-year-old Syed Mustafa Zaidi guilty of two counts of child cruelty.
The boys, aged 13 and 15, were forced to beat themselves with a zanjeer whip, with five curved blades.
Zaidi, of Station Road, Eccles, Salford, also flogged himself during the ceremony in January.
The court heard the boys admit that they had wanted to beat themselves, but not under duress and not with the whip.
This is a part of our religion
Syed Mustafa Zaidi
The Ashura ceremony takes place during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar and commemorates the death of Husayn, a central figure in the Shia faith.
Zaidi admitted he allowed them to use the bladed whip, but denied his actions were wrong, saying: “This is a part of our religion.”
A local Muslim leader Safdar Zia has said the community was now working with police and the Crown Prosecution Service on a code of practice for the Ashura practice.
“We cannot eliminate this practice, but we can and will work to a code of practice so that the children don’t get hurt, the law isn’t broken, and the people who do want to take part don’t get prosecuted,” he said.
“We have to take into account people’s beliefs and their rights, and we will respect them.
“But we are not above the law and we never will be and working with the authorities is the best chance we’ve got to prevent any harm being brought against any children.”
The boys suffered cuts from the zanjeer five-bladed whip
During the trial the 14-year-old boy, who was 13 at the time, said that during the ceremony Zaidi told them both: “Start doing it, start doing it.”
The child told the court: “We said ‘we don’t want to do it’.”
He said he saw Zaidi flogging himself before washing blood from the whip and handing it to the 15-year-old boy.
The boy said Zaidi continued to pressure the older teenager to whip himself.
He said the 15-year-old boy “swung it once or twice and said ‘I don’t want to do it anymore’.”
Zaidi told the court: “It was an emotional time and the children were happy, they asked for it. No one forced anyone.
“If I’d known this would be the result of breaking the law I would never have done it.”
This is a very unusual case and the first of its kind to be prosecuted by the
CPS in England and Wales
Carol Jackson, CPS
The boys both received multiple lacerations to their backs, mainly superficial, with several deeper cuts.
Supt Nadeem Butt, of Greater Manchester Police, said: Zaidi had “abused the vulnerability” of the children, gone against the wishes of his own community and broken the law.
Carol Jackson, of the Greater Manchester Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said the prosecution “was not an attack upon the practices or ceremonies of Shia Muslims”.
“Indeed, the prosecution relied as part of its evidence upon the president of the local Shia community centre,” Ms Jackson said.
“We are satisfied that, given the age of the children involved, the coercion employed by Syed Mustafa Zaidi, who did not accept that he was wrong, and the possibility of such an incident occurring again, the decision to prosecute by the Crown Prosecution Service was the correct one.
“This is a very unusual case and the first of its kind to be prosecuted by the CPS in England and Wales.”
Zaidi will be sentenced on 24 September.