Showing posts with label child abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label child abuse. Show all posts

Friday, 10 July 2015

Why Did Child Welfare Agencies Pussy-Foot Around With The Lev Tahor Case?

The Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, Lev Tahor, fled Quebec back in 2013 because the province was trying to get them to allow their children a balanced education where they learned more than Yiddish and the Talmud. They went to Ontario for awhile, but then eventually fled mostly to Guatemala.

They were about to have their children taken away for not only violating their rights to a useful education but also real physical and mental abuse. We're talking about pee filled beds, forced taking of prescription drugs, forced under age marriages and extreme corporal abuse.

Well, a report was just released, concluding that child welfare agencies did a lousy job of protecting the well-being of the children.

The Montreal Gazette writes:
Camil Picard, the vice-president of youth issues for the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, said the delays in this case were “incomprehensible,” considering the fact it took 17 months for youth protection officials to move to seize the children after the problem was first identified.

It also took school board officials 15 months to take action to get proper schooling for the children in the community. The children were receiving a strictly religious education, and spoke neither English nor French. Picard said children have the right to receive a proper education, and if they don’t get that, youth officials must intervene.

“In this situation, it’s clear that the (parties) systematically failed in their role to protect the children, including health services, the education department and youth protection,” Picard said.
You can read about the extreme foot dragging over at CTVLaPresse and Radio Canada. It's awful.

Here's something I find a little nauseating though. It has to do with how certain, mostly English (Rest of Canada) news agencies report about religion, in particular. I'm sorry to report that I've seen it time and time again - a sort of freakish deference to religion exhibited by the anglo media.

The French stories I read all contain a reference by the commission's president, Jacques Frémont alluding to why the agencies may have been really soft on this cult. So soft and cautious, so as not to offend religious sensibilities that the very lives of the children were put into peril.

CTV is the only story I found in English to carry Fremont's comments on religion:
Jacques Frémont, the commission’s president, said Thursday it appears “other considerations,” not the best interests of the children who were the subject of the hearings, played a role in the way the youth protection, school officials, social services and even the police handled the interventions with the community.
What were these other considerations?
Some of the issues the report highlighted include that youth protection and school officials spoke to community leaders instead of the parents, and school officials gave community leaders 15-months to comply to the law requiring children attend school. Lev Tahor children were homeschooled.

“Freedom of religion cannot – in any circumstances – be used as a pretext for abuse and neglect. It is therefore essential that, from now on, all organizations intervening in this type of environment better understand public interests involved and favour, in all cases, the protection of children's rights," he said.
This statement was missing from the Gazette and the CBC report, while always present in some form in the French sources I read. I wasn't the only one to notice this:

This article leaves out a key statement from the report:

« La liberté de religion ne peut en aucun cas constituer un prétexte pour la maltraitance ou la négligence. »

In English: "Freedom of religion can never constitute a pretext to abuse or neglect."

Why this omission?
How very curious, indeed! I wonder why the CBC and Gazette both missed this?

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

First Nations Childrens Deaths In Church Run Residential Schools: Same Odds As Soldier Deaths in WWII

Residential school in Manitoba, 1960. (source)
As I've posted before, Canada has a dark and repulsive past of tearing First Nations children away from their families and shipping them off to re-education camps ("schools") where they'll be forbidden from speaking their own languages or learning about the religions of their people.
The Indian residential schools were a network of "residential" (boarding) schools for Native Canadians (First Nations or "Indians"; Métis and Inuit. Funded by the Canadian government's Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and administered by Christian churches, predominantly the Roman Catholic Church in Canada (60%), but also the Anglican Church of Canada (30%), and the United Church of Canada (including its pre-1925 constituent church predecessors)(10%). The policy was to remove children from the influence of their families and culture and assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture. Over the course of the system's existence, approximately 30% of native children, roughly some 150,000, were placed in residential schools nationally.
Of course, these religious groups -- including the Pope himself (not until 2009!) -- issued apologies since the last school was closed in 1996(!!), however, it wasn't until the Truth & Reconciliation Commission started going through the archives and interviewing survivors, that we began to truly understand the horror that were these schools. It's gut wrenching.
In February 2013, research by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission revealed that at least 3,000 students had died, mostly from disease. In 2011, reflecting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's research, Justice Murray Sinclair told the Toronto Star: "Missing children — that is the big surprise for me, [...] That such large numbers of children died at the schools. That the information of their deaths was not communicated back to their families." In a legal report, the Canadian Bar Association concludes that "Student deaths were not uncommon". See Mortality rates below for more information.
These children were supposed to be in good hands of the religious communities here in Canada. Well, the commission has completed their task and the number of deaths is over 6,000 children in the past 120 black years of this disgusting blight on our nation's history.
In media interviews, Sinclair has also revealed that the TRC has documented the deaths of over 6,000 students while in residential schools, adding that there are probably more.

That would put the odds of dying in Canadian residential schools over the years they operated at about the same as for those serving in Canada's armed forces during the Second World War.
The commission also came right out and said it. This was cultural genocide ordered up by our elected officials and implemented by religious communities. There is blood on everyone's hands here, but it's clear that these churches and the Pope, who is apparently in communication with God himself, were downright evil.
A moment of shared emotional catharsis bound survivors of Canada's residential schools Tuesday as their collective ordeal was officially branded a "cultural genocide" that tore apart their families and left them to contend with lifelong scars of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

The massive report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission makes 94 broad recommendations —everything from greater police independence and reducing the number of aboriginal children in foster care to restrictions on the use of conditional and mandatory minimum sentences.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I've read the stories about sexual abuse of children, deaths of kids in Ireland, money laundering in Rome and the fatal forcing of children to give birth to children of rape. Why do I still find this surprising?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is refusing to use the words cultural genocide, after we learned that 150,000 children were kidnapped from their families and over 6,000 died. That's pretty vile of him.

The violence continues. First Nations women go missing forever at a shocking rate in our country.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Eric Hovind Trying to Score Anti-Evolution Points Off Duggar Child Molestation?

Okay, so maybe it's because I'm Canadian, but I don't really know who this Eric Hovind guy is. I hear he's the son of some nutty huckster preacher who's in jail for tax evasion or something. That's not Eric's fault, of course, but this is:
"If evolution is true, then there is no absolute right and wrong,” Hovind said. “If evolution is true Josh should not have admitted his faults over a decade ago because what one evolved bag of molecules does to another bag of molecules just doesn’t really matter. If evolution is true there is no ultimate Judge on the bench who will hold every man, woman, and child responsible for their actions. And if evolution is true you will not give an account for every idle word you speak."
He's talking about Josh Duggar who's the eldest offspring of Jim Bob and Michelle. I usually delight in recounting all the terrifyingly hilarious views of the Duggars, but Josh molested his sisters and other girls back when he was 14 or 15 and that's just not funny -- really... not funny.

What the hell is this Hovind guy talking about? Whatever it is, it sure does scare the crap out of me when I hear people tell me that without a belief in some guy sitting on a cloud, they'd go around raping their sisters or protecting those who rape their sisters. Pretty scary stuff.

Oh, and I was under the impression that Josh got caught by Jim Bob.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Kerri Rivera Still Peddling Industrial Bleach 'Autism Cure'

Kerri Rivera mixing up some MMS (e.g. poison) to give to autistic kids. (source)
Whenever I think of Kerri Rivera giving sodium chlorite (textile bleach) -- aka MMS, aka Miracle (you're not in jail) Mineral Solution -- to little autistic kids and babies, I feel nauseous and angry.

Firstly, people of Chicago! I hope you feel angry this weekend!
Kerri Rivera, who promotes the use of the bleaching agent chlorine dioxide orally, topically and by enema, is speaking on May 23, 2015 from 3-4 PM at the Autism One conference outside of Chicago at the Loews Chicago O'Hare Hotel. If you would like to join the protest, please message me or comment here. More details to follow regarding time and exact location.
This protest is being set up by Mommy, PhD, read a post about hostility towards scientists over at Skepchick.

Need some motivation? Watch this report.

Rivera is actually from Chicago, but she moved down to Mexico to continue her treatment of autism. The treatment itself comes from Jim Humble, who appears to be a lunatic.
Humble, who quit the Church of Scientology to form the Genesis II Church of Health & Healing, claims in online videos to be a billion-year-old god from the Andromeda galaxy.

He promotes the solution as a miracle cure for cancer, AIDS, malaria, and possibly Ebola – but he also claims he can heal by touch.
But Rivera has distanced herself from Humble and claims the sodium chlorite solution cured her son of autism when he was three.
Rivera — who describes herself as a biomedical consultant and certified homeopath — claims that autism is caused by yeast, parasites, viruses, and vaccines that can be flushed from the body through strict dietary guidelines and bleach enemas.
I don't know what else to say about this. There is ZERO evidence this actually works.
“We don’t have a single cause of autism that is linked to a virus or a type of germ or parasite,” said Dr. Karan Radwan, of the University of Chicago. “I feel terrified about a procedure like this which could harm many kids.”
Can someone please think of the children? This is child abuse.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

'Prophet' Guilty of Sexual Assault While Attempting to Drive Out 'Demons and Things' From Underage Girl's Pants

 Walter Masocha (source)
So Walter Masocha, aka 'The Prophet', aka 'The Apostle', aka 'Man of God' is the founder and Archbishop of the Agape For All Nations Church in Stirling, Scotland. His church has grown to over 2,000 people across the world and he's been found guilty of sexual assault, too.

Ever see a fly, say, on someone's head? You feel the urge to swat at it but you know that's probably impolite and a violation of that person's space. Much better to tell them there's a fly, right? Well, what happens if it's not a fly, but rather demons? Oh, and the demons are inside an underage girl's pants?

Well, if you stick your hand down her pants, you'll get arrested and charged with sexual assault, that's what. Our man of God seems to have gotten that crucial detail wrong -- assuming he actually believes there were demons there, himself. It seems pretty obvious to me this is just a ridiculous excuse for sexually assaulting a child.

Here's the story. A school girl, 15, visited the good apostle, 51 at his seven room mansion to play in the games room. Unusually, there was a  problem which seemed to be in her pants.
The 51-year-old was convicted of putting his hand down a schoolgirl's trousers, claiming he was driving away demons, and groping a deaconess while praying for her stomach complaint.
.. ..
She said that in late 2013, she had been in a games room at Coseyneuk House when the church leader had repeatedly "pinged" her underwear and grabbed and pinched her bottom.

When she later asked Masocha why he had done it, he told her that he had seen "demons and things that shouldn't be there" in her pants, and that he was clearing them away.
Pant demons and stuff. Right, that's it. How could I have ever thought that he's just a randy old child molester when it was pant demons?

Another person, a deaconess, 32, had stomach problems but the apostle instead concentrated on her private parts. She told her husband who was so brainwashed by the cult that he apparently had no problem with the situation.
When she told her husband, a devoted member of the church, he told her: "The Prophet is seeing something in your genitals that needs to be removed, so he was removing that."
She declared that the church was a cult. She left her husband and the church apparently tried to ostracize her as insane. Luckily, though, a jury recently decided -- in just 30 minutes -- that there was, sexual assault.

He's been added to the sex offender registry and sentencing happens May 19.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Ex-Haredim Group Suing Israel For Depriving Them of Basic Secular Education

I've previously written about a Montreal man who is suing the province of Quebec for allowing him and many others who attended Orthodox Jewish schools as children to be deprived of a useful secular education. There is also a Hasidic school in London that's being charged for similarly depriving its students of any sort of education useful for life outside of the Orthodox community.

Well now a new group called Leaving for Change (LFC) in Israel is suing the State for allowing them to be deprived of a useful education.
Former members of the haredi community who have abandoned their way of life, mostly becoming secular, have announced that they will be submitting a lawsuit against the state because they received no basic education.

Their organization, Leaving for Change (LFC), is seeking to sue the state for what it calls its failure to implement the law for compulsory education. The NGO has published an online form, disseminated through social media, asking people to submit details of the education they received in the haredi school system, as well as any subsequent education outside of the haredi system, and how much these studies cost them.
I'll admit that I wasn't able to find any website for this NGO. Perhaps it's only in Hebrew. So far, they've received around 300 submissions and 50 people will be represented in the case.
The large majority of haredi boys in Israel are taught extremely basic math and English in elementary school, and virtually none at all in high school. Other core curriculum subjects, such as sciences and literature, are totally ignored.
It's mostly intense study of religious texts -- the ultimate result is that 90 percent never make it past high school. 

The goal of the lawsuit is not money, per se, but to force the government to provide funding to those who leave the Haredi community so they might transition into the broader secular world.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Shenvald said that many who leave the haredi community have to enroll in supplementary courses to study for and obtain a diploma. In addition, since many such people are ostracized by the haredi community, and frequently even by their families, they have nowhere to live while studying.
Shenvald says it that it often takes two to three years at a cost of as much as $32,000 CDN. This is where the government needs to step in and become responsible for allowing parents to deny their children basic education. How else would adults with little to no practical education be able to escape a life of grinding poverty and dependence on the State?
“In every modern country, the state provides a fully funded education system because it knows that this is in its interests, since without it a situation will be created in which people reaching the age of 18 will not have the tools to be working citizens. Not only will the citizens themselves be harmed, but so, too, is the state, because it now has a person who has become a burden instead of a creative citizen,” Shenvald told the Post.
It's the same situation here in Quebec and that's why it's important that religious groups not be allowed to deprive children of a basic secular education so they might be equal participants in the broader secular culture, should they choose.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Nun Stabs Student to Demonstrate the Suffering of Jesus

Still from the movie The Devils
There's this story that's been going around the Internets for the past day or so. The most reputable source I've been able to find to back it up so far is the Irish Mirror, which still sort of seems dubious to me. I've also found it on Croatian language news site and over at a Nigerian one.

You can tell by these outlets' willingness to publish a story with no visible credible source -- which I've found at least -- that it must be a pretty good story. Well, yes. Yes it is. And it just might be true as well -- sounds insane, but plausible.

Nun stabs schoolboy to teach him about the suffering of Jesus

Apparently yearning to emulate the insane and unnecessary masochistic self-torturing going on in the Philippines this past Good Friday, a Catholic nun decided to jab one of her students' arms with a needle just to demonstrate to the class what Jesus -- son of God -- went through. Not her own arm! Oh heaven's no!
Sister Ludovita, 30, had been giving RE classes at a school in the town of Kysucke Nove Mesto in northern Slovakia when she told unsuspecting pupil Adam Celko, 7, to come to the front of the class.

She then took a needle out of her handbag and rammed it into the boy’s hand in front of the horrified class, telling him that this was how Jesus suffered - and he would too if he behaved badly.
The news report has pictures of the bruise on the child's arm. When he got him, his mother, Helena, asked where the bruise came from. When he told her, she got a little upset and didn't want him to return to the Religious Education class -- lest he be hurt again.
"And with Easter coming I began to worry about what she would do next - crucify one of the students or hammer a nail into their hands?"
When Helena spoke to the nun -- and astoundingly didn't completely lose her shit, which is what I would have done -- it was explained to her that the class was learning about Jesus Christ and personal sin, whatever the hell that is.

Apparently, the children were invited to volunteer to experience mild pain so they could feel sorry for Jesus. Then she encouraged the students -- 7 year olds -- to poke themselves with needles and stab themselves!

Sister Ludovita has been fired.

The strange thing is this story seems sort of like a hoax to me, but it wouldn't come as a surprise to me really if it were true. That's the sort of thing we're dealing with when we talk about extreme nuns.

Monday, 16 March 2015

MPP Introduces Bill to Ban LGBT 'Conversion Therapy' In Ontario

As a Canadian, I often find myself looking south of the border and shaking my head in disgust. Take for example, conversion therapy which mostly involves fundamentalist Christian types taking their children to quack counsellors to cure them of the gay. This is ugly abuse which can ultimately lead to depression and suicide. Think Leelah Alcorn.

Up to now, I had the rosy view that these things only existed down there in Bible country. Well, it turns out conversion therapy is right here in Canada.  Thankfully, Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo has introduced a bill to the Ontario Parliament to outlaw the practice once and for all in the province -- well, for minors at least.
DiNovo, the NDP's critic for LBGT issues, introduced a bill this week at Queen's Park seeking a ban on the therapy for people under 18. She also wants the treatment to be de-listed from the province's health care plan, so taxpayers aren't supporting it.

"I think most Ontarians would be shocked to know we're paying for this, never mind that it's still going on," DiNovo told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

​"It's time to stop this," she said. "It really is abusive practice."

​"We know it leads to depression. We know it leads to suicide. It must be stopped." 
Apparently, the procedure is so widely discredited already, that public healthcare in the province (OHIP) doesn't even have a billing code for it. Thus providers need to bill under a more generic therapy billing code.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins proposed that anyone providing this service on the public dole today should be reported to the authorities. The health system does not cover this therapy.
He spoke in supportive terms of DiNovo's efforts, but said there are already measures in place to crack down on inappropriate practices.

"I would encourage any patient or individual that is aware of a health-care provider providing this type of intervention that they report that individual to the (College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario)," he said last week.

"CPSO would see it as almost certainly an act of professional misconduct."

The bill will have its second reading on April 2nd. In this day and age, I cannot fathom even the Conservatives opposing a reasonable bill such as this.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Australian Rabbi "Didn't Know" It Was Illegal For Adults to Fondle Children's Genitals

Rabbi Yosef Feldman
No doubt rabbis like Yosef Feldman must have spent years of study to determine what is ultimately right or wrong. I mean, without God or religion, what's your moral compass, right? This is hard stuff, people.

After years of study, he knows how to eat kosher and whether or not a woman's vagina is clean enough at any given time to have intercourse with. Important stuff! It's a struggle with 613 mitzvot to keep track of! It's only human that a few may slip through or just not have been properly considered.

Such was the case with rabbi Feldman, who was questioned by rather shocked investigators at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse in Melbourne. It seems like child abuse was a fairly big problem in his orthodox Jewish community -- a problem he and his dad decided to keep on the downlow.
But he said he didn’t consider child sexual abuse to be a common problem.

“There are many issues of life and child sexual abuse I didn’t believe was very common. Even now I don’t think its common. It happens,” he said.

“I haven’t seen the statistics, but I would believe it (the prevalence of child sexual abuse) is about five to 10 per cent.

“Based on things I’ve read about it,” he said.
Meh. Five to ten percent? Seems pretty minor, right? Besides, who even knows if molesting little boys is a crime anyway? Apparently Feldman didn't. I guess it wasn't in his book.
Counsel assisting the commission Maria Gerace asked directly: “Did you understand that it was against the law for an adult to touch the genitals of another child?”

“I didn’t know that as a fact,” he said. 
I mean, who can really figure this stuff out or know it as a fact without consulting a book? Maybe he hadn't reached this advanced level of ethics yet in his readings. There's only so much time in a day, you know. Your average Joe might know this sort of thing, but he doesn't need to study all those mitzvot.

Curiously, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson also had this very same problem! Seems like with this hectic schedule, he missed the memo too. Pope says the Catholic Church has only a 2% pedophelia problem though. I'm sure he's just guesstimating this or God told him or something. He couldn't know this for sure, because then he'd be sheltering pedos -- we all know that's not possible!

Still, isn't it interesting these two men of God could be so very confused about this -- I thought atheists were supposed to be the rudderless ones, what with their morals being grounded in nothing or whatever. Big misunderstanding, for sure.

Rabbi Feldman also pointed out that it might be legal in Japan:
I did not know what a crime was. In Japan, I heard they allow child pornography,” he replied when asked if he knew that such touching was illegal, the Australian Jewish News reported.
I'm open minded and all, but if were legal in Japan, wouldn't it be more reasonable to protest this with the Japanese authorities?

He also pointed out that reporting cases of molestation to secular authorities is a sign of impotence of the Jewish community.
“I really don’t understand why as soon as something of serious loshon horo (evil talk) is heard about someone of even child molestation should we immediately go to the secular authorities (sic),” Rabbi Feldman wrote.

“One must go to a Rov (rabbi) who should firstly investigate the veracity of the complaint and if thought to be serious, warn the culprit etc. and act in a way that could scare him by threatening him with publicity by internet to the whole community.”

He added: “I personally feel that if we as a Jewish leadership can’t deal with this and other issues bifnim (internally) we are showing ourselves to be impotent …”
Impotence... civic duty... it's such a tough balancing act! Why not let the sexual imagery sink in a little there before we move on to Freud.

Because, when asked what the deal was, Feldman went all Freud and blamed his dad.
“Obviously I knew I had certain obligations. I didn’t know what they were. I relied on my father,” he said.
His father has been Sydney's top rabbi since 1968! Maybe he should have raised his son to be a secular Jew, because there seems to be some severe confusion here.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Pope Is Totally OK With Spanking Children, So Long As Their 'Dignity' Is Left Intact

Giving your kid a whack is A-OK with Pape Frank.
It really seems to me like the Catholic Church has a bit of a bum record when it comes to responsible child care. Maybe it's because they're a bunch of (ostensibly) celibate single men (and women) who do not have children of their own? Maybe it's their history of cultural-genociding entire peoples by locking their children up in residential schools? Maybe it's because they seem to have an unusually high percentage of pedophiles? There really are so many options.

Then there's spanking, which I've heard can be a rather pleasant thing between two consenting adults, of course. When the spankee (otherwise known as the victim) is not an adult and is consenting only under duress, it might not be so good. If the child even knows what they did wrong, they'll learn that the proper way to treat people who make mistakes is to beat them.

Pope Francis is totally down with spanking children.
The Pope said: "One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say 'I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them.'

"How beautiful," he added. "He knows the sense of dignity. He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on."
Oh how beautiful is the dignified act of smacking your kid. It so does teach them by example how they must control their own violent urges and impulses.

I know some of my readers won't likely see any problem with corporal punishment. I personally was raised with it, while my wife was not. There doesn't seem to be any difference in outcome and I just don't believe it's necessary. I will admit it's effective but I see it as fear based and ultimately not productive at all.

I see it as child abuse and do not spank my child.

You know what's sort of funny? My wife and I are on the Quebec adoption list and one of the stipulations for adopting or fostering in the province is the understanding that no physical violence in the form of corporal punishment will ever be used with the child for any reason. You might remember the evil Christian group, Focus on the Family, more or less advised their members lie to the social workers when it comes to their opinions about spanking.

Under these rules, Quebec adoption agencies would never put a child in Pope Francis' custody! A little ironic because Francis recently endorsed a Slovakian referendum denying LGBT couples marriage and adoption rights. Isn't that hilarious?

It's okay, anti LGBT bigots who are against birth control, a woman's right to a safe abortion and dying with dignity probably don't make the best dads anyway.

ISIL Needs to be Stopped

I started out looking for an image for ISIL using Google Image Search. I soon had to stop this. The atrocities were overwhelmingly sickening.

Sorry to be a major downer on a Friday, but I read this about ISIL today and I just cannot stay quiet:
ISIS has stepped up the use of children in its bloody campaign of terror, the United Nations says -- subjecting them to horrors that include putting price tags on them to sell as slaves.

A report released this week focused on children in Iraq, as well as the responsibility of that nation's government for ensuring the safety and security of young civilians in the conflict. But it certainly doesn't preclude similar things happening in Syria, where ISIS is also entrenched and also has been blamed for various atrocities.

In reference to Iraq, at least, the U.N. report found that the terrorist group is resorting more and more to brutal acts such as enslaving, raping, beheading, crucifying and burying people alive. Some of those affected are children.

"We have had reports of children, especially children that are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding what has happened or what they have to expect," said Renate Winter, an expert with the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Let's be perfectly clear about this. I hate ISIL with every fiber of my being. I'm not entirely sure how this can possibly help the situation, but I thought I ought to get that out there. I have no solutions and I'm not demanding anyone solve this immediately, but this is a religiously-motivated slaughter of biblical proportions which must be stopped.

People -- likely psychologists -- need to diagnose how human beings could possibly descend to this level.

Although I believe countries like the US and Canada can lend a helping hand, it's really going to need to be a concerted effort by countries in the region. Surely if anything could possible unite different people together, this must be it.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

London Hasidic Jewish School Facing Action Due to Substandard Secular Education

By Benqish at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Back in November, I posted about the cloistered Ultra-Orthodox village of Kiryas Tash only minutes away from Montreal, yet so very far. All the schools within the village -- there are several -- are completely unlicensed, and the graduate of one, Yonanan Lowen, is suing Quebec authorities for allowing these exclusively religious instruction to be taught, at the expense of any secular subjects whatsoever.
But despite being raised and schooled for most of his life in the cloistered Hassidic Jewish community of Boisbriand, north of Montreal, the 37-year-old cannot read or write in French, stumbles through English texts and is confounded by the most basic tasks asked of grade-school students.
I'm becoming more and more aware that this is not an isolated phenomenon. Terry Firma has recently written about Kiryas Joel in New York state.

Now, just last week, we hear about a similar case of a cloistered ultra-Orthodox school offering a substandard education. This time it's in North London. The UK Office of Standards in Education (Ofsted) has already failed an emergency inspection over the summer. Now the school has failed again and the office is considering what regulatory action is appropriate. 
Secular subjects are taught for an hour and a half at the Yiddish-speaking school but are not introduced until year two. "Many of the required areas of learning are covered but the school does not make sure that pupils gain technological skills or develop their creativity," Ofsted reported.

"Although almost all pupils speak Yiddish as their main language, English is not taught to pupils in year one or to the children in early years." While some pupils made the expected progress in maths, only a few did so in English.

Lessons did not actively promote "fundamental British values" or give pupils enough opportunity to "develop respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs". There were no regular classes to make sure pupils learned about English institutions.
It's nice to see government doing its job. If only we didn't require an already traumatized, nearly illiterate graduate of similar schools (with virtually no secular education) to take legal action here in Quebec for the welfare of our province's children!

The school also neglected to teach the children anything about different human sexualities and gender identities. Oh really, quelle surprise! 
The comments reflect the new drive launched by the government last year to instil "British values" in schools to combat Islamist radicalism - although some Orthodox Jewish educators have questioned whether inspectors are taking the equality agenda too far.
Really? It seems to me like they are doing a fine job.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Mother Who Tried To Murder Her Autistic Daughter Sentenced To Minimum 10 Years

Kelli Stapleton at her sentencing hearing on Wednesday. (source)
Remember that blogger mom who tried to kill her autistic daughter, Kelli Stapleton? She even went so far as starting up a fundraiser to raise money for her legal defense, and plenty of people donated out of sympathy for her -- because, I suppose, killing your children is totally excusable if they're disabled. Her blog is even called The Status Woe.

Well, good news! She's been found guilty and has been sentenced to a hefty time in jail.
A judge Wednesday sentenced the mother of an autistic Michigan teenager to 10 to 22 years in prison in the defendant described as a failed murder-suicide attempt brought on by despair, after years of violent attacks by the child and failure to find affordable and effective treatment.
I hope she, along with other parents, will learn the lesson that having an autistic child is no excuse to kill them! Please, if this crosses anyone's mind, call child services and tell them. Call the police. Call the newspaper. Do whatever it takes, but do not kill your child. I know it sounds heartless, but if you kill yourself, do not kill your child too.
Kelli Rai Stapleton, 46, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree child abuse in a bargain with prosecutors who dismissed an attempted murder charge. She admitted driving her daughter Isabelle to an isolated spot in rural Benzie County, giving her a sleep-inducing drug and placing two charcoal-burning grills inside their van.
Her 15 yr old daughter was in a coma for days, but she's awake and still alive now.
Stapleton wrote in the summer of 2013 that her daughter, nicknamed Issy, had gone through an intense program for severely autistic children near Kalamazoo. But Stapleton said she was "suffering from a severe case of battle fatigue" after the insurance company stopped paying for the treatment and local school officials changed Issy's education plan.

She later told authorities she had concluded the best solution would be if she and her daughter "went to heaven."
Ah, religion. Are murder and suicide not rather severe sins in Christianity? I mean, her daughter would likely pass right on through the gates... but mom?
Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, argued previously for sentencing Stapleton "the same way a mother of a non-disabled child would be sentenced for a comparable crime" and said lenient treatment would encourage copycat crimes.
Agreed. Murder is illegal and carries certain penalties in the penal system. If we start going easy on people because their children are autistic then we are effectively declaring that autistics are less than human.

Listen, I'm all for more safeguards and social services put into place to help parents deal with challenging situations arising from their autistic children. This involves both help for the children and the parents. However, the final responsibility for caring for -- not killing! -- children rests with the parents, always. If they are unable to cope then the responsible thing to do is to surrender the children to relatives or the state, not kill them.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Another Family Terminates Child's Leukemia Treatment Begins Traditional Medicine

Eleven year old Jada Johnson and her mother Wahsontiio (Deneen) Hill (source).
Back in May, I wrote about 10 year old Makayla Sault. After seeing the toll chemotherapy was taking on their girl, her pastor parents decided to grant Makayla her wish to terminate conventional medical treatment. They instead opted to put her on traditional native medicine only. Although doctors have warned that without chemo her prognosis is dire with near zero chance of survival, Children's Aid allowed her to go off her treatment. It's a sad state of affairs.

Well now this is happening again in the very same community -- (Native American kids seem to have elevated risk). Eleven year old Jada Johnson initially agreed to chemo to treat her acute lymphoblastic leukemia but after twelve days her and her family decided to terminate the treatment. The story is repeating itself.

Jada Johnson, 11, refuses chemotherapy, may be forced back into treatment

Her mother Wahsontiio (Deneen) Hill wrote that the treatment ravaged her body and spirit. And knowing the side effects of chemo, weighed heavily on my mind.

Doctors at McMaster Children's Hospital -- much like the did with Makayla -- diagnosed Jada in August and gave her six months to live if she did not undergo chemotherapy. They are now pressing charges along with the Children's Aid Society to force Jada back into medical treatment.
The family says they initially thought that decision was supported by authorities. However, in a message on Facebook, her mother Wahsontiio (Deneen) Hill said on Friday that McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton, Ont. and CAS are going to court to try to force her daughter into protective services and back into chemotherapy.
Another article in Two Row Times describes what seems to be a fairly common point of view in this region about the effectiveness of traditional medicine.
Within the Six Nations/New Credit communities the rate of cancer survivorship in after utilizing an holisitc indigenous method of treatment for is high. However because it is considered traditional knowledge, practitioners choose not to put their patients through analysis and judgement by an external scientific review – one that is founded on studies that scrutinize data to establish proof.

This is in contrast to the indigenous perspective which has known thousands of years of experiential proof and knowledge via oral history.
So considerate of them for the patients to forgo any objective scientific review in order to establish meaningful evidence of its efficacy (sarcasm). Where do I even begin with this? It's tragic. The above encapsulates the root of this entire problem.

The article even mentions the legal issues involved with forcing a First Nations child off the reserve -- even if it's for required life saving medical treatment.
If the court makes that decision, it would violate Articles 10 & 24 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; that indigenous people cannot be forcibly removed from their lands without free and prior consent, and the right to use traditional medicines and health care practices without discrimination.
I can understand this. First Nations people have had their culture nearly destroyed -- over the course of nearly a century, thousands of children were taken away from their families and stuffed into residential schools. There was widespread abuse of which we're just now learning the full extent. Still, should these girls not receive treatment that has been shown to be effective rather than unscientific, unproven traditional treatments? I don't believe parents have the right to deny life-saving treatment of their children.

Instead of proven medical treatment, Jada's family is looking into the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, which looks like Whole Foods meets a New Age shop meets a resort to me.  I'm only guessing that this will be the backdrop for traditional Native American medicine? Are they travelling down there? I wonder if there could be issues crossing the border given the current situation?

This is so sad. I can understand why they would like to stop chemo. I cannot even imagine how horrible it would be to watch my own son endure this -- especially with severe reactions. However, a girl's life is on the line here and right now chemo is the only scientifically proven method to deal with cancers like this. If traditional medicine practitioners would put their treatments through scientific review and they are proven effective than I would be all for them.

I don't even have a problem with traditional medicine being used alongside science-based medicine.

According to the article, the other girl, Makayla Sault is still doing well without chemo. I'm happy for her and her family. I honestly believe that this will also be the case for Jada Johnson -- that she also will be allowed to stop chemo and they will both appear well for awhile. I wish it could be another way, but this is reality and science is based in reality.

I'm not sure how to express this delicately, but science- and evidence-based medicine has set a grim limit on the lives of these girls using tested methodology. This is not spirituality it is cold hard reality. Pulling a child out of necessary treatment like this is a kind of death sentence and I really must see it as a form of child abuse.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Nigerian Child Witch Hunter Threatens British Humanist Association With £500,000,000 Lawsuit

Back in April, I wrote about how the British Humanist Association (BHA) and the Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) successfully petitioned the British Home Office to revoke child-witch-finder Helen Ukpabio's visa.

Read Leo Igwe's post, Nigerian witch hunter Helen Ukpabio bringing “gospel of hate” to the US, over at IHEU for more background on Ukpabio:
Helen Ukpabio’s gospel of hate — promoted through her publications, films (like the End of the Wicked) and sermons — fuels witchcraft accusations against children in the region. The witch hunts in Nigeria and other parts of Africa in recent years have resulted in discrimination, violence, torture and death.
Well, it seems like now the self-professed Lady Apostle 'witch-finder' has come back swinging with a FIVE HUNDRED MILLION POUND lawsuit against the BHA and WHRIN. This is being described as 'libel tourism.' It's actually a very real thing in the UK and could turn out to be a whole lot less funny than it sounds.

Libel tourist and Nigerian ‘witch hunter’ (the self styled) ‘Lady Apostle’ Helen Ukpabio attempts to stifle critics by suing BHA for half a billion pounds

The utter absurdity of this may make you laugh out loud at first -- I did, but there could be a deadly serious legal side to this as well. Ukpabio is a wealthy woman in charge of a multinational ministry. She has the clout to launch this case and potentially push it high in the courts if they'll let her. I had started this story out as a comedic view of the situation, but a somber BHA infographic over at their Facebook feed brought me back down to Earth.

The BHA press release I linked to above gives more detail. She's suing for libel against these organizations. Here's what she's basing this claim for half a billion pounds on.
Her legal case against the BHA is based on Mrs Ukpabio’s stating that she wrote that a child ‘under the age of two’ who is ‘possessed with black, red and vampire witchcraft spirits’ can be identified by features such as s/he ‘screams at night, cries, is always feverish, suddenly deteriorates in health, puts up an attitude of fear, and may not feed very well.’ Her teachings are to the effect that babies under the age of two who exhibit signs of illness or standard, entirely normal childhood behaviour (such as crying, not feeding well, screaming at night, having a fever) may be possessed by vampire witchcraft spirits. She also teaches that children who stamp their feet may be ‘trying to make signs… to communicate with gnomes, the witchcraft spirit in charge of the earth.’ Ukpabio claims that the BHA misrepresented her by saying that she ascribed these symptoms to Satanic possession and hence has damaged her reputation and livelihood to the sum of half a billion pounds.
This is so ridiculous that I cannot help but say: No, not Satan! That would be ridiculous, of course. It's 'black, red and vampire witchcraft spirits.' It's this distinction that Ukpabio claims smeared her ministry and cost her reputation and visa into the UK. And this is apparently worth half a billion pounds in damages. In reality, this case appears to be the latest in a number of legal actions to silence her critics.
Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director of WHRIN, commented, ‘This court case is the latest in a long line of unsuccessful legal actions that Helen Ukpabio has pursued against me and other human rights activists. Previous cases were thrown out of court in Nigeria but this time she is looking to take action in a UK court. I have no doubt that a judge in the UK will reach the same conclusion as those in Nigeria.
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, commented:
‘Given her baseless identification of features of “possessed children” and her dangerous and irresponsible teachings we feel a strong moral duty to point this out and will not be deflected by libel suits from wealthy “witch-finders”.

‘The fact that she is threatening to launch a legal claim for half a billion pounds over an alleged distinction between being accused of exorcising “Satan” or “Vampires” tells you all you need to know about Mrs Ukpabio. Threats of legal action like this are blatant attempts to silence critics of the harms done by these religious and superstitious beliefs and rituals. Rather than entertaining her vexatious claims in the courts, we believe the UK should be ensuring that Mrs Ukpabio and her ilk are denied entry to our country to protect children from their degrading practices.’
A story over at The Independant, sheds a little more light on the charge against the BHA and reveals the law firm that's willing to take on such an extraordinary suit.
In a letter sent to the BHA’s lawyers last Thursday, solicitors acting for the controversial preacher accused the charity of causing “members of the public to regard our client as an evil woman” with the damage to her reputation resulting in a “huge loss of incomes to her churches”. The letter, from London-based Graceland Solicitors, claims Mrs Ukpadio is “a Christian leader of international repute known and respected in many countries of the world”.
Five hundred million pounds sure does looks like a pretty big case for one tiny solicitor firm in London.

Graceland Solicitors. (source)
It's ridiculous yet there is still potential for her to make a lot of trouble, potentially damaging financial costs and time inconvenience for the BHA and WHRIN with these legal shenanigans. I ask you to spread the word about this and follow the British Humanist Association Facebook page for more ways to help.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Quebec Order of Priests To Pay $20M Settlement With Abuse Victims

St. Alphonse Seminary in Ste Anne de Beaupré, QC (image: Google Street View)
Back in September 2013, I posted about a class action suit launched by some seventy people against the Catholic priests at the St. Alphonse Seminary in Ste Anne de Beaupré. The charge was that of gruesome and systematic sexual abuse that spanned the 60s, 70s and 80s.
... allegations children were moved and traveled from one place to another, allegations priests used the cars owned by the congregation to bring the children to cottages on weekends for the children to be further abused,” said Carlo Tarini, director of communications for the Association of victims of priests.
Apparently, the young boys were traded like hockey cards.

Well, back in July 10th, the claimants won their case against the seminary in the first case ever to go to trial in Quebec rather than being discretely settled out of court.
Seventy men who launched a class action lawsuit against clergy accused of sexual abuse have been awarded compensation.

It's the first time in Quebec that this type of case has gone to trial, instead of being settled out of court.

After three months of deliberation, Superior Court Judge Claude Bouchard ordered the Redemptorist Order of Catholic priests, the Seminaire St-Alphonse and Rev. Raymond-Marie Lavoie to pay $75,000 to each claimant.
By my calculation, 70 claimants at $75,000 each comes to $5.25 million. At that time the court had yet to determine the exemplary damages (punitive damages).

Well, today the court rule that the order needs to pay $20 million dollars to victims.
The Redemptorist Order of Catholic Priests will pay $20 million to victims of sexual abuse at its St-Alphonse Seminary near Quebec City during the 1970s and '80s.

Robert Kugler, the lawyer representing former students at the seminary, said the landmark out-of-court settlement is the largest ever paid in a class-action sexual abuse lawsuit in Quebec.
At least 30 other claimants have come forward since the victory and they are being helped to present claims.
Other victims have since come forward, bringing the number of total claimants to more than 100 — and counting.

“That number is likely to go up by a lot… We have tried to simplify the process to ensure that a maximum number of victims present claims,” Kugler told Radio-Canada
I'm happy that they won. It's a shame it's only $75,000 for enduring such a hell hole, but how can you even put a dollar value on something heinous like this?

Monday, 4 August 2014

Child Bride Situation In Nigeria

Not much time today but here's a dreadful story to start your week off wrong.

Nigeria girl faces murder trial over forced marriage
A Nigerian court on Monday postponed the murder trial of a 14-year-old girl accused of poisoning the 35-year-old man she was forced to marry, a case that has thrown the spotlight on the influence of Islamic law in region.
I'll distill it the quickest way I can. We have a 14 year old girl who's forced to marry a 35 year old man. She behaves in a criminal way -- however she is just a child! She should have never been thrown into this mess.

These short soundbites sums things up rather well, as does the infographic above.
"All we are saying is do justice to her. Treat the case as it is. Treat her as a child," Aliyu said.
"A girl of 14 cannot stand trial under the criminal code. This case is just adding to our country's negative reputation in the eyes of the international community," he told AFP.
She supported Ogunye's argument that regardless of religion or region, a child cannot face criminal charges in a high court and the case must be moved to the juvenile system.
If you have a child who's not old enough to be tried as an adult but must be moved to the juvenile system then why the hell should she be even allowed to be married to a 35 year old pervert? Oh, and why should human beings be sold off to older perverts like chattel? This is so very wrong on so many levels and yet it seems to be pretty cool as far as the religious are concerned in the region. Funny how these things so often conveniently work out.
The marriage of teenage girls to much older men is rampant in deeply conservative, mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, especially in poorer rural areas.

The region has since 2000 been under sharia Islamic law which some say does not prohibit the marriage of underage girls.

Under Nigeria's marriage act, which applies nationwide, a woman under the age of 21 who wants to marry must have the consent of her parents.
There is pressure within the country to remove the awkward and confusing sharia law and secular criminal code hybrid that's so common in the North and apply just the secular code. If people are indeed compassionate enough to see she should not be tried as an adult than I can only hope they can see that she shouldn't have been forcefully married off in the first place.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Men Cut Infant Penises, Sucked The Blood, Gave Herpes In The Process: No Jail Time

Brit Milah circumcision tools. (source)
Well, I'm sure you all know how I feel about circumcision. So I'm pretty sure you can guess what I think of circumcision in the context of religious ritual. But can you guess how I feel about grown men using the pretext of religion to suck the blood from a freshly butchered infant penis and giving them herpes in the process?

You likely cannot fully comprehend the sheer level of confusion, bewilderment, disgust and anger I'm feeling after reading...

2 Infants Diagnosed With Herpes After Ritual Jewish Circumcisions: Officials
In both cases, the infant boys were born to mothers with full-term pregnancies and normal deliveries. They were circumcised using the direct oral suction technique practiced by some Orthodox Jews eight days after their birth, and developed lesions on their genitals shortly thereafter, the Health Department said.
Holy crap is this revolting. Can someone please tell me how grown men can get away with such sick and unthinkable acts? I know you know why.
There have been 16 confirmed cases of herpes since 2000 in newborn boys after circumcisions that likely involved direct oral suction, including three in 2014, according to the Health Department.

Two of the infants died and at least two others suffered brain damage.
Inexcusable! Send these men to jail, immediately. I mean, how could you excuse this? The article goes on to talk about how it's all an ancient ritual. Oh well then, I suppose there's no problem with this, then.

Apparently, in 2012 the Health Board made a rule that rabbis had to get written consent from parents before cutting the penises and licking the blood. A group of Orthodox rabbis attempted to sue their way out of this rule...

What the hell is going on here on this planet of ours? Why are the infants' legal guardians even allowed to authorize some guy to suck blood from their babies' penises with the documented risk of potentially transmitting herpes and killing them? How could this make sense? I think you know how.

Quick question, if this wasn't a 'religious thing' would these men be in jail right now? I'm sure you know the answer.


Friday, 20 June 2014

UN Committee Concerned About Child Trafficking For Religious Rituals

Haitian Voodoo ritual. (source)
So, in today's disturbing news...

An article over at Voice of Russia is shedding light on concerns the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has about African children being kidnapped and shipped to the UK for use in Voodoo and other religious rituals. (Originally on AFP)
"We're concerned about reports that hundreds of children have been abducted from their families in Africa and trafficked to the UK, especially London, for religious rituals," said Kristen Sandberg, head of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The article says that British police have reported many cases of child torture and abuse for witchcraft rituals. It then goes on to list off a few such cases in more detail.

I found the report in question after some digging on the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights website. Here's the relevant bit.
Child Trafficking

30. The Committee is strongly concerned that thousands of children continue to be trafficked every year in the State party, particularly for sexual exploitation and labour, and it expresses its deepest concern about reports that hundreds of children have been abducted from their families in Africa and trafficked to the State party for brutal religious rituals, such as the so-called voodoo and juju rituals. The Committee is particularly concerned that:

a) The number of prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators of trafficking and other offences under the Optional Protocol is extremely low across the State party, leading to impunity for perpetrators, and that the prosecutors often choose to charge perpetrators of human trafficking with other offences, such as rape or abduction to secure convictions; and

b) While under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, a non-national who arranges the trafficking of a child outside the jurisdiction of the State party commits a crime in England and Wales, the Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.

31. The Committee urges that the State party strengthen the capacity of law-enforcement authorities and judiciary to detect and prosecute trafficking of children for labour, sexual and other forms of exploitation, including for religious rituals. The Committee further recommends that the State party enact a specific legislation on child trafficking in accordance with the Optional Protocol and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (UN Palermo Protocol) and ensure that the crime of child trafficking is defined consistently and prosecuted throughout the State party.  
It appears that sexual exploitation and labour are the two largest categories, but religious superstition is also a problem. Apparently authorities tend to downplay these events for some reason.
The British government launched a campaign against faith-based child abuse in 2012, saying there was a need to make a stand, working with African migrant associations.

Critics have pointed to what they say is a tendency to view ritual abuse differently from other forms.
Yet another bizarre and tragic double standard around religion.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Archbishop Says He Wasn't Really Sure Whether Raping Children Was a Crime in 1984


Have you ever known someone to have raped a child but just didn't know if keeping it a secret was a crime - or even bad? No? Well, then I guess you're not Archbishop Robert Carlson.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson claims he was unaware sexual abuse was a crime

This very same Carlson who is absolutely certain pro-choice politicians should not partake of Jesus and who is rock solid 'in the know' that same-sex marriage is absolutely wrong, recently admitted that this whole raping children thing - well, that's a little fuzzy. Is that really wrong? Carlson apparently wasn't sure about that in 1984. You know, I'm pretty sure I would have known it's wrong and I was nine at the time.

But Carlson wasn't a nine year old back then. He was just the auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul.

I suppose Roman Catholic morality just wasn't as advanced back then. I'm sure it's fully up to date now and sheltering child molesting priests is absolutely wrong now. Thank goodness the Catholic Church is here to let us all know what's right or wrong or who knows what people would do, right?
During the deposition taken last month, attorney Jeff Anderson asked Carlson whether he knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child.

“I'm not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” Carlson replied. “I understand today it's a crime.”

Anderson went on to ask Carlson whether he knew in 1984, when he was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, that it was crime for a priest to engage in sex with a child.

“I'm not sure if I did or didn't,” Carlson said.
Of course, anyone as morally confused as Carlson makes himself out as would be sociopathic. He could be a sociopath, I'm not putting it completely beyond the realm of possibility. However one thing's for certain, he appears to be just lying.
In a 1984 document, for example, Carlson wrote to the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis at the time — John R. Roach — about one victim of sexual abuse and mentioned that the statute of limitations for filing a claim would not expire for more than two years. He also wrote that the parents of the victim were considering reporting the incident to the police.
You can find the document attached to the above story. He appears as if he's just playing the fool in the hopes we'll all be idiots and fall for his ridiculous stories.

Just when I think I've seen how far the bar can drop it just gets lower and lower. Why are there Catholics again? Are we the only people who see this?

Edit 2014-06-10: The part about my knowing it's wrong when I was nine years old was more of a literary device than anything else. In retrospect, I may have sensed something was wrong but would have probably been confused and unable to express why. I was simply not equipped to defend myself as a nine year old boy and this is what makes this whole thing so revolting.

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