Christina Engela's picture

Viva Secularism, Viva!

Many people today have moved beyond the confusion caused by mixing religion and affairs of the real world. Unfortunately there are still many people who cannot tell the two apart. To them there is no difference between politics, civil affairs, daily life and their own personal religious views. And for some unfathomable reason, whenever it is pointed out to them that they are being unfair for using their personal religious opinions to detract from the civil rights or equalities of others, they start whining childishly that it is they who are being picked on, and not their victims.

Fortunately, this sort of mentality appears to be gradually on the decrease, and those indulging in it are increasingly being exposed for the bigots, hypocrites and fascist leftovers they make themselves out to be.

This world is made up of all kinds of people, resulting in diversity - and not just diversity of race, culture and language, but also beliefs. This means that to expect people of all kinds of beliefs in particular to be satisfied while the government in their area proudly champions just one belief system or religion, while trampling the rights of others underfoot and preening its feathers at their cost - is not only naive', but plain stupid as well.

The logical mind would arrive at two possible outcomes; the first being to homogenize all belief systems into a harmonious gray sameness, where all people believe the same things, and have the same values. This is of course, unlikely at best, and has been something many social engineers have been trying to achieve since time immemorial.

The second alternative is to keep matters of government, law and justice and civil matters apart from religious belief systems, and to accord all religions equal status under the law of the land. This second system is called secularism - and for Christian fundamentalists in particular, is a favorite most-hated feature of the modern world - second only to homosexuality and other religions, chiefly Islam. It is nevertheless, this second system which history has demonstrated works best, although I am sure the Roman Catholic church would disagree - after all, their faith came about as a result of the first option, back in the old days when the emperor Constantine created Catholicism and then blamed it all on Christ - which I have to say, seems to be a favorite pastime of many modern cult-like evangelical churches today.

Nevertheless, secularism - the separation of church and state - is one of the tenets of modern civilization, and something which if applied correctly, favors no religion and prejudices no religion above or below another - and allows for all people to flourish on equal terms without using religious values to impede them. This is key if the world is to avoid any more religious wars in future.
Aly Sinclair's picture

China: Anti Porn, Anti Choice, Anti You

Make no mistake my dear friends, China doesn’t like you.

I say you, as I imagine I am most likely preaching to the choir, as whoever reads my article will most likely be of an open mind and or producing some adult videos of their own.

China had decided that it’s citizens should not have the ability to view any adult media in their country on “their” browsers and computers. China had tried to maintain its wholly imagined squeaky clean image by taking a stand against porn. A totalitarian regime is never satisfied until it has consolidated all the power available to it. And, China’s leaders sure would love to tout this feather in their cap. It would beat the drum toward their March toward moral superiority.

Though, to spoil their impressive effort, porn has a foothold that China can’t move. Porn is tied to business and a poke at business would be problematic for their burgeoning international relations and their interest in a free market economy. Smartly, for these same reasons, China’s citizens recognize the importance of porn in this instance. And, just for these same reasons it is a battle they can win. For its citizens, porn represents something much larger than the enjoyment of high definition moans and groans. Rather porn has become a weapon of the abused, which for them come along very rarely.

arvan's picture

Homophobia Heightens in Swaziland


On the 29th of December 2009 a lesbian woman and human rights activist, Thuli Rudd, also known as Thulani, was arrested on her way back home in Swaziland at the border from South Africa. She was charged with the murder of her partner, the late Pitseng Vilakati whose body had been found on Tuesday the 22nd of December 2009. Since August 2009 when Rudd went public with her engagement to the late Pitseng Vilakati, they have been in the spotlight with many people in Swaziland condemning their relationship. They have been under extraordinary pressure and both women demonstrated incredible courage in the face of this pressure.

Whilst in South Africa, Thulani had met with activists and discussed the endless violations of her and her partner’s human right to dignity, freedom and equality throughout 2009. There had been major media coverage of their relationship with numerous distortions and misrepresentations as well as a massive public reaction which was largely hostile, insulting and deeply disrespectful.

Monica Mbaru of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Africa expressed concern that Thulani is being tried and convicted by the media and the public before the investigation has been completed and that a strong possibility of this being a hate crime by homophobic persons may be ignored in the haste to prove Thulani guilty and further feed into the already high levels of homophobia.

arvan's picture

Women Are Not Just a ‘Vulnerable Group’

By Mantoe Phakathi

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva)  While climate change affects everyone, women bear a heavier burden – and gender activists say they should have a greater say in planning the response to climate change.

Dorah Lebelo says millions of women around the world are subsistence farmers and erratic weather patterns have affected their ability to feed themselves, let alone produce a surplus to sell. Women, Lebelo continues, are very much dependent on natural resources such as water, firewood, or wild fruits which sell.

Lebelo is a member of Gender CC, a global women’s rights network that is lobbying for the incorporation of a gender perspective into the final document of the climate change meeting at the Danish capital.

“The advancement of women, their leadership and meaningful participation, and their engagement as equal stakeholders in all climate-related processes and implementation must be guaranteed,” she says.

arvan's picture

Women Should Be More Than Window Dressing

Jedi Ramalapa interviews Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 18 (IPS) - Women in developing countries are among the most vulnerable to the effects of crisis - be that climate change, food price hikes, the HIV/AIDS pandemic or the global recession. It is becoming more commonplace to hear women's testimony, but are women's voices heard when it comes to deciding on solutions?

IPS spoke to Ingrid Srinath, chief executive officer and secretary general of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, about women's exclusion from decision-making in global forums. Excerpts of the interview follow.

IPS: How do you think the issue of women and climate change has been dealt with so far?

INGRID SRINATH: I think with most of the global issues we're dealing with, whether it's climate or financial reform or any of those global issues, women continue to be under-represented.

In the climate debate, this is partly structural. I think civil society per se is largely marginal and within civil society at some level women continue to be marginalised.

Especially when the debate gets technical, there is an attempt with some of these global issues to make the focus of the debate the economic impact, and restrict it to (questions of) where is the money is going come from to fund mitigation and adaptation, rather than take a holistic view of the impact of any of these crises.

And as soon as that happens, there is a tendency for this to become more Northern, more male, more technical, and then marginalise women even further.

arvan's picture

Call for Papers - Good Sex, Bad Sex: Sex Law, Crime & Ethics 2nd International Conference

Monday 3rd May 2010 – Wednesday 5th May 2010
Prague, Czech Republic

After the success of the inaugural conference for this project, we are pleased to announce the Second Annual Conference, to be held in Prague in May 2010. The conference is a keystone of the ’Good Sex, Bad Sex’ project that seeks to explore the nature, character and issues around the prohibition, regulation or permission of different and distinct forms of sexuality and debates around their legal, ethical and cultural status in contemporary societies.

The sorts of questions the project wishes to address are: How do we regulate and seek to deter sex crime? How do we support victims, prosecute perpetrators and encourage lawful and discourage unlawful sexual conduct? Should our startegies for perpetrators be rehabilitation, punishment or deterrence and what are the implications of elements of each? What about when the law prosecutes ‘victimless crimes’ or seems unjust in relation to particular sexualities? Or fails to adequately protect the innocent or regulate the guilty? How does law relate to ethics and our understanding about what good and bad sex are? What ethical grounds do we have for distinguishing good sex and bad sex?

arvan's picture

Global Gender Pay Gap Bigger Than Previously Thought

A new study covers the impact of the economic crisis on women’s jobs and incomes and reveals costs of violence against women

Brussels, 5 March 2009: A new report released by the ITUC for March 8, International Women’s Day, has revealed that the pay gap between men and women worldwide may be much higher than official government figures. The report, “Gender (in)Equality in the Labour Market”, is based on survey results of some 300,000 women and men in 20 countries. It puts the global pay gap at up to 22%, rather than the 16.5% figure taken from official government figures and released by the ITUC on March 8 last year.

The report also confirms previous findings that union membership, and particularly the inclusion of women in collective bargaining agreements, leads to much better incomes for both women and men, as well as better pay for women relative to their male co-workers. The study, which follows the March 8 ITUC Global Gender Pay Gap report, was written by London-based pay specialists Incomes Data Services and is based on internet surveys conducted in industrialised and developing countries in 2008 by the WageIndicator Foundation.

“This report clearly confirms the advantage which men and women workers gain from union membership, which is all the more important in the current global economic crisis when jobs and living standards for millions of workers are under severe threat,” said Guy Ryder, ITUC general secretary.

arvan's picture

Back-street abortions underline need for sex education

NAIROBI, 19 October 2009 (PlusNews) - Julia Nyaberi's* "clinic" in Majengo, a slum in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, caters to one type of client only - pregnant women seeking abortions.

Young women writhe in pain on the floor of the poorly lit house; the neighbours all know what happens here and have become immune to the moans and wails.

"They come to me and each pays me 50 shillings [US$0.70]," Nyaberi told IRIN/PlusNews. "Most of them are sex workers who operate here in Majengo and have conceived by mistake."

She uses a concoction of herbs to induce abortion, and admits there have been fatalities. "Even qualified drivers at times cause accidents; I do not do this job to kill anyone, but at times some are unlucky and go together with the child they came to abort," she said.

Diana Awuor*, 21, is a sex worker in Majengo, and fell pregnant after unprotected sex with a regular client.

"Not that I have sex without a condom every day but there are some regular clients you can excuse at times and I think that is how I became pregnant," she said. "We cannot do our work while pregnant because nobody will want you, so I have to abort to stay in business, and also, I don't want a baby."

arvan's picture

Abstinence-Only Education Shouldn't Make the Cut

[via NOW]

Abstinence-only education is dangerous and ineffective, and has no place in our health care reform legislation.  But Senator Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) abstinence-only-until-marriage amendment has been tucked in with the health care reform legislation -- and we need your help to strike it when it reaches Senate floor.  Women everywhere need the Senate to support comprehensive sex education programs, not ideological crusades.

Take action NOW!

Please take time now to call or e-mail your senators to urge that the Hatch abstinence-only-until-marriage amendment be eliminated from health care reform legislation, and that they strongly support a comprehensive approach to sex education.

Two amendments regarding sex education were passed with the health care reform legislation in the Senate Finance Committee: one by Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) authorizing federal funding for comprehensive sex education programs and one by Sen. Hatch to restore funds for abstinence-only programs.

When health care reform legislation reaches the Senate floor, we need to ensure Congress only supports a comprehensive approach to sex education and does not promote dangerous and ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that put young women and girls at serious risk.  In contacting your senators, you can use our formatted message or create one in your own words.

arvan's picture

Wanted: New Messengers on Women's Rights in Uganda

By Evelyn Kiapi

ENTEBBE, Uganda, Oct 12 (IPS) - Activists have spent decades trying to get new laws passed to secure the rights of Ugandan women in the private sphere. As a fresh set of gender-related laws comes before parliament, activists are this time seeking to enlist male legislators as partners in advocating their passage.

Parliament is presently considering legislation on marriage and divorce, domestic violence and female genital mutilation. The Uganda Women Parliamentarians Association (UWOPA) recently held a two-day workshop aimed at bringing as many of the country's 230 male legislators as possible on board.

The focus of the discussion at the seminar, held in Entebbe, on the shores of Lake Victoria just east of the capital Kampala, was the draft Marriage and Divorce Bill, which in its draft form guarantees partners fair access to matrimonial wealth during and after a marriage. It would also recognise the crime of marital rape, acknowledging a partner's right to choose when to have sex.

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