Pakistan rejects a law that would ban child marriage because it’s “un-Islamic”

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Pakistan rejects a law that would ban child marriage because it’s “un-Islamic”

Pakistani lawmakers had to withdraw a bill aimed at curbing the practice of child marriage after a prominent religious body declared the legislation un-Islamic.

The bill, which proposed raising the marriage age for females from 16 to 18, also called for harsher penalties for those who would arrange marriages involving children. Despite the laws in place, child marriages, particularly involving young female brides, are common in parts of the country. It’s estimated that some 20 percent of girls in the country are married before they turn 18.

But the Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body which gives advice to parliament on the compatibility of laws with Sharia, appeared to slap down the legislation after deeming it “un-Islamic” and “blasphemous,” according toAgence France Presse. It had already handed down a similar ruling in 2014.

The council has garnered opprobrium in the past. In 2013, reports AFP, “it suggested making DNA inadmissible evidence in rape cases, instead calling for the revival of an Islamic law that makes it mandatory for a survivor to provide four witnesses to back their claims.”

Girls Not Brides, an international coalition of civil society organizations working against child marriage, cited this religious body as an obstacle toward reform. A number of provinces in Pakistan have pushed for legislation cracking down on child marriages, but implementing the law is more difficult.

Clerics on the council object to minimum age requirements, arguing instead that an individual can marry once reaching puberty, which can be as early as the age of 9.

Source: http://ind.pn/1RxbvM1

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How To Spot A “Spiritual” Sexual Predator.

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How To Spot A Spiritual Sexual Predator
Written by: Chaya Kurtz

The talk of the town last week was about a New York Times profile of an (accused) rapist/serial womanizer/wife-abuser ex-rabbi who essentially got kicked out of the Jewish world and has successfully resurrected himself as a new-age guru. His name is Marc Gafni, and I actually know/know-people-who-know women whom he messed with. I heard about him years ago at a Shabbos table — some people who had left his sphere of influence were discussing his move to Boulder and said, “I don’t know why he keeps trying to work in the Jewish world. He should go to the new age — they don’t care about sexual propriety.” Apparently he had the same idea.

It surprises me not an iota that a sexual predator would become a prominent new-age guru. The guru-student relationship is fertile land for sexual misbehavior to flourish in. There are too many guru sexual predators to list, but I’ll highlight a few who were exposed relatively recently: John Friend of Anusara Yoga, Bikram Choudury of Bikram Yoga, Eido Shimano Roshi of New York Zen Studies Society, Joshu Sasaki Roshi of Rinzai-ji, Swami Shankarananda of Shiva School Of Meditation And Yoga, and Doug Phillips of Vision Forum.

They’re not just gurus. There are also mystics, sensitive new age guys, extremely “spiritual” people who are actually lowlifes, and activists/idealists who are in it for the booty. There are certain things they do; certain men they are. Look out for:

The Spiritual Man Who Thinks You’re Special: You are a light in the darkness to him. He is your teacher, and he sees soooooo much brilliance and potential in you. You are what he needs, and he is what you need — spiritually, of course. Or he wants to personally help you. You, more than anyone, are worth his precious spiritual energy and time.

The Spiritual Man Who Wants To See You Outside Of Class: Why would a charismatic, “enlightened” man want to see you outside of class? Why would he invite you into his home, into his inner-circle, into his family, or to his most exclusive retreats? Because he wants to do something inappropriate and he’s getting you used to being alone with him.

The Man Who Wants To Spiritually Connect With You — Through Your Body: This guy can take any scripture of any spiritual tradition and twist it to convincingly to mean that spiritual connection is best experienced through sexual connection. Selling teenagers into prostitution? Having multiple wives and mistresses? He’s got scripture to back it up.

The Spiritual Man Who Pierces You With His Eyes: His gaze is unbelievably powerful. When he looks at you, you swear he can see right to your soul. Why do they always pierce you with their eyes? It’s a move of control and dominance. I once had a creepy swami try to pierce me with his eyes, and I left his ashram within 10 minutes.

The Spiritual Man Who Wants To Touch You: Eyes on you turns into hands on you. He’s so spiritual that he wants to heal you hands-on. Or he invites you in for a private session only to reach up your shirt. Since he thinks he’s G-d, he feels entitled to your body. Question what he’s doing and he’ll back it up with scripture, or explain to you that it’s part of the teacher-student relationship.

The Spiritual Man Whose Love And Non-Attachment Are Superior To Everyone Else’s: He challenges you to be strong enough to handle his love. He’s not sure if you have what it takes to be loved by him, and he wants you to prove it. And/or he is a master of non-attachment. He wants to prove how good he is at not getting attached by getting intimate with you and not giving a crap. He convinces you that you are weak because you have human feelings, and he is strong and enlightened because he is a master of non-attachment. He’s not a womanizer — he’s just really good at not getting attached!

The Humble Man Who Talks About Himself — A Lot: I’ve met way too many of these guys. All conversations lead back to him. He is so humble that he doesn’t even have his own possessions or home — instead, he’s going to mooch off of you and other women. Counter something he says, and he’s going to throw the humble card at you: If you don’t agree with him (or you don’t flatter him), you’re arrogant. Since he is so humble, you are assaulting him by disagreeing with him.

The Very, Very Sensitive New Age Guy: This man has feelings. His feelings are very strong. You must never hurt his feelings, though he is free to hurt yours. He is a master of using psycho-babble and “non-violent communication”. You make him feel a certain way — he is never responsible for controlling his own feelings.

The Religious Man To Whom The Rules Don’t Apply: He sure knows all the rules. He can recite them backward and forward, in multiple languages (Sanskrit! Hebrew! Hindi!). He is fastidious in tiny details that inconvenience other people (his special way of washing his hands! his special diet!), but when it comes to, you know, like, not raping people, the rules don’t apply to him. His spiritual position entitles him to exploit you however he wants to!

The Crusader For Justice Who Makes You Feel Dumb: This man knows everything about justice. He knows the key to world peace. He quotes Marx, Mandela, and Maimonides in the same sentence. He knows Angela Davis personally. If there was a big protest, he was not only there but he was on the front lines fighting the cops and he has a scar on his inner thigh that he wants to show you to prove it. This man is committed to The Cause above all. So lofty is his goal that he doesn’t need to be nice to regular people like you. He can be nasty, denigrating, rude — all in the name of The Cause. Call him out on it and you’re siding with the oppressor.

The Married Man Who Tells His Marital Problems To You: This spiritual master has a spiritual advisor — a very famous guru — but even that guru can’t empathize with his marital problems. Thank the goddess that you can, though. It turns out that in every way that his wife lacks, you are just brimming over. Why can’t his wife be more like you, he asks you.

The Enlightened Man Who Tells You All About How Men & Women Are Supposed To Relate To Each Other/How Women Should Be: This guy is an expert on gender. He knows every religious or spiritual reason why women should be subservient to men. He presents his “knowledge” as absolute truth. If you don’t relate to him on his terms, he’ll educate you on how to be a better woman. He’s on a special mission to teach very young women (even girls) how to be women.

The Clergy Man/Guru Who Wants Your Money: He can convince almost anyone (and especially women) to financially support his “mission”. If it’s not by promising salvation if you give him money, it’s by inviting you to very, very expensive retreats. Want private healing sessions or lessons in spiritual practice? One way or another, you’ll pay for them.

Anybody Who Ideologically Justifies Polyamory: If he’s really “progressive”, this man can quote The Ethical Slut. And since his predecessors in his spiritual lineage had multiple wives, certainly he should have them. While he is free to enjoy his spiritually-sanctioned dalliances, you’re in big trouble if he even thinks you’re cheating on him. After all, it’s Tantra! Or it’s Christianity! Or Abraham had more than one wife! He has so much spiritual mojo that he is simply gifting it to all the women he’s intimate with. How dare you refuse his gift!?

The Healer Who Has A Special Treatment Just For You: This man has identified that something is wrong with you. There is something wrong with you that only he has identified because he is so enlightened. It is critical that he, and only he, heal you. What? Having sex with him is part of the treatment? How surprising!

A final word: These creepy guys are out there in droves, and almost everyone who is involved in religion and/or spirituality will meet one at some point. Nobody who is on a high spiritual level will pressure you for sex. Period. People who are genuine spiritual teachers or activists will speak to you respectfully. Full stop. There is a big difference between being wowed by the intelligent way a man speaks and being treated respectfully by that man. Trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable, get out.

Source: http://bit.ly/1Q8SOLn

The science is in: Unless You Have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Just in Your Head.

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The science is in: Unless You Have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Just in Your Head.

By now, you’ve probably heard of gluten-free diets. They’re a necessity for the estimated 2 million Americans with celiac disease. For them, eating gluten can trigger an immune response in their small intestines, damaging the organ’s villi that help absorb nutrients. Excluding the protein from their diets saves celiac disease sufferers from intense bouts of intestinal discomfort and other symptoms.

But for many other Americans, eliminating gluten probably does little to ease their symptoms.

bread

Bread made from wheat contains the protein gluten.

That finding comes from a new study led by Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Australia. Gibson is the same researcher who published a paper in 2011 that reported gluten sensitivity in non-celiac patients. The results of that paper didn’t sit well with him, so he designed a more rigorous study involving 37 patients who didn’t have celiac disease but reported feeling better when on a gluten-free diet.

Ross Pomeroy, writing at Real Clear Science:

Subjects would be provided with every single meal for the duration of the trial. Any and all potential dietary triggers for gastrointestinal symptoms would be removed, including lactose (from milk products), certain preservatives like benzoates, propionate, sulfites, and nitrites, and fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPs. And last, but not least, nine days worth of urine and fecal matter would be collected. […]

They were first fed a diet low in FODMAPs for two weeks (baseline), then were given one of three diets for a week with either 16 grams per day of added gluten (high-gluten), 2 grams of gluten and 14 grams of whey protein isolate (low-gluten), or 16 grams of whey protein isolate (placebo). Each subject shuffled through every single diet so that they could serve as their own controls, and none ever knew what specific diet he or she was eating. After the main experiment, a second was conducted to ensure that the whey protein placebo was suitable. In this one, 22 of the original subjects shuffled through three different diets — 16 grams of added gluten, 16 grams of added whey protein isolate, or the baseline diet — for three days each.

After the subjects moved off the baseline diet and onto one of the treatment diets, they reported more intestinal pain, bloating, gas, and nausea, regardless of whether the treatment diet was high-gluten, low-gluten, or placebo.

The placebo results were what really stood out to Gibson—patients who received the same diet in the baseline and treatment phases still reported a worsening of symptoms. Gibson says this is a nocebo effect—in other words, it was all in their heads.

So what’s causing these symptoms? Gibson and his co-authors Jessica Biesiekierski and Jane Muir think FODMAPs are a leading candidate. Gluten-free diets seem to help people who report gluten sensitivity because those foods often happen to be free of FODMAPs, the researchers report. Though FODMAP may be an ominous sounding acronym, compounds in the group are found in many everyday foods, nearly all of which are unprocessed and include apples, asparagus, artichokes, milk, pistachios, pears, and lentils.

Source: http://to.pbs.org/1Q7sJMT

Nigeria (with 70% living in poverty) Unveils Largest Jesus Statue in Africa.

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Nigeria (with 70% living in poverty) Unveils Largest Jesus Statue in Africa. 

The largest statue of Jesus in Africa was unveiled on Friday in the country of Nigeria, with hundreds of spectators present.

According to Christian Today, the statue is nearly 30 feet tall and weighs 40 tons. It has been named “Jesus de Greatest.”

It was commissioned by a local businessman named Obinna Onunoha who had previously funded the building of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Abajah, Nigeria. The statue was erected on the grounds of St. Aloysius.

When asked why he commissioned the statue Onunoha stated, “Asking why I constructed this statue is like asking how do I came to this world, I am a Christian and a Catholic and Jesus statue represents my faith. I believe we are here on earth for different purposes and each person moves with his/her instincts, and I was motivated to do this to build up the faith of this community.”

The population of Nigeria is almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims. The terrorist attacks of Muslim extremist group Boko Haram have caused unrest, especially in the northern region of the country.

Onunoha believes that the Jesus statue will bring tourists to the church to see the statue.

Bishop Augustine Tochukwu Okwuoma of St. Aloysius said the statue will be a “great symbol of Christian faith.”

Source: http://bit.ly/1ZqqHiu

One Year Later – Honoring Charlie Hebdo, and all who challenge society with a pen.

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On the anniversary of the attack on Charlie Hebdo we must defend the right to blaspheme.

The names of the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office which occurred a year ago today, are at the beginning of a long and bloody list of people who faced violence in 2015 for supposedly blasphemous speech.

Similarly-motivated attacks were not uncommon.

Four secular bloggers were slaughtered with machetes in Bangladesh because of their writing; a woman wrongly accused of blasphemy was beaten to death, run over with a car, and set on fire by a crowd in Afghanistan; gunmen targeted events critical of Islam in Denmark and Texas.

Even more alarming is the prevalence of violence against blasphemers perpetrated not by vigilantes, but by governments. A 2012 study found that almost a quarter of the world’s countries maintain blasphemy laws. These laws—often deployed to silence critics of government as well as religion—are dangerous even when they’re not enforced. Their very existence inspires self-censorship from people who rightly fear violent consequences for expressing themselves freely. Unfortunately, such laws have been used to do much more than simply chill speech.

Only days after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Saudi Arabia—a leading country on a United Nations human rights panel—began the flogging punishments of blogger Raif Badawi for “insulting Islam.” The lashings have been halted, but could begin again at any time, and Badawi remains in prison. Saudi Arabia also sentenced another man to death for ripping up a Koran and hitting it with a shoe, and arrested an Indian man for ‘liking’ a post with “blasphemous content” on social media.

In Pakistan, two men were given the death sentence for blasphemy, and more were arrested for the same crime.

Nigeria sentenced Muslim cleric Aminu Abdul Nyass and eight of his devotees to death for—you guessed it—blasphemy.

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait considered or passed laws strengthening their ability to punish speech that insults the sensitivities of gods and their adherents.

Poland, upheld its blasphemy law in October, reaffirming that it would punish “whoever offends religious feelings of other people by publicly insulting an object of religious cult.”

Last January, the world witnessed numerous declarations of unwavering support for the principles of freedom of speech. But as we look back at how religious dissent was suppressed in the past year, those words ring empty. Dissidents around the world are still being violently silenced simply because their mere words about the divine depart from the views of the majority. That’s not a state of affairs we should find tolerable. The right to voice opposition to other people’s gods is as important as their right to express belief in them.

The best way to honor the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack is to renew our condemnations of threats to freedom of expression, whether those threats strike close to home or far away, and to call on leaders to stand firm against violent censorship, whatever its form.

Source: http://ind.pn/1kPRXEf

Freedom of speech fails in India after 800+ social media pages are blocked to protect “religious sensibility”

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Freedom of speech fails in India after 800+ social media pages are blocked to protect “religious sensibility” in 2015. 

The number of social media pages blocked by the government for carrying objectionable content rose to 844 till November 2015, the Parliament has been informed.

Out of the total, the government blocked 492 web pages under Section 69A of Information Technology Act, 2000 based on recommendation of a committee set up in this regard, compared to 10 blocked in 2014, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

Under Section 69A of IT Act, the government has power to block any information in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, national security, friendly relations with foreign states or for maintaining law and order.

“A total of 136, 13 and 10 and 492 URLs of social media websites were blocked in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, till November 30, 2015, respectively under Section 69A through the Committee constituted under the rules therein,” Prasad said.

The social media links that were blocked on court orders stood at 352.

“Further, a total of 533, 432 and 352 URLs of social media websites were blocked in compliance with the directions of the competent courts of India in 2013, 2014 and 2015, till November 30, 2015,” Prasad said.

The minister said that the government does not separately maintain data on web pages blocked for anti-religious content.

He said that in 2014, a total of 4,192 cases were reported under Section 66A of IT Act which had provision of jail term for sending offensive messages online, but the section is no longer valid since Supreme Court annulled it in March 2015.

As per data of 2014 shared by Prasad, 2,423 persons were arrested, out of which 1,125 were charge-sheeted and 42 were convicted under Section 66A of IT Act.

Source: http://bit.ly/1Z4NQH6

Homeopathy could be banned from UK’s Public Health System.

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Homeopathy could be banned from UK’s Public Health System.

Doctors could be banned from prescribing homeopathy on the NHS under a consultation set to be launched by the Government.

Ministers say they will consult next year on whether the controversial practice should remain as an option for GPs.

Homeopathy is a “treatment” based on the use of highly diluted substances, which practitioners claim can cause the body to heal itself.

The bulk of scientific opinion however considers homeopathy to be a pseudoscience with no grounding in fact.

“With rising health demands, we have a duty to make sure we spend NHS funds on the most effective treatments,” George Freeman, the Minister for Life Sciences, told the BBC.

“We are currently considering whether or not homeopathic products should continue to be available through NHS prescriptions. We expect to consult on proposals in due course.”

The ban would see the practice added to “Schedule 1”, a blacklist of drugs GPs are not allowed to prescribe.

Homeopathy is not currently available on the NHS in all areas of the country, but there are several NHS homeopathic hospitals. Some GP practices also offer homeopathic treatment.

A 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy said that homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos, and that the principles on which homeopathy is based are “scientifically implausible”.

This is also the view of the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

The NHS website says: “There is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.”

Homeopathy is usually practised privately and homeopathic remedies are available from pharmacies. The price for an initial consultation with a homeopath can vary from around £20 to £80. Homeopathic tablets or other products usually cost around £4 to £10.

The total NHS spend on the practice, including GPs and homeopathic hospitals, is relatively small: around £4m.

There is no legal regulation of homeopathic practitioners in the UK. This means that anyone can practise as a homeopath, even if they have no qualifications or experience.

Source: http://ind.pn/1PDoGJF