Turkey objects to gay and christian foster parents abroad March 15, 2013
A diplomatic row between the Netherlands and Turkey looms over who the Turkish government deem fit in the Netherlands to be foster parents to children with Turkish origin. Turkey has started an investigation into the nature of the foster families that currently foster children of Turkish origin in the Netherlands under Dutch law. This was triggered by a mother appealing on television (in Turkey, I think) to get her 9 year old son back, who has been in foster care since he was a few months old. The foster parents are a lesbian couple, who now have had to go into hiding because of all the media attention.
According to various news sites, the Turkish government objects to foster parents being gay or christian or otherwise not upholding Turkish values, and they wish for the Dutch government to see to the issue. The Dutch government is not amused.
The Dutch government has the authority to relieve parents of the care of their children and place them in foster care, which is what happened in the case of this little boy. This is not a measure that is taken lightly. When the necessity to remove a child from its parents arises, the authorities first see if there are relatives who can take care of the child. If they are not available, the preference is to place the child in a foster family, of which there is quite a dearth. If no suitable family can be found, a child will be placed in a home, but it is generally believed that it is better to place a child in a family.
It is going to be a bit tough to find sufficient “suitable” families for foster care that suit the whole world, I suppose.
By all means, let us focus on the best interest of the children involved, shalll we?
Development in women’s position in Afghanistan January 5, 2012
There’s a pretty horrendous story come out about a child bride, Sahar Gul (aged 15), in Afghanistan being tortured by her new in-laws in order to get her to become a prostitute. You can find the article here, but note there are some very unpleasant pics and scenes described.
The reason this is noteworthy is that this story occurred in an Afghan paper and Afghan people were apparently outraged.
From the article:
The case highlights both the problems and the progress of women 10 years after the Taliban’s fall. Gul’s egregious wounds and underage wedlock are a reminder that girls and women still suffer shocking abuse. But the public outrage and the government’s response to it also show that the country is slowly changing.
And though things are improving a bit,
Still, for every improvement, there are other signs of women’s continued misery. The U.N. says more than half of Afghanistan’s female prison population is made up of women sentenced by local courts for fleeing their marriages — the charge is often phrased as “intent to commit adultery,” even though that’s not a crime under Afghan law. And the U.N. women’s agency UNIFEM estimates that half of all girls are forced to marry under age 15, even though the legal marriage age is 16.
I do think it is sort of hopeful that the outing of this story caused an outrage in Afghanistan. I hope Sahar is going to be ok, despite this extremely traumatic experience, and I hope that because of her, a lot of other kids are going to be more ok than they would have been otherwise.
Thanks @AllenStairs for sharing
A French businessman has set up a fund to pay fines for women who wear Islamic veils or the burqa in public “in whatever country in the world that bans women from doing so”.
Rachid Nekkaz, 38, a real-estate businessman based in Paris, travelled to Belgium on Wednesday to pay 100 euros for two women fined in the first case in the country since the law was adopted there.
“I’m in favour of a law to convict a husband who forces a women to wear the niqab and who forces her to stay at home. But I’m also for a law that lets these women move freely in the streets, because freedom of movement, just like any freedom, is the most fundamental thing in a democracy, ” Nekkaz told reporters outside the courtroom in Belgium.
The same day, he paid a 75 euro fine for a woman in the north-eastern French town of Roubaix.
“I am calling for civil disobedience,” he told FRANCE 24. “I am telling women to not be afraid to go out wearing their veils. And by paying the fines, I am neutering the law, rendering it inefficient and pointless, showing that it doesn’t work. It is a humiliation for the politicians.”
Despite this initiative, Nekkaz disapproves of the veil. “How can a woman truly integrate or find a job if her face is hidden?” he asked…
“It is unacceptable that they are victimising innocent women who are going about their daily lives. They are not targeting the real criminals, the men who do not even let their wives leave the house.”
For more, go here.
David Mitchell on Burkas (and tattoos) July 26, 2010
If Al Franken can become a senator, can’t David Mitchell become PM? Pleeeaase??
Governments and legislatures shouldn’t tell people what they can and can’t wear. By doing so, they would, in every sense, be taking a massive liberty. As long as people aren’t wearing crotchless jeans outside primary schools or deely boppers with attached sparklers on petrol station forecourts, we’ve all got the right to wear exactly what the hell we like and I can barely believe that we’re having this debate…
None of this means I think there’s anything good about wearing a burqa. I think it’s daft. I think any belief system that concludes that half the population should go around constantly covered from head to toe in black cloth, whether out of modesty, humility, tradition or stealth, has a massive flaw in it.
And, while I’m at it, I think that it’s ridiculous to believe in transubstantiation, that considering the Bible to be the literal word of God reduces that supposedly omnipotent being to a muddle-headed maniac and that the Hindu caste system and Roman Catholic rules against contraception could have been invented by Satan. There! Now no one will be able to guess who’s killed me….
There’s altogether too much harping on respect and banning these days. If you can’t respect something, you should ban it. If it’s not banned, you should respect it. Bullshit. There is a huge gulf of toleration between respect and banning. In a free society, people should be allowed to do what they want wherever possible. The loss of liberty incurred by any alternative principle is too high a price to pay to stop people making dicks of themselves. But, if people are using their freedoms to make dicks of themselves, other people should be able to say so.
Full article here.
UPDATE: you can support David Mitchell for PM here.
A puzzling analogy between honour killings and filmstars February 7, 2010
According to Liz Jones of the UK Daily Mail, the stardom of Emma Watson is just as shameful to “our” society as honour killings are to the societies where those happen. Read the article here.
She draws a comparison between the victims of honour killings, like the poor Turkish girl Medine Medi, who was buried alive by her father and grandfather for having been talking to boys, and women in the “West” who suffer from the obsession with youth:
But can we in the West really claim the moral high ground when it comes to condemning these ‘honour’ killings’?
I would counter that the number of women harmed psychologically and physically by the West’s obsession with extreme youth far outstrips the number of women who are murdered for adultery, or even for the ‘crime’ of being the victim of rape in Islamic countries.
Apart from the fact that, given the choice, poor Medine would probably have preferred to be in Emma’s shoes, there are some things that grate me in this article.
I get the impression that Liz jones rather reduces Emma Watson to being a mere object with the property of “extreme youth” (I would think a new born baby is extremely young, but since being newly born happens to everyone, you can hardly call it extreme, I guess?) rather than the smart and self-determined young woman she appears to me to be. Kudos to Emma, really.
And I agree that it is likely that women in “the West” suffering physically or psychologically from the obsession with youth (which I think is there) outnumber the victims of honour killings (ergo, the ones that actually ended up dead), but the comparison is skewed.
I think it is highly likely that a lot of women in societies where honour killings take place suffer psychologically from anxiety and from their lack of freedom due to the threat of getting killed if they are believed to have consorted with guys. Also, the situations where the woman doesn’t end up dead, but just physically assaulted due to such suspicion should be taken into account if you are going to make a comparison of the suffering, if such a comparison is possible at all.
Honour killings should be stopped, there is no doubt in my mind about that. And I would really like it a lot better if there wasn’t such an obsession with youth in the world (not just “the West”, by the way, whatever “the West” may be, but that’s another matter), but I cannot possibly put an appreciation for young stars like Emma Watson on a par with burying your daughter alive for shaming the family’s honour.
(Thanks to @AllenStairs for bringing the article to my attention)
Pankaj Mishra on Islamophobia August 20, 2009
Pankaj Mishra has a fantastic article out in last weekend’s Guardian Review. He takes on a shocking range of well-received books that seem designed to stoke fears of the scary Muslims taking over the world, or at least Europe. So far, so depressing. But reading the article, I discovered how many of my own beliefs about both Islam and Europe were false, and played into the stereotypes feeding the fears– despite my being a well-educated leftist who takes herself to keep up with things pretty well, and certainly not to uncritically accept right-wing myths.
I believed that the Muslim birthrate in Europe was rising. I thought people were wrong to think this was scary, but I did think it was true. It’s not. The Muslim birthrate is falling.
I believed that French Muslims were very religiously observant. Again, I wasn’t frightened by it, but I though it was true. Only 5% of Muslims in France regularly attend mosque.
I believed that Europe had a history of tolerance. Not sure how I managed that one, given that:
I urge you to read this excellent article. (Thanks, Mr Jender!)
Want to give the appearance of diversity? Photoshop! July 10, 2009
Only please not as badly as the pictures to be found here. At least make it look as though they are in the same place:
Sometimes, of course, customers are not fans of diversity; in that case, a good rule is to remember to change the whole body, which, as you will see if you go to the site, is not always done.
Schools Asked to Watch for Forced Marriage Signs July 2, 2009
UK schools are being given guidance on signs that pupils may be getting forced into unwilling marriages, and are being asked to alert authorities. Now is a key time– as school holidays are approaching, and forced marriages often happen during the holidays. It’s clear from the way the guidance is written that schools are often reluctant to interfere in what they view as cultural or religious traditions. That’s why Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant explains:
“I should make it absolutely clear there is no culture and there is no religion in which forced marriage should be acceptable or indeed is acceptable,” he added.
“I know there are maybe some people who think this is an issue about Islam – it’s not. Islam does not recommend or accept forced marriage. Marriage in every religion has to be freely and openly consented to.”
Jasvinder Singh of Karma Nirvana, a national campaign group against forced marriages, emphasises a similar point:
“This is not something you must be culturally sensitive about,” she said. “This is a child abuse issue, and you must treat it in that way and follow your child protection procedures. Do not turn a blind eye”.
Interestingly, of course, one can agree with Singh and disagree with Bryant. Everything Singh says is true even if there *is* a religion that condones forced marriage. (Which matters, because surely there are at least some small religious sects that condone forced marriages. And there are many more where people, especially women, have few options other than obedience– which arguably counts as forcing.) thanks, Jender-Parents!
Fire service (UK) diversifies uniforms April 3, 2009
Report here on how the fire service has recently introduced new uniforms. A good example of how small- although crucial! – aspects of jobs can serve to make certain professions unappealing to those who don’t fit the ‘white male’ paradigm, and how this can be changed to move towards more inclusive workforces.
They will fit better, look more professional and, crucially, protect the wearer more efficiently from heat and flames, says the government. But the new firefighters‘ uniforms unveiled yesterday have another notable feature, being designed for the first time “for a modern, diverse workforce” – including hijab and turban versions, as well as maternity uniforms for pregnant female staff.
“We want the widest range of applicants to join the fire and rescue service,” the fire minister, Sadiq Khan, said yesterday. “It is important that all applicants know that the uniform and clothing they will be issued with will not only protect them, but will also fit properly and be comfortable.
Sounds a damn sight more practical (and protective) than this (a pretty fantastic photo though)!