Kenyan Catholic Church Takes Stand Against Female Genital Mutilation

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FGM. Female Genital Mutilation. 

This practice, which is widespread, involves holding down little girls while the women of a community hack away her external genitalia until they have cut all of it off. They then sew her vagina shut. They often also sew the labias shut, leaving only a small opening for urination. 

Over time, the resulting scar tissue create in a permanent closure which must be forced open when the girl marries. 

This terrible practice is almost universal in many parts of the Middle East, as well as Africa. it results in deaths from infection, blood loss and shock at the time of the mutilation, and deaths in childbirth later on. It also ensures horrifically painful sexual intercourse. 

FGM is the ultimate chastity belt, designed to “prove” a girl’s “virtue” to her future husband. In areas where it is practiced, it is considered a necessary component of a girl’s marriageability. 

Because people from the parts of the world where little girls are mutilated in this way are migrating in large numbers to the West, it is a growing problem here, as well. I passed a law banning Female Genital Mutilation in Oklahoma a few years back. The main obstacle to it was the ignorance of Okies about the practice and a disbelief that such a thing could happen here. 

Added to that was the propensity to kill bills simply because they could by the paid staff which actually was making most of the decisions in both the Senate and the House. I almost lost the bill. The thing that allowed me to pass it was when the Oklahoma State Medical Association, with their massive lobbying clout, came on board and backed it.

Even though I was more than glad for the OSMA’s help, the fact that they could do this indicates the power of lobbies in our legislature, as well as the lack of concern for the content of the legislation itself. At that time, it was almost impossible to pass a bill without the imprimatur of a powerful lobbying organization. 

I only mention that to make readers aware that we cannot sit back and feel superior about the barbarisms against women and girls in other parts of the world. Female Genital Mutilation is now happening in the West and we need to outlaw it and enforce those laws. 

If it’s difficult to get through the blindness about FGM here in the West, it is even more difficult to step outside of cultural misogyny in the areas where FGM is considered a social requirement.

That’s why it’s gratifying to learn that the Catholic Church in Kenya has stepped out onto the cultural ice and taken a stand against FGM. No Christian, ever, should subject their daughter to this barbaric practice. 

FGM is not required by any religion. Even though it is almost universally practiced in many Muslim countries, it is not a requirement of the Muslim faith. 

In areas where it is the cultural and social norm, both Christians and Muslims “cut” their little girls and mutilate them this way. 

This sort of mutilation of young girls is, of course, an extreme form of misogyny. It is also an expression of the grave moral injustice of the sexual double standard that has been used to terrorize and limit the lives of young girls in so many parts of the globe. 

I am thrilled that the Catholic Church in Kenya has finally come out against FGM. I hope that all Christian leaders of every denomination in every part of the world will soon follow suit. Such actions are hundreds of years overdue. Silence about the barbarism of violence against women and girls is the single greatest blot on the history of Christianity. 

Female Genital Mutilation is a deeply sinful cruelty against women and girls. No Christian should practice it, and no Christian should be silent about it. 

From AllAfrica:

The development office of the Catholic diocese of Maralal in Samburu has an active desk that is mandated to ensure that issues on gender based violence are addressed. The Church is on the frontline to fight the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation which is a harmful rite of passage, still practiced despite its negative side effects. It is one among the most common forms of gender based violence in Samburu.

Some 3 million women and girls face Female Genital Mutilation every year, while some 100 to 140 million have already undergone the practice. From a medical point of view it is unhealthy and causes adverse gynecological conditions. Some of the negative effects of the same include injury to adjacent tissues of the vagina, profuse bleeding, shock, acute urine retention, HIV/Aids infections and recurrent urinary tract Infections.

The diocese has facilitated awareness creation in Samburu County on the adverse effects of harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation, early and forced marriages and sexual violence against women. The Justice and peace Department of the diocese deals with 4-5 cases of gender based violence every week.

The Catholic Church has a girl child education and Rescue Centre in Suguta Mar Mar Parish premises, located 42 kilometres away from Samburu County headquarters. The Centre accommodates girls who have escaped from their homes to find shelter there. The girls are victims of FGM, forced/early marriages and other forms of gender based violence. The sister in charge of the rescue centre Sister Fransisca Nzilani says “it is difficult to support these girls without funding. The girls depend on the rescue centre for most of their basic needs which include sanitary towels, education, stationery, food, clothing and shelter on a monthly basis”

 

Million Woman March: Nigerian Women Pressure Government to Do More to Free Kidnapped Girls

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What part does corruption play in Nigeria’s failure to stop Boko Haram? 

 

Women and men from all over Nigeria took to the streets of the Nigerian capitol, Abuja, Wednesday in what was dubbed “The Million Woman March.”

They marched through heavy rain to issue a call for the Nigerian government to do more to free 230 teen-aged girls who were kidnapped in a bloody attack on their high school on April 14. The kidnapping has been labeled the work of Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic group who has murdered people and burned down churches with what appears to be impunity for many years.

This latest kidnapping of so many young girls has outraged Nigerians and people from locations all over the world. I asked in an earlier post why the Nigerian government seems to be so helpless in the face of attacks from this terrorist group. I also asked — and am asking still — who is funding Boko Haram.

It appears that quite a few Nigerians have the same questions. Protest organizer Hadiza Bala Usman announced the protests will be on-going in both Abuja and Lagos until the girls are freed.

“We will also demand to see the president if we don’t get any commitment from government to rescue these girls,” she said. “The government has to understand that we are not going to allow this silence to continue.”

Meanwhile, the leader of Chibok’s elders forum, Potu Bitrus, says that he has learned that the girls were trafficked into neighboring Cameroon and Chad and sold as brides to insurgents for 2,000 naira ($12.)

I think this march paints a stark picture of a government that is almost certainly too corrupt to govern. The first order of business for any government is to maintain domestic tranquility. A lot of things go into that, but providing for the public safety is the basic component. Citizens must be able to rely without question on their government to swing into action when they are attacked, kidnapped, or otherwise physically harmed in criminal actions.

Can you imagine what would happen if a group started behaving like this here in America? I’m judging almost entirely by Oklahomans, but I rather imagine that this applies to the country as a whole. If our government didn’t take care of them, I think our private citizens would do it themselves.

The government of Nigeria needs to do whatever it takes to end Boko Haram. They specifically need to get these girls back. To say that this is a civil and human rights violation is weak language for it.

Public Catholic reader Ken first brought this story to my attention.

Sources can be found here, here, here and here.

Easter in Nigeria: Boko Haram Will Not Have the Final Word

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Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, of Jos, Nigeria

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria spoke of Easter hope in the midst of suffering Sunday.

“We … cannot let Boko Haram have the final word … there is a greater force (than Boko Haram) and we there should not be overcome by a terrible fear and even paranoia that we are unable to even go out to worship,” he said.

Nigerian Christians celebrated the Resurrection in the midst of mourning. Seventy-nine people were recently killed in a bomb blast, and 129 school girls were abducted by the Islamic group to be used as slaves. Forty-four of these girls have managed to escape, a fact that gives hope.

I wrote a post earlier, asking why the government can’t track Boko Haram down and end them. It seems to me that having 44 girls who have escaped and could give information would be a major aid in doing just that.

In the meantime, Archbishop Kaigama says that Nigeria Christians, “… believe that God cannot abandon us and as a Church we continue to pray and preach nonviolence and we continue to inspire confidence in people. We should only succumb and subject ourselves to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life and who is the Resurrection.”

That thought, that we should only subject ourselves to Jesus is the essence of Christian freedom. It the call of every Christian, everywhere. Our only master should be Our Lord, which means that the many things we submit ourselves to in this life are a false calling. In the final analysis, none of us answers to anyone but Him, and, again in the final analysis, each and every one of us actually does answer to Him.

At Gethsemane

 

Gethsemane is far more than the physical garden where Jesus prayed the night He was taken.

Gethsemane is a place in the human heart, a destination we all reach. Some of us will go there many times in our lives.

Gethsemane is what I call The Alone. It is that stripped-bare moment when the pretenses and self lies that sustain us in our illusion of invincibility and significance are taken from us. Gethsemane is the realization that we are alone in a way that the glad-handing niceties of human interaction hide from us.

Emotions such as loneliness and even despair are trivialities when contrasted with the stark solitary helplessness of The Alone. It is a stunning thing to look into the eyes of another human being and see satan looking back at you. It is a soul-scouring reality to face the insignificance we really are to other people.

That is Gethsemane, and it is what Jesus faced for you. And for me.

Can you not wait with me one hour? He asked the disciples, and the question vibrates with the isolating aloneness that prompted it.

He had to face the awfulness of what was coming without human succor or understanding. When they came, when Judas struck Him to the heart with a kiss of betrayal, when He looked into the pitiless eyes of Satan, staring at him from another human face, He was alone.

That was Christ’s Gethsemane. Our Gethsemane, even though it will differ, is in some ways like it.

My friend Linda Caswell is director of All Things New, a ministry that shelters and redeems women who have been trafficked and prostituted. These women know The Alone, not as an event or passage, but as the whole of their lives. They have inhabited The Alone the way you and I inhabit our jobs, families and lives, because it has been their lives.

Most of these women have had very few positive contacts with people of faith. They avoid churches because the men who have bought them are also in the churches. Their only safety is in Jesus, but they do not understand that at first.

When Linda shows them the movie that Mel Gibson made, The Passion of the Christ, it inevitably breaks through the hard shell of their defenses. Women who do not understand the Gospels as anything but a lie told by lying liars who buy and sell them break down and sob uncontrollably when they see Jesus humiliated, beaten, tortured and disregarded.

This Jesus, the One who prayed “let this cup pass” in Gethsemane, they understand. And by the miracle of the grace of the cross, they believe that this Jesus understands them.

Their lives, which have been an unending Gethsemane, open to this Brother God who was beaten, tortured, humiliated and disregarded as they have been.

Because He understands. Because He does not disregard them. Because He is the only One who can go with them into The Alone of their personal Gethsemanes.

Jesus Christ suffered for us to redeem us from our sins, from the things we’ve done. He also suffered to redeem us from the things that have been done to us. In this cruel world, the things that are done to us can cut deeper and leave us less able to see the Divine than our sins.

We put people outside the bright circles of acceptability that we draw around ourselves and those we deem worthy. We cast them into the hell of unending Gethsemane where no one keeps vigil with them and no one cares that they are alone.

Only Jesus, Who has been there, can penetrate The Alone of our lives. He is the One, the only One, who can draw people back from the man-made abyss of life lived in The Alone where we cast so many of the people that He died to save.

It is important to remember this at all times, but especially today when we re-enact the Last Supper. Jesus was becoming Christ on this night when He gave us the Eucharist and the servant priesthood. He was teaching us how to love with a love that passes all human understanding and how to live the life of the Kingdom in this world. He was showing us that even in our Gethsemane, even in the deepest pit of The Alone, we are never alone, for He is always there.

And he will keep watch with us, not just for an hour, but for the whole of this life and into the one beyond.

 

Nigeria: Islamic Extremists Kidnap 100 Girls from School

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Boko Haram has kidnapped over 100 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Nigeria.

Boko Haram gunmen stormed the town after dark, set fire to several buildings and engaged government troops who were guarding the school in gunfire. They evidently overpowered the troops, then loaded the girls on a truck and drove away.

According to a RightScoop article, the purpose of the abductions is to use the girls for both sex slaves and slave laborers.

Al Qaeda and charitable fronts, including at least one such front in Britain are reputed to be funding the terrorist organization.  This raises the question in my mind as to who, exactly, “Al Qaeda” is. I know that we’ve heard the name in news stories over and over, but who are they? Where are they getting the money to fund rebels in a war in Syria and a guerrilla war in Nigeria, as well as all sorts of disruptive engagements elsewhere?

Aside from all other questions, war on any scale does not come cheap, and money on a war-making scale is not quiet. Who is selling them their armaments, and who is paying for them? Who is supplying them with food, clothing and shelter? Who buys the pickup trucks and motorcycles they ride around in? Who sells them the gasoline and who maintains the vehicles? Where are these vehicles parked when they’re not in use?

This is a large scale operation, and it is inexplicable to me that the Nigerian government can not track it down. If they are coming over the border from neighboring countries, why can’t that be tracked?

As for Syria, this an outright war effort that has engaged the Syrian government in a fight for its life. Again, who is feeding/supplying/training/housing a whole army of rebels?

I do not believe that governments in the West are ignorant of the answers to these questions. Money of this magnitude is a force. It’s like a big river, and like all big rivers, it has tributaries and runs in a course. Shoulder-shrugging and waving of the Al Qaeda bogeyman is beginning to look like a way to keep from telling the truth.

I’m asking these questions because I don’t “get” why the Nigerian government is so incapable of tracking these killers down and taking them out. If this was the first time this kind of attack had happened, the government’s inability to respond would make a kind of sense. However, after years of these atrocities, you’d think somebody would have figured out a plan of action.

Reports I’ve read about this raid said that the terrorists showed up riding motorcycles and driving trucks. I know this is a naive question, but why is the Nigerian government so helpless in the face of that?

People I know from Nigeria have told me that corruption is a way of doing business there, including corruption throughout all levels of government. Does corruption play a part in the government’s inability to track these killers down? What effect does the divided loyalties of the country’s Muslims have on the issue?

To circle back around, who, exactly, is putting this together? I seriously doubt that a bunch of thugs on motorcycles and driving pick-up trucks are the big brains who have raised the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to fund and organize a long-term operation like this.

These repetitive stories of Boko Haram attacking unarmed civilians and then riding off into the night unchallenged are beginning to grate.

I’ll go back to my earlier question. Who is Al Qaeda? By that I mean who is bankrolling them, arming them and feeding this blood-thirsty beast of war on civilian populations by groups of thugs?

 

Shame on Everybody: Michigan Senate Race Debate Over Abortion

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Shame on everybody.

I would love to single out one of the mud-slingers and propagandizers in this little set-to and say “Fie on you!” But I can’t. So, I guess I’ll just say “Fie on everybody!” and be done with it.

United States Congressman Gary Peters is running for the United States Senate in Michigan. He evidently drug his kids into a debate over an abortion law, saying that as the father of daughters

… I struggle with how to tell them that the state we love and where our family has been for generations is now unfairly discriminating against them and makes health care less affordable.

I understand why this comment would raise the ire of anyone reading it. What kind of man drags his own kids into something this ugly? And what a schlocky way to do it.

Thankfully, the other fine folks in Michigan didn’t attack the daughters directly. But their reply comes close to matching the Congressman’s for sheer jerkiness. According to the pro life people of Michigan, Congressman Peters “wants to make sure abortion is accessible and cheap for his daughters.”

Maybe the harsh winter has frozen their brains up in Michigan. Can anyone in that state talk about important issues without getting down in the pits? I can think of a lot of ways to defend Michigan’s pro life laws, all of them based on principle and a call to higher orders of thinking. I could also, if I wanted, defend a position in opposition to such laws without ever once painting a target on my kids.

ThinkProgressive, which reported this story, added the cherry on top with its painfully biased reporting. Here’s how the reporter who wrote the story described the law in question:

The statement comes in response to a controversial new abortion restriction in Michigan that took effect earlier this month. Women who buy health insurance in Obamacare’s private market are now barred from purchasing a plan that includes abortion coverage, even if they want to end a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest. They’ll be required to purchase a separate rider if they want an abortion procedure to be covered, which has led reproductive rights supporters to decry the measure as a rape insurance law.

I haven’t read the Michigan law, but there are a number of similar laws around the country. I am assuming that all this one does is not allow health insurance plans to pay for abortions. If someone wants to have abortion coverage in their insurance, then all they have to do is buy a rider providing it. I doubt very much that the questions of rape and incest enter into it.

I’m guessing that the Michigan pro abortion people couldn’t come up with an intelligent way to oppose this law, so they decided to claim that it is somehow aimed at victims of rape and incest. In my humble opinion, this line argument exploits rape and incest victims.

Evidently, a Michigan legislator joined the fray by talking about her own sexual assault in a speech. I’ve watched bits of the debate on this bill, and what I saw was a deliberate mis-characterization of the law in order to exploit women and girls who have suffered these horrible crimes against their humanity. I honestly regard it as a kind of social rape to do this to women.

I could really go off into a rant here, as the subject of violence against women always gets me going. I feel sorry for the legislator who talked about her own sexual assault in this manner. But, as I said, the bill does not address that issue. Conflating it with that issue is propaganda and exploitation of women who have suffered the dehumanizing effects of sexual assault.

I am also sick to the core of hearing people claim that abortion is the answer to rape. Abortion hides rape and lets the rapist off the hook. Abortion is, in a very real way, an accommodation to rape. It is disgusting to me that our idea of “helping” rape victims is to give them the option of adding the murder of their own child to what has already happened to them.

As I said in another post when I quoted a line from Rob Roy, it’s not the child that needs killing. I said this, even though I am opposed to the death penalty, because I want to make it clear who is at fault here: It is the rapist. We need to stop sexualizing and degrading women in our culture, and we also need to put these guys away and never let them out again.

I could say more, but I’m going to stop.

As for the fine folks in Michigan who, on both sides, have taken this debate about the value of human life and the humanity of women down in the basement: Shame on all of you.

How to Present the Christian Message When the Message is the Medium

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The media is hard-selling abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and now polygamy and polyamory. It is also pushing farming women’s bodies for eggs and using women as pregnancy surrogates.

That is the real-world situation. We need to be aware of it. We need to do what we can to make other Christians aware of it, so that they see it for what it is. But what, beyond that, should we do?

We must learn how to communicate our message in today’s world. We can, you know. We’ve just got to stop bemoaning the situation and start thinking about what we can do.

This video gives a brief discussion of how Christianity has historically communicated its message. That’s a good place to start as we move forward to how we will communicate it in today’s world.

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Complaint Filed Against Oklahoma Abortionist — Again

 

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Source: Operation Rescue

Pro life Okies are well acquainted with Dr Nareshkuma Gandalal Patel.

He runs an abortion clinic in an office complex on the north side of Oklahoma City.

Operation Rescue has recently filed complaints against Dr Patel with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. The complaints concern violations of clinic regulations. One of the allegations — “Improper disposal of medical waste” — resurrects memories of previous problems the doctor has had.

In 1993, Dr Patel was in the news for dumping the bodies of babies he had aborted in the countryside. He admitted that he had disposed of nearly 60 infant corpses by putting them in plastic bags and dumping the bags in a field near Shawnee, Oklahoma.

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Source: Operation Rescue

 

He has been disciplined twice by the Oklahoma Medical Board for Unprofessional Conduct relating to his abortion business. He has also been charged with forcible oral sodomy and sexual battery of his patients. An employee of his has sought and received a protective order against Dr Patel.

Needless to say, it wasn’t a surprise when I read that Dr Patel is in trouble again. What did surprise me is the wealth he has accrued from his abortion business. According to Operation Rescue, Patel owns $39.4 million in real estate and has a net worth of $28 million. His personal income exceeds $1.4 million.

From Operation Rescue:

Oklahoma City, OK – Millionaire Oklahoma abortionist Nareshkumar Gandalal “Naresh” Patel, who once faced charges of raping and sodomizing his abortion patients, is once again under investigation after Operation Rescue filed a five-count complaint against him with the State Attorney General’s office, the Oklahoma Health Department, and the Oklahoma Medical Board.

The complaints were based on documents and medical waste that had been discarded in a publicly-accessible trash receptacle near Patel’s Outpatient Services for Women abortion clinic in Oklahoma City. The material was received by Operation Rescue from an anonymous source on March 18, 2013.

Pope Francis: Peace Depends on Human Dignity

 

 

Following the teachings of the Catholic Church means that you will always be on the right side of history, which is the side of human dignity.

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I Am a Feminist and I Have a Wish List for Pope Francis

Kathy Schiffer, who writes at Seasons of Grace, published a post today about one feminist’s list of things she’d like to see Pope Francis do.

Kathy does a fine job of critiquing this To Do List — which was written by Angela Bonavoglia — from the viewpoint of a faithful Catholic.

Predictably, there was not one thing on this list that would help, or that even addresses, the real problems that endemic misogyny foists on real woman in the real world.

The list was all about demands that the Catholic Church change its hierarchy, appoint a woman cardinal and, oh yes, do away with the celibate priesthood. There was a call to “leave behind the Virgin Birth,” and the predictable demand that the Church get its head right about abortion and contraception.

The only thing on the list that I agree with is that the Vatican should have women on the panels when it discusses women. That’s what you might call a no-brainer. I’ll go a step further and say that the Church should have women on its advisory panels on most topics. We are, after all, half the human race.

I am aware that virtually all of today’s “official” feminists do not consider me much of a woman, much less a feminist, due to my support for the sanctity of human life. Abortion has become the qualifier for what is a feminist in their minds. This is a tragedy, both for feminism and for the women of the world who are in such desperate need of a movement that will speak for them and to them.

The author of the Pope Francis To Do List left out the two fundamental human rights that are denied women in every corner of this globe. She didn’t mention the basic and absolutely essential right to life for female babies and little girls. She also ignored the human right of all people — including women — to live without fear of being bought, sold, raped, beaten, tortured or murdered.

Think about this for a minute.

Girls right here in America are regularly cautioned not to drink from open containers at parties for fear their drink might be drugged and they will end up gang raped by the men at the party. Girls in college dorms are cautioned about this before going to fraternity parties. These fraternities and their behavior are that well known. But the college administration does nothing about it except to caution the girls to be careful.

Here’s a thought Mr or Ms College President: If you can’t trust a fraternity not to drug and gang rape their guests, maybe you should close the fraternity.

Women all over the world know that they cannot go outside alone in certain areas, that they may not wear certain types of clothes, all for fear of violent attack.

Certain cultures here in America and whole cultures elsewhere tolerate husbands who routinely rape their wives, because she “belongs to him.”

Women are bought and sold like chattel on on-line porn sites, on the streets and byways, and in the offices of medical doctors. Egg harvesters run ads on college campuses to entice young girls to endanger their lives and their future fertility by allowing their bodies to be brutalized by massive doses of hormones, then subjected to totally unnecessary surgeries in order to harvest eggs. Women are used in an international surrogacy industry that leaves many of them, especially in other countries, dead.

Women and children of both sexes are trafficked all over the globe in an international sex trafficking industry. This industry could not exist without men who are willing to buy women and children and use them as if they were things.

Sex tourism is a major contributor to the economies of a number of small countries, including island nations in the Caribbean. Again, this could not happen without customers who come from more affluent places to buy human beings and use them without regard for their humanity.

This leads me to an admission.

I have a wish list for Pope Francis of my own.

It’s the same wish list I’ve had for every pope since I converted to Catholicism. It will be my wish list until I either go home to the Lord, or a pope finally grants it.

I want to see a full-scale Encyclical condemning the wholesale, endemic and historic violence against women that is the shame of the human race. I have written previous popes letters, asking them to do this. I haven’t written Pope Francis about it yet, but I must. I will.

I can not describe what such an encyclical would mean to the women of the world. It is so needed — and so long overdue.

As for the feminist woman and her list of things she wants Pope Francis to do, my advice is for her to stop making her feminism about her grudge fights with the Church and start making it about the needs of women who are faced with virulent, degrading and often fatal misogyny.


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