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The Ward Weaver Case

On January 9, 2002, in Oregon City, Oregon, Ashley Pond, age 12, disappeared on her way to meet the school bus. It was just after 8 a.m. and Ashley was running late. The bus stop was just 10 minutes from the Newell Creek Village Apartments where Ashley lived with her mother, Lori Pond. But Ashley Pond never got on the bus and never made it to Gardiner Middle School.

Despite the efforts of the local authorities and the FBI, no clues surfaced as to whereabouts of the missing girl.

Ashley was popular at school and enjoyed being on the swim and dance teams. Neither her mother, friends or the investigators believed she had run away.

On March 8, 2002, just two months after Ashley disappeared, Miranda Gaddis, 13, also vanished around 8 a.m. while on her way to the bus stop at the top of the hill. Miranda and Ashley were good friends, and they lived in the same apartment complex. Miranda's mother, Michelle Duffey, had left for work within 30 minutes before Miranda was to catch the bus.

When Duffey found out that Miranda had not been at school, she immediately contacted the police, but once again, investigators came up empty. Without any leads to follow, the investigators began looking into the possibility that the person that abducted the girls were someone they knew and whoever it was seemed to be targeting the same type of girl. Ashley and Miranda were close in age, involved in similar activities, looked remarkably similar to each other, but most importantly, they both disappeared on the way to the bus stop.

A GRISLY DISCOVERY On August 13, 2002, Ward Weaver's son contacted 9-1-1 and reported that his father had attempted to rape his 19-year-old girlfriend. He also told the dispatcher that his father told him that he murdered Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis. Both of the girls were friends with Weaver's 12-year-old daughter and had visited her at Weaver's home.

On August 24, FBI agents searched Weaver's home and found the remains of Miranda Gaddis inside a box in the storage shed. The following day, they found the remains of Ashley Pond buried under a slab of concrete that Weaver had recently put down for a hot tub, or so he claimed.

WARD WEAVER WAS A CHALLENGE FOR FBI INVESTIGATORS Shortly after Ashley and Miranda disappeared, Ward Weaver III was a prime suspect in the investigation, but it took the FBI eight months to get a search warrant that eventually turned up their bodies on Weaver's property.

The problems for investigators were that they were awash in possible suspects -- some 28 suspects that lived in the same apartment complex could not be ruled out -- and for months authorities had no real evidence that a crime had been committed.

It was not until Weaver attacked his son's girlfriend, that the FBI was able to obtain a warrant to search his property.

WARD WEAVER Weaver, a brutal man with a long history of violence and assaults against women. He was also the man that Ashley Pond reported for attempted rape, but the authorities never investigated her complaint.

On October 2, 2002, Weaver was indicted and charged with six counts of aggravated murder, two counts of abuse of a corpse in the second degree, one count of sexual abuse in the first degree and one count of attempted rape in the second degree, one count of attempted aggravated murder, one count of attempted rape in the first degree and one count of sexual abuse in the first degree, one count of sexual abuse in the second degree and two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree.

To avoid the death penalty, Weaver pleaded guilty to murdering his daughter's friends. He received two life sentences without parole for the deaths of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis.

REAL ROLE MODELS On February 14, 2014, Weaver's stepson Francis was arrested and charged with the murder of a drug dealer in Canby, Oregon. He was found guilty and given a life sentence. This made Frances the third generation of Weavers that were murderers.

Ward Pete Weaver, Jr., Ward's father, was sent to California's death row for the murder of two people. He buried one of his victims under a slab of concrete.

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Men are our competitors. We want less of those around. Women are our prey. We want them poor and helpless.

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Chad is the country most vulnerable to climate change – here's why

Of the 186 countries assessed in a recent survey of climate vulnerability, Chad was rated most in peril. A combination of high poverty, frequent conflicts, and the risk of both droughts and floods means the central African nation is bottom of the list, just below Bangladesh and some way behind Norway, the country least vulnerable to climate change.

So why Chad? For a start, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. Around 87% of Chadians are classified as poor, according to the Multidimentional Poverty Index, which factors in health, education and living standards. That’s the fourth highest rate in the world. The percentage who are “destitute” (63%), the most extreme category of poverty, is also the fourth highest in the world.

This is exacerbated by the fact that the country has been in civil war or conflict for 35 out of the 57 years since it gained independence from France.

Any poor or conflict-prone country will always be vulnerable, but Chad’s geography means climate change is a particular risk. Chad is bigger than many Westerners may realise. At 1.28m km² it’s larger than Nigeria and twice the size of Texas. Around 90% of its 10m people live in the southern half of the country, as most of the northern half extends well into the Sahara desert.

Most Chadians base their livelihoods on subsistence farming and livestock rearing. The semi-arid rangelands of the Sahel, in the north of the country, provide pasture for livestock during the rainy season, while the fertile agricultural fields in the south produce most of the cash and food crops. When the dry season begins, pastoralists move their herds south to feed on the leftovers of the agricultural harvest.

Chad’s changing climate

Since the mid-20th century, temperatures in Chad have been increasing while rainfall is decreasing. Ninety percent of the country’s largest lake, Lake Chad, has disappeared over the past 50 years due to a combination of droughts and increasing withdrawals for irrigation. Climate studies project things will get increasingly hot and arid throughout the 21st century, which means lower crop yields, worse pasture, and a harder life for anyone dependent on Lake Chad.

Rural areas are most at risk from climate change because that’s where most of the population, and most of the poverty, is found. However, urban areas are not safe either, as the country’s growing cities struggle to accommodate the arrival of new residents. Sanitation services like sewage, storm water drainage and waste collection are poor, according to the World Bank. In the event of floods, as happened in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the infrastructure cannot cope and untreated sewage could infect the water supply, creating a high risk of infectious diseases such as cholera.

Demographic challenges

Chad’s population is mostly young, and high youth unemployment has already caused unrest in the capital N’djamena. Vulnerability to climate is made worse by civil unrest or conflict because people cannot receive the help they need during climate-related disasters such as droughts or floods.

Chad also hosts some 300,000 refugees from Darfur on its eastern border with Sudan, according to UN figures, while an additional 67,000 refugees from the Central African Republic are in camps on its southern border. These refugees consume Chad’s limited resources and sometimes compete with the local population. This creates resentment and sometimes violence between the refugees and their hosts.

To make matters worse, the Boko Haram crisis in northeastern Nigeria has spilled over to the Lac region of Chad, which now has more than 60,000 displaced people registered there and several thousand more that are unregistered. This is worrying as the country’s unemployed youth, restless and with plenty of time on their hands, could be at risk of recruitment and radicalisation by Boko Haram.

The way forward

Despite these challenges, there are ways to mitigate the effect of climate change. For instance, farmers in Chad’s semi-arid Sahelian zone have been using an indigenous rainwater harvesting technique called Zaï to successfully grow crops. Zaï involves the digging of small pits and sowing crops in them. The pits retain water for a long period of time and are particularly efficient when there isn’t much rain.

The Zaï technique was enhanced by introducing manure and compost into the pits to provide nutrients to the crops. This helped rehabilitate soils that are heavily degraded and significantly increased the yields of food crops.

Agroforestry, the combining of crops and trees in the same patch of land, can also help mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Tree roots stabilise soils and protect them from eroding during heavy rainfall, while also restoring fertility simply by producing litter which eventually makes its way back into the earth.

Of course, any country would be better placed to deal with climate change if it simply became much wealthier. Chad began producing petroleum in 2003, and it now accounts for 93% of all exports. However, this left the country vulnerable to declines in oil prices. So, when the price did indeed crash in late 2014, Chad suffered a significant loss of revenue. Needless to say, the impact of climate-related disasters such as droughts or floods becomes magnified if the country does not have the resources to combat them.

Chad cannot rely on oil forever. Farming is still the mainstay of its economy and, in the longer term, developing sustainable agriculture and livestock farming will be key in providing employment and maintaining food security.

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If you are still invested in the real estate of European cities, get out! A terrorist attack with chemical weapons will happen. Even if it doesn't kill many people, it will drive prices down. Accross the continent.

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95 percent of the victims of work accidents are men. Because women are cowards, and just want to rule from behind.

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A Company Aims to Put Good Karma and Energy Close at Hand

CRANSTON, R.I. — Do you want “limitless power, limitless good karma, and limitless wisdom”? Alex and Ani’s promotional material tells you to buy the Buddha Charm Bangle, available for $28. Do you want “divine direction and soulful enlightenment”? They recommend the Saint Anthony Charm Bangle, for the same price. For the union of masculine and feminine energy, Alex and Ani offers the Star of David Charm Bangle, at $24.

Last year, Alex and Ani, founded in 2004 by Carolyn Rafaelian and named for her two eldest daughters, sold $230 million worth of these amulets. Its bangles, necklaces, earrings and rings are available in 40 Alex and Ani stores in the United States, and in 1,500 other retail outlets around the world. According to a company spokesperson, the company moved over 18 million units “between 2012 and 2013.”

The growth of Alex and Ani poses a question: Is the company a capitalist success story, run by a single mom in the same midsize New England town where she grew up? Or is it a worldwide church, whose tokens of membership, worn on the wrist or around the neck, happen to generate booming sales?

This is the United States, so the answer must be both. Alex and Ani’s profits have increased fiftyfold since 2010. It is opening new stores all the time, and soon it will unveil a handbag line. But Ms. Rafaelian also believes, sincerely, in the supernatural power of what she sells.

At her company’s headquarters, I asked Ms. Rafaelian about the claim, in “Path of Life: Why I Wear My Alex and Ani,” a glossy book available for sale in all Alex and Ani stores, that “Alex and Ani creates products that capture energy.” What does that mean?

Ms. Rafaelian, 47, said she worked “with physicists all over the world” to imbue her products with energy. “We clean the metals,” she added, and “they hold vibration of pure energy, healing love.” Before they are sold in the store, “every product has been blessed by my priests, it has been blessed by my shaman friends, protected from radio frequency, from radioactivity.”

To learn more, Ms. Rafaelian suggested, I should speak with Marisa Morin, an animal therapist from Oregon and her principal design consultant.

“Carolyn and I work together in prayer and meditation to be inspired about what we feel inspired to create,” said Ms. Morin, a close friend for 20 years. When they decide on a design, Ms. Morin makes sure the proposed item can be ethically produced. “If the design is something new, like right now it’s handbags, we ask, ‘Is the leather tanned without toxic materials?’ You have no idea how hard it is to find that.”

Ms. Morin researches the design to see that it is faithful to the spiritual tradition it comes from. “I may make a phone call to three or four scholars on one piece of jewelry, to make sure this is the right design,” she said.

Every purchase comes with a black card detailing its spiritual charism. I bought my wife the Monkey Charm Bangle, and its card noted that “the ancient Mayans portrayed the monkey as an openhearted being that was ever in a state of creative and joyful wonder.” The bangle’s wearer is implored to embrace the charm’s “energy” to “stay socially conscious.”

Ms. Rafaelian, and her company’s website, are mostly careful not to state that a charm will make you a better person. The claim is more that the jewelry inspires you to put good energy out in the world. And if you put out good energy, good things will come back to you.

This New Age principle, often called the law of attraction, is a central teaching of best-selling gurus like Louise Hay and Rhonda Byrne, author of “The Secret.” This teaching does encourage people to do good, and Alex and Ani has a robust program of charitable giving. For example, nonprofits can use Alex and Ani stores for two-hour fund-raisers, during which time a percentage of all sales are donated to the charity. The company has given away $9.4 million since 2011, according to a spokesperson.

On the flip side, the law of attraction implies that people are responsible for the bad things that befall them: put out bad energy, get back bad energy. Ms. Rafaelian said she does not believe that people bring tragedy on themselves. But when I proposed the hypothetical case of, say, a woman who had been raped multiple times, her reply suggested that if the woman was not to blame, somehow her energy was.

“That poor person may have to experience some horrific things until they learn something on such a subconscious level that they can elevate from that place, and they won’t have to deal with that experience again,” she said. “When these things happen over and over to the same people, they have to have their own space to remember their true beautiful self and say, ‘Physically and emotionally, this isn’t for me anymore.’ ”

According to John L. Modern, the author of “Secularism in Antebellum America,” Alex and Ani’s products stand in a thriving, and particularly American, tradition.

“It is not a coincidence you have this flowering of what they called ‘energy theology’ at same time the market revolution is happening,” Dr. Modern said. The belief that we are all connected by an invisible energy field offers a sense of mastery in the midst of uncertainty. So as people began to fear that their fates were dictated by corporations and governments in far-off cities, “this language of the occult, of spiritualism, mesmerism, animal magnetism, going on intensely from 1830 forward, was happening alongside capitalism.”

Thus, Dr. Modern said, “you have crystal stuff in the New Age in the 1970s, the red-string kabbalah stuff” — in which plain red strings are sold as Jewish bracelets, to ward off “the evil eye” — “and Wilhelm Reich and the ‘orgone accumulator’ in the 1950s, a box made out of aluminum and glass. This invention, he promised, would harness and focus the ‘orgone energy.’ ” Dr. Reich, a famous psychoanalyst, promised that if you got in the box, disabilities, and even cancer, could be cured.

Ms. Rafaelian’s promises for her jewelry are, for the most part, more modest. The ad copy for the Delta Delta Delta Charm Bangle ($32), honoring the sorority once mocked by “Saturday Night Live,” avers that women “keep the earthly balance that comes with consistently nurturing loved ones.” There’s no promise that the bangle will help a woman be a better sorority sister. But if the bangle even puts the wearer in mind of sisterhood, Ms. Rafaelian believes, that will have an effect.

“Thought is an energy source,” Ms. Rafaelian said. “Once you have a thought, it literally goes into this blueprint that is spread out, and this blueprint takes on a whole life of its own.”

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Injections of Botox into the penis probably are the most effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. Every artery and vein in the body is surrounded by a layer of smooth muscle. Otherwise there could not be variations in blood pressure. When the muscles around blood vessels contract, this is called vadoconstriction. When the muscles around blood vessels relax, this is called vasodilation.

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British newlyweds found dead in Cambodian seaside town

Stuff

A British couple has died in what appears to be a double suicide, less than a week after tying the knot in Cambodia.

The bodies of Robert Wells, 36, from Sunderland, and his wife, Imogen Goldie, 28, from south London, were found at a guesthouse in the seaside resort town of Sihanoukville on New Year's Day, The Guardian reported.

The apparent double suicide was believed to have taken place on New Year's Eve, Goldie's birthday.

Wells and Sunderland had been married just days earlier on Christmas Day, Wells' mother Collette Wells told The Guardian.

"They were on holiday and he rang me on Boxing Day to tell me they were married on one of the Cambodian islands," she said.

"He told me he loved her so very much, she meant the world to him and he would do anything for her. Unfortunately that was the last I heard."

The pair met in 2014 and in 2016 decided to go travelling "until the money ran out".

Collette Wells said Cambodian officials did not contact her with news of her son's death. She received confirmation through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Local police told media investigations were continuing.

"We are convinced this is not murder, despite many people asking questions how these deaths were possible," Sihanoukville deputy police chief Colonel Bour Sothy said.

Cambodian media reported that an alleged suicide note, which referred to mental health struggles and referred to failings by the UK's National Health Service, was found in the guesthouse.

Collette Wells set up a crowdfunding page to raise money to get to Cambodia.

"I am desperate to get out there to cremate him and bring his ashes home," she wrote.

The page, which had a target of £3,000 (NZ$5,320), had so far raised almost £4,000.

Pixie Jones wrote on the page: "Im so sorry x your son was a beautiful caring and genuine individual xxx stars will shine for him always xxx [sic]."

Goldie's mother Diane Goldie set up a similar page to raise money for her and her youngest daughter to travel to Cambodia.

"After the tragic news that my daughter was found dead on her 28th birthday by suicide in Cambodia, I'm looking to raise the funds quickly to help raise airfare to take her sister there to cremate her and bring her ashes home," she wrote.

"This cruel system failed both my daughter and her husband, Robert , leaving them to find solutions to their mental health issues by their own hands . Will you help me bring my baby back home please?"

She had also exceeded her target of £5,000.

Laura Lola High wrote on the page: "I am thankful your daughter was in my life, I didn't know her well, but we were very close for a short period of time, she made some of my darker days much brighter. Xxx"

Wells said she was devastated to have not even seen a photograph of her son's wedding, although the couple shared an image of their intertwined hands with matching tattoos on their ring fingers.

Friends of the couple left tributes on social media.

The pair had already changed their names on Facebook to Imogen Goldie-Wells and Robert Goldie-Wells, respectively.

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Socrates, clearly recognized as a wise man, stated that women have no place in public life. And right he was.

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Controversial surgeon claims he’s just three years away from first human brain transplant

The Italian expert, 52, said he was working with a US cryogenics firm.

Hundreds have had their remains frozen hoping to be brought back to life in the future.

The controversial neurosurgeon said they would not have to wait the expected 100 years for a new body.

He said: “We will be ready in three years at the latest.”

He dismissed critics who say freezing brains damages them beyond repair.

The professor said transplanting an entire head was harder because of vessels, nerves, tendons and muscles.

He claimed the biggest problem will be when patients wake after the operation.

The medic from Turin, Italy, said: “No aspect of your original external body remains the same.”

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Serge Kreutz lifestyle consultancy is available for 10,000 USD. It covers setting up in Asia and how to enjoy an endless series of love affairs with young beautiful women. No prostitutes but students and virgins.

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You probably have to look at imagery of death and dying regularly to stay focused on what really counts in life: great sex before you are gone anyway.

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Has the Normalizing of Pedophilia Begun?

CNN hosts scientist who sympathizes with child predators claims 'brain's wiring' to blame

Do people who rape children, or fantasize about sexually abusing them, deserve sympathy – because they were born with the brains of pedophiles?

That’s the question a prominent scientist and a well-known anchor at CNN have asked in the wake of the recent Jerry Sandusky scandal.

CNN recently featured a story by James Cantor, a homosexual psychologist and scientist at the Sexual Behaviors Clinic of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health who serves as associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

“It appears that one can be born with a brain predisposed to experience sexual arousal in response to children,” he wrote in his CNN piece.

He continued, “Cases of child molestation that involve long strings of victims over the course of years illustrate what can happen when someone gives in to, or outright indulges, his sexual interests, regardless of its potential damage on others. It is those cases that dominate headlines and provoke revulsion toward pedophiles.

“But they are rare. An untold number of cases merit sympathy.

“The science suggests that they are people who, through no fault of their own, were born with a sex drive that they must continuously resist, without exception, throughout their entire lives. Little if any assistance is ever available for them.”

According to the American Psychological Association, Cantor is passionate about the neurological underpinnings of sexual behavior and jokes, “I feel lucky to have found a way to stimulate my brain intellectually by indulging myself in thinking about sex all the time.”

He has studied the brains of male pedophiles using magnetic resonance imaging. Cantor explained his findings:

“Pedophilic men have significantly less white matter, which is the connective tissue that is responsible for communication between different regions in the brain. Pedophiles perform more poorly on various tests of brain function, tend to be shorter in height and are three times more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous (characteristics that are observable before birth). Although nonbiological features may yet turn up to be relevant, it is difficult, if not impossible, to explain the research findings without there being a strong role of biology.”

He explains, from his experience with such individuals, that pedophiles act on their sexual urges and molest children “when they feel the most desperate.”

“Yet, much of what society does has been to increase rather than decrease their desperation,” he wrote.

In the U.S., Cantor notes, the focus tends to be on punishments invoked after sex abuse has taken place – rather than implementing social policies aimed at prevention.

“If it is the brain’s wiring that ultimately determines who will go on to develop pedophilia, can we detect it early enough to interrupt the process?” he asks. “Until we uncover more information, we will do more good by making it easier for pedophiles to come in for help rather than force them into solitary secrecy.”

Meanwhile, a CNN anchor chimed in to express sympathy for Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 child sex-abuse charges after he molested at least 10 boys over a period of 15 years.

CNN’s Don Lemon, an open homosexual who has revealed he was molested as a child, interviewed Cantor about his findings. In that segment, he said:

“I know people are going to send me a lot of hate mail for this. I’ve never been one to take glee in anyone’s demise, and when I saw Jerry Sandusky walk out in handcuffs, I did kind of feel a bit sorry for him, even though I know the jury found him to do some horrific things, I was like ‘His life is over.’ All of these young boys, it was terrible for them as well. There are no winners.”

Meanwhile, some experts warn of a highly controversial campaign in recent years that seeks to sympathize with – and even normalize – pedophilia.

Just last year, Dr. Judith Reisman, the principal expert investigator for a U.S. Justice Department study on child sex abuse, said pedophilia advocates are using the same strategy that was successfully employed to make homosexuality a classroom subject for small children in the nation’s public schools.

As WND reported, Reisman attended a symposium held by the “minor-attracted people” advocacy group B4U-ACT to disseminate “accurate information” on the position that pedophilia is just one more alternative sexual orientation.

“If a foreign country came in and did this to our nation, the nation would be outraged,” Reisman said about the B4U-Act event, also attended by J. Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action.

The speakers urged the removal of pedophilia from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental defects in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Reisman explained the same strategy was used by homosexual activists in the 1970s when same-sex attractions were removed from the APA’s list of disorders. Eventually, the legalization of “gay marriage,” the mandatory homosexuality lessons in public schools and the policy of allowing open homosexuality in the U.S. military resulted.

“Dr. John Sadler (University of Texas) argued that diagnostic criteria for mental disorders should not be based on concepts of vice since such concepts are subject to shifting social attitudes and doing so diverts mental-health professions from their role as healers,” the B4U-ACT organization said in a report about its symposium in Baltimore.

Another celebrity was Fred Berlin of Johns Hopkins who argued in favor of “acceptance of and compassion for people who are attracted to minors,” the report continued.

The report pointedly referred to “minor-attracted people” in reference to pedophiles and explained that the concerns can be resolved with “accurate information.” Richard Kramer, who represented B4U-ACT at the event, contended listing pedophilia as a disorder stigmatizes the “victims” of the lifestyle choice.

According to Barber, conference speakers said the Diagnostic Manual should “focus on the needs” of the pedophile and should have “a minimal focus on social control” rather than a focus on the “need to protect children.”

Barber, an ardent advocate for Judeo-Christian values and the traditional family, told WND the symposium was “the North American Man-Boy Love Association all dolled up and dressed in the credible language of the elitist Ph.Ds.”

NAMBLA openly advocates the legalization of sex between adults and children.

“This is a bunch of morally relative, highly educated people in the mental health community who are trying to achieve the ultimate in tolerance,” Barber said. “These are the people who are the disciples of Alfred Kinsey.”

It was in the 1940s and 1950s that sex “researcher” Kinsey published his writings ridiculing marriage, fidelity and chastity and preaching widespread sexual experimentation. But according to Reisman’s research, in “Sexual Sabotage,” Kinsey’s “research” was compiled from information frequently obtained from jailed sex offenders and then portrayed as coming from middle-class America.

Barber said the symposium themes became clear quickly:

Pedophiles are unfairly “demonized” in society.

The concept of “wrong” should not be applied to “minor-attracted persons.”

“Children are not inherently unable to consent” to sex with an adult.

“An adult’s desire to have sex with children is ‘normative.'” And the Diagnostic Manual “ignores that pedophiles ‘have feelings of love and romance for children’ the same way adult heterosexuals have for each other.”

Barber noted that self-described “gay activist” and speaker Jacob Breslow said it is proper for children to be “the object of our attraction.” Breslow said pedophiles shouldn’t need to get consent from a child to have sex any more than they would get consent from a shoe to wear it, according to Barber.

Berlin previously reported that 67 percent of pedophiles and child molesters relapse after being treated for the disorder. But the few who didn’t were tracked for a period of only two years, and any recidivism after that was unreported. And Reisman noted that even his success “stories” are anonymous and “wholly unverified.”

In a related commentary on WND, Reisman said, “The APA path to pedophile norms follows the success of the homosexual anarchy campaign. Arguably, the pedophile media lobby directed the passionate boy-boy kisses on the TV series ‘Glee,’ to enable fellow ‘minor-attracted persons’ to increasingly be seen as a boy’s sex ‘friend.’

“B4U-ACT claims to ‘help mental health professionals learn more about attraction to minors and to consider the effects of stereotyping, stigma, and fear.’ While the group claimed they want to teach pedophiles ‘how to live life fully and stay within the law,’ no one suggested how to stop their child lust or molestation,” she wrote.

However, in 2010, when Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a senior Vatican official, linked homosexuality to child sexual abuse, Cantor rejected the claim that there is any link between homosexuality and pedophilia.

“It’s quite solidly shown in the scientific literature that there is absolutely no association between being a gay man and being a pedophile,” he told CNN.

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Female sexuality is a trade merchandise. And in feminism, the seller and the merchandise are the same person. Merchandise that sells itself? That can impossibly work out. This is why the patriarchy is the only sensible form of human social organization.

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Does Bangladesh have an age of consent?

March 11, 2017 - Dhaka Tribune

Logically, it should be the same as the minimum age for marriage

It’s an obvious question to ask.

But the fact few bother to do so, gives a far fuller answer than a legal textbook ever could.

Amid the many debates about Bangladesh’s new Child Marriage Restraint Act, it is telling how rarely commentators have mentioned the legal age at which an individual in Bangladesh is considered mature enough to consent to sex.

Even more so when you note that said age of consent, according to Bangladesh’s Penal Code, is only 14.

Given that alarms about the new child marriage law were first raised by health and human rights groups over three years ago, when earlier drafts proposed reducing the minimum marriage age for females down from 18 to 16, it is remarkable how much of the penal code’s contents pass without comment.

There is an obvious, albeit inexcusable, explanation for this state of affairs, of course: In Bangladesh, no matter what the law de jure says, the de facto reality, in practice, is that, neither age nor consent have much bearing on the matter. What counts most is marital status and not being single.

Sex before or without marriage is simply not regarded as a feasible option. That’s just the way it is (and/or we’d rather not talk about it).

Of course, you may know exceptions, but the word says it all, “exceptions.” Hence, the argument goes, there’s no point fretting about the seemingly low legal age of consent for sex outside marriage.

It’s the low average age of marriage generally, and high rate of illegal underage marriages that are (rightly) considered to be the bigger cause for concern.

Around half of all Bangladeshi girls are married off before the legal minimum age of 18 — most of the rest, within a few years after. With strong correlations between poverty, underage marriage, poor nutrition, and limited years in education, there are plenty of reasons to encourage older average marriage ages.

Unfortunately, this challenge has been made harder by the government responding to criticisms of its bill, by dropping its initial reference to 16 as a new minimum age. Instead, it has increased ambiguity by simply allowing for exceptions to the pre-existing minimum marriage ages (18 for female, 21 for males) to be permitted in fuzzily defined special circumstances.

The bigger point is the concept of consenting adults being free and able to decide private matters for themselves, that is what should be adopted and encouraged

Conceivably, such ambiguities could be resolved soon if the government acts on ministerial promises to provide further clarifications. But in the meantime, the soundbite from Girls not Brides that the new law risks Bangladesh reducing “minimum marriage age to zero” is being widely reported around the world.

It is long overdue for more people to take a more serious look at updating the 1860 Penal Code which applies in Bangladesh.

This is both easy and difficult.

Simple, because the whole code is not that many pages long, plus it’s instantly searchable on the government’s own website. And tricky, because some people would rather suffer, or see others suffer, from lack of information, than endure the risk of controversy or an embarrassing conversation.

Such caution and social convention is, sadly, both inevitable and ridiculous.

Ridiculous because Bangladesh would not have made the progress it has made in reducing average family sizes if we as a nation were simply too mortified to talk about sex and contraception. Including, and especially, the very young women and girls who are pressured into early and underage marriage having access to family-planning advice.

And inevitable because, look around you, patriarchy prevails and most people in the country tend to expect, or assume, everybody else wants them to abide by traditional expectations of sexual mores.

Sadly, this makes it easy for the few to intimidate the many. Take for instance the ongoing case of a development studies lecturer at Dhaka University being investigated because of an anonymous accusation of using “objectionable content” during a seemingly routine course about gender and development.

If such a case can arise from a DU post-graduate course, imagine the reactions a school-teacher would get from parents if they told their 15-year-old students that “the age of consent in Bangladesh is 14.”

Disbelief perhaps. But the fifth part of section 375 of the 1860 Penal Code is clear. It defines statutory rape as “with or without her consent, when she is under 14 years of age.”

From this arises the implication that the age of consent in Bangladesh is 14.

This same section also contains the egregious provision providing for marriage as a defence for rape, which is clearly long overdue for being repealed.

Both sections largely reflected the law in Britain at the same time. As it turned out, British parliamentarians very quickly got round to raising the age of consent in the UK to 16 after late Victorian press exposés of child trafficking in London brothels. But it took until 1991 for English law to make rape within marriage a crime in itself. Patriarchy is not just for Victorians then.

Incidentally, section 376 of the Penal Code does appear to imply an offence where the “wife” is under 12 years old, but whether this is sloppy ICS drafting or an intent to deal with the most serious forms of paedophilia is debatable.

More positively, perhaps, sections 372 and 373 are relatively detailed and specific about outlawing the trafficking of girls under 18 for prostitution.

Another marriage law, section 497, outlaws adultery but is presumably not used much partly because it excludes a wide range of possibilities where there may be “consent or connivance,” and mainly, I suspect, because it explicitly rules out punishing women — “the wife shall not be punished as an abettor.”

From this potted history alone, it is clear there is much to reform, but for now let’s stick to what should Bangladesh’s age of consent be. The main choice seems to be “keep as it is” or “raise it to 16” for the same reasons as Britain’s.

According to the internet worldwide chart: 14 is lower than the majority of other nations like France (15), Ireland (17), and India and Turkey (18). But 14 is not unusual as it is the same age as Austria, Brazil, China, and Germany. And higher than some countries like Japan (13), Philippines (12), and Nigeria (11).

The most common age of consent specified by most countries appears to be 16 years of age, as in the UK, US, Indonesia, Russia, and Malaysia.

Particularly in those Western jurisdictions, where there is wider public debate about sex, generally; and high profile exposure of child abuse scandals in religious bodies and children’s homes has increased public demands to protect children, these ages are sometimes strengthened by additional measures focused on stopping predatory adults, such as extra limitations on those far apart in age and/or in positions of authority.

Such scrutiny and attempts to improve the law are in marked contrast to a number of Muslim countries which either do not specify or enforce any minimum age for marriage and simply state that sex is only legal within marriage, and punishable without, as in Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Well that makes it simpler then: Don’t be like the latter. They have simply too many examples of arbitrary interpretations and misogynist abuses of religious scriptures to be taken seriously.

It’s no coincidence these nations have seen instances of rape victims being stoned to death and perpetrators excused with impunity.

It is the risk of going down the latter path that campaigners are warning against when they worry that “special circumstances” will see more young girls forced into marriage before 18.

This same section also contains the egregious provision providing for marriage as a defence for rape

True enough, but some of the rhetoric such as the law “will allow parents to force their daughters to marry their rapists” is still arguably alarmist. When Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina talked about allowing marriages to reduce social stigma, she was probably thinking more about consensual teenage pregnancies of the “shotgun wedding” variety, rather than victims of rape and predators.

No doubt her approach and interventions have included spin to appeal to social and religious conservatives, but it’s probable that she both believes this and trusts it to be electorally popular.

Provided the government is serious about it being an act to restrain underage marriage, with courts only permitting exceptions with good reasons, all is still not lost then.

Assuming ministers are able to recognise the main and easy to rectify flaw is not specifying an absolute minimum age.

Logically, such an absolute minimum age would have to be the same as the age of consent, which is why I asked this question in the first place. Going on numbers alone, if I had to pick one, I would say 16 is safer than 14.

But the bigger point is that the concept of consenting adults being free and able to decide private matters for themselves, is what should and needs to be adopted and encouraged. That won’t happen this month, but it has to be part of the way forward. Governments need to lead.

This isn’t about forcing people to change their personal moral attitudes and religious beliefs. It is about providing and protecting the freedom, health, and welfare of all the nation’s people.

Safeguarding children from predators, protecting the health of mothers, promoting safe sex, all these goals can be helped by improving the education, knowledge, and freedom of the entire population. And recognising that won’t happen without more widespread empowerment of women and girls.

All of which, including much of the progress Bangladesh has made in the past 40 years in improving life expectancy and child mortality rates, will be placed in jeopardy if the government does not do more to drastically reduce the scandalously high number of underage and early marriages.

With around half the population aged 19 or under, the economy growing and society changing fast, don’t expect the clamour aroused by these issues to damp down any time soon.

The least we can do for coming generations is to make sure they do not die from ignorance.

Niaz Alam is a member of the Editorial Board of Dhaka Tribune. A qualified lawyer, he has worked on corporate responsibility and ethical business issues since 1992. He sat on the Board of the London Pensions Fund Authority between 2001-2010 and is a former vice-chair of War on Want.

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Women were created from a bone of man. Or was that a boner?

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