Egyptian doctor to stand trial for female genital mutilation in landmark case

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/21/egyptian-doctor-fadl-trial-female-genital-mutilation-landmark-case

Raslan Fadl, a doctor in a Nile delta village, is accused of killing 13-year-old schoolgirl Sohair al-Bata’a in a botched operation

in Diyarb Bektaris
theguardian.com, Wednesday 21 May 2014

A doctor is to stand trial in Egypt on charges of female genital mutilation on Thursday, the first case of its kind in a country where FGM is illegal but widely accepted.

Activists warned this week that the landmark case was just one small step towards eradicating the practice, as villagers openly promised to uphold the tradition and a local police chief said it was near-impossible to stamp out.

Raslan Fadl, a doctor in a Nile delta village, is accused of killing 13-year-old schoolgirl Sohair al-Bata’a in a botched FGM operation last June. Sohair’s father, Mohamed al-Bata’a, will also be charged with complicity in her death.

Fadl denies the charges, and claims Sohair died due to an allergic reaction to penicillin she took during a procedure to remove genital warts.

“What circumcision? There was no circumcision,” Fadl shouted on Tuesday evening, sitting outside his home where Sohair died last summer. “It’s all made up by these dogs’ rights people [human rights activists].”

In the next village along, Sohair’s parents had gone into hiding, according to their family. Her grandmother – after whom Sohair was named – admitted an FGM operation had taken place, but disapproved of the court case.

“This is her destiny,” said the elder Sohair. “What can we do? It’s what God ordered. Nothing will help now.”

According to Unicef, 91% of married Egyptian women aged between 15 and 49 have been subjected to FGM, 72% of them by doctors, even though the practice was made illegal in 2008. Unicef’s research suggests that support for the practice is gradually falling: 63% of women in the same age bracket supported it in 2008, compared with 82% in 1995.

But in rural areas where there is a low standard of education – like Sohair’s village of Diyarb Bektaris – FGM still attracts instinctive support from the local population, who believe it decreases women’s appetite for adultery.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/21/egyptian-doctor-fadl-trial-female-genital-mutilation-landmark-case

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The right’s most ridiculous Elizabeth Warren smear to date

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/05/21/the_rights_most_ridiculous_elizabeth_warren_smear_to_date_partner/

Conservatives can label her a leftist all they want. She’s a threat because she stands in the way of U.S. oligarchy

, The Globalist
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Have you heard the one about Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) being a leftist? Branding the junior senator from the U.S. state of Massachusetts with that term suggests to the rest of the world that she must be close to the camp of the Fidel Castros or some other anti-capitalist revolutionaries.

Just what is Mrs. Warren’s crime that warrants such castigation? Speaking up for the concerns of everyday Americans — consumers, debtors, working people, that’s what.

As the founding spirit behind the long-overdue establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau , Senator Warren saw to it that today’s Americans are finally able to avail themselves of the same consumer rights that have been considered as givens by their counterparts in Europe since the 1970s.

What makes the charge of labeling Warren a leftist almost comical is that, when Europeans started to pursue the issue of consumer rights, they were eager to emulate the world leader of the consumer movement at the time — the United States.

Since that time, the United States has pretty much abandoned one of its smartest inventions — and left it to the Europeans to carry the flag of consumer rights forward . (Note that a key reason why the European Commission is so reflexively maligned in the U.S. media is precisely that it has established itself as the key body to provide a check on expanding corporate powers in Europe and beyond.)

Are consumer rights “leftist”?

In modern mass societies, working on these issues is a truly vital matter.

It ensures that a nation’s citizens do not become powerless automatons who are haplessly pushed around by big corporations, pretty much at the latters’ free will.

Sadly, that is precisely what has happened in the United States ever since the days of the (mislabeled) “Reagan revolution.” The goal of Reagan’s backers was really the polar opposite of a revolution — moving the social progress achieved until then back as much as possible.

Since the early 1980s, the large corporations of America have seen to it, in a close collaboration with an ever-pliable U.S. Congress, that any further spreading of that consumer rights movement got stopped in its tracks.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/05/21/the_rights_most_ridiculous_elizabeth_warren_smear_to_date_partner/

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“Busy Boys, Little Ladies” – Wait, What Decade Are We In Again?

Yet another reason why all the emphasis on gender oppresses women.

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/05/18-2

by Galen Sherwin

Rick Scott, the Governor of Florida, signed legislation earlier this week that would provide professional development for teachers in “single-gender” classrooms.

This may sound innocuous — Who doesn’t want better-trained teachers?

But the truth is that this is actually code for training teachers in the discredited philosophy that boys and girls are so fundamentally different that they need to be taught using radically different methods — methods that sound an awful lot like good old-fashioned sex stereotypes.

Here are a few examples of the type of “training” we’re talking about, plucked from a complaint filed on Tuesday by the ACLU and the ACLU of Florida against the state’s second-largest school district:

  • A professional development program run by the district that was required for all new teachers in single-sex classes included a session called “Busy Boys, Little Ladies” — geared toward kindergarten teachers. Another required session is simply called “Gender Differentiation: Boys and Girls Learn Differently.”
  • Teachers were trained that girls are not good at abstract thinking and learn best through building relationships, while boys excel in concrete thinking and learn best through competition.
  • Teachers of boys were invited to a program entitled “Engaging Students with Debate and Discussion,” where teachers were instructed on how to “engage students in higher level discourse.” Teachers of girls, on the other hand, were invited to a program called “Creating Connections with Girls” and instructed that “Girls will learn better if they believe a teacher cares about them.”

The Hillsborough School District has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds to implement a hidden curriculum, permeating practically every aspect of the classroom, promoting — and reinforcing — the theory that boys and girls are fundamentally different.

Of course, the truth is that every student learns differently — in ways that are not determined by sex — and there is no evidence that any sex-based differences translate into the need to teach boys and girls differently. In fact, it is precisely this kind of sex-based over-generalization that our civil rights laws like Title IX were designed to prevent.

The problem extends far beyond this one school district: We know of at least three other school districts in Florida alone that are operating similar programs relying on sex-stereotypes, and we have documented numerous similar programs across the country through our Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes campaign.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/05/18-2