Venus Now Wakes, and Wakens Love by William Etty
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Four years ago, as the country was wrestling with a federal-budget crisis, conservative news outlets turned their attention, once again, to the topic of wasteful government spending. That March, a reporter with CNS News, a Web site devoted to countering “liberal bias” in the media, came across what seemed to be the quintessential example of such waste—a National Science Foundation grant to Yale University for a study of duck penises. Within days, the story had made its way to Fox News. “It’s part of President Obama’s stimulus plan, and it’s just one example of the kind of spending decisions that have added up to massive debt and deficits,” Shannon Bream told viewers. The following week, Sean Hannity piled on. “Don’t we really need to know about duck genitalia, Tucker Carlson?” he asked. To which Carlson responded, with a smirk, “I know more than I want to know already!” The controversy, dubbed Duckpenisgate by Mother Jones, roared back to life some months later, when Senator Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma, included the N.S.F. grant in his “Wastebook 2013.” At $384,949, it accounted for only a thousandth of one per cent of all the spending that Coburn had tallied up, but it made headlines again. Clearly, the combination of money, sex, and power—your money, ducks’ sex, and Ivy League power—was irresistible to the graying male demographic for conservative news.
I followed Duckpenisgate with particular trepidation, since I was one of the co-investigators on the maligned study. For the past decade, in collaboration with Patricia Brennan, of Mount Holyoke College, and other colleagues, I have explored the sexual behavior and genital evolution of waterfowl. Contrary to what Carlson thinks, it is a fascinating business. It can also be shockingly brutal. In the wintry months before breeding begins, male ducks flaunt their plumage, putting on dramatic courtship displays in an effort to entrance a mate. The females can be choosy, often picking a male only after extensive deliberation. (Their preferences tend to coalesce, like a genetic fashion trend, around a shared ideal of male beauty, with each species evolving off in its own distinct aesthetic direction.) When spring arrives, the pairs migrate together to the breeding grounds. But, as the nest-building and egg-laying season approaches, unpaired males start causing trouble. Many attempt to force copulation with paired females, sometimes even ganging up on them in groups. The female ducks resist strenuously; often they are injured, or even killed, in the process.
The males’ sexual attacks are made possible by the fact that, unlike most birds, ducks still have a penis. It is not, however, an organ that most humans would recognize, being shaped like a counterclockwise corkscrew and possessing a ribbed or spiky surface. Ducks’ erections are driven by lymphatic, not vascular, pressure, which means that their penises never become stiff. Rather, they erect flexibly, but explosively, into the female’s body in less than half a second. Ejaculation takes place immediately. And duck penises can be long—really long. A breeding male mallard in your typical city park has a five-inch penis. In the case of the diminutive Argentine lake duck, the penis is longer than the duck itself—more than sixteen inches.
What, exactly, is the function of these bizarre organs? To find out, Brennan dissected the genitalia of fourteen species of waterfowl. By comparing the results, we discovered that, as males have evolved longer penises with more heavily armed surfaces, females have coevolved increasingly complex vaginal structures—dead ends, cul-de-sac side pockets, clockwise spirals. We hypothesized that these twists and turns create a mechanical barrier to the penis, frustrating forced intercourse and lowering the likelihood of a female duck being fertilized against her will. Our subsequent experiments—high-speed videos of duck penises erecting into glass tubes of various shapes—suggested we were right. (Our observations also revealed that when a female duck solicits sex with a chosen mate, her cloacal muscles dilate to allow uninhibited entry.) The result is that, even for species in which nearly forty per cent of all copulations are violently coerced, only between two and five per cent of ducklings come from extra-pair matings. As a method of contraception, ducks’ vaginal barriers can be ninety-eight-per-cent effective—a level of reliability that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would readily approve.
A female duck’s vaginal barriers cannot shield her from physical harm. On an evolutionary level, though, they protect her in another way—by allowing her to choose the father of her offspring. If she has ducklings with her chosen mate, then they will inherit the fancy plumage that she and other females prefer. But, if she is fertilized by force, then her offspring will inherit either random display traits or traits that she has specifically rejected as less attractive. These extra-pair offspring will, on average, be less attractive to their peers, which could mean fewer grand-ducklings for the mother duck—and fewer of her genes passed on to posterity. By using her vaginal barriers, she is able to maintain her sexual autonomy in the face of sexual violence. Freedom of choice, in other words, matters to animals; even if they lack the capacity to conceptualize it, there is an evolutionary difference between having what they want and not having it. Unfortunately for female ducks, though, evolving complex vaginal structures doesn’t solve the scourge of sexual violence; it exacerbates it. Each advance results in males with longer, spikier penises, and the coevolutionary arms race continues.
Although many duck species are trapped in costly and unproductive sexual battles, other birds have pursued different evolutionary paths toward male disarmament. In bowerbirds, for instance, females have used mate choice to transform male behavior in ways that have advanced their own sexual autonomy. Male bowerbirds build elaborate seduction theatres, called bowers, out of sticks, which they decorate with gathered artifacts such as feathers, fruits, and flowers. When the time comes to breed, females visit a number of prospective mates, choosing one based on the attractiveness of the male, his bower, and his ornaments. As a result, the architecture of the bowers is shaped by females’ aesthetic preferences. Males work from a blueprint that actually prevents them from successfully coercing copulations. A so-called avenue bower, for example, features two parallel walls of sticks. The female sits cozily between them while the male does his dance at a safe remove. To copulate with her, he must go around the walls and mount her from behind, which gives her a chance to pop out the front, if she prefers, with her freedom of choice intact.
cientists admonish one another, often with good reason, to avoid anthropomorphizing animals. But they themselves regularly redraw the line between good science and anthropomorphism as a way of policing scientific discourse and favoring particular ideas. Most of us, for example, learned a strictly adaptationist version of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution; we were told that almost every feature of the biotic world, no matter how tiny, could be explained by how it contributed to an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce. In fact, though, Darwin also proposed a theory of sexual selection, in which animals may choose their mates according to aesthetic standards—their own subjective desires. This view has frequently been rejected as too anthropomorphic precisely because it implies that sexual selection can act independently of natural selection—an unsettling thought for the typical adaptationist. When it comes to the sexual politics of birds and people, there are, of course, enormous differences. Birds don’t have elaborate social cultures, money, or any notion of their own histories. Humans do. But, in seeking to understand the complexities of human evolution and sexuality, we can learn a lot by examining the diversity of life on Earth and acknowledging the parallels where they exist.
Consider, for a moment, that the sexual arms race between male and female ducks is not really a fair fight. While male ducks evolve to gain physical and sexual control over females, female ducks evolve to assert, and reassert, their freedom of choice. Sound familiar? The human “war of the sexes” is similarly one-sided. Contemporary anti-feminists often portray men as victims of the coercive social control of women, even as they actively organize to diminish women’s sexual autonomy by impeding their access to health care, contraception, and abortion. But this view is a grotesque distortion. Like convoluted duck vaginas, feminism is about autonomy, not power over men. Although one is genetic and the other is cultural, the asymmetry in ducks between the male push for power and the female push for choice is mirrored in the ideologies of patriarchy and feminism.
If ducks reflect our cultural present, bowerbirds may illuminate both our evolutionary origins and our social future. It is well established that our ape ancestors were more violent than we are. But the traditional evolutionary mechanisms—natural selection and male-male sexual competition—have not yet produced a satisfying explanation for why this violence declined and coöperative social cognition flourished in its place. In my forthcoming book, “The Evolution of Beauty,” I propose that, as in some birds, female mate choice among our forebears transformed male behavior. Since the time of our last common ancestry with chimpanzees, millions of years ago, it may have contributed to the de-weaponization of maleness, including the elimination of self-sharpening male canine teeth, the reduction in male body size relative to females, the elimination of infanticide by ascendant alpha males, and the origin of paternal investment in their offspring. By evolving to regard violent, antisocial maleness as unsexy, females may have instigated the evolution of many elements critical to our biology, including big brains, language, and even our capacity for self-awareness and reflection.
At first, the idea that humans evolved through the expansion of female sexual autonomy would seem to conflict with the fact that, practically everywhere on the planet, men are socially dominant. But this phenomenon is, I maintain, more cultural than biological. Men and women are closer to each other in size than are the famously peaceful, and non-hierarchical, male and female bonobos. How could male dominance be a result of biological destiny in people but somehow not in bonobos? Here again, the coevolutionary dynamics of duck sex may clarify how men came to regain social control over female sexuality. Like a cultural version of the toothy spikes on a ruddy duck’s penis, patriarchy may have arisen as a cultural countermeasure, reversing the advances in female autonomy gained in the millions of years since hominins diverged from chimpanzees. When sexism becomes unacceptably antisocial and hopelessly unsexy, then patriarchy may finally give up its remaining weapons.
This site teaches an understanding of reality. Reality is brutal. Death is often brutal. And if death isn't brutal for the way it happens, then it is still brutal as a fact of life. We are all goners.
OMG, Republicans. STOP. Stop ruining everything that is hilarious. You know how once in a while conservatives get together and make a list of all the government-funded stuff they don't think is worth spending money on, in order to make liberals look like wicked cutpurses swindling bewildered old grannies?* (In this metaphor, America is the granny.) And also to draw attention away from things that are maybe actually expensive, such as defense spending and imprisoning millions and millions of low-level drug offenders? WELL. They're at it again, and this time one of the frivolities in their sights is a Yale ornithologist who received $400,000 to study duck penises. It's a relatively small amount of money, in the grand scheme of government spending, but it happens to combine conservatives' two least favorite things: scientific progress and sexy intercourse. Therefore, ABOLISH IT.
As Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast points out, NO. NO NO NO. Not only are duck penises worthy of study, they are also hella interesting and weird. And if you, like me, have been having nightmares and daymares about that terrifying slow-motion video of the unfurling duck penis (see above, bladow!!!) for yeeeeeeeears now, you understand why it's important to get to the bottom of these things. Before they get to the bottom of you. Uncomfortable linemouth. '_'
Long story short, male ducks are rapists with exploding harpoon-penises.
Here, in Prum's words, is what he studied and learned:
"Most birds don't have a penis. Ducks do. They still have it from the reptilian ancestor that they shared with mammals," he said.
The duck's penis is stored inside the body, and when it becomes erect, the process of insemination is "explosive," Prum said. The duck's penis becomes erect within a third of a second, at the same time it enters the female duck's body. Ejaculation is immediate, and then the penis starts to regress. The length of the duck penis, as mentioned in the tweets, grows to 8 or 9 inches during the summer mating season. In winter, it shrinks to less than an inch.
In duck ponds, Prum said, a lot of forced copulation occurs. Forced copulation is what it sounds like — rape in nature. Even gang rape happens among ducks. And Prum found that while 40 to 50 percent of duck sex happens by forced copulation, only 2 to 4 percent of inseminations result from it (meaning times the female duck ends up with a fertilized egg).
But! But!!! The female duck literally has ways of shutting that whole thing down.
"The question is why does that happen? How does a female prevent fertilization by forced copulation?" he said. "The answer has to do with taking advantage of what males have evolved — this corkscrew shaped penis."
Prum said the duck penis is a corkscrew whose direction runs counterclockwise. Female ducks, he said, have evolved a complex vagina also shaped like a corkscrew — but a clockwise one.
"This is literally an anti-screw anatomy," he said.
When females choose their own partners — in other words, solicit copulation — the muscles in the vagina are dilated and expanded. So the anti-screw effect is negated.
"The females are enormously, amazingly successful at preventing fertilization by forced copulation," he said.
All of this is amazing and gross and hilarious and delightful and awful and fascinating. And, sorry, conservatives, you don't just get to stymie legit scientific research simply because it has the word "penis" in it. Dummies.
The age of explosives in warfare is as bygone as the age of swords and cavalries. The future of warfare is economic sabotage by arson and the redirection of population streams.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, flatters a girl more than a man committing suicide because of her.
He chose to travel to the controversial Dignitas clinic because he could not face the agony of the incurable disease
A British man has become the first dementia sufferer to die at a controversial suicide clinic.
The 83-year-old man ended his life at Dignitas in Switzerland because he could not face the agony of the progressive, incurable disease.
He also wanted to spare those closest to him from any burden and strain his illness might put on them.
The unnamed man, said to be from a wealthy professional background, was in the early stages of dementia.
He is believed to be the first to use the clinic’s services solely because of dementia.
And last night it was claimed his family, including his widow, backed his decision “100 per cent”.
The man took with him a report from a psychiatrist stating he was mentally competent to choose to kill himself.
And last night one campaigner told how the pensioner was “so grateful at the end.”
Retired GP Michael Irwin, 81, had arranged for him to see a psychiatrist to produce a report saying he was mentally competent.
He revealed that the man’s wife had made the travel arrangements for the trip to Zurich.
Mr Irwin, who did not travel with the couple, said yesterday: “His family were 100% behind him.
"I have spoken to his widow since and she felt that it was handled in a very dignified and proper manner.”
“She is extremely happy about how everything was arranged.”
He added: “I have been four times with people to Switzerland.
"Two were terminally ill, one was very disabled and one was in her mid 80s so I have seen how it is handled by the Swiss. It is a very dignified procedure.
“You have got to be a very determined person to be able or willing to make that kind of journey.
“He knew of how things would deteriorate and took what I think is a sensible decision… both for himself and his family.”
But news of the assisted suicide will cause outrage among right-to-life and healthcare campaigners.
Critics claim it carries the implication that those with dementia should consider killing themselves.
Experts point out that sufferers can live for years with the condition.
It is also likely to widen the debate over the circumstances in which assisted suicide should be permitted.
The vast majority people who have chosen to die at Dignitas are those with terminal illnesses such as cancer or severe physical disabilities.
Campaign group Care Not Killing described the development as “alarming”.
Mr Irwin – nicknamed Dr Death - claims to have helped at least 25 people to die at the clinic. In the past he has been interviewed by police, but never arrested.
Although legal in Switzerland, assisted suicide is a criminal offence in the UK and carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
More than 800,000 people in Britan suffer from dementia – around one in ten of all those between 80 and 84.
Mr Irwin defended the pensioner’s right to take his life before his condition deteriorated.
He said: “It takes three or four months on average from the day you make an application until the actual day you die in Zurich.
"So when people have a chronic problem or a slow-developing condition such as motor neurone disease, dementia or are severely disabled you have a crucial time factor.
“It’s important to stress that with early dementia, you are still then mentally competent for quite some time to make a decision about going to Dignitas.
"It’s important that diagnosis is made at an early time to give an individual that choice.”
Lord Falconer, a former Lord Chancellor, launched a private member’s bill in the Lords earlier this month to make assisted dying legal for the terminally ill.
Novelist Sir Terry Pratchett, 65, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008, is also a supporter and has become a flagbearer in the campaign to change the law.
Mr Irwin, co-ordinator of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide, says the legal right should be extended to elderly people suffering from medical conditions and those who are severely disabled or enduring unbearable suffering.
He added: “This topic of old-age rational suicide should now be openly discussed. Lord Falconer’s bill will be focusing only on the terminally ill.
"The other two categories, the severely disabled and the elderly with medical problems, should be equally well discussed nowadays, especially with an ageing population.”
The number of dementia victims in the UK is set to rise to more than a million by 2021 – and 1.7 million by 2050.
Mr Irwin argues that elderly sufferers may prefer thousands of pounds that would be spent on their care to go to their grandchildren.
He said: “The desire to ‘stop being a burden’ on one’s family, and to avoid squandering financial resources perhaps better spent on grandchildren’s further education, could become the final altruistic gesture, especially when combined with a wish to stop prolonging a life that is both futile and very unpleasant.”
He claimed: “Part of what makes a patient’s suffering intolerable could be the realisation that it is ruining other people’s lives.
"Then, a doctor assisted suicide could be a rational moral act.”
But critics fear that if euthanasia was legalised there would be pressure to widen the category of people to be included.
A spokesman for Care Not Killing said: “It’s hugely alarming and shows the real agenda of those seeking a change in the law.
"What they are looking for is assisted suicide or euthanasia almost on demand.
“We’ve been warning about an incremental approach, as once you change the law you get more and more cases like this, which is why we are so worried.
“We know that people who are vulnerable, disabled and terminally ill will be most under pressure.”
More than 200 Brits have died at Dignitas since it first opened in 1998.
Broadcaster Melvyn Bragg has previously said he plans to kill himself if he begins to suffer from dementia.
The arts presenter, 73, whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease until her death last year aged 95, said: “Legal or illegal, I will do it.”
He added: “We can’t keep sending people to Switzerland. We should say, given certain conditions, it’s fine.”
£5k and all over in 30 minutes
The price of a suicide at Dignitas is believed to be around £5,000.
But the full service, including funerals, medical costs and official fees, can be as high as £7,000.
Clients must register as a member and send copies of their medical records with a letter explaining why things have become intolerable.
A doctor then assesses them. If he gives the “green light”, administrative staff will schedule a date and offer advice on hotels.
Finally the client is filmed drinking the lethal solution of barbiturates in water to prove they took it themselves.
Those who cannot lift a glass press a button so a machine administers it.
Most people take between 30 minutes and an hour to die.
Brits who've died at Dignitas
MORE than 200 Brits have died at Dignitas in the past decade.
One of the most controversial deaths was in 2006 when terminally ill Craig Ewert, 59, was filmed dying at the clinic for a television documentary.
The programme, which sparked fury from anti-euthanasia groups, was the first time a suicide had been shown on British TV.
Retired university professor Craig had motor neurone disease.
In February 2009, millionaire husband and wife Peter Duff, 80, and Penelope, 70, who both had terminal cancer, were the first British couple to die together at the centre.
Top orchestral conductor Sir Edward Downes, 85, and his 74-year-old wife Joan died at the clinic five months later.
Lady Downes had terminal cancer while her husband was nearly blind and becoming increasingly deaf.
Daniel James, 23, who was paralysed in a rugby accident, was the youngest Briton to die at the clinic.
His parents Julie and Mark James, of Sinton Green, Worcester, took him to there in 2010.
They said the ex-England under-16 rugby player had repeatedly said he wanted to die.
The CPS said it was not in the public interest to prosecute his parents.
No one who has helped any of the Brits to die at Dignitas has been prosecuted.
Suicide is not a crime but it is illegal to encourage or assist suicide while in England or Wales, regardless of where the suicide takes place.
The majority of clients at Dignitas take between 30 minutes and one hour to die.
Voice of the Mirror: Dignity is a right too
Assisted suicide is a deeply emotional and ethical issue which understandably creates strong feelings.
Our report on an 83-year-old with dementia who ended his life at the Swiss Dignitas clinic adds another dimension to the debate.
This paper believes both sides of the argument should be heard and respected.
Some campaigners will fear this case could lead to a relaxation of the rules and place pressure on the vulnerable who feel they are a burden on their family and loved ones.
Others will argue the laws should be changed so those who are dying and feel they have no quality of life do not have to travel to Switzerland to end their life in dignity.
Nor will they think it is right that those who assist in such deaths, out of compassion, should be liable to prosecution.
Lord Falconer, a former lord chancellor, is seeking to change the law to make assisted dying legal for the terminally ill.
Any such legislation must be sensitively crafted and we should consider carefully before extending such rights to people with long-term conditions such as dementia.
There is much debate to be had but it would be wrong to ignore the wishes of those who, in very rare cases, want to kill themselves.
In a rich world, a persons value depends on attractiveness and youth. If you are rich and older, just invest in destruction. The poorer the world, the less does your value depend on youth.
DUBAI // A mother who forced her 16-year-old daughter to work as a prostitute has been jailed for two years.
At Dubai Criminal Court in August, the 42-year-old Pakistani denied a human-trafficking charge.
The court heard the girl became pregnant during her work. A 50-year-old Pakistani man was also charged with human trafficking because he was allegedly responsible for arranging liaisons with customers, but was found not guilty.
Records showed that the mother brought her daughter from Pakistan last year after telling her she had found her a job in a beauty salon. The girl arrived with both of her parents.
"They told my that I was here to work as a prostitute.
"I refused, but my mother started yelling at me and telling me I had to repay the costs they paid," the victim said.
She was sent to a hotel where she was forced to have sex with men. She continued to work as a prostitute until her mother’s visa expired after which both of them returned to Pakistan.
"We came back to Dubai in June last year and my mother started sending me to customers. On one occasion she sent me to Sharjah, where I was arrested."
She said that she had once asked a customer for help and to call police but he refused.
The teenager is being cared for by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children.
She was seven months pregnant when her mother appeared in court on August 15.
The mother will be deported after serving her jail term.
Feminism in Europe makes second-generation male Muslim immigrants suicide bombers. Only the patriarchy as a social and political system can achieve justice.
Females look for partners that will help them reach an orgasm not once but repeatedly.
While we talk about masturbation in both men and women, the female orgasm has always been a mystery to people. People who have never experienced and well as seen in case of men. A new research sheds light on the female orgasm and the role it plays in a relationship.
The woman who gets an orgasm with a rare partner will look to meet the partner more often thus looking forward to their next meeting. The reward for women differs but it would primarily revolve around the fact that they would like to have more orgasms with the same partner because he has the ability to.
Sexual partners look for rewards from each other and while men reach an orgasm more easily, women will look to make the man happy as long as he helps her reach an orgasm. It is also beneficial reaching an orgasm in an act that will not result in reproduction rather than not in the process of sexual intercourse.
While the debate is still on about the importance of the female orgasm, it cannot be denied and can the act of self-pleasure or with a partner.
Feminists have institutionalized violence against men through the legal systems of all Western nations. But women cannot win the violence competition. The more violent societies become, the more women need protection. And the more they need protection, the quicker they will abandon feminism. Rich men should invest their money in fostering violence in all societies. Then they will end up with their own harems. No feminists inside there.
95 percent of the victims of work accidents are men. Because women are cowards, and just want to rule from behind.
I? recently caught a glimpse of the effects of torture in action at an event honoring Maher Arar. The Syrian-born Canadian is the world’s most famous victim of “rendition,” the process by which US officials outsource torture to foreign countries. Arar was switching planes in New York when US interrogators detained him and “rendered” him to Syria, where he was held for ten months in a cell slightly larger than a grave and taken out periodically for beatings.
Arar was being honored for his courage by the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, a mainstream advocacy organization. The audience gave him a heartfelt standing ovation, but there was fear mixed in with the celebration. Many of the prominent community leaders kept their distance from Arar, responding to him only tentatively. Some speakers were unable even to mention the honored guest by name, as if he had something they could catch. And perhaps they were right: The tenuous “evidence”–later discredited–that landed Arar in a rat-infested cell was guilt by association. And if that could happen to Arar, a successful software engineer and family man, who is safe?
In a rare public speech, Arar addressed this fear directly. He told the audience that an independent commissioner has been trying to gather evidence of law-enforcement officials breaking the rules when investigating Muslim Canadians. The commissioner has heard dozens of stories of threats, harassment and inappropriate home visits. But, Arar said, “not a single person made a public complaint. Fear prevented them from doing so.” Fear of being the next Maher Arar.
The fear is even thicker among Muslims in the United States, where the Patriot Act gives police the power to seize the records of any mosque, school, library or community group on mere suspicion of terrorist links. When this intense surveillance is paired with the ever-present threat of torture, the message is clear: You are being watched, your neighbor may be a spy, the government can find out anything about you. If you misstep, you could disappear onto a plane bound for Syria, or into “the deep dark hole that is Guantánamo Bay,” to borrow a phrase from Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
But this fear has to be finely calibrated. The people being intimidated need to know enough to be afraid but not so much that they demand justice. This helps explain why the Defense Department will release certain kinds of seemingly incriminating information about Guantánamo–pictures of men in cages, for instance–at the same time that it acts to suppress photographs on a par with what escaped from Abu Ghraib. And it might also explain why the Pentagon approved the new book by a former military translator, including the passages about prisoners being sexually humiliated, but prevented him from writing about the widespread use of attack dogs. This strategic leaking of information, combined with official denials, induces a state of mind that Argentines describe as “knowing/not knowing,” a vestige of their “dirty war.”
“Obviously, intelligence agents have an incentive to hide the use of unlawful methods,” says the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer. “On the other hand, when they use rendition and torture as a threat, it’s undeniable that they benefit, in some sense, from the fact that people know that intelligence agents are willing to act unlawfully. They benefit from the fact that people understand the threat and believe it to be credible.”
And the threats have been received. In an affidavit filed with an ACLU court challenge to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Nazih Hassan, president of the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor, Michigan, describes this new climate. Membership and attendance are down, donations are way down, board members have resigned–Hassan says his members fear doing anything that could get their names on lists. One member testified anonymously that he has “stopped speaking out on political and social issues” because he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself.
This is torture’s true purpose: to terrorize–not only the people in Guantánamo’s cages and Syria’s isolation cells but also, and more important, the broader community that hears about these abuses. Torture is a machine designed to break the will to resist–the individual prisoner’s will and the collective will.
This is not a controversial claim. In 2001 the US NGO Physicians for Human Rights published a manual on treating torture survivors that noted: “perpetrators often attempt to justify their acts of torture and ill treatment by the need to gather information. Such conceptualizations obscure the purpose of torture….The aim of torture is to dehumanize the victim, break his/her will, and at the same time, set horrific examples for those who come in contact with the victim. In this way, torture can break or damage the will and coherence of entire communities.”
Yet despite this body of knowledge, torture continues to be debated in the United States as if it were merely a morally questionable way to extract information, not an instrument of state terror. But there’s a problem: No one claims that torture is an effective interrogation tool–least of all the people who practice it. Torture “doesn’t work. There are better ways to deal with captives,” CIA director Porter Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 16. And a recently declassified memo written by an FBI official in Guantánamo states that extreme coercion produced “nothing more than what FBI got using simple investigative techniques.” The Army’s own interrogation field manual states that force “can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.”
And yet the abuses keep on coming–Uzbekistan as the new hot spot for renditions; the “El Salvador model” imported to Iraq. And the only sensible explanation for torture’s persistent popularity comes from a most unlikely source. Lynndie England, the fall girl for Abu Ghraib, was asked during her botched trial why she and her colleagues had forced naked prisoners into a human pyramid. “As a way to control them,” she replied.
Exactly. As an interrogation tool, torture is a bust. But when it comes to social control, nothing works quite like torture.
That armies are mad up of men is something that has to end. Draft women into combat troops. Expose women to the same kind of dangers that men have faced throughout history. Hard labour for female convicts!
According to experts, one in three girls and one in seven boys fall victim to pedophiles worldwide. Serbia is no different.
SOURCE: B92 MONDAY, JULY 24, 2006 | 15:06
There is a discrepancy between the number of reported cases and the number of sexually abused children. The estimate is that two-thirds of children in Serbia have been abused. Pedophilia cases are typically brought into public attention only with drastic crimes or when they involve a well-known public figure.
Most of the time, however, the aggressors remain anonymous to the majority of citizens, but also to their immediate surroundings.
The molesters are most often people whom the child knows: relatives and neighbors. Still, the abuse cases get reported most likely if the perpetrator is unknown. The process starts with seducing the child, and ends with threats about someone close to the child being hurt. In as many as 89,75 per cent of the cases, the abuse goes on for several years, and in 10,25 per cent for several months. Milena Živanovi? of the Belgrade MUP says that the aggressors manipulate the children easily, exploiting their trust and love, and often using fear and emotional blackmail to stop the child from speaking. When they finally do, the molesters lose status and reputation, and can easily end up in prison. For this reason, they are ready for anything in order to stop the children from revealing their ordeal.
Milena Živanovi? told the Ve?ernje novosti daily that it is of utmost importance to believe the child when it gathers enough courage to speak, and only after that investigate whether what it had to say is true. “Can you even start to imagine what it must be like for the child to tell you what it’s been through, and your reaction is that it’s made up? That’s like killing the child on the spot”, she says.
The verdicts will not yield results if the courts go for the legal minimum, Milena Živanovi? says and adds that there is almost one hundred per cent chance of repeating the offence among that category of criminal. “New measures for the protection of the child are needed. Abroad, convicted pedophiles are banned from entering facilities with children; they are fitted with tracking devices, etc. Still, the first steps in combating the abuse include creating a register and a team approach to the problem. If we were to create the central register, available, under defined circumstances, to expert services involved in child care, such as kindergartens, schools, social services centers, and others, we could prevent pedophiles from being employed at such institutions”, Milena Živanovi? says.
Vesna Brzev-?ur?i?, a therapist, says that sexual abuse is no longer a taboo and that the children are learning about their rights and are encouraged to bring their problems up. “Sexual abuse creates dramatic consequences and depends on the child’s age. Children are prone to withdrawing from society, alcoholism, prostitution and drug abuse. Abused children often become abusers themselves, or lifelong victims. The victimized children are best helped if they are believed. That faith in them enables them to trust people again, alleviate the guilt they feel, and the shame. Another aspect is the preventive behavior of the society as a whole, especially the judicial system. An early detection system needs to be developed, sentences should be harsher, and the support services strengthened”, Vesna Brzev-?ur?i? says.
Changes to the laws seek to equate the rape of a child to any similar crime. The sentences range from three to 18 years in prison.
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