[WARNING: The material presented below contains graphic images of violence perpetrated on children. Viewer discretion is strongly advised]
We are not witches or wizards
The religious leaders offer help to the families whose children are named as witches, but at a price. The churches run exorcism, or "deliverance", evenings where the pastors attempt to drive out the evil spirits. Only they have the power to cleanse the child of evil spirits, they say. The exorcism costs the families up to a year's income.
During the "deliverance" ceremonies, the children are shaken violently, dragged around the room and have potions poured into their eyes. The children look terrified. The parents look on, praying that the child will be cleansed. If the ritual fails, they know their children will have to be sent away, or killed. Many are held in churches, often on chains, and deprived of food until they "confess" to being a witch.
--- David Harrison. 'Child-witches' of Nigeria seek refuge, Daily Telegraph.
Mom, where are you?
... in the words of my great inspiration Sally Armstrong, "There are no Western rights or Eastern Rights, there are only human rights."
No one will ever tell me that Muslim women or any women think it's ok to not be allowed to get educated or to have their daughters sold off at 8 years old or traded off at 4 years old because of cultural beliefs. No one will tell me that women in Afghanistan think it is ok for their daughters to have acid thrown in their faces. It makes me ill to think a 4 year old girl must sleep in a barn and get raped daily by old men. It's sick and wrong and I don't care who calls me an Orientalist or whatever I will keep raising money to educate girls and women in Afghanistan and I will keep writing letters and sending them in the back pack of my friend Lauryn Oates as she works so bravely on the ground helping women and girls learn what it is to exercise their rights. I believe in human rights so I believe everyone has the right their own opinion, I just wish that the energy that was used to write that story, that is just not true, could have been used to educate a girl in Afghanistan. That's what the girls truly want. That's what the Women in Afghanistan truly want.
--- Alaina Podmorow. A Very Young Activist's Reply, Butterflies and Wheels.
All I wished... to be your loving daughter
... 'Till one day the "Dai" went crazy!
Vacant eyed, she sat with her baby!
The GIRL was a
But, did he notice the familiar blue?
On the neck of the baby, true!
They say, an act oft-repeated
By force of habit,
Can spell your own "doom",
If you don't cap it!!!
And now they say:
There is Ultrasound!
You don't "need" the "Dai" around…
--- Zoya Zaidi. "Girl Unborn".
If I am not cut and sewn, I won't be a virgin
Well, genital mutilation is used as an instrument. The cutting off of the clitoris is a measure to curb the libido of a woman. The sewing of the opening of a vagina is a measure to ensure that on the wedding night, a woman is a virgin.
And so if we were supposed to - if we were to let go of these convictions on virginity and chastity, female genital mutilation would disappear on its own. And I think all human rights activists, whether they're in the United States or outside of it, should go to the root cause. And it's these convictions on virginity, on the position of women that we ought to address, and not just the terrible symptoms of the mutilation itself.
--- Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Talk of the Nation, NPR.
Where does a father get the idea that his toddler son, barely two years and screaming in agony from malaria, is a witch who could somehow will his mother to collapse and die? Who sanctions acid attacks on young, school going girls? Which mad man wrote that only a male child can ensure immortality for the father? What makes virginity sacred, and sex out of wedlock a sin? Often the apologists tell us that it's culture or tradition, and not religion. This is just hogwash. Dig deeper, and you'll find gods lurking beneath these veneers, unseen and non-existent, nonetheless commanding with a charlatan's voice and in a charlatan's hand, besides a burning bush, on a mountain top, or beneath a mythical tree.
Do gods hate children? To an atheist like me the question is meaningless. It's like, "Do mermaids hate children?". Well, do those who claim to be messengers and followers of gods hate children? Yes, they do. At least some, and often violently, as the presentations above show. Especially when they are dealing with children of the female sex. Hate crime, that's what they are, hatred against the curious and the rebellious. If hate crimes against adults are considered particularly heinous, what should we do about hate crimes against children? Nothing, the religious are exempt!
When we, atheists, criticize irrational beliefs, social norms, and values, we are told not to be arrogant and dismissive. We are asked to make concessions for deeply ingrained norms and values that are difficult to change. We must let the draconian laws and barbaric practices be, and make room for the people to decide for themselves where precisely they should strike a balance between liberty and license. We should respect these religulous lies even if we don't concur with them, in the name of religious freedom, multiculturalism, tolerance, sensitivity, or whatever.
Are they serious? Should you even tolerate — forget respect — the stuff that are shown in these videos? You decide. Let reason, not religion, guide you.