SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- This week on South2North Redi is honouring International Women’s Day by looking at the persistent and devastating problem of rape.
After the violent rapes and murders of Jyoti Pandey in India and Anene Booysen in South Africa Redi asks: Who are the men who commit these atrocities?
Joining Redi via satellite is Ratna Kapur, a professor of law at the Jindal Global Law School in Delhi. Kapur wrote an article on the crisis of Indian masculinity discussing how the movement of women into the public space has disturbed how men define themselves.
Should the violent and deadly nature of these rapes be called hate crimes?
“I don’t think it’s helpful really to call this a hate crime, all that really does is set up men against women ... men as women-hating ... It has a lot more to do with the fact that we need to start respecting women as subjects, as individuals who are capable of participating in the public arena, in the work place as well as the political space, in the economic and market space as well,” explains Kapur.
In the studio Redi is joined by Professor Farid Esack, the head of the department of religious studies at the University of Johannesburg.
“Crimes against women isn’t a problem of women ... it is a crisis of how we define ourselves as men,” explains Esack.
Esack talks about how his mother’s rape pushed him to become an advocate for women’s rights, and how men who are violent towards women are both destroying the women they attack as well as themselves.
“When I am in a relationship of control over somebody - if I have my feet on your neck, or my hands around your throat, I cannot be free. I can’t be free to enjoy life, I can’t be free to be who I am, or to enjoy the sunshine, I can’t enjoy anything, because I am in a relationship of control. When I remove my feet from your neck, or my hands from your throat, I become liberated.”
Also joining South2North is Dr Amelia Kleijn, who wrote her PhD thesis on the profile of men who rape children under the age of three years old. Kleijn’s intense interviews and qualitative approach has given her insight into what creates a man who can act so violently towards helpless children.
“The things that resonated most strongly for me were two things. One was the appalling level of physical abuse that these men were subjected to and the other was that they had no emotions. They are what we would call psychopaths - and this was linked to the beatings they received as children. They learnt to shut down .… They couldn’t empathise with anyone else.”
Redi, Esack and Kleijn discuss if socio-economic issues can effect levels of rape and how we can raise boys to not repeat patterns of violence.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- To borrow a line from Kermit the frog, it's not easy being green -- or, eating green.
America is the fattest country in the world, and only ranks second to Greece in the proportion of children who are overweight, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. While obesity rates have slowed or stabled in other countries, larger increases were recorded in the United States, alongside Canada and Ireland.
In America, 17 percent -- or 12.5 million -- of children aged 2-19 are obese, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 16 percent or so are overweight and at risk of becoming obese.
Experts point to a culture of high fat and low quality, low nutrition eating -- combined with minimal physical activity -- as the main culprit. The OECD has called for a shift in habits and increased education in health and nutrition.
But is it where that education is supposed to be occurring -- in schools -- in part to blame? While schools can't control what students eat off campus, they can affect what's being served to children on school grounds, and educate students to prepare them for a lifetime of healthy habits, advocates have said.
And that very effort is the goal of First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's new school lunch initiative for this school year.
The new federal requirements, the first major nutritional school meal overhaul in over 15 years, offer less sodium and trans fats, more whole grains and a broader selection of fruits and vegetables to the 32 million students who take part in the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs. The rules also place a calorie cap on lunches: 650 calories for elementary school lunches, 700 for middle schools and 850 for high schools.
But Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, tells HuffPost Live that those rules don't solve the problem, as students often opt for vending machine snacks or a la carte items full of fat and sugar.
It also doesn't help when students across the country are waging war against the first lady. Teens from Kansas to Wisconsin have staged protests against the new school lunches, launching Twitter campaigns,boycotting cafeteria meals and filming videos in hopes of bringing widespread attention to their cause: the new rules are too restrictive, leaving kids hungry. Growing adolescents, teens say, require more calories because they're burning more through sports and other activities.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that more than a third of high school students were eating vegetables less than once a day --"considerably below" recommended levels of intake for a healthy lifestyle that supports weight management and could reduce risks for chronic diseases and some cancers.
Students are simultaneously throwing away twice as much food from school meals as they did last year, according to ABC News, and Kristi King, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells the network that the whole grain and fiber-robust new lunches should actually keep students fuller than before, "if they are actually consuming the whole product." www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Andrei Mandrykin, an inmate at Prison No. 85 outside Kyiv, has HIV. He looks ghostly and much older than his 35 years. But Mandrykin is better off than tens of thousands of his countrymen, because is he receiving treatment amid what the World Health Organization says is the worst AIDS epidemic in Europe. www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia international Association) — The great northwest of the U.S. is known for its natural beauty. It's also a high-tech region with a highly educated public - not exactly the kind of place one would expect to fall for the anti-science rhetoric of the anti-vaccine movement.
But it has. The anti-vaxxers have convinced a frighteningly high number of parents in Washington State to withhold vaccines from their children. A story in The Seattle Times last year reported that
"Washington [state] parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kindergartners at a rate higher than anywhere else in the country."
This despite the fact that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (formed by the founder of Microsoft, which is headquartered in Seattle) is one of the world's leading sponsors of vaccine research.
When the vaccination rates drop, everyone becomes more vulnerable to infectious diseases. When more than 90% of the population is vaccinated, we have "herd immunity" - this means the disease can't spread because there aren't enough susceptible people in the community. So the high rate of vaccine refusal in Washington makes it easier for whooping cough (and other diseases) to spread.
The media has been complicit in spreading some of anti-vaccine misinformation. Sometimes it comes straight from the media itself, such as the credulous, anti-science, anti-vax CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Other times it comes from talk shows, magazines, or even airline advertisements that provide a platform for anti-vax celebrity doctors such as Jay Gordon (who gained fame as Jenny McCarthy's son's doctor) and "Dr. Bob" Sears, who has published his own "alternative" vaccine schedule in a book filled with anti-vaccine nonsense. These characters continue to claim, at every chance they get, that vaccines cause autism (as Gordon has said, repeatedly), or that they cause other harms, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They use their medical degrees and their faux concern "for the children" to frighten parents into keeping their kids unvaccinated.
And now we learn that the U.S. is in the midst of the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years. One of the most hard-hit states is Washington, which the CDC just announced (on 20 July) has suffered 2,520 cases so far this year, a 1300% increase over last year. This is the highest number of cases reported in Washington since 1942. This plot of the number of cases this year compared to last year shows the dramatic rise in infections:
The figure above shows the number of confirmed and probable pertussis cases reported, by week of onset in Washington, during January 1, 2011-June 16, 2012. Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Making things worse, it seems, is an increase in cases among children aged 13-14. Children get a booster shot at age 11-12, but the new outbreak indicates that the effectiveness of the booster may not last very long. The dramatic increase in whooping cough this year also suggests that the bacterium that causes it, Bordetella pertussis, is mutating to make the vaccine less effective. Nevertheless, the CDC emphasizes:
"Vaccination continues to be the single most effective strategy to reduce morbidity and mortality caused by pertussis. Vaccination of pregnant women and contacts of infants is recommended to protect infants too young to be vaccinated."
This good advice is seriously undermined when misinformed doctors such as "Dr. Bob" Sears directly advise pregnant women not to get the whooping cough vaccine, as he did in the Huffington Post. (Hint: it's a good rule to be very skeptical of celebrity doctors who go by their first name.)
I should also point out that whooping cough is a national problem, not just Washington State's. The U.S. has had over 17,000 cases this year, putting it on track for the worst year since 1959. The highest rate of infection in the nation is in Wisconsin (which has also been hit hard by anti-vaccine effects), followed by Washington and Montana. 10 deaths have been reported, mostly in infants who were too young to be vaccinated. For all this, we can thank the anti-vaccination movement.—www.shafaqna.com/english