Pope Francis jokes ‘woman was from a rib’ as he avoids vow to reform church

Pope Francis jokes ‘woman was from a rib’ as he avoids vow to reform church

Pope refuses to commit himself to raising status of women in Catholic church and makes ‘joke’ about female subservience
A floral portrait of Pope Francis at St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

A floral portrait of Pope Francis at St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The decorations, or infiorata, mark the feast of St Peter and St Paul. Photo: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

In his first interview with a female journalist since his election to the spiritual leadership of the world’s 1.2 billion baptised Catholics, Pope Francis dodged a string of questions about whether he intended raising the status of women in his church and made a joke about women being “taken from a rib”.

The pope said women were “the most beautiful thing God has made”. And he added: “Theology cannot be done without this feminine touch.”

He agreed not enough was said about women and promised that steps were being taken to remedy the situation.

But when his interviewer, the Vatican correspondent of the Rome daily Il Messaggero, Franca Giansoldati, asked him whether he could detect an underlying misogyny in the Catholic church, Francis replied: “The fact is that woman was taken from a rib.” Giansoldati wrote that he then laughed “heartily” before saying: “I’m joking. That was a joke.”

The 77-year-old pontiff went on: “The issue of women needs to be gone into in more depth, otherwise you can’t understand the church itself.” But did he envisage, say, appointing a woman to head a Vatican department?

“Well,” replied the pope cryptically. “Priests often end up under the sway of their housekeepers.”

In a conversation that highlighted both his theologically conservative side and his economically radical one, Francis returned to his argument that people should have children rather than pets, even if the task was more demanding. “The emotional relationship with animals is easier, more programmable,” he said. “An animal is not free whereas having a child is a complex matter.”

Francis was also invited to respond to comments by the Economist’s blogger on religion who said that, in another interview, he had taken “an ultra-radical line”, following Lenin “in his diagnosis of capitalism and imperialism as the main reason why world war broke out a century ago.” The pope replied: “All I will say is that the communists stole our colours. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the centre of the gospels. The poor are at the centre of the gospels.”


Women Being Masturbated At in Public Is Shockingly Common

Fear Of Sexual Violence Simmers In Iraq As ISIS Advances


Fear Of Sexual Violence Simmers In Iraq As ISIS Advances

But some activists say Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is fanning those fears as part of a cynical and sectarian-tinged scramble to hold on to power. posted on June 27, 2014, at 6:31 p.m. http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikegiglio/fear-of-sexual-violence-simmers-in-iraq-as-isis-advances

KARIM SAHIB/AFP / Getty Images

BAGHDAD — At a Shiite shrine in the Iraqi city of Karbala, a young woman turned to a friend and asked the question that was on many people’s minds: “Have you found yourself a gun yet?”

The friend asked why she needed one. “One has at least to protect herself,” the woman replied. “Because when they get here, you know what they’re going to do.”

The implication was clear: rape.

As the extremist militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) march through northern and western Iraq, fears of their approach run high, and residents in other regions worry about what horrors the militants will inflict if they arrive. Chief among these concerns is sexual violence against women — cited by women who say they fear it and men who list protecting women as a motivation for taking up arms against ISIS.

The threat of sexual violence from ISIS has been promoted heavily by the government of Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister, and its media allies, ever since ISIS and other Sunni militants took the northern city of Mosul on June 10.

The government appears to have seized on this threat to rally Iraqis against ISIS — and in particular to rally Shiites, with the suggestion that sexual violence will be turned against them as a form of sectarian aggression. Maliki has been keen to harden support among his Shiite base as he fights to survive politically while inspiring Shiite volunteers and militia to reinforce his reeling military.

Sexual violence is a real problem in times of war, and it could be hastened by the chaos in Mosul, where security forces have melted away. International politicians have also warned of rape at the hand of ISIS — as William Hague, Britain’s foreign secretary, did in remarks in Baghdad on Thursday: “Anyone glorifying, supporting, or joining [ISIS] should understand that they would be assisting a group responsible for kidnapping, torture, executions, rape, and many other hideous crimes.”

Yet leading women’s rights activists in Iraq say that the government has seized on the threat of sexual violence as a tool for political manipulation — part of a cynical and sectarian-tinged scramble to maintain power.

“Whether these rumors are correct or not, Maliki has already promoted this narrative,” said Azhar al-Shekhly, a politician and former minister of women’s affairs. “He is using it to incite his followers and get support for his regime.”

On a basic level, this suggests that instead of calming fears in the country, the government is working to inflame them. Sectarian tensions in Baghdad were jolted by the ISIS advance; Shekhly said they were rising steadily. “Now there is something like a nightmare gripping everyone’s minds, even in Baghdad,” she said in an interview in the capital. “We start to imagine what kind of violence ISIS will do if they enter Baghdad — kidnapping, rape. Or even if ISIS never makes it to Baghdad, people imagine how the situation will be if [Sunni and Shiite residents of Baghdad start] start fighting among themselves.”

Shekhly said that she had advised friends with daughters in Baghdad to keep them inside.

It is difficult to establish whether, or how much, sexual violence may be occurring in Mosul. Hannaa Edwar, a leading women’s rights advocate in Baghdad who runs an NGO called al-Amal, or Hope, said that as soon as she heard the rumors of sexual violence in Mosul, she scrambled to check them with her contacts there. None could confirm new cases of rape. “I am in daily contact about this with our people in Mosul. Because I hate ISIS, and I am sure that they will do this — the hatred, the sexual violence, everything,” she said. “Women are very low for them; women exist only to serve them. But we have to be careful now. The government is using this to scare people and to get people to protect the regime.”

On Tuesday evening in Baghdad, Edwar again checked in with a trusted Mosul contact — a window into how Iraqis are bracing for news of the worst. Though her own sources in Mosul had confirmed no cases of sexual violence at the hands of ISIS, that didn’t mean it wasn’t happening. But the government seemed eager to amplify these fears whatever the facts on the ground. “This was the same during Saddam’s time,” Edwar said. “When the regime felt threatened, it spoke about defending Iraq and defending the honor of the women of Iraq. As if the honor was only with the women and not with the country as a whole.”

Basma al-Khateeb, a veteran women’s rights activist in Baghdad, said that a culture of violence exists in Iraq against women generally. “I’m sure it’s happening” in Mosul, she said. “Not just by ISIS but by all armed groups.”

None of this, she added, was the government’s real concern. “They use it for propaganda.”

California: 39 Women Prisoners Were Sterilized Without Consent

Published on Monday, June 23, 2014 by Common Dreams

California: 39 Women Prisoners Were Sterilized Without Consent

Many of the rights violations initially exposed by the Center for Investigate Reporting are true, according to state audit

– Max ocean, editorial intern

The California Institution for Women in Corona, CA. (Credit: CDCR)Physicians in California prisons illegally sterilized at least 39 women during an eight-year period, with cases recorded as late as 2011, according to a report put out last week by the state’s own auditing office.

Cynthia Chandler, co-founder of the Oakland-based group Justice Now, which has been raising concerns about prison sterilization processes for years, said that the report’s release “feels like an incredible step and vindication for people who work toward challenging human rights abuses.”

The audit found problems in 39 cases, which account for more than a quarter of the 144 women who underwent the sterilization procedure between fiscal years 2005-6 and 2012-13. In 27 of the cases, inmates’ physicians had failed to sign the necessary consent form detailing that the patients were mentally competent, had understood the lasting effects of the procedure, and that the required 30-day waiting period after initial inmate consent was given had passed. Eighteen cases potentially violated that required waiting period, which is intended to give female prisoners time to think about their decisions before their surgeries take place. In some cases there is even evidence that doctors falsified records, claiming that the waiting period had elapsed when it actually had not.

According to the report, the federal receiver’s office, which has overseen medical care in the state’s prisons since 2006, argues it has no legal obligation of ensuring prison physicians or other employees obey the consent procedures, a claim which state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach) said was “ludicrous.”

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), one of the legislators who called for the report, said its revelations show the problem to be “systemic” in nature and that there is now “clear proof that the prison environment is an environment where consent simply cannot be obtained in a responsible, reliable manner for these procedures.”

While prison medical officials have denied any intentional wrongdoing, the Center for Investigative Reporting’s initial investigation into California’s prison sterilization procedures last July, which prompted state legislators to demand the audit, quoted some women who said they were coerced into the procedure after their physician discovered how many children they’d given birth to, or that they’d been in prison multiple times.

The CIR report quoted one of physicians involved, Dr. James Heinrich, as saying that the $147,460 payed to doctors by the state for the surgeries was very little “compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”

The auditor’s report wasn’t conclusive about the intent of the physicians involved in the cases, but it did find that the women sterilized in the eight-year period had typically been pregnant five or more times before being sterilized, tested for reading proficiency levels below high school, and had all been incarcerated at least once before.

A bill introduced by state Sen. Jackson that passed the Senate last month would ban all sterilizations of incarcerated women for birth control purposes, making them allowable only in life-threatening situations or to cure medical conditions, and would legally protect anyone trying to report such abuses.