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Abstract Filicide, or the murder of one's own child, is an unfathomable crime. With Andrea Yates's return to trial in the summer of 2006, filicide once again came to the forefront of psychiatric issues in the media. One positive outcome that may be derived from this tragedy is practitioners' heightened awareness that parents may, for a variety of reasons, be compelled to kill their children. This article aims to educate mental health providers about the concept of filicide by presenting a broad overview of the topic, including a discussion of its history, definitions, classifications, outcomes, and the research surrounding it. This knowledge will hopefully bring about clinicians' increased exploration of patients' thoughts of harming their children, which may ultimately lead to the prevention of these senseless crimes.
Filicide in the Press
On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her five children, who ranged in age from six months to seven years, in a bathtub in her home. Prior to this, she had manifested symptoms of depression with psychosis, which were exacerbated in her postpartum periods. She had been hospitalized four times and was catatonic and mute during one admission. In statements made following the crime, she indicated that she believed that she was a bad mother and that she had concerns that her children would not grow up properly secondary to her shortcomings. She noted that she killed them to save them from eternal damnation.
In early 2002, she went to trial in Harris County, Texas, and entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI). The jury hearing her case was death qualified, meaning that all jurors supported the philosophy of the death penalty and would be willing to use it in sentencing. Though she ultimately was not sentenced to death, she was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, making her eligible for parole in 40 years. In 2005, due to an error made by the prosecution's expert witness, the conviction was reversed, and the case was remanded back to the trial court. In June, 2006, Andrea Yates returned to trial and again entered a plea of NGRI. On July 26, 2006, the jury handed down a verdict of NGRI.
This decision marked a surprising change in the course of events. A number of theories have been posited as to why the plea of NGRI was accepted the second time around. The most obvious is that five years had passed since the commission of the crime, and the passage of time may have allowed the community to forgive her for her crime. Another theory involves the idea that the jury was not death qualified and may, therefore, have been more liberal. There were also two other women found NGRI for harming their children in Texas between the time of her first and second trials. Regardless of the reason, Andrea Yates will now spend the duration of her confinement in a maximum security hospital in northern Texas until she is deemed to no longer pose a risk to herself or others.
The History of Filicide
Filicide has existed since the dawn of mankind. In ancient Greco-Roman times, a father was allowed to kill his own child without legal repercussions.1 Despite the later rise of Christianity and its greater respect for life, filicides continued, often perpetrated by the mother, who may have claimed the child accidentally suffocated in bed.2 Reasons for wanting to end the life of a child, particularly a newborn, included disability, gender, lack of resources to care for the child, or illegitimacy. These reasons still hold true today. However, without our current systems of documentation, including records of birth and death, it was far easier to succeed in completing a filicidal act in earlier times without the knowledge of authorities, who may have turned the other cheek regardless of the laws in order to strike a balance between population growth and resources available in impoverished areas.
In 16th and 17th centuries, a drastic change in the opinion on child murder occurred in Europe. France and then England established laws that made filicide a crime punishable by death. Both countries also presumed that the mother who was on trial for the crime was guilty until proven innocent, meaning that she was responsible for proving to the court that her child was not the victim of murder.3 The tide changed again with the establishment of the Infanticide Acts of 1922 and 1938 in England. These laws recognized the effect that birthing and caring for an infant can have on a mother's mental health for up to 12 months after the event. These acts outlawed the death penalty as punishment for maternal infanticide, making the punishment similar to that of manslaughter. Several other Western countries have adopted similar laws, with the exception of the United States.
Filicide has a presence in literature from all eras. Perhaps the most famous is also the oldest, and that is the story of Medea, a woman who killed her children to punish her husband for his affair. To him, she says, “Thy sons are dead and gone. That will stab thy heart.”4 Even fairy tales meant for children, such as Snow White and Hansel and Gretel, are filicidal in nature, telling of evil (step) parents who cast their children out into the world with the hope of eradicating them.
Definitions of Filicide
A number of terms have been used somewhat interchangeably in the description of child murder (Figure 1). Often, filicide refers to any murder of a child up to the age of 18 years committed by his or her parent(s) or parental figure(s), including guardians and stepparents. Infanticide commonly applies to the murder of a child under the age of one year by his or her parent(s). Neonaticide, a term coined by Phillip Resnick in 1970, refers to the unique circumstance in which a newborn is killed by his or her parent(s) within the first 24 hours of life.6 It is important to recall that filicide can be committed by both men and women, though far less literature exists on paternal filicide than maternal filicide.
Classification Systems of filicide
In an effort to aid in understanding a parent's motivation for killing his or her child, multiple classification systems of filicide have been devised based on the type of crime and the gender of the perpetrator. The systems serve to better delineate the motives behind these crimes. The first classification system identified in psychiatric literature was published in 1927 and divided mothers who committed filicide into two groups: Those who perpetrated the act while lactating and those who did so after the end of lactation. Of the 166 cases the author reviewed, he believed that 70 percent were related to exhaustion or lactation psychosis.7 Though this system has fallen out of favor, it is founded on the important idea that filicide may be motivated by the hormonal changes and stressors associated with childbirth and caring for an infant.
A 1957 study established two groups of homicidal mothers who killed their illegitimate infants in the first day of the infants' lives. Group one was identified as young, immature primiparas who submit to sexual relations and have no history of legal trouble, while group two consisted of women with strong primitive drives and little ethical restraint.8 The large majority of women who commit neonaticide fall into the first of these categories. This study made significant strides in identifying neonaticide as a distinct crime involving very different circumstances when compared to other filicides.
One of the most influential classifications of child murder was created in 1969 by Phillip Resnick.9 He reviewed 131 cases of filicide committed by both men and women that were discussed in psychiatric literature dating from 1751 to 1967. He developed five categories to account for the motives driving parents to kill their children:
Altruistic filicide—The parent kills the child because it is perceived to be in the best interest of the child.
Acts associated with parental suicidal ideation—The parent may believe that the world is too cruel to leave the child behind after his or her death.
Acts meant to relieve the suffering of the child—The child has a disability, either real or imagined, that the parent finds intolerable.
Acutely psychotic filicide—The parent, responding to psychosis, kills the child with no other rational motive. This category may also include incidents that occur secondary to automatisms related to seizures or activities taking place in a post-ictal state.
Unwanted child filicide—The parent kills the child, who is regarded as a hindrance. This category also includes parents who benefit from the death of the child in some way (e.g., inheriting insurance money, marrying a partner who does not want step-children).
Accidental filicide—The parent unintentionally kills the child as a result of abuse. This category includes the rarely occurring Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Spouse revenge filicide—The parent kills the child as a means of exacting revenge upon the spouse, perhaps secondary to infidelity or abandonment.
The most common motive in Resnick's study was altruism. In total, this category accounted for 49 percent of the cases reviewed. The least common motive was spousal revenge, which accounted for only two percent of the murders. This comprehensive classification system can be applied to both female and male perpetrators. In 1973, Scott devised another classification system based on the impulse to kill. This was the first classification system in the literature based solely on the actions of fathers. The system was derived from his research involving 46 fathers who killed their children (Table 1).10 In 1999, Guileyardo published a classification system based on Resnick's system, which was enhanced to reflect a broader range of motives (Table 2).11 In 2001, Meyer and Oberman created a classification system identifying the causes of maternal infanticide (Table 3).12 While there certainly exists some overlap between the classification systems proposed over the last several decades, the development of these systems contributes some important points to the growing body of knowledge related to filicide.
An Unthinkable Crime
Since 1950, child homicide rates have tripled, and homicide is within the top five causes of death for children ages 1 to 14 years old.13 In 2004, 311 of 578 (53.8%) children under the age of five were murdered by their parents in the US. Between the years of 1976 and 2004, 30 percent of all children murdered under the age of five were killed by their mothers and 31 percent were killed by their fathers.14 Male and female children appear to be killed in equal numbers, though one study did find that fathers are more likely to kill sons while mothers more frequently kill daughters.15 See Table 4 for an overview of characteristics associated with filicidal parents.
The theory of evolution allows for a more objective and less emotionally charged evaluation of filicide. The goal of any species, including humans, is to procreate, and those factors that allow for the creation of the next generation are advantageous. In a world with limited resources, the offspring who are weaker (those with obvious physical deformities) or are not created by the careful selection of a mate (those that are the product of rape) are more likely to be sacrificed in favor of stronger candidates.16 Younger offspring are more likely to be eliminated because less time and energy has been invested in their care. Finally, younger females are more willing to sacrifice offspring with the understanding that they have a longer period of fertility remaining in comparison with older females. It has been suggested that mental illness and the disorganization that it creates may be the main factor that causes parents not to follow the trends predicted by evolution.17 Maternal filicide. Most research concerning filicide has focused on the mother and has looked at the crime from a variety of different perspectives. In 2005, Friedman, et al.,18 published an extensive analysis of the existing literature on maternal filicide. While they were able to reaffirm characteristics common to those women who committed neonaticide, it was unfortunately much harder to define the type of women who murders her infant or child. There are a number of reasons for this. Most importantly, circumstances vary greatly among the different populations of women assessed in each of the studies, depending on whether the information was gathered from general, psychiatric, or correctional populations. Also, the studies analyzed were all retrospective, and some contained a small number (n) of participants. The age of the child changes the potential for filicide as well. Despite these limitations, some general conclusions were reached. The strongest general risk factor that was identified through an analysis by Friedman, et al.,18 was a history of suicidality and depression or psychosis and past use of psychiatric services. In the general population studies (those that used administrative records including coroners' reports or national statistics), it was determined that mothers at highest risk of filicide were often socially isolated, indigent, full-time care providers who may have been victims of domestic violence themselves. Overall, those from the psychiatric population were married, unemployed, used alcohol, and had a history of being abused. Women from the correctional population were more often found to be unmarried and unemployed with a lack of social support, limited education, and a history of substance use. See Table 5 for a synopsis of this data. Although no specific study exists, the literature also supported the idea that younger children are at greater risk for fatal maltreatment (accidental filicide) while older children are more often the victims of purposeful homicide.
Risk factors for maternal filicide based on the Hatters-Friedman, et al., 18 study population
Two studies in the literature highlighted the importance of the mother's own childhood as a factor in her crime. A number of women who went on to commit filicide received inadequate mothering secondary to their own mothers being unavailable to them due to a variety of reasons including alcoholism, absence, physical or verbal abuse, or mental health problems.19 In another study, Friedman, et al.,20 reviewed the developmental histories of 39 women who were adjudicated insane following charges of filicide. They found that 38 percent had a history of physical and sexual abuse (5% were incest victims) and 49 percent were abandoned by their own mothers. These figures may represent low estimates given that some of the information about these women was unknown.
Several studies have identified certain characteristics found in mothers who commit filicide.9,15,20–23 The number of women evaluated in each study ranged from 17 to 89. The average age of the women was 29 years. Two thirds of the women were married. The victim was, on average, 3.2 years old. Many of the women had psychiatric diagnoses. A separate study indicated that those mothers who are mentally ill were generally older when they committed the filicidal act, and the children killed by these women were typically older as well.17 Based on the six studies, an average of 36.4 percent of filicidal women attempted or committed suicide. Another study showed that 16 to 29 percent of all mothers successfully commit suicide following a filicidal act.24 The most common methods of murder identified in the six studies were head trauma, drowning, suffocation, and strangulation. In addition, Rouge-Maillart, et al., made the connection that women who accidentally killed their young children during an episode of abuse shared many characteristics with mothers who commit neonaticide, including being young, poor, unemployed, single, and without a suicide attempt following the act.25
Paternal filicide. Fathers are less often considered as the perpetrators in filicide cases, and consequently, there is much less focus on them in the literature. However, they are responsible for a large portion of child murder and worthy of independent investigation. Six pertinent studies were identified in the literature.9,15,26–29 The number of men evaluated ranged from 10 to 60. According to the literature, it appears that most men were in their late 20s when the crime occurred. On average, the children were typically older than those killed by mothers. It is important to note that fathers are rarely responsible for neonaticides. It is difficult to delineate a common motive because, as with maternal filicide, the data for these studies originated from different locations. It was striking, however, that a few of the studies noted that the murder was based on the father's interpretation of the child's behavior (e.g., a father becomes jealous because the child prefers the mother).28,29
Psychosis seems to be common in men who commit filicide. Two studies from psychiatric populations found the rate of psychosis was 40 percent,27,28 while two studies from general populations found it to be about 30 percent.9,26 The rate of suicide or attempted suicide was also quite high, usually around 60 percent.15,26,27 In 40 to 60 percent of paternal filicide cases, men who murdered their children were also likely to kill or attempt to kill their spouses (familicide).15,27
Throughout the literature, fathers consistently used active and violent means, such as shooting, stabbing, hitting, dropping, squeezing, crushing, or shaking, in order to kill their children. Finally, these men were often determined to be poor, uneducated, unemployed, and lacking a social support network. In Resnick's 1969 study, he compiled data on both paternal and maternal filicide, and this data is summarized in Table 6.
A comparison of mothers and fathers who commit filicide based on Resnick's data9
Filicide by stepparents. Parenting can be challenging, and it may be even more so if the child is not the parent's own. As mentioned before, in evolutionary terms, the reward for investing the energy in raising a biological child is the opportunity to advance one's own genetic information.30 Given that stepparents do not share any genes with their stepchildren, they may be less tolerant of them.31 This may explain why two studies found that stepparents kill children at a much higher rate than biological parents.16,32 More specifically, stepfathers were roughly eight times more likely than biological fathers to kill their children, and stepmothers were almost three times more likely than biological mothers to kill their children.32 In addition, stepparents were found to be more likely to beat or bludgeon their stepchildren, whereas biological parents often shot or asphyxiated their children. The more violent actions of the stepparents may be explained as a manifestation of the hostility, resentment, and rage that they may feel toward their stepchildren.16,32
Infanticide. Despite the frequent use of the term infanticide in the literature, few studies have focused solely on child murders in the first year of life. In 1998, Overpeck, et al.,33 reviewed 2776 child homicides that occurred during the first year of life between 1983 and 1991 in the US. This study is particularly potent given the large number of cases reviewed. However, the perpetrator of the crime was not often specified in the data. The mother of the infant was often young, single, lacking prenatal care, and poorly educated. One quarter of the crimes were committed prior to the end of infant's second month of life, one half by four months and two-thirds by the end of the sixth month. Battering or assault was the most common means of death, occurring in about 60 percent of the cases.
Later that year, Brewster, et al.,34 published a smaller but more comprehensive study of infanticide. The results were based on the analysis of 32 cases of filicide followed by the United States Air Force, which were perpetrated by both mothers and fathers between 1989 and 1995. Presumably, secondary to the extensive records maintained by the military, much previously unattainable and unexplored data was presented. Nearly all (97%) of the households were composed of two parents who were living together and married (unusual and most likely a reflection of the military population). Three quarters of the crimes were committed by the biological fathers, while 17 percent were committed by the biological mothers. The average age of parent was 23.8 years old. Half of the perpetrators were first time parents. One quarter had a personal history of childhood abuse.
On average, the victim was five months old, and there was an even division between male and female children. Pediatricians noted that around one third of these infants had colic; whereas, interestingly, the mothers only felt that was the case 10 percent of the time. These infants were documented to be on the low end of normal in regard to their heights and weights. A little more than half (55%) of the children had been abused before. The most common cause of death was head injury, and on average, the infant survived approximately 8.5 days following the trauma.
Three quarters of the time, the acts were committed in the home. The perpetrator was alone during the commission of the crime 86 percent of the time. On average, the act occurred around noon. They were perpetrated equally on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) and weekdays (Tuesday through Thursday); no crimes were committed on Monday or Friday. The incidents were evenly distributed across the months. Slightly more than half (58%) of the crimes were precipitated by the infants crying.
Neonaticide. In the literature, neonaticides stand out as very different crimes from other filicides. In 1970, Resnick6 presented the most well-known set of data regarding the murder of newborns. This was based on his evaluation of 37 cases in the world literature between 1751 and 1967. He found that the crime is most often perpetrated by a young mother who is acting alone. Frequently, the mother is unprepared for the birth of a child. She rarely has a history of mental illness. The mother is most often motivated to commit the crime because the child is unwanted, perhaps because she is not married or is married to a man who is not the father of the child. Suffocation is the most common method of death. Unlike filicide, in which 40 percent of murdering mothers come to the attention of a physician, mothers committing neonaticide rarely seek medical assistance, including prenatal care.6 See Table 7 comparing Resnick's statistics on neonaticide and filicide. Table 7
A comparison of Resnick's data on neonaticide and filicide6,9
Many of Resnick's6 findings have been corroborated in subsequent studies. Four other studies targeting neonaticide were identified in the literature.35–38 The number of women evaluated in each study ranged from 7 to 53. Three of these studies were derived from data concerning the general population, while one was based on women seen secondary to court referrals for psychiatric evaluation. The average age of the women was 21.2 years old. Few were married (11.3–20.6%), and most were nulliparous prior to the birth (65–81%).35,37 Asphyxiation, drowning, and exposure were identified as the most common means of completing the act.35,38 Three quarters to 100 percent of the women concealed or were in denial of their pregnancies.36,38
Five percent of all homicides in the first year of life (infanticides) occurred on the first day of life. Of those newborns killed, 95 percent of those were not born in a hospital.33 Given the secrecy surrounding the occasion of the child's birth, it is highly likely that some instances of neonaticide remain hidden. Denial or concealment of pregnancy is quite common in women who commit neonaticide. Passivity appears to be a trait that clearly differentiates mothers who commit these crimes from those who seek to terminate the pregnancy.39 These neonaticidal mothers expect that the problems created by the pregnancy will simply disappear, perhaps by having a miscarriage or a stillbirth. They neither make plans for the arrival of the baby nor do they anticipate harming the child.6 Once they have unexpectedly birthed a live child, the harshness of reality sets in and causes them to silence the infant's intrusion into their lives forever.
The justice system. Society's opinions about parents who kill their children are often strongly held but quite ambivalent. On one end of the spectrum, society feels justice must be served for the senseless loss of innocent lives. On the other end, even without having a full understanding of the complexities of mental illness, society believes, on some level, that something must be terribly wrong with a parent who kills his or her own child. This presents some explanation for society's mixed emotions regarding the use of the insanity plea in filicide cases.
The NGRI plea varies significantly from state to state, with some states going so far as to abolish it. All states that allow this plea require the defendant to be mentally ill. This mental illness must then cause the defendant to not be aware of the wrongfulness of the act. This can refer to legal wrongfulness, moral wrongfulness, or both. More lenient states allow the defendant to qualify for the insanity plea if they meet another criterion, the volitional arm, which means that the defendant, due to mental illness, could not resist the impulse to commit the crime. Mothers who were adjudicated NGRI were more likely to have attempted suicide and had psychotic symptoms.40
In the case of Andrea Yates, experts testifying for both the defense and the prosecution agreed that she was severely mentally ill. However, the point on which they disagreed was the issue of wrongfulness. The prosecution's expert believed that Ms. Yates was aware of the wrongfulness of the act, whereas the defense's expert stated that although she was aware of the legal wrongfulness, she had an overriding moral justification for her actions (e.g., to save the souls of her children).
Disposition. The placement of filicidal parents depends upon the outcome of their legal proceedings. Those who were determined to be NGRI are technically acquitted of the charges, though they are almost always committed to a forensic psychiatric unit until their mental illness has been properly treated. Those found guilty of murder will most likely serve their sentence in a prison. Mothers who commit filicide are much more likely to be shown mercy by the courts when compared to fathers. Men are more frequently sent to prison and executed when compared to their female counterparts.9
Treatment. Given all the variables that play a role in a parent's decision to kill a child, no clear treatment plan can be proposed. If the parent is mentally ill, treatment of the underlying illness is certainly warranted. Often after this occurs, the parent who committed the crime has a very difficult time emotionally processing the devastating event that has occurred and may require extensive counseling and/or psychotropic medications. Filicide is irreversible, and this is why prevention is so crucial.
Prevention. Various efforts had been made in the United States to decrease the number of filicides that occur, particularly those involving newborns and infants. Safe Haven laws allow parents to anonymously surrender unharmed infants to the custody of the state without legal repercussions, including being charged with child abandonment. Since the first law was proposed in Texas in 1999, safe haven laws have been introduced in 46 other states. In 1970, Resnick hypothesized that more liberal abortion laws would decrease the occurrence of neonaticide. This became a reality when the Supreme Court, in the 1973 Roe v. Wade41 decision, struck down a law banning first trimester abortions. Though not conclusive proof of this theory, one study showed that fewer neonaticides occurred in the 10 years following the decision when compared to the 10 years preceding it.42
Though it is certainly not always the case, the prevention of filicide may be achieved by physicians who interact with a patient prior to his or her commission of this devastating act. Psychiatrists have one of the best opportunities to do this when caring for mentally ill parents, and this is particularly true when psychiatrists are caring for women in the postpartum period. Andrea Yates received regular psychiatric care just prior to the murder of her children. Because of her psychotic beliefs at the time, Ms. Yates did not disclose her recurrent thoughts of harming her children. However, other patients may be willing to confide in their physicians.
A particularly challenging time in the life of parents involves the arrival of a new child, especially for women. Traditionally, the mother is expected to be the primary care giver, which can be quite difficult when her hormones are fluctuating and may have a deleterious effect on her mood or thought process. In her lifetime, a woman is at the greatest risk of developing mental illness during the postpartum period.42 Despite this, soon after the birth of their child, mothers may have considerable difficulty admitting to symptoms of mental illness given that they are expected to be happy and fulfilled. Another issue that arises in recognizing depression in new mothers is the lack of a clear definition of what postpartum illness actually is. The DSM-IV TR applies the postpartum specifier only to diagnoses made within four weeks of delivery;44 however, most clinicians would agree the postpartum period extends beyond that short period of time.
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a brief rating scale that can be used to quickly screen for depression in a postpartum women.45 Because postpartum depression affects 10 to 15 percent of new mothers and recurs after 20 to 50 percent of subsequent pregnancies, screening is certainly warranted.46 If postpartum illness is particularly severe, a clinician may even recommend to a patient that she consider avoiding future pregnancies, which actually occurred in Andrea Yates's case. Even mothers who do not suffer from postpartum mental illness may experience stress to the degree that thoughts to harm their children occur. Levitzky and Cooper showed that 70 percent of mothers of infants with colic had “explicit aggressive fantasies” related to their children.47
A psychiatrist may be provided with an early opportunity for prevention of harm to an infant if he or she has the chance to interview a woman prior to giving birth. At this point, the clinician may inquire generally about the mother's attitude toward the baby or more specifically about plans for the baby during and after its arrival. This line of questioning may also include asking about thoughts to harm the baby. This may prove to be especially important if the woman indicates ambivalent or negative feelings about the pregnancy (e.g., if she has some delusional thoughts concerning the baby or if the pregnancy is unwanted).
Psychiatrists may underestimate the prevalence of filicidal thoughts, when in fact greater than 40 percent of depressed mothers with children less than three years old endorsed thoughts to harm them.48 Even if it occurs to clinicians to inquire about filicidal thoughts, they can be prevented from doing so for a number of reasons. They may feel that it will have a negative impact on the therapeutic alliance or place ideas in the heads of parents who otherwise may not have considered the notion of filicide before. It may simply be that it is a difficult topic to address with a patient secondary to the psychiatrist's own discomfort with the notion. Given the prevalence of parents who intend to commit filicide prior to their own suicides, it is important to inquire about plans for the children in parents who endorsed thoughts to harm themselves.49 Much as asking about suicidal or homicidal thoughts has become second nature for psychiatrists over time, so too should inquiring about filicidal thoughts.
Filicide is a complicated and multifactorial crime. Given its complex nature, it is difficult to establish traits that consistently apply to its perpetrators and victims. However, through careful evaluation of the existing literature, certain trends can be identified. Mothers and fathers who commit filicide are, on average, in their late 20s and typically do so with equal frequency. This differs remarkably from neonaticide, which is almost always committed by young mothers. About 35 percent of filicides committed by both mothers and fathers are associated with suicide attempts. Filicidal men and women are often socially isolated and unemployed. Mothers may have a personal history of abuse, whereas men are more likely to attempt to kill their spouse in addition to their child. Neonaticidal mothers often deny or conceal their pregnancies and usually are not mentally ill, thus they generally avoid contact with medical professionals.
Mental illness, however, clearly plays a role in other filicidal acts. Therefore, psychiatrists may have some exposure to these parents prior to the commission of the crimes. As clinicians, it is important that we ask these patients the difficult and uncomfortable questions that concern their filicide thoughts. If patients are willing to share these thoughts with their care providers, the next step involves safeguarding the parent and child through hospitalizing the parent or linking them to community resources that can provide support to overwhelmed parents. Filicide, tragically, is a permanent act, and the key to avoiding the devastating effects, for the perpetrator, the victim, and the community, is prevention.
Female genital mutilation is no preventive treatment against some women, especially in India just becoming bitches who can think of nothing then getting fucked all day. They tried it in Somalia for centuries, and it failed. Somali girls are the wildest fuckers in the world.
Animals are used in laboratories for three main purposes: education, product safety testing, and experimentation, medical research in particular. Unless otherwise indicated, my discussion is limited to their use in harmful, nontherapeutic medical research (which, for simplicity, I sometimes refer to as vivisection). Experimentation of this kind differs from therapeutic experimentation, where the intention is to benefit the subjects on whom the experiments are conducted. In harmful, nontherapeutic experimentation, by contrast, subjects are harmed in the absence of any intended benefit for them; instead, the intention is to obtain information that might ultimately lead to benefits for others.
Human beings, not only nonhuman animals, have been used in harmful, nontherapeutic experimentation. In fact, the history of medical research contains numerous examples of human vivisection, and it is doubtful whether the ethics of animal vivisection can be fully appreciated apart from the ethics of human vivisection. Unless otherwise indicated, however, the current discussion of vivisection, and my use of the term, are limited to harmful, nontherapeutic experimentation using nonhuman animals.
The Benefits Argument
There is only one serious moral defense of vivisection. That defense proceeds as follows. Human beings are better off because of vivisection. Indeed, we are much better off because of it. If not all, at least most of the most important improvements in human health and longevity are indebted to vivisection. Included among the advances often cited are open heart surgery, vaccines (for polio and small pox, for example), cataract and hip replacement surgery, and advances in rehabilitation techniques for victims of spinal cord injuries and strokes. Without these and the many other advances attributable to vivisection, proponents of the Benefits Argument maintain, the incidence of human disease, permanent disability, and premature death would be far, far greater than it is today.
Defenders of the Benefits Argument are not indifferent to how animals are treated. They agree that animals used in vivisection sometimes suffer, both during the research itself and because of the restrictive conditions of their life in the laboratory. That the research can harm animals, no reasonable person will deny. Experimental procedures include drowning, suffocating, starving, and burning; blinding animals and destroying their ability to hear; damaging their brains, severing their limbs, crushing their organs; inducing heart attacks, ulcers, paralysis, seizures; forcing them to inhale tobacco smoke, drink alcohol, and ingest various drugs, such as heroine and cocaine.
These harms are regrettable, vivisections defenders acknowledge, and everything that can be done should be done to minimize animal suffering. For example, to prevent overcrowding, animals should be housed in larger cages. But (so the argument goes) there is no other way to secure the important human health benefits that vivisection yields so abundantly, benefits that greatly exceed any harms that animals endure.
What the Benefits Argument Omits
Any argument that rests on comparing benefits and harms must not only state the benefits accurately; it must also do the same for the relevant harms. Advocates of the Benefits Argument fail on both counts. Independent of their lamentable tendency to minimize the harms done to animals and their fixed resolve to marginalize non animal alternatives, advocates overestimate the human benefits attributable to vivisection and all but ignore the massive human harms that are an essential part of vivisections legacy. Even more fundamentally, they uniformly fail to provide an intelligible methodology for comparing benefits and harms across species. I address each of these three failures in turn. (For a fuller critique, see my contribution to The Animal Rights Debate. New York, London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).
1. Concerning the overestimation of benefits: Proponents of the Benefits Argument would have us believe that most of the truly important improvements in human health could not have been achieved without vivisection. The facts tell a different story. Public health scholars have shown that animal experimentation has made at best only a modest contribution to public health. By contrast, the vast majority of the most important health advances have resulted from improvements in living conditions (in sanitation, for example) and changes in personal hygiene and lifestyle, none of which has anything to do with animal experimentation. (For a summary of the relevant literature, see Hugh Lafollette and Niall Shanks, Brute Science: Dilemmas of Animal Experimentation. London: Routledge, 1996).
2. Concerning the failure to attend to massive human harms: Advocates of the Benefits Argument conveniently ignore the hundreds of millions of deaths and the uncounted illnesses and disabilities that are attributable to reliance on the animal model in research. Sometimes the harms result from what reliance on vivisection makes available; sometime they result from what reliance on vivisection prevents. The deleterious effects of prescription medicines is an example of the former.
Prescription drugs are first tested extensively on animals before being made available to consumers. As is well known, there are problems involved in extrapolating results obtained from studies on animal beings to human beings. In particular, many medicines that are not toxic for test animals prove to be highly toxic for human beings. How toxic? It is estimated that one hundred thousand Americans die and some two million are hospitalized annually because of the harmful effects of the prescription drugs they are taking. That makes prescription drugs the fourth leading cause of death in America, behind only heart disease, cancer, and stroke, a fact that, without exception, goes unmentioned by the Benefits Arguments advocates.
Massive harm to humans also is attributable to what reliance on vivisection prevents. The role of cigarette smoking in the incidence of cancer is a case in point. As early as the 1950s, human epidemiological studies revealed a causal link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Nevertheless, repeated efforts, made over more than 50 years, rarely succeeded in inducing tobacco related cancers in animals. Despite the alarm sounded by public health advocates, governments around the world for decades refused to mount an educational campaign to inform smokers about the grave risks they were running. Today, one in every five deaths in the United States is attributable to the effects of smoking, and fully 60 percent of direct health care costs in the United States go to treating tobacco-related illnesses.
How much of this massive human harm could have been prevented if the results of vivisection had not (mis)directed government health care policy? It is not clear that anyone knows the answer beyond saying, A great deal. More than we will ever know. One thing we do know, however: advocates of the Benefits Argument contravene the logic of their argument when they fail to include these harms in their defense of vivisection.
3. Not to go unmentioned, finally, is the universal failure of vivisections defenders to explain how we are to weigh benefits and harms across species. Before we can judge that vivisections benefits for humans greatly exceed vivisections harms to other animals, someone needs to explain how the relevant comparisons should be made. How much animal pain equals how much human relief from a drug that was tested on animals, for example? It does not suffice to say, to quote the American philosopher Carl Cohen (Cohen is the worlds leading defender of the Benefits Argument), that the suffering of our species does seem somehow to be more important than the suffering of other species (The Animal Rights Debate, op. cit.: p. 291). Not only does this fail to explain how much more important our suffering is supposed to be, it offers no reason why anyone should think that it is.
Plainly, unless or until those who support the Benefits Argument offer an intelligible methodology for comparing benefits and harms across species, the claim that human benefits derived from vivisection greatly exceed the harms done to animals is more in the nature of unsupported ideology than demonstrated fact. (I note, parenthetically, that this challenge must be met by any contributor to this volume who uses this argument; if they fail to provide the necessary methodology, the thoughtful reader will place no credence in what they say).
Human Vivisection and Human Rights
The Benefits Argument suffers from an even more fundamental defect. Despite appearances to the contrary, the argument begs all the most important questions; in particular, it fails to address the role that moral rights play in assessing harmful, nontherapeutic research on animals. The best way to understand its failure in this regard is to position the argument against the backdrop of human vivisection and human rights.
Human beings have been used in harmful, nontherapeutic experiments for thousands of years. Not surprisingly, most human guinea pigs have not come from the wealthy and educated, not from the dominant race, not from those with the power to assert and enforce their rights. No, most of human vivisections victims have been coercively conscripted from the ranks of young children (especially orphans), the elderly, the severely developmentally disabled, the insane, the poor, the illiterate, members of inferior races, homosexuals, military personnel, prisoners of war, and convicted criminals, for example. One such case will be considered below.
The scientific rationale behind vivisecting human beings needs little explanation. Using human subjects in research overcomes the difficulty of extrapolating results from another species to our species. If benefits for humans establishes the morality animal vivisection, should we favor human vivisection instead? After all, research using members of our own species promises even greater benefits.
No serious advocate of human rights (and I count myself among this number) can support such research. This judgment is not capricious or arbitrary; it is a necessary consequence of the logic of basic moral rights, including our rights to bodily integrity and to life. This logic has two key components. (For a more complete discussion of rights, see my The Case for Animal Rights. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983).
First, possession of these rights confers a unique moral status. Those who possess these rights have a kind of protective moral shield, an invisible "No Trespassing" sign, so to speak, that prohibits others from injuring their bodies, taking their life, or putting them at risk of serious harm, including death. When people violate our rights, when they trespass on our moral property, they do something wrong to us directly.
This does not mean that it must be wrong to hurt someone or even to take their life. When terrorists exceed their rights by violating ours, we act within our rights if we respond in ways that can cause serious harm to the violators. Still, what we are free to do when someone violates our rights does not translate into the freedom to override their rights without justifiable cause.
Second, the obligation to respect others rights to bodily integrity and to life trumps any obligation we have to benefit others. Even if society in general would benefit if the rights of a few people were violated, that would not make violating their rights morally acceptable to any serious defender of human rights. The rights of the individual are not to be sacrificed in the name of promoting the general welfare. This is what it means to affirm our rights. It is also why the basic moral rights we possess, as the individuals we are, have the great moral importance that they do.
Why the Benefits Argument Begs the Question
Once we understand why, given the logic of moral rights, respect for the rights of individuals takes priority over any obligation we might have to benefit others, we can understand why the Benefits Argument fails to justify vivisection on nonhuman animals. Clearly, all that the Benefits Argument can show is that vivisection on nonhuman animals benefits human beings. What this argument cannot show is that vivisecting animals for this purpose is morally justified. And it cannot show this because the benefits humans derive from vivisection are irrelevant to the question of animals rights. We cannot show that animals have no right to life, for example, because we benefit from using them in experiments that take their life.
It will not suffice here for advocates of the Benefits Argument to insist that there are no alternatives to vivisection that will yield as many human benefits. Not only is this reply more than a little disingenuous, since the greatest impediment to developing new scientifically valid non animal alternatives, and to using those that already exist, is the hold that the ideology of vivisection currently has on medical researchers and those who fund them. In addition, this reply fails to address the substantive moral issues. Whether animals have rights is not a question that can be answered by saying how much vivisection benefits human beings. No matter how great the human benefits might be, the practice is morally wrong if animals have rights that vivisection violates.
But do animals have any rights? The best way to answer this question is to begin with an actual case of human vivisection.
The Children of Willowbrook
Willowbrook State Hospital was a mental hospital located in Staten Island, one of New York Citys five boroughs. For fifteen years, from 1956 to 1971, under the leadership of New York University Professor Saul Krugman, hospital staff conducted a series of viral hepatitis experiments on thousands of the hospitals severely retarded children, some as young as three years old. Among the research questions asked: Could injections of gamma globulin (a complex protein extracted from blood serum) produce long term immunity to the hepatitis virus?
What better way to find the answer, Dr. Krugman decided, than to separate the children in one of his experiments into two groups. In the one, children were fed the live hepatitis virus and given an injection of gamma globulin, which Dr. Krugman believed would produce immunity; in the other, children were fed the virus but received no injection. In both cases, the virus was obtained from the feces of other Willowbrook children who suffered from the disease. Parents were asked to sign a release form that would permit their children to be given the benefit of this new preventive.
The results of the experiment were instrumental in leading Dr. Krugman to conclude that hepatitis is not a single disease transmitted by a single virus; there are, he confirmed, at least two distinct viruses that transmit the disease, what today we know as hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Everyone agrees that many people have benefited from this knowledge and the therapies Dr. Krugmans research made possible. Some question the necessity of his research, citing the comparable findings that Baruch Blumberg made by analyzing blood antigens in his laboratory, where no children were put at risk of grievous harm. But even if we assume that Dr. Krugmans results could not have been achieved without experimenting on his uncomprehending subjects, what he did was wrong.
The purpose of his research, after all, was not to benefit each of the children. If that was his objective, he would not have withheld injections of gamma globulin from half of them. Those children certainly could not be counted among the intended beneficiaries. (Thus the misleading nature of the parental release form: not all the children were given the benefit of this new preventive). Instead, the purpose of the experiment was possibly to benefit some of the children (the ones who received the injections) and to gain information that would benefit other people in the future.
No serious advocate of human rights can accept the moral propriety of Dr. Krugmans actions. By intentionally infecting all the children in his experiment, he put each of them at risk of serious harm. And by withholding the suspected means of preventing the disease from half the children, he violated their rights (not to mention those of their parents) twice over: first, by willfully injuring their body; second, by risking their very life. This grievous breach of ethics finds no justification in the benefits others derived. To violate the moral rights of the few is never justified by adding the benefits for the many.
The Basis of Human Rights
Those who deny that animals have rights frequently emphasize the uniqueness of human beings. We not only write poetry and compose symphonies, read history and solve math problems; we also understand our own mortality and make moral choices. Other animals do none of these things. That is why we have rights and they do not.
This way of thinking overlooks the fact that many human beings do not read history or solve math problems, do not understand their own mortality or make moral choices. The profoundly retarded children Dr. Krugman used in his research are a case in point. If possession of the moral rights to bodily integrity and life depended on understanding ones mortality or making moral choices, for example, then those children lacked these rights. In their case, therefore, there would be no protective shield, no invisible No Trespassing sign that limited what others were free to do to them. Lacking the protection rights afford, there would not have been anything about the moral status of the children themselves that prohibited Dr. Krugman from injuring their bodies, taking their life, or putting them at risk of serious harm. Lacking the protection rights afford, Dr. Krugman did not indeed, he could not have done anything wrong to the children. Again, this is not a position any serious advocate of human rights can accept. But what is there about those of us reading these words, on the one hand, and the children of Willowbrook, on the other, that can help us understand how they can have the same rights we claim for ourselves? Where will we find the basis of our moral equality? Not in the ability to write poetry, make moral choices, and the like. Not in human biology, including facts about the genetic make-up humans share. All humans are (in some sense) biologically the same. But biological facts are indifferent to moral truths. Who has what genes has no moral relevance to who has what rights. Whatever else is in doubt, this we know.
But if not in some advanced cognitive capacity or genetic similarity, then where might we find the basis of our equality? Any plausible answer must begin with the obvious: The differences between the children of Willowbrook and those who read these words are many and varied. We do not denigrate these children when we say that our life has a richness that theirs lacked. Few among us would trade our life for theirs, even if we could.
Still, as important as these differences are, they should not obscure the similarities. For, like us, these children were the subjects of a life, their life, a life that was experientially better or worse for the child whose life it was. Like us, each child was a unique somebody, not a replaceable something. True, they lacked the ability to read and to make moral choices, for example. Nevertheless, what was done to these children, both what they experienced and what they were deprived of, mattered to them, as the individuals they were, just as what is done to us, when we are harmed, matters to us.
In this respect, as the subjects of a life, we and the children of Willowbrook are the same, are equal. Only in this case, our sameness, our equality is important morally. Logically, we cannot claim that harms done to us matter morally, but that harms done to these children do not. Relevantly similar cases must be judged similarly. This is among the first principles of rational thought, a principle that has immediate application here. Logically, we cannot claim our rights to bodily integrity and to life, then deny these same rights in the case of the children. Without a doubt, the children of Willowbrook had rights, if we do.
Why Animals Have Rights
We routinely divide the world into animals, vegetables, minerals. Ameba and paramecia are not vegetables or minerals; they are animals. No one engaged in the vivisection debate thinks that the use of such simple animals poses a vexing moral question. By contrast, everyone engaged in the debate recognizes that using nonhuman primates must be assessed morally. All parties to the debate, therefore, must ?draw a line? somewhere between the simplest forms of animate life and the most complex, a line that marks the boundary between those animals that do, and those that do not, matter morally.
One way to avoid some of the controversies in this quarter is to follow Charles Darwins lead. When he compares (these are his words) the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals,' Darwin restricts his comparison to humans and nonhuman mammals.
His reasons for doing so depend in part on structural considerations. In all essential respects, these animals are physiologically like us, and we, like them. Now, in our case, an intact, functioning central nervous system is associated with our capacity for subjective experience. For example, injuries to our brain or spinal cord can diminish our sense of sight or touch, or impair our ability to feel pain or remember. By analogy, Darwin thinks it is reasonable to infer that the same is true of animals who are most physiologically similar to us. Because our central nervous system provides the physical basis for our subjective awareness of the world, and because the central nervous system of other mammals resembles ours in all the relevant respects, it is reasonable to believe that their central nervous system provides the physical basis for their subjective awareness.
Of course, if attributing subjective awareness to nonhuman mammals was at odds with the implications of evolutionary theory, or if this made their behavior inexplicable, Darwin's position would need to be abandoned. But just the opposite is true. That these animals are subjectively present in the world, Darwin understands, is required by evolutionary theory. And far from making their behavior inexplicable, their behavior is parsimoniously explained by referring to their mental capacities.
For example, these animals enjoy some things and find others painful. Not surprisingly, they act accordingly, seeking to find the former and avoid the latter. Moreover, both humans and other mammals share a family of cognitive abilities (we both are able to learn from experience, remember the past, anticipate the future) as well as a variety of emotions (Darwin lists fear, jealousy, and sadness). Not surprisingly, again, these mental capacities play a role in how they behave. For example, other mammals will behave one way rather than another because they remember which ways of acting had pleasant outcomes in the past, or because they are afraid or sad. Concluding his comparison of the mental faculties of humans and 'the higher animals' (by which he means other mammals), Darwin writes: '[T]he difference in mind between man and the higher animals . . . is one of degree and not of kind' (The Descent of Man, Chapter IV).
The psychological complexity of mammals (henceforth animals, unless otherwise indicated) plays an important role in arguing for their rights. Just as it is true in our case, so is it true in theirs: they are the subjects of a life, their life, a life that is experientially better or worse for the one whose life it is. Each is a unique somebody, not a replaceable something. True (like the children of Willowbrook), they lack the ability to read, write, or make moral choices. Nevertheless, what is done to animals, both what they experience and what they are deprived of, matters to them, as the individuals they are, just as what was to done to the children of Willowbrook, when they were harmed, mattered to them.
In this respect, as the subjects of a life, animals are our equals. And in this case, our sameness, our equality, is important morally. Logically, we cannot maintain that harms done to us matter morally, but that harms done to animals do not matter morally. Relevantly similar cases must be judged similarly. As was noted earlier, this is among the first principles of rational thought, and one that again has immediate application here. Logically, we cannot claim our rights to bodily integrity and life, or claim these same rights for the children of Willowbrook, then deny them when it comes to animals. Without a doubt, animals have rights, if humans do.
Some Objections, Some Replies
Many are the objections raised against animal rights. While each is well intended, none withstands critical examination. It is to be recalled that the rights in question are the moral rights to bodily integrity and to life. Here, briefly, are the most important objections and my replies.
1. Objection: Animals do not understand what rights are. Therefore, they have no rights.
Reply: The children of Willowbrook, all children for that matter, do not understand what rights are. Yet we do not deny rights in their case, for this reason. To be consistent, we cannot deny rights for animals, for this reason .
2. Objection: Animals do not respect our rights. For example, lions sometimes kill innocent people. Therefore, they have no rights.
Reply: Children sometimes kill innocent people. Yet we do not deny rights in their case, for this reason. To be consistent, we cannot deny rights for animals, for this reason.
3. Objection: Animals do not respect the rights of other animals. For example, lions kill wildebeests. Therefore, they have no rights.
Reply: Children do not always respect the rights of other children; sometimes they kill them. Yet we do not deny rights in their case, for this reason. To be consistent, we cannot deny rights for animals, for this reason.
4. Objection: If animals have rights, it follows that we will need to make arrangements for them to vote, marry, file for divorce, and immigrate, for example, which is absurd. Therefore, animals have no rights.
Reply: Yes, this is absurd; but these absurdities do not follow from claiming rights to life and bodily integrity in the case of animals any more than they follow from recognizing the rights of the children of Willowbrook, for example.
5. Objection: If animals have rights, then mosquitoes and roaches have rights. This would make it wrong to kill them, which is absurd. Therefore, animals have no rights.
Reply: Not all animals have rights because some animals do. In particular, neither mosquitoes nor roaches have the kind of physiological complexity associated with being a subject of a life. In their, case, therefore, we have no good reason to believe that they have rights, even while we have abundantly good reason to believe that other animals (mammals in particular) do.
6. Objection: If animals have rights, then so do plants, which is absurd.
Therefore, animals have no rights.
Reply: Plant rights do not follow from animal rights. We have no reason to believe, and abundant reason to deny, that carrots and cabbages are subjects of a life. We have abundantly good reason to believe, and no good reason to deny, that mammals are. That is the morally relevant difference. In claiming rights for animals, therefore, we are not committed to claiming rights for plants.
7. Objection: Human beings are closer to us than animals are; we have
special relations to them. Therefore, animals have no rights.
Reply: We do have special relations to humans that we do not have to other animals. We also have special relations to our family and friends that we do not have to other human beings. But we do not conclude that other humans do not have rights, for this reason. To be consistent, we cannot deny rights for animals, for this reason.
8. Objection: Only human beings live in a moral community where rights are understood. Therefore, all human beings, and only human beings, have rights.
Reply: At least among terrestrial forms of life, only human beings live in a moral community in which rights are understood. But it does not follow that only human beings have rights. It is also true that, at least among terrestrial forms of life, only human beings live in a scientific community in which genes are understood. But we do not conclude that therefore only human beings have genes. Neither should we conclude that only human beings have rights.
9. Objection: Animals have some rights to bodily integrity and life, but the rights they have are not equal to human rights. Therefore, human vivisection is wrong, but animal vivisection is not.
Reply: This objection begs the question; it does not answer it. What morally relevant reason is there for thinking that humans have greater rights than animals? Certainly it cannot be any of the reasons examined in 1-8. But if not any of them, then what? The argument does not say.
The objections just reviewed have been considered because they are the most important, not because they are the least convincing. Their failure, individually and collectively, goes some way towards suggesting the logical inadequacy of the anti-animal rights position. Morality is not mathematics certainly. In morality, there are no proofs like those we find in geometry. What we can find, and what we must live with, are principles and values that have the best reasons, the best arguments on their side. The principles and values that pass this test, whether most people accept them or not, are the ones that should guide our lives. Given this reasonable standard, the principles and values of animal rights should guide our lives.
As was noted at the outset, animals are used in laboratories for three main purposes: education, product safety testing, and experimentation, harmful nontherapeutic experimentation in particular. Of the three, the latter has been the object of special consideration. However, the implications for the remaining purposes should be obvious. Any time any animals rights are violated in pursuit of benefits for others, what is done is wrong. It is conceivable that some uses of animals for educational purposes (for example, having students observe the behavior of injured animals when they are returned to their natural habitat) might be justified. By contrast, it is not conceivable that using animals in product testing can be. Harming animals to establish what is safe for humans is an exercise in power, not morality. In the moral universe, animals are not our tasters, we are not their kings.
The implications of animal rights for vivisection are both clear and uncompromising. Vivisection is morally wrong. It should never have begun, and, like all great evils, it ought to end, the sooner, the better. To reply (again) that there are no alternatives not only misses the point, it is false. It misses the point because it assumes that the benefits humans derive from vivisection are derived morally when they are not. And it is false because, apart from using already existing and developing new non animal research techniques, there is another, more fundamental alternative to vivisection. This is to stop doing it. When all is said and done, the only adequate moral response to vivisection is empty cages, not larger cages.
Once islamic terror organizations will have discovered the power of arson, they will win any war. Setting cities like Lagos or Kairo on fire will drive tens of millions of refugees to Europe and undermine European culture forever.
You probably have to look at imagery of death and dying regularly to stay focused on what really counts in life: great sex before you are gone anyway.
Adolescent and child sexuality is studied by developmental psychologists from a research perspective, and is of interest to forensic psychologists dealing with abuse and custody issues as well as rape cases. In many cases it is of interest whether the child in question was sexually active, to understand the extent to which an underage minor might have voluntarily participated in sexual activity as opposed to having been coerced. Previously researchers interested in the applications of their research needed to look to separate books, and forensic specialists needed to look to development books to find the information they may have needed. This handbook provides both audiences with the related information they need. It encompasses normative behavior and clinical disorders in one source. It applies the information on development and behavior to forensic issues. It provides treatment information on sexual disorders in children. It provides information on children and adolescents in one volume.
Eurycomanone is one of several dozens of components of tongkat ali. There are many phony claims about standardization. Chinese chemicals companies sell Eurycomanone as a lab chemical for about 100 USD for 10 milligrams: http://m.phytopurify.com/eurycomanone-p-8083.html?gclid=CJHynuOa1tQCFUqhaAodtAMAlA However, this is lab grade, not intended for human consumption. You are NOT a guinea pig.
Female genital mutilation is a widespread practice globally. One woman tells Rappler her experience and how she has never achieved an orgasm because of her circumcision.
JAKARTA, Indonesia – When Mary* was in elementary school, a male classmate was circumcised.
He received gifts from friends as a form of congratulations, prompting Mary to tell her mother when she got home, “I should get circumcised, Mom. I can get a lot of money.”
Her mother’s response was not what she expected.
“You’re already circumcised,” her mother said.
“I didn't know that. When?"
“When you were a newborn.”
Mary recalls walking away from that conversation thinking everyone got the procedure done – females at birth, males perhaps when they were a little older.
But it wasn’t until later that Mary understood the meaning of the conversation she had with her mother.
Mary is one of 200 million women worldwide who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). The number, according to a new report from UNICEF, is 70 million higher than what was reported in 2014.
While the top 10 countries with the highest prevalence of FGM from 2004-2015 is in Africa, the data shows that the increase is partly due to population growth and new data collected in Indonesia.
Indonesia, with its population of 250 million people, is one of 3 countries that account for half of all FGM victims in the world, along with Egypt and Ethiopia.
Cutting the clitoris
It was in junior high school when Mary first realized that female circumcision was not a regular practice.
In conversation with her girl friends, Mary learned that not everyone had undergone the procedure as a baby – even if all of them were Muslim.
First, she started to argue about how it was an obligation in their religion, as she had always thought it was, but becoming more curious, decided to read more on the matter.
She started reading books on sexual and reproductive health, studying photos of vaginas. She learned about the clitoris – and realized she didn’t have one.
Soon after, she read a book about female circumcision in Arab culture, including books by Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi, which thoroughly addressed and denounced female circumcision.
“I read the book and learned that the practice was one of many ways to control women. One way was through circumcision,” she told Rappler.
According to UNICEF, FGM includes all procedures “that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.” It is a practice recognized internationally as a violation of human rights of girls and women, with February 6 being the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
Even within Indonesia, the practice differs in various regions.
Secretary General of the Women's Coalition Dian Kartika Sari said the culture of female circumcision in each region is different.
"There is not just one cut," she told Rappler on Friday, January 8.
In the island of Madura for example, the clitoris is cut. In other regions, the feeling on the clitoris is “killed” by slicing off a small part, but it is not completely cut off. He also said it is still practiced in some urban areas.
In 2010, the Ministry of Health released a regulation that authorized certain medical professionals, such as doctors, midwives and nurses, to perform circumcision on female patients. The technical details of circumcision was even mentioned in the regulations: "Make a scratch on the skin that covers the front of the clitoris by using the tip of a disposable sterile needle, measuring 20G-22G of the mucosa toward the skin without injuring the clitoris” said article 4, paragraph 2.
The regulation was repealed by the Deputy Minister of Health Ali Ghufron Mukti soon after.
Because while FGM is widely practiced in Indonesia, many others in the country do denounce FGM as a violation of rights. According to UNICEF, FGM violates women’s and girls’ “right to health, security and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death.”
For Mary, one of the rights taken from her was her sexual rights – at 33, Mary has never experienced an orgasm in her life.
She was first sexually active in college and is now married. But without a clitoris, Mary said she has never experienced an orgasm, a feeling her friends describe as “much like flying.”
“I can never relate when they talk about it,” she said. “It makes me sad.”
Mary said the books she read said women find it difficult to enjoy sex without a clitoris, admitting that she is unsure if her problem is psychological or physical.
Mary said the problem has caused stress for not just herself but for her husband, who for 5 years tried various ways to help her orgasm – but to no avail. She said she views sex now, as “just a waste of time,” describing her sex as “mediocre.”
There are two main reasons parents have their daughters undergo FGM in Indonesia: the first is religious, as many Muslims here believe that female circumcision is an Islamic requirement, or at the very least, is highly recommended in Islam. This is despite the fact that no formal links between Islam and FGM exist, and that no Islamic laws or Quranic verses speak of FGM, let alone make it a requirement.
Even Fatayat NU, the women's division of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, have acknowledged that FGM is not mentioned in the Quran and is simply a cultural product.
The second reason FGM is popular in Indonesia is because it is believed to reduce women's sexual desire and libido.
This belief is widely held. All parents obviously want their children to live the best lives possible, and for most Indonesian parents, this includes no sex before marriage. In today's hypersexualized world, Indonesian parents would do all they could to ensure their children are safe from the risks of “seks bebas” or premarital sex.
Female genital cutting is believed by some to be one way of achieving this. Without it, it is thought, girls will become sexually aggressive and will actively pursue “undesirable” sexual relationships.
Previously furious at her parents who asked that doctors circumcise her and her sister upon birth, Mary has since accepted her fate – and the fact that the effects of FGM is something she will have to live with for the rest of her life.
Mary said her parents were apologetic when she first confronted them about it, saying she was born in an Islamic hospital where it was common practice. Her parents, she told Rappler, didn’t know better.
UNICEF data shows Mary’s experience is not that unique. Data shows that parents are the ones who ask for circumcision for their children the most, followed by religious leaders, relatives, and community leaders.
Even today, many in Indonesia think FGM is still a necessity. Sari said many community leaders still preach FGM which is one reason why the practice still exists in Indonesia. It is also still a widespread myth that FGM has health benefits.
However there is no evidence that FGM affects cleanliness or vaginal health. Claims that urine and genital secretions accumulate and fester in the vulva, vagina or urethra have no medical backing. FGM does not reduce chances of urinary tract infections or infections of the reproductive system. Instead, data shows FGM causes risks to health.
Research reveals that FGM is carried out mostly on young girls between infancy and age 15. The procedure can cause severe bleeding and health issues like cysts, infections, infertility and complications in childbirth, with the increased risk of newborn deaths.
Mary, who now understands that FGM has had zero positive impact on her life, now advocates against the practice. She tells colleagues and other women to avoid the practice in their daughters.
Terrorist groups that aim to destroy Europe are strategy amateurs. A professional strategy would be one that employs minimal resources to achieve maximal effects. Any number of suicide bombers won't do the trick. But mass migration from Africa and South Asia can. Channeling huge numbers of refugees to Europe will erode and destroy Europe more reliably than conventional terrorism, and the risk for perpetuators is very low.
Five Nigerians arrested in Ghana for selling penis, buttocks enlargement drugs
Western Regional Police, Ghana, has arrested five Nigerians for allegedly trading in contraband and over the counter medicines, mostly for penis and buttocks enlargement.
The country’s Pharmacy Council, the body that regulates the sale of medicines had observed the increase in itinerant drug peddling business across the country and vowed to clamp down on their operations.
The Nigerians were arrested after a swoop by the Western Region Office of the Council with the support of the Police.
2017 budget to be partly financed by recovered loot – Buhari’s aide
The five of them were arrested in the Prestea Huni-Valley District while a Ghanaian woman among them, who escaped had her wares running into thousands of Ghana cedis confiscated.
Empire FM reported that most of the drugs being sold by the Nigeriens are meant for the enlargement of male organ and female buttock.
However, ASP Simon Deta, the Huni-Valley District Crime Officer in an interview with the radio starion stated that the five arrested will be investigated and prosecuted.
Imagery of brutal deaths are in itself anti-feminist. Because most women are natural cowards. And most feminism is just whimsical.
It is the secret dream of every Swedish or German woman to marry a black men, or at least have sex with a black man. Every smart young African man should migrate to Europe. Free money, nice house, good sex!
Mar 22, 2017, 4:55 pm
The procedure only takes 10 minutes and the only precaution needed is skipping sex for few days.
As discussions about sex increase, age old beliefs about intercourse, orgasm and satisfaction in bed are being talked about more. One of the most highly debated concepts is the difference caused by the size of a man’s penis to the overall experience.
But this doesn’t stop a lot of men from seeking to increase the size of their penis, and they employ various techniques from diet to devices and even potentially harmful measures. In this situation, a surgeon has stepped in to introduce a new method which can increase the size of a man’s member by two inches in circumference.
All it takes is a simple injection and a procedure that lasts only for 10 minutes. There’s not even need for a recovery period, as people can just get back to work after the process. The idea is to draw blood from a person’s body and inject it into their penis to increase size.
The only precaution to be taken after this is not having sex for few days, and this procedure was inspired by Botox as well as a treatment used in sports where muscles are revived by injecting a person’s blood back in their own body.
So as long as the girth of the penis goes, this simple new procedure seems to be a major boost.
Actually, if they can live with the fact that men have a sexuality to cope with, and if they aren't feminists, women, at least some of them, are quite OK.
ISIS terror thugs buried its own fighters alive because they fled the battlefield, it has been reported.
Furious commanders ordered the savage execution after the 45 men retreated from combat against forces loyal to Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad.
"ISIS had buried its members, who escaped from al-Bashir battles, inside one grave in Qayyarah vicinity in Nineveh Province.
"The escaped ISIS members were buried alive."
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added, "ISIS buried these members after escaping from Qasbet Bashir battles in southern Kirkuk."
Islamic State may have committed the sickening killing to discourage defectors and those living under their brutal regime from fleeing.
As the terror group loses territory to its opponents and cash due to air strikes on oil infrastructure, many of its fighters have deserted.
Last month the jihadists reportedly forced its own terrified men into a forensic freezer and left them to die slowly.
A source said the victims were placed in a forensic medicine freezer in the ISIS stronghold of Mosul for 24 hours.
After slowly dying from the extreme cold their frozen bodies were placed at roads leading into the city to act as a warning to others.
Islamic State often subjects captives to horrific and elaborate execution methods - and films them as part of their sickening propaganda campaign.
Their savage methods include drowning men in a cage in a swimming pool, strapping explosives to the heads of kneeling men connected by wires and burning hostages alive in cages.
Middle East analysts say Islamic State has stepped up its propaganda campaign in recent months because it has made major territorial losses in both Iraq and Syria as it battles rival groups, the Syrian and Iraqi armies, Kurd warriors and the Free Syrian Army.
Native European men are stupid if they pursue sexual relationships with Western women. Go to India and Pakistan. Every native college girl dreams of a white husband.
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