India Has Problems

India has been in the news lately. In part, for gang-rape (which, as you may have noticed, is a horrific evil on which India does not have a monopoly). A seventeen-year-old girl in India killed herself after she was gang-raped and failed by her law enforcement community. A twenty-three-year-old Indian woman (a medical student) was raped in front of her boyfriend and left in critical condition.

I suggest that you read this post on HelloGiggles (which is an excellent site, by the way, and often covers topics a lot less upsetting than this one). Among other things, it details the struggle that the teenage girl underwent in attempting to file her complaint with the police. Being sexually assaulted is horrible—and that horror should not be compounded by police who try to convince the young woman who survived the assault to drop the charges or to possibly marry one of her attackers. Her attackers were only detained after she specifically named them in her suicide note. Barring the most dreadful of illnesses, I would never counsel suicide as the better option, but I can understand why she did it.

India has more problems than that—and, honestly, nightmarishly high levels of incidents of violence against women should be enough of a problem for any country. I think that a lot of us have read about villages and other local governments in India in which unmarried women are being forbidden from using mobile phones. “Reasons” (using the word reason loosely, here) range from that they might form their own, independent social connections to simply that mobile phone use will “spoil” them. It is disgusting.

Online communication through computers, whether they sit on our desks or we carry them in our pockets, are opening up isolated communities, helping to advance peoples’ educations, and gradually transforming the entire world into one community out of many. It is wonderful. But that is also frightening to some more conservative individuals who believe that too much freedom for younger generations will erode their culture. Honestly, it will. It happens in the US. Sometimes, the internet and television can help a closeted fourteen-year-old boy in rural Alabama …

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Single Parents the Losers in Bill O’Reilly/Jennifer Aniston Fracas

You know, sometimes celebrities should just stick to acting. Or being bigoted bullies. Or whatever. This “feud” between Jennifer Aniston and Bill O’Reilly is getting totally out of hand and is fanning fires instead of generating useful discussion, which some disagreements between public figures so effectively do.

The gist of the situation is that Aniston made an attempt to de-stigmatize single-parent families at a recent press conference, emphasizing that women “don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child” and noting that there are numerous options out there in this day and age if a single woman does desire a child.

This is a mindset that I agree with wholeheartedly. In a world where the nuclear family is fast disappearing and some of the happiest and most loving families are …

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Fred Pearce Becomes the Accidental Feminist With Debut of New Book

photo of fred pearce's newest book, peoplequake

Environmental writer Fred Pearce is giving feminists a great deal of credit for “defusing” the “global population timebomb” that has many up in arms.  This is in stark contrast to many well-known and outspoken “modern-day Malthusians who fail to see that over-consumption, not overpopulation, is what really imperils the planet”.

Speaking at the Hay festival, Pearce said that the global “time bomb” was being defused by some of the world’s poorest women, thanks to the impact of feminism in Muslim, Christian, secular, developed and developing countries across the world.

The United Nations has predicted the world’s population could rise from 6.8bn to 9.2bn in 2050, but, according to Pearce, it will only rise by up to 2bn and will then start to fall.

It’s truly amazing to me how everything connects together if you take it all in, let the synapses pop, and synthesize a bit.  Take the recent post on Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s comments regarding the necessity of procreation before education.  And then the piece on Italian women being paid to keep rather than abort their babies.  I kind of feel like Archimedes in the bathtub after (allegedly and in a no doubt hyperbolized fashion) discovering the concept of volume by displacement, but don’t worry, I won’t go running naked down the street yelling, “Eureka!” (which, of course, translates roughly to “I have found it.”)

Half the world now has fertility rates below the replacement rate of 2.3 children. Women in Iran were giving birth to eight children in the 1980s, but now give birth to less than two. In Bangladesh, where many mothers are poor and badly educated, women have an average of just three children. Birth rates have fallen to 2.8 in India and two in Brazil, despite the influence of Catholicism.

In China, “the one-child policy is brutal and repressive but it may not be making much difference anymore”, said Pearce, citing similarly low birth rates in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, where the government has been paying couples to have children for two decades.

Only in poverty-stricken parts of Africa, highly patriarchal societies such as Yemen and among “traumatised” people such as the Palestinians and Orthodox Jews in Israel, are birth rates soaring.

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