Two Muslim Clerics Say Posting Pictures on Facebook and Twitter is Un-Islamic… If You’re a Woman

“You can’t see someone’s face on Facebook and decide that you want to be friends. Look for ‘pyar aur mohabbat’ (love) in real life. Virtual relationships are not ‘faydaymand’ (profitable),” Sunni Mufti Abul Irfan Naimul Halim Firagni Mahli told PTI on phone from Lucknow.

“If one is on Facebook for business purposes or for constructive purposes, then the account is justifiable,” he said.

“Women should not post pictures on Facebook or anywhere else on the Internet. This is un-Islamic,” he said.

Gangrape victim should have begged for mercy: Asaram Bapu [TW: rape and victim blaming]

Asaram Bapu courted controversy after he said that the Delhi gangrape victim was equally responsible for the crime and the girl could have called her assailants brothers and begged them to stop.

Asaram’s remarks on the gangrape of the 23-year-old girl sparked condemnation across the political spectrum and from women’s bodies today with the BJP saying it was “regrettable, deeply disturbing and painful”.

Addressing his followers recently, Asaram said that when the girl encountered six drunk men “she should have taken God’s name and could have held the hand of one of the men and said I consider you as my brother and should have said to the other two ‘Brother I am helpless, you are my brother, my religious brother.’ She should have taken God’s name and held their hands and feet… then the misconduct wouldn’t have happened.”

He also went on to say, “Galti ek taraf se nahi hoti hai (mistake is not committed from one side).”

The girl was gangraped on the night of December 16 in a moving bus and died nearly a fortnight later at a Singapore hospital.

"The accused were drunk. If the girl had chanted hymns to Goddess Saraswati and to Guru Diksha then she wouldn’t have entered the bus…," he added.

Sixteen Christian worshipers crushed to death trying to get into a church service

' One-hundred-twenty injured at religious event

The crowd of worshipers attempting to enter the Cidadela Desportiva stadium in Angola to attend a church service that was to be held by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, got out of control, causing stampede conditions that resulted in ten deaths and one-hundred-twenty injuries.

The church, founded in Brazil in 1977, has over eight million followers, and boasts a presence in most countries. The service was to be a vigil, but ended up in chaos. Among the daed are four children who were crushed at the gate.

News agency Jornal de Angola, quoted the Deputy Bishop of Angola, Ferner Batalha, commenting on the huge crowd, as stating,

"Our expectation was to have 70,000 people, but that was surpassed by far."

Paulo Gaspar de Almeida stated,

"We confirm the death of 16 people, including four children, due to asphyxia, shoving and trampling of faithful at the entrance of Cidadela stadium."

Almeida is the Deputy Commander-General of the Angolan police force.’


Sorry for the format, on my phone.

This is absolutely terrible.


Sam Harris is wrong.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece critiquing the tendency of the atheist community to analyze the nature and impact of religion through the exceptionally narrow lense of truth claims and discreet ideas. I summarized my position at one point by arguing that ideas, in and of themselves, have far less agency than atheists usually assume they do. Just as important as the contents of a certain idea is the social, economic and political context which gives rise to it. Atheists tend to ignore these, instead preferring to compose arguments which presume the dominance of ideas, and consequently often end up producing analyses of situations that they have less than stellar understandings of.

And then last week, along came Sam Harris, with this gem of an example of just what I was trying to argue against. Energized by the recent attacks and murders at US Embassies, Harris composed a stirring call for moral clarity – of the sort that comes only in shades of black and white.

Before I get going with what is wrong with Harris’s rhetoric and assumptions, let me state unequivocally that I agree with him completely on the issue of free speech – all nations which claim to value freedom of speech should not engage in any kind of censorship to appease anyone, be they Islamic radicalists or outraged conservative evangelicals or overly sensitive identity-politics laden liberals. Insofar as the liberals Harris criticizes really were recommending restriction of freedom of speech (enforced either through the government or social pressure), to address the problem of radical Islamic terrorism and, more broadly, Muslim alienation, they are wrong. First, it is unethical. Second, it would not work anyway. So let’s make it clear that we agree on that and move on from there.

However, I take serious issue with almost everything else about Harris’s approach to this question.

In a very long post on the threat the radical Islamic world poses to the the secular (mostly Western) world, Sam Harris gives no credit to any political, social or economic issue in the regions where radical Islam is a problem. He does not mention Arab spring, he only mentions the legacy of imperialism to dismiss the idea that it matters, he does not mention constant social strife and conflict, he does not mention economic exploitation. The radical Muslims of Sam Harris’s imagination exist in a vacuum, serving only as vectors for ideas – horrible, corrupt ideas which have filled them with pre-modern superstition and primitive ferocity. If you ask him how they got that way, he would point a finger only at the Koran, and especially particular passages in the Koran. There you go!, he says, throwing his hands up. What more do you need? Barbaric ideas lead to barbarians. D-Huh.

His position is summed up clearly: “Religion only works as a pretext for political violence because many millions of people actually believe what they say they believe: that imaginary crimes like blasphemy and apostasy are killing offenses.” It is unfortunate for Sam Harris that almost every single scholar informed about social dynamics anywhere, not only the Middle East, would disagree with Harris’s assessment of this chicken and egg question. Historians, sociologists, political scientists, and anthropologists alike – none of them proscribe the overwhelming power to ideas that Harris does. Ideas – good and bad, true and false – are made thinkable and believable by the surrounding social reality, and although once given life, they are flexible and durable, they cannot fully infect people unless they are already vulnerable for a host of other reasons.

But try to intervene in Harris’s logic – start to say something like, “Well it’s really more complex than that,” or “Why is it that so many other of the world’s millions of Muslims are not violent?” and the response, more or less, will be “Well!, do you really think they would be doing this if it were not for Islam? Ask them why they say they are doing it, they say it’s all for the glory of Allah!” or “All those seemingly-peaceful Muslims still swear they believe the Koran is the literal word of God; so really, how can we really rest easy knowing all those crazy people are out there?” In Harris’s world, historical evidence counts for little; cultural analyses almost nothing. He appears to believe that people do things exactly for the reasons they say they do things, understand perfectly their own motivations, and were led to their path by nothing other than bad ideas poured into their heads at one point or another. They are not products of their particular place in historical time and space; they do not feel the pressures, consciously and subconsciously, of the social, political and economic struggles which surround them. That couldn’t possibly feed into interpreting a Koran passage this way or that way, right? It couldn’t possibly suggest that we should reconsider, as I originally suggested, whether or not this belief in the literal truth of things is as important to most religious believers as Harris declares it is. And really, why ask these questions, when what the Koran says is so obviously bad that anyone desiring to have a more complex understanding of how those ideas work in a complex world can be written off as moral cowardly, or compromising, or deluded by political correctness or even worse, post-modernism?

Again, Harris has acknowledged time to time that these other factors may be important – but not as important as the ideas, he insists. Which is odd, since those ideas – at least Islam itself, and all its diverse variations – is a factor spread out all over the globe. And yet we don’t see this kind of violence occurring at equal rates all over the globe – radical Islam, and radical Islam that becomes violent, is weirdly prevalent or originating in certain places and pockets in particular. Well, I wonder why that could be! Odd, isn’t it, that the dynamics of whence it came usually always trace back to places plagued by social conflict and inequality? Could it possibly be that Islamic terrorism has less to do with a pre-modern people ruining the party for the rest of us awesomely rational people and more to do with the history of social conflict and oppression in the Middle East? And then do you think it possible that when you take populations vulnerable in such a manner, they could possibly gravitate towards absolutist interpretations of religion as a way to feel empowered and cope with the chaos and alienation around them? Perhaps?

Continue to read this article HERE - An American Atheist

I agree, actually. I often have misgivings about Harris and his stance on Islam. 


7 Amazing Atheists Who Aren't Old White Guys

You’ve heard of Richard Dawkins. Charles Darwin. Mark Twain. … There are some amazing atheists who just don’t get the same credit…


Sorry for the format, I’m on my phone.

Enjoy the article, it’s nice to see some POC and women.


Catholic Bishops Engage In Witch-Hunt Against Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts of USA have withstood an arrant assualt from conservative legislators this year, having been both characterized as a “radicalized organization” that supports abortions and the homosexual agenda, and accused of partnering with the recently oft-beleaguered Planned Parenthood by GOP lawmakers. Now, the Scouts are being attacked by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for their “offensive” program materials and alleged association with groups that conflict with Catholic teaching.

Coinciding with the Scouts’ 100th anniversary celebrations, U.S. Catholic bishops have launched an official inquiry:

The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts’ “possible problematic relationships with other organizations’’ and various “problematic’’ program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops. […]

Girl Scout leaders hope the bishops’ apprehensions will be eased once they gather information. But there’s frustration within the iconic youth organization — known for its inclusiveness and cookie sales — that it has become such an ideological target, with the girls sometimes caught in the political crossfire.

And the Catholic leaders are also attacking the organization for its supposed connection to Planned Parenthood. The Scouts have consistently and unequivocally denied this accusation, which still has yet to be proven true. The supposed connection between the groups stems from a Girl Scout workshop at a 2010 United Nations event in which an International Planned Parenthood brochure was made available to girls in attendance. The brochure was aimed at young people with HIV and contained pertinent information on how to safely lead active sex lives. Spokespersons for the Scouts maintain that the organization possessed no advance knowledge of the brochure, and thus played no role in distributing it.

The smears against the Girl Scouts, like the Planned Parenthood claim, are a manufactured controversy from right-wing publications. “It’s been hard to get the message out there as to what is true when distortions get repeated over and over,’’ said Gladys Padro-Soler, the Girl Scouts’ director of inclusive membership strategies. The Scouts have addressed most if not all of their critics’ concerns on their official website.

The Scouts also maintain that they do not take a position or develop materials on issues in relation to human sexuality, birth control, abortion, and that “parents or guardians make all decisions regarding program participation that may be of a sensitive nature.”

At least one quarter of the organization’s 2.3. million members are reported to be Catholic, so officials worry that an attack from the Catholic church could further drive down participation in the organization. “For us, there’s an overarching sadness to it,’’ said Girl Scouts’ spokeswoman, Michelle Tompkins. “We’re just trying to further girls’ leadership.’’

Think Progress

Atheists’ political activity is growing

One of the biggest growth areas in political activism around religion is coming from an unlikely source: the nonreligious. And it’s happening far from the marbled corridors of power in the nation’s capital.

The Secular Coalition for America, an umbrella organization that represents 11 nontheistic groups including American Atheists and the American Humanist Association, is looking to take its secular-based activism out of the nation’s capital and into the states.

Beginning in June, the Washington-based SCA will install directors in 18 states including Hawaii, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Alabama. State directors will meet with local politicians and train and mobilize local nontheists to lobby on behalf of secular issues and causes.

Why? Activists say the most important policies that affect nonbelievers don’t come from Washington.

“The majority of erosion to church-state separation is at the local level,” said Serah Blain, the SCA’s first state director, appointed in Arizona in January. “It’s in city councils and school boards and statehouses. And that’s where these things really affect people’s lives, with laws on bullying and abortion and access to health care. And they are passing without much opposition because it isn’t seen as glamorous to lobby locally.”

The announcement comes on the heels of SCA’s appointment of Edwina Rogers, a veteran Republican lobbyist, as its new executive director, a move the group has spun as a means to greater access on Capitol Hill. It is also the latest indication that nontheists — atheists, humanists, skeptics and others who hold no supernatural beliefs — are working to become a political force in their own right.

Amanda Knief, who recently joined American Atheists after working as the SCA’s government relations manager, said nontheists must “show elected officials that we are a political movement that needs to be recognized. That kind of recognition has been lacking because it is not politically savvy. So we need to show them that we are there and that we count.”

This year already represents a high-water mark for political organization and activism among nontheists:

The Reason Rally drew more than 10,000 people to Washington in March, where speakers urged them to contact local and national representatives and ask them to support church-state separation, science education, marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and ending government support of faith-based organizations, among other causes.

The SCA’s 2012 Lobby Day, an event that included training in lobbying techniques and meetings with congressional staff, attracted 280 people from almost all 50 states — up from 80 at the same event a year ago.

Cecil Bothwell, a Democratic candidate for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District is running as an atheist. If he wins, he will join Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., now the only openly atheist member of Congress.

Enlighten the Vote, a nonprofit that supports atheist candidates and issues, is actively seeking atheists to run for public office and trains atheists to lobby their politicians.

The National Atheist Party was established in March 2011 and now claims members in all 50 states.

Ryan Cragun, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Tampa who studies American atheism, sees the growing political organization among nontheists as a sign of their maturation as a movement. Yet while Cragun says he personally supports the movement, he does not believe it will have a major impact this election year.

“They are reaching a level of maturity where organization is necessary to maintain structure and keep the movement going,” Cragun said. “But until you are talking about lots of money or lots of voters — and I don’t think they have either of those at this point — I don’t think they are going to be national players.”

That may be a long time coming, said Ellen Johnson, executive director of Enlighten the Vote and former president of American Atheists.

“It is hard to get atheists to agree on anything but their atheism,” she said. “We are mostly liberals, I will grant you that, but once you veer off into anything besides (church and state) separation issues, most atheists will argue.”

The hiring of Rogers to head the SCA is a case in point. Since the announcement of her appointment a week ago, reaction from members of the organizations it represents has been highly mixed.

P.Z. Myers, a University of Minnesota biologist and an influential atheist blogger, denounced her ties to President George W. Bush and former Sen. Trent Lott and her donations to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign.

Jacques Berlinerblau, a Georgetown University professor and expert on faith and voting, has taken a more wait-and-see attitude.

“Ms. Rogers is confronted with a daunting task,” he wrote on May 4 on the Chronicle of Higher Education's website. “For all of its chest-thumping and self-congratulatory praise, secularism's standing in the judicial, legislative and executive branches is arguably at its lowest ebb since the 1950s. And don't even get me started on its predicament in state houses across the country.”

Evil, militant anti-Christian secularism is simply a myth

Religious pundits from bishops to the Iona Institute bemoan the attacks from secularists on traditional Catholic values.Religious pundits from bishops to the Iona Institute bemoan the attacks from secularists on traditional Catholic values.

Yet for all their bluster and hand-wringing, for all the tabloid outrage, “militant secularism” makes as much logical sense as “aggressive pacifism” or “hardline tolerance”; it is an oxymoron, a cynical attempt to paint equality and fairness as infringing upon the religious, who seem aghast that after decades of entitlement they might actually be expected to play fair.

The concept of secularism is separation of church and state; one has the right to practise whichever religion one likes but not to have their particular belief mandated for others, nor the right to impose their viewpoint.

Continue at above link.


Despite oppression, Black atheists fight to be heard

Black atheists are relatively hard to come by. Even more rare, however, are the black atheists and agnostics accepted by their family despite their lack of religious faith.

The church school paradox: Do faith schools have an unfair advantage in Britain today?

A report issued by the Church of England last month declared that its schools were “at the centre of its mission” to society. There’s a technical sense (which the report acknowledged) in which that statement is quite accurate: there are more children in the church’s schools than there are worshippers in its pews every Sunday. There are millions of people in this country whose main or only contact with institutional religion comes through education. You could almost say that the C of E is now principally an education provider with a small but lucrative sideline in weddings and funerals.

Why analytical thinking can destroy your faith in God (even if you're devout)

Analytical thinking can destroy your faith in God, research shows.

A study found that thinking analytically decreases religious belief in the most devout and sceptics alike.

Participants were asked to carry out problem-solving tasks by researchers at the University of British Columbia. The tests included questionnaires in hard to read fonts.

The process was designed to produce ‘analytic’ thinking. Afterwards, they were then asked about their religious beliefs.

The team found that religious belief decreased when participants engaged in analytic tasks compared to those involved in tasks that did not involve analytic thinking.

I know it’s the Daily Mail (conservative, far right, god-bothery etc) but this is an interesting article nonetheless.


Billy Graham’s daughter: ‘I would not vote for an atheist’

The daughter of televangelist Rev. Billy Graham says that it’s important to discriminate against candidates who are atheists because politicians “should have a fear for almighty God.”

In an interview with Ann Graham Lotz on Sunday, NBC host David Gregory noted that her father had advocated using every form of modern communication to spread Christianity.

“For the church, for my daddy, who is an evangelist, I don’t think he was necessarily talking about the political arena when you’re running for president,” Graham Lotz explained. “It’s interesting that Jimmy Carter and George Bush were both considered evangelicals, but very different. So to me, I still think we need to look at the policies.”

“I would not vote for a man who is an atheist,” she declared. “Because I believe you need to have an acknowledgement, a reverence, a fear for almighty God. And I believe that’s where wisdom comes from.”

A 2007 Newsweek poll found that 62 percent of Americans would not vote for a candidate who was an atheist, making atheists one of the groups most politically discriminated against in the U.S.

[video of interview at link below]

The Raw Story

This woman appalls me. She is actively advocating for discrimination. 


How To Recognise A Militant Secularist. A 12-Point Guide.

With all the dire warnings now in the media on the dangers of militant secularists and the imminent threat they pose to the fabric of society, law and order and life on this planet as we know it, I thought I would produce a handy print-off-and-keep list to help people recognise these individuals and show why it’s important to resist their perverted ways.

The first thing to remember is that most militant secularists try to look like perfectly ordinary people. They wear the same sorts of clothes and may not even look particularly scruffy. They may have a proper job, even a well-paid one.  They may even live in your street and drive around in cars or use public transport just like normal people. 

Are you sure your neighbours or even members of your family aren’t militant secularists? What about aunts and uncles, even cousins?  They do not have green or purple skin and  very rarely have red eyes.  In fact, in most respects they look just like me or you and are not easy to pick out in  a crowd unless you know the signs.

It is important to remember that, just like socialists, they may look like perfectly respectable, ordinary people!

However, there are a few tell-tale signs that, try as they may, militant secularists are not able to keep hidden for long. If you learn these they can become fairly easy to spot even across a crowded room.

1. Militant secularists say things like “Um… well, I’m not sure I agree with you on that point”, and other stuff intended to destroy your self-confidence. This is because they hate you.

2. Militant secularists often say other people have a right to their opinions too, so showing they are for anarchy and communism.

3. Militant secularists say people are free to believe what they want to believe. This is to undermine the foundations of society, cause moral decay and destroy your faith in God and his priesthood.

4. Militant secularists even disagree with your religion as well as all the others. This is proof that they are Satanic and probably Marxists.

5. Militant secularists may not even send their children to Sunday School or Bible classes. This is because they don’t want their children to learn right from wrong.

6. Militant secularists even admit they believe in evolution. This is because they want you to think you are a monkey and don’t have a soul.

7. Militant secularists say religion should be kept out of politics. This is because they want to tax churches, make euthanasia compulsory and outlaw marriage.

8. Militant secularists may even say they believe in god. This proves they tell lies.

9. Militant secularists may be seen reading science books and magazines, even in public. This is because they are elitists who want to take over the government and abolish democracy.

10. Militant secularists are often opposed to wars. This is because they are traitors and on the side of foreigners.

11. Militant secularists are often educated and sometimes even scientists. This shows they are probably mad.

12. Militant secularists don’t use guns or even shout abuse at people they disagree with. This is to make you think they are moderate and not at all militant. Do not be fooled!

Remember these twelve points so you can recognise these dangerous individuals at a glance and can be ever ready to stand up to their sneaky attempts to destroy civilisation as we know it. 

God needs your help with this one. Don’t let Satan win!

Rosa Rubicondior

Residents rally around Valley High monument

For Bobbi Rowe, the Ten Commandments monument at Valley High School has historical meaning unconnected to the church, politics or Hollywood.

The Arnold resident remembered on Thursday how a few hours of volunteer time spent planting flowers around the marker more than 40 years ago enabled him to get a copy of his high school yearbook.

Rowe and more than 50 other people — many of them clergy — gathered in the school’s parking lot yesterday to support the district’s refusal to remove the monument.

An atheist group based in Madison, Wisc., wants the display taken off school grounds, saying its presence on public property is unconstitutional.

When told Wednesday the group of mostly ministers planned to meet at Valley High School, Freedom From Religion Foundation cofounder Annie Laurie Gaylor said: “This is just going to prove our position that this is strictly a religious devotional on school property. They’re making our case for us.”

"I don’t agree with it," Rowe said about Freedom From Religion Foundation’s request. He argued "a group from Wisconsin" shouldn’t meddle in affairs in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

A 1965 graduate of New Kensington High School, the school’s name before the districts in New Kensington and Arnold merged, Rowe said a teacher offered to pay for his yearbook if he helped plant flowers around the granite tablet.

"I did it," Rowe said. "A yearbook back then cost $2.50, which wasn’t necessarily a lot of money, but was money I didn’t have."

According to the district, the New Kensington Fraternal Order of Eagles presented the monument to the district in 1957. About that time, Eagles aeries across the country were gifting similar markers to communities to promote Cecil B. DeMille’s biblical epic movie.

Marc Hoak, New Kensington Eagles secretary, said the club stands behind its decision to give the monolith to the district more than 50 years ago and hopes it will remain.

The Rev. Mitch Nickols, pastor at Bibleway Christian Fellowship in New Kensington, said the marker should remain because it’s a long-standing part of the school’s history.

Nickols organized yesterday’s rally “in support of what the district has already decided: that this monument stands as a historical monument.” He also has been circulating a petition, collecting signatures from more than 200 people who agree.

Students didn’t participate in the gathering, which happened at noon.

"We didn’t sanction the rally or suggest they meet on school property today," Superintendent George Batterson said.

"We are considering this an historic landmark, and that’s the reason we want to keep this," Batterson said. "We’re not keeping it there to instill religion in the students in our school."

New Kensington resident Rob Fusia, a re-enactor who attended in Colonial dress, said he was there not because of religious beliefs or to offer community support, but for “patriot reasons.”

"Our Founding Fathers would be appalled at what the country has turned into," said Fusia, who described himself as a history buff. "This country started as a republic and has turned into a democracy, which is exactly what the founding fathers did not want."

Fusia argued the Ten Commandments and the Christian faith cannot be separated from the country’s beginnings and play integral roles in its history.

"I graduated from here in 1974 and have been wondering since then when somebody would protest this," he said.

Ed Howell of New Kensington, who attends The River, a Community Church in New Kensington, and who wore a purple T-shirt saying, “I Am The Church,” feels as if Freedom From Religion Foundation is infringing on his beliefs.

"Depriving me of religion is much worse than making it an option for everyone else," he said. "We’re not forcing anything on them, but they are trying to deprive us of something that means a lot to all of us."

An opposing local view

Brian Abate of West Deer, who might have been the only one to attend the rally who agrees with the foundation, said: “My opinion is that this is unconstitutional. I think the courts have been pretty clear on that.”

Abate didn’t draw attention to himself and said he didn’t approach anyone in the crowd to make his beliefs known. He said he decided to attend after reading about Nickols’ plans to hold the rally.

"I don’t think the district should endorse any religion," said Abate, who described himself as an atheist with no ties to the foundation.

"The irony is, I have family members who belong to the Eagles and I support what the Eagles do," he said. "I just think they’re on the wrong side of the law with this one."

Pittsburgh-Tribune Review

I laughed at this excerpt, I really did: 

Ed Howell of New Kensington, who attends The River, a Community Church in New Kensington, and who wore a purple T-shirt saying, “I Am The Church,” feels as if Freedom From Religion Foundation is infringing on his beliefs.

"Depriving me of religion is much worse than making it an option for everyone else," he said. "We’re not forcing anything on them, but they are trying to deprive us of something that means a lot to all of us."

Dude. They are not infringing on your religious beliefs. They are pointing out - quite correctly - that that monument is unconstitutional. 

If you like it so much, put it on Church grounds or something. 


Forced marriage: Girl aged five among 400 minors helped

A five-year-old girl is thought to have become the UK’s youngest victim of forced marriage.

She was one of 400 children to receive assistance from the government’s Forced Marriage Unit in the last year.

The figures have emerged as the public consultation into criminalising forced marriage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland comes to an end.

Amy Cumming, joint head of the Forced Marriage Unit, said 29% of the cases it dealt with last year involved minors.

"The youngest of these was actually five years old, so there are children involved in the practice across the school age range," she said.

To protect the child, the authorities have not disclosed details of the case or where the marriage took place.

But the case comes as no surprise to the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), which deals with more than 100 cases of forced marriage a year.

"We have had clients who are in their very early teens, 11-year-olds, 12-year-olds, the youngest case we had was nine years old," said IKWRO campaigns officer Fionnuala Murphy.

Now the consultation on forced marriage has come to an end, IKWROs hope it will become a criminal offence.

"Our organisation is pro-criminalisation because we believe that it will empower victims to know that this is a crime, to stand up to their parents and to stand up for their own rights and it will enable them to come forward and seek help and say what’s happening to me is wrong."

Violent abuse

Author Sameem Ali is all too familiar with the trauma of being a child bride - she was only 13 years old when she was taken to Pakistan by her mother on a holiday.

As a teenager she was excited about the trip, but when she arrived at the family’s ancestral village, she discovered she was to be married to a man twice her age, whom she had never met.

"The whole family turned up with an imam and they forced me into this marriage. I didn’t really understand what was happening at the time.

"I was only a child. There was no way I could say no. There was no support there whatsoever."

Eight months later she returned to the UK after suffering months of violent abuse.

"I was brought back to this country when I was 14 years old and pregnant," she said.

She eventually fled the relationship and is now happily married with two children and helps other young people at risk.

However, Sameem is concerned that making forced marriage a criminal offence will deter victims from speaking out.

"I think it will be detrimental to the victim. The victims will stop coming forward, because nobody will want to point the finger at their parents," she explained.

"The young person will not come forward if it’s a criminal offence. They will not stand up in court and testify against their parents."

Law change

In 2011 the Forced Marriage Unit helped deal with around 1,500 cases, but many more are thought to go unreported.

Forced Marriage Protection Orders were introduced in 2008 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007.

A potential victim, friend or police can apply for an order aimed at protecting an individual through the courts. Anyone found to have breached one can be jailed for up to two years for contempt of court, although this is classed as a civil offence.

The prime minister wants the law to go further and ordered a public consultation on making it a criminal offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to force a person to marry against their will.

In Scotland the breach of a forced marriage protection order is also a criminal offence in Scotland punishable by prisons.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said the government would now look at all the arguments.

"We will now consider all of those views and responses to the consultation before we make a decision on the best way to protect vulnerable people.

"We are determined, working closely with charities and other organisations doing a tremendous amount in this area, to make forced marriage a thing of the past."

A decision is expected to be announced later this year.

BBC News

This is an intersectional issue - both religious and cultural. Hence it’s appearance on this tumblog.