The War on Drugs is a War on Us

The War on Drugs is a failure and has not achieved anything.

Since the 1970s, constant smear campaigns against psychedelics and marijuana have plagued our televisions and our public schools while alcohol and tobacco are normalized, though they are more damaging.

This 40-year campaign has brought a stigma onto people who have addictions, people who are recovering from addictions and people who consciously decide to take drugs for recreation or therapeutic purposes.

After 40 years of this, I demand to say no more.

Despite being legalized for medical use in more than half the country, marijuana is still illegal and a Schedule I drug, which claims the drug has no medical properties and is highly addictive.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has consistently pushed back rescheduling the drug to a lower class, which is not only delaying further research that should be done, but is also preventing people from being able to receive a medical treatment that–proven by the minimal science there is–that works for them.

Psychedelics have also been used for therapeutic purposes; there’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to studying this. The furthest along in this medical study is MDMA-assisted therapy assisting those who have severe traumas or post-traumatic stress disorder that has been immune to other treatments. It is in its final trials before going to the Food and Drug Administration.

The Drug War in the United States also began the sharp spiking of mass incarceration, with black and brown bodies being put in jail at disproportionately higher rates than those of their white counterparts. The Drug War has been used to promote racism through a “colorblind concept” lens, leading people to ignore the underlying intersections of how institutional racism has played a role in the racial profiling that happens because of the War on Drugs.

I tell you these things because for too long people have been bought into the idea that drug use or drug addiction are a criminal issue; people believing that people who use them should be locked in jail. But it is more than just taking people to jail and making sure they don’t have their addiction. Addiction is no longer seen as a behavioral problem, but actually a disease that disorders the brain.

Not only do we have to combat the social stigmas surrounding drug use, addiction and policies, but we also need to reform current policies in order to make sure drug use is treated differently. We must focus more on education and harm reduction than on incarcerations and punishments.

We cannot be complacent about what happens to our drug laws with the Trump Administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an opponent of marijuana and a supporter of the Drug War since its beginning.

“Reefer madness” is a myth. The D.A.R.E. program is outdated and no longer serves a purpose in a society where marijuana is used medically.

Now is the time to change the way we handle this.

This column was edited and republished by the original author.

This column was originally published in the independent student publication, the BG News,on March 20, 2017 which can be found here.

Advertisements

Spousal Rape Needs More Attention

Spousal rape is a rape that is less talked about in conversations about rape and rape culture because the power dynamic is more than just that of the perpetrator and the victim.

It is a rape that occurs between a husband and wife (or husband-husband or wife-wife).

In the state of Ohio, a person can be charged with rape if they impair another person’s judgment or self-control to prevent their resistance. This could be done through giving the victim drugs, controlled substances or any other intoxicant through force, intimidation or lying.

Spousal rape wasn’t included into Ohio law until 1986, but it was only if there was “force” or a “threat of force.” Situations where one spouse drugs another without their knowledge and rapes do not qualify as spousal rape under the law.

This is a loophole that victim advocates and state representatives are trying to close with House Bill 97, but only 17 lawmakers—all of them Democrats—have signed to co-sponsor this bill.

H.B. 97 would eliminate spousal exceptions for rape, sexual bettery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition and public indecency. Currently, spouses can only be charged with these crimes if the victim is either not their spouse or is their spouse but they live separately.

First, we have to establish that regardless if it is between two people who are married, rape is still rape and it can occur in marriages. Being married to someone does not stop human beings from being able to consent to sex on their own terms.

Second, the state government has to know (or should know by this point through H.B. 97) the spousal exemption of force or threat of force is hard to prove in the court of law. A victim spouse could have physical injury done to them due to the crime, but it would be disputed by courts as to whether or not the injury happened because of the rape or because of something else. A threat of force can easily be seen in courts as “he said/she said.” Both of these exemptions already make it hard for spouses to report cases of rape because not only are these two statutes going to be hard to prove in court, but the lack of presence could prevent spouses from getting rape kits in hospitals.

If we eliminate these exemptions from spousal rape, we may be able to see a start in spouses reporting their rapes and justice being served for these people, regardless if the perpetrator was their partner. Marital status and living situations should not be issues that are exempted from rape cases.

Last, I find it to be unsurprisingly disgusting that there is not a single Republican in the General Assembly who has co-sponsored this bill. While we have heard and seen our fair share of Republicans say horrid things about rape, abortion and Planned Parenthood, anyone– regardless of political party–should be able to see the importance of eliminating this loophole.

Rape is horrid and traumatic the United Nations considers it a war crime. It is unfair to believe rape cannot happen between two people just because they have their names on a marriage license together. Rape does not discriminate; rape is illegal and a crime. No one, not even spouses, should be exempt from being tried for that crime.

This column has been formatted for the internet and edited by the original author.
This column first appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

In Response to Tuesday’s “On Interracial Relationships”

The fetishization of people of color in this country has been an issue since before the colonization of the Western world itself. While diversity in the United States is indeed on the rise, the growing political climate has also made white supremacy braver as it infiltrates our executive branch and hate crimes in the U.S. begin to rise.

I am a product of an interracial relationship. My father, for as little as I know about him, was a black and Native American man. My mother is Irish, German and Hungarian with red hair and blue eyes to match. So imagine my surprise, and disgust, when I opened The BG News and read that “interracial couples can make beautiful babies. Interracial relationships have so many benefits, can even be a fun ‘fetish’ for many.”

To avoid getting into semantics, the definition of interracial is actually “of, involving, or designed for members of different races.” The definition itself does not include anything about the interaction of those different races, be it platonic or romantic.

Also, an interracial relationship does not have to involve a white individual to be considered interracial as the column used in its examples. Interracial couples can also involve someone who is Latinx and someone who is Black; or someone who is Asian and someone who is Latinx; or someone who is Black and someone who is Asian.

While it is in the author’s opinion that “interracial relationships have the power to completely end racism,” it is fact that this is not ever going to be the case. Despite popular belief, people who are racist have the capability to be in interracial relationships. Historically, white supremacists have slept with women of color in an attempt to “dilute” the skin color of future U.S. citizens and to “dilute” the people and their culture.

How do white supremacists and racists in interracial relationships have the power “to completely end racism,” when their entire ideology sees black bodies as just a capitalist commodity and want to eliminate those people?

In 2016, there were 60.25 million married couples in the United States. As of 2014, 35 percent of all marriages were interracial and interracial marriage is still projected to rise as the demographics of the United States begin to change. Does this mean that interracial marriage is still the minority? Yes. But that does not mean people aren’t “embracing” interracial dating. In fact, it means quite the opposite.

Of course people are still going to think interracial dating and marriages are “taboo.” In 2016, we saw the case of Loving v. Virginia come to life on the silver screen, the Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage in 1968.

A movie screen cap of
Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as Richard and Mildred Loving from the 2016 movie, “Loving.” The movie made $7.8 million at the box office.
It is going to take more than “beautiful mixed babies,” tolerance and embracing to end racism in U.S. society. It is going to take action, unlearning racist and white supremacist behaviors, and dismantling our institutions of racism before we can even think about it being completely over.

As an active member of the BDSM community, I found it to be incredibly racist and offensive to my community that interracial dating could be seen as a “fun fetish.” People of color have been fetishized for decades and to promote this through interracial dating promotes white supremacy. “Race play” is a very real thing in the community which is where participants take on the roles/stereotypes of different races to enact a power dynamic. A common scene is a submissive taking on the role of a slave and the dominant taking the role of a plantation owner; white submissives will go as far as putting themselves in blackface.

I agree interracial relationships are to be celebrated and embraced. Without interracial love, I don’t know who I would be as a person. I am a tri-racial woman because of interracial dating. But please refrain from fetishization when celebrating these relationships.

This column was written in response to “On Interracial Relationships.”
This column was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

The Redskins name debate

With the beginning of fall and Halloween quickly approaching there is one thing also happening that makes people either excited or nauseated and it’s not pumpkin spice. 

It’s sports. 

It’s also that wonderful time of the year when you will hear sports fans and activists alike talk about one thing: mascots and names involving Native Americans. 

I would like to think that most people can recall that one time The Washington Post said 9 of 10 Native Americans did not find the term “redskin” offensive. This is something that has been widely debated by not only sports fans, but activists and Native Americans themselves. 

Owner Daniel Snyder has also taken a stand to the point where he has written emotional letters about how Native Americans face more dire issues than the name of a football team. These condition include the poverty rate on reservations, diabetes, substance abuse, lack of infrastructure, transportation and lack of water resources. At the end of a letter he even announces the start of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. 

In the summer the NFL asked the U.S. Supreme Court to look over their revocation of the Redskins trademark registration. 

Already, I am seeing reporters say Snyder has already said no this season to changing the name. Which is a shame—he didn’t even wait for the Supreme Court to decide on the revocation. 

“Why not,” people ask me, “talk about Blackhawks, the Indians, the Braves, the Chiefs?” 

But they are, and we will…but not in this column. 

In my time here at BGSU, I’ve taken every Native American Studies class. In my second Native American Studies class, I learned that the term “redskin” comes from collecting Native American scalps for bounty. 

A column by Esquire shows a picture of the Phips Proclamation written in 1755 saying, stating, “The State reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for very red-skin sent to Purgatory.”

A picture of an excerpt from the 18th century Phips Proclalmation.
A section of the Phips Proclamation which gives the prices for how much every Native American bounty is worth. It lists the prices of both whole bodies and scalps.

An advertisement appearing in Minnesota newspaper, The Daily Republican, prices dead Native Americans at $200, citing that the amount is “more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth.

An advertisement from the Minnesota newspaper, The Daily Republican, which advertises the price of Native American scalps to be $200.
An advertisement showing the price of a Native American scalp from a 19th century newspaper

Native Americans were scalped and had their heads sold as if they were pelts

To a lot of Native Americans, the terms is seen as offensive and it is something they do not wish to have as a name for the Washington football team. However, cannot ignore that there indeed may be some Native Americans who are completely okay with the name. With all topics, it is a fact of life that there will always be a divide in opinions. 

Daniel Snyder is right. There are indeed these problems he listed in his letter on Native American reservations. Post World War II Germany was treated better than Native Americans have been. 

A protest has been going on in the Dakotas over an oil pipeline that is being built on Native American land. The pipeline would stretch over four states and could potentially affect the drinking water of 18 million people with just one accident. 

I have yet to see the NFL, nor the Redskins, do anything to either help Native American communities or lend a hand to the protesters who are up against an oil company invading their land, and defacing burial sites and sacred places. 

The Original Americans Foundation has also been inactive since 2015. Their website isn’t even updated or functioning. 

There are definitely other teams who need to step up for Native American communities and the Redskins, and while they have done so in the past, they have not done so to my knowledge in the present.

CORRECTION: The original column cited the advertisement to be an excerpt of the proclamation. This turned out to be incorrect and was changed.
The original version of this column was published in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

Policing women and religion out of hand

Photo taken from The Guardian website; from vantagenews.com

The policing of women’s bodies and what they decide to wear is getting out of hand in both the United States and around the world.

In the United States, we as a society are constantly criticizing what women wear, from asking in court systems what women are wearing at the time of their sexual assaults to creating sexist dress codes in our public code that prevent young girls from wearing menial articles of clothing such as spaghetti strapped tank tops in fear of “distracting” male students from receiving their education.

In France earlier this week, a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice was cited with a ticket by the police for not “wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to French news agency, Agence French-Presse.

She wore leggings, a tunic and a headscarf while on the beach with her children. In three photos that were posted by The Guardian, the woman is seen laying on the beach, four police officers on their way to approach her.

Photo taken from The Guardian Website; by Vantagenews.com
The woman who only gave her her first name, Siam, is seen laying on the beach in a tunic, leggings, and headscarf.

In the second photograph, the Muslim woman can be seen with her tunic partially removed and all four police officers watching her do so; and in a third photo, she’s holding the tunic out to the police officers while one officer is knelt down inspecting it.

Photo taken from The Guardian's website; from Vantagenews.com
Siam, holding out her tunic to an officer to inspect.

Nice and other various French cities have banned “burkinis,” a type of swimwear for Muslim women that correlates with Islamic dress code and other clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks,” which refers to the attack that occurred this past summer on Bastille Day where a cargo truck drove into crowds, killing 86 people and injuring more than 300 others. The ban is said to be “necessary to protect the population,” but I do not buy this at all.

The wording of the Muslim woman’s ticket also indicates that her outfit was not respectful of good morals and feeds into the idea that Islam is an immoral religion, which it is not. Are nuns in France being asked to not wear their habits because their outfits do not “respect good morals and secularism?” Doubtful.

While I agree there are terrible people out there who use Islam to push radical ideologies (see the Syrian Civil War for more details), I disagree with France that this woman deserved to have her clothes taken off and inspected to ensure she was not a threat. This woman was at the beach with her children, not bothering anyone.

What is worse, according to The Guardian, a witness to the scene said she heard other people around the situation saying things such as “Go home,” and applauding the police for making this woman remove her clothing.

While I understand that all of this is supposed to help protect the people, it is more harmful to average citizens than anything. These rules are meant to target people who identify or “look” Muslim, and this leads to more profiling by law enforcement and stereotyping in our society. If policies like this are going to be set in place, I hope and want them to be set in place for all people and religions.In order to make sure this rule and ban is fair, nuns should not be wearing their habits and priests should not be wearing their collars.

If you are going to police one gender’s or one religion’s right to clothing, all of them should be policed.

CORRECTION: The original poster of the photos was not The Guardian. The photos were taken from vantagenews.com and were used on The Guardian’s website.
This article has been edited and updated by the original author.

This article was originally published by BG Falcon Media’s independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

Medicinal marijuana legalization requires substance reclassification

On Wednesday, June 8, Gov. John Kasich quietly signed House Bill 523, which legalized medical marijuana for the state, making it the 25th state in the nation to have medical marijuana.

The bill passed in the General Assembly by differing margins: It passed in the Senate 18-15 and in the House 67-28.

The legislation comes after ResponsibleOhio’s Issue 3 failed during last November’s election, where the legalization for both medical and recreational marijuana was up to the people to decide whether or not they would want 10 cultivators controlling over 1,000 dispensaries.

The bill will allow physicians to prescribe marijuana alternatives to patients who have one of the multiple ailments listed in the law.  The law will go into affect in less than 90 days, with the hopes of having marijuana plants being cultivated in the state within a year.

Under this law, smoking and growing marijuana will still be illegal, but alternatives such as oils, patches, edibles and vapors will be legal.

Currently, there are 20 medical conditions on the list that will allow people to obtain prescriptions for medical marijuana. Some of these include epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain that is either severe or intractable.

More ailments can be added to the list with approval.

Three boards will be overseeing and writing the laws pertaining to medical marijuana: the Department of Commerce, the Ohio Pharmacy Board and the Ohio Medical Board. The new law will also create a panel of 12 people to help advise the departments for the rules that are being formulated.

So what does this mean for the average Ohio citizen?

For starters, this new law does not hold any protections against employers taking action against employees for using marijuana medicinally.

If you have one of the 20 ailments currently on the list, you’re in luck! Come September, you will be able to receive a prescription from an authorized physician. Unfortunately, with the laws taking effect in 90 days, cultivation starting within a year, with products hoping to be tested in as early as 16 months, patients will have to receive their medical marijuana products from neighboring states, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Keep in mind, marijuana in all forms is still illegal at the federal level. Traveling with marijuana or marijuana byproducts across state lines could cause someone to be prosecuted on federal drug trafficking charges.

But now that half of the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana medicinally, it is time for the Drug Enforcement Agency to stop procrastinating on the reclassification of marijuana and start working toward doing so.

Presently, marijuana is a Schedule I, which means it has no medical benefits and it is highly addictive. This labeling over the course of the last 20 years has become very outdated.

With the Schedule I labeling comes the inability to research more freely. Currently, the plant can only be obtained for research through one government garden and special grants have to be given in order for the research to be able to take place.

The DEA considers reclassifying drugs annually, but has been reluctant to reschedule marijuana since classifying it as Schedule I in 1970, and have declined on multiple occasions to reclassify it.

The DEA decided in May to consider reclassifying marijuana by the end of summer, but summer has started and we are approaching Independence Day.

With half of the nation, including Washington DC, now legalizing the plant medically, we cannot afford to keep marijuana at the classification it is without being able to have the proper research on it.

This story has been edited and revised by the original author.
The original edition of this column appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage is not the end of LGBT Issues

In two weeks from Sunday, June 12, we will be marking a year of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court of the United States case that allowed same-sex marriage to be legal in the United States.

On Saturday, June 11, my sister married her longtime girlfriend, something we thought we would have to wait much longer for.

It has almost been a year since the landmark decision was made with a 5-4 decision, with Justice Anthony Kennedy delivering the opinion of the court, saying, “No union is more profound than marriage.”

And Justice Kennedy is correct.

In the last year, I have seen same-sex couples of all ages become married.

My sister and her fiancée are no different. I have seen them grow in this process of setting things up, pulling extra shifts at their jobs just to make sure their big day and the honeymoon following it are perfect.

Though same-sex marriage has been a remarkable milestone in LGBT rights, there is so much more work to be done in the fight for their equality.

Now that marriage is legalized, it has become less of an issue in public debate. Which means, it is important now more than ever to make sure the LGBT is safe from other forms of discrimination, both legally and socially.

To start, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act in North Carolina was signed into law in March and has been called “the most anti-LGBT bill in the country.” Commonly nicknamed the “Bathroom Bill,” the Act declares that state law overrides cities from creating their own laws and rules that prevent the discrimination of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are at a greater risk for poverty and are at a greater risk of being victims at sexual assault.

While the bisexual community has been inherently written off as invisible, the Williams Institute indicates that there are roughly as many bisexual individuals as there are gay and lesbian individuals. Bisexual women experience high rates of domestic violence.

Transgender individuals are also at a high risk for being victims of hate crimes, which was highlighted in 2015 when at least 81 transgender individuals were reported to be murdered, but the number of murders that go unreported could be significantly higher.

There are also still laws in place in certain states that allow for discrimination in some states, while others have no laws protecting LGBT employees at all.

I am not trying to downplay the importance the impact Obergefell v. Hodges has had on the United States this past year.

But just like slavery was not the end of racial discrimination, legalizing same-sex marriage is not the end of LGBT discrimination in anyway way, shape or form. Just like having racial segregation until the 50s, there are still plenty of ways—again, both legally and socially—that the LGBT community is still being discriminated against.

I encourage you to stand up with and for the LGBT community as they go through the everyday hassles outside of marriage rights. Stand up with and for them as they fight for equal economic, medical and in employee rights.

This post has been edited for timeliness.

This post was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here

Mental Health is on a person-by-person basis

The month of May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and throughout the entire time, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve been doing about my mental health since I first started my journey with depression two years ago.

I have had depression on and off since I was 13. Since I’ve been coming to college it has become more present.

Mental health on college campuses is beginning to be seen as a more prominent issue, as 94 percent of college campuses are reporting an increase of students who are looking for help from counseling centers, from the 60 percent of schools who have either a psychiatrist on staff or a counseling center.

I started going to the University’s counseling center during the fall of 2014. I went to the walk-in hours and was given a wonderful counselor who helped me through what was potentially the hardest college year to date.

My grandfather passed away a day before the wedding of my oldest cousin, and we ended up having a wedding and a funeral in the same weekend. I was able to work through the necessary grief process with her and was able to handle his loss better than I had the losses of other loved ones during my years at school.

In spring 2015, I decided I was comfortable enough to participate in group counseling. I was able to talk to and associate with other peers who were going through or had went through similar issues I was facing on multiple fronts both inside and outside of my mind.

I had gotten so much support through counseling about the importance of standing up for myself and advocating for things I wanted and needed for myself. However, that support didn’t keep me from not wanting to get up in the morning or from not wanting to do menial tasks, such as cleaning, or even doing important things such as going to the bank, paying bills or money orders.

There were (and still are) days that I would be dragging my feet to do something and when I would finally do it, I would not give 100 percent, as much as I would want to and would want to push myself. It was hard to sit down for an extended period of time to take a break to do errands, because I knew if I sat down for just one moment, I would not be standing back up for an extended period of time.

Last summer was my first time in 22 years being independent and on my own. And I thought the depression was from a lack of hours at my job, or a lack of just overall activity and boredom that sometimes comes with the BG summer. But I tried everything: reading, writing, doing overtime for the summer BG News. But nothing worked.

Ultimately at the end of the summer, I decided to be prescribed antidepressants.

At first I was terrified. In my hometown, addiction (especially in opioids which are found in prescription painkillers) is running rampant and it is killing people at an alarming rate nationally. I was also worried the first medication he would give me to try wouldn’t work. But my doctor encouraged me to just try it and if I did not like it, we could always find a different way and that if this pill didn’t work, we could always try something else.

So before fall 2015, I made the decision to take antidepressants and I have not looked back since. Unfortunately, adjusting to the medication this past year has been detrimental to my grades and GPA, (I failed two classes; one each semester), but I am very excited to be back on track to come back from the semester fresh.

I still have days where I don’t want to do anything and I don’t want to get out of bed. I even still struggle with doing menial chores on some days. But it’s all a little more manageable with antidepressants.

If you are struggling with any type of mental illness, I encourage you to not only seek help, but to find the help that works for you as an individual. For me, it was counseling and taking antidepressants that has helped me battle this. Everyone struggles with mental illness differently so my methods of getting better are not the same as my significant other, who has social anxiety, or my friend in my hometown who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. Even those who have depression as I do may also find that my method of getting better does not fit them, but my method of getting better is not the same as everyone else’s.

It is always important to find the way that works for you.

This column originally printed by independent student media publication, The BG News, on June 1, 2016 which can be found here.

The UK, Northern Ireland and Reproductive Rights

In the center of the picture, a woman holds a piece of cardboard that says, "I have this pill I am taking now!" Behind her, other protestors hold similar signs with prochoice words and slogans.

The topic of abortion is often touchy in the United States, as we talked about in my Ethnicity and Social Movements class last week. In my recitation on Friday, my teaching assistant shared a story about a woman in Indiana who was sentenced to 20 years in feticide.

According to NBC News, she “is the first woman in the U.S. to be charged, convicted, and sentenced on a feticide charge.”

Earlier in the week, I heard something similar that I thought my teaching assistant has been referring to but instead it took place in Northern Ireland.

According to the BBC, a woman in Belfast bought drugs online to terminate her pregnancy. In Northern Ireland, as there is absolutely no abortion access for women.

At the time the Belfast woman terminated her pregnancy, she was 19 years old. Now almost twy years later at 21, she has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Some people who read this at first might be confused. In public education in the United States, I was taught Ireland was part of the U.K. Some other students who were in American public education may also tell you that.

However, some students who were educated in the U.S., may be able to tell you that the land we know is Ireland is split into two separate locations: the Republic of Ireland, which is the sovereign nation mainstream American might be most exposed to; and Norther Ireland, which could potentially be less heard of outside of history or geography classes, is part of the U.K.

In 1967, the U.K. legalized abortions and registered practicioners and regulated the practice through the National Health Service.

So why does Northern Ireland not follow this law the same way England, Scotland, and Wales do?

It’s because the law never applied to the country to begin with. In Northern Ireland, abortion is illegal unless it is “to save the life of the mother” or carrying the pregnancy to term would put the women in danger either physically or mentally.

Even though this law is in place, the woman is still guilty of her miscarriage under The Offences against the Person Act 1981, which is a list of crimes that can be considered offenses of violence on a person.

Another story by the BBC about this situation says that women who live in Northern Ireland travel to other countries in the United Kingdom in order to receive legal and safe abortions.

In England, Scotland and Wales, women can legally have an abortion up to 24 weeks (168 days). After that, abortion can be legal beyond that limit in cases where the mother’s health is  being threatened or if there is a substantial risk the baby will have serious disabilities.

It is interesting that two similar situations are happening in what are supposed to be two of the most developed countries in the world are still fighting over what women should do about their own bodies.

The difference in these two stories is that the procedure was available to the woman in Belfast, but since she personally did have the resources to access it on her own, she had to use other resources that are otherwise seen as taboo to other societies.

The woman in Indiana claims to have given birth to a stillborn, but prosecutors are insisting the baby was alive when she gave birth and she neglected to get help. But activists are on her side, saying the conviction is “punishment for having a miscarraige and then seeking medical care…something that no woman should worry would lead to jail time.

Reproductive rights are more than just wanting to terminate pregnancies and wanting contraception. It is also about giving medical and psychological support to women whose pregnancies are physically tolling or traumatic experiences.

I’m curious as to see how these to stories, which is are opposite sides of a body of water play out. I hope to keep you updated.

 

98 Girls Report Being Sexually abused by peacekeepers, French military

The Associated Press has reported that U.S. Advocacy group, AIDS-Free World says that 98 girls from the Central African Republic were sexually abused by U.N. international peacekeepers. Three girls reported that a French military forced them and one other girl (who later died of an unknown disease) to be tied down, undressed, and have sex with a dog.

Last May, AIDS-Free World launched the Blue Code Campaign, which is meant to end sexual assault and exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers and to also prevent them from being immune to their crimes.

Earlier this week, the group sent out a press release, saying that the case had been taken to the higher ups of the United Nations and was now in their hands.

“Sources have informed AIDS-Free World’s Code Blue campaign that the following information, based on newly received allegations of sexual abuse committed as recently as this week and as far back as 2013, is in the hands of the UN’s senior leadership…

“Two weeks ago, UNICEF interviewed 98 girls in a province of the Central African Republic (CAR) who reported that they had been sexually abused by international peacekeepers… During that visit, three victims interviewed by a MINUSCA Human Rights Officer reported that in 2014, they and a fourth girl were tied up and undressed inside a camp by a military commander from the Sangaris force (the French military intervention in CAR) and forced to have sex with a dog. Each girl was then given 5000 Central African Francs (<USD $9).”

While it is so important that the Blue Code Campaign exists, especially given the current situation involving close to 100 girls, I am appalled that such a campaign for this type of situation exists.

A campaign that is determined to make sure U.N. peacekeepers receive justice for their crimes, especially crimes on the people they are sent to protect and help, should not exist because the United Nations should be giving out justice for such crimes to start with.

When almost 100 girls are saying similar things and speaking about similar experiences, there is an issue. A heavy and more thorough investigation is needed, but even so, the peacekeepers and military all involved deserved to be removed from their positions.

It is upsetting that peacekeepers are meant to do exactly what their namesake says and they end up going to these places instead and do the opposite of what they are supposed to do. These are young girls are being taken advantage of by men in positions of power who are meant to be helping and it is important that the men pay the price for the sexual abuse.