Religious Cruelties

article-0-0D220DA8000005DC-480_468x503[1]Some wonder how morality can exist without religion. Yet too often religion submerges morality.

I recently wrote about religious men seeking therapy to overcome same-sex attraction. But the “therapy,” itself, seemed evil as men were shocked, given drugs to create nausea, told to strip naked and touch themselves in front of a counselor, or were forced to beat their mothers’ effigies.

Not long ago an Irish woman died because her doctors would not perform an abortion:

Despite her rising pain, doctors refused her request for an abortion for three days because the fetus had a heartbeat. She died in the hospital from blood poisoning three days after the fetus died and was surgically removed.

Her husband was left asking,

When they knew the baby was not going to survive, why not think about the bigger life which was the mother, my wife Savita? And they didn’t.

In the not-so-distant past some devout Irish doctors broke their patients’ pelvises to prevent miscarriage. The painful operation often caused chronic back pain, incontinence, and crippling. As one woman explained,

It ruined my life. I have two titanium knees, a bad back and I think about it every day. It was 53 years ago… They were torturers. They didn’t care. I was a thing.

Another described the procedure:

I saw the hacksaw. He started cutting my bone and my blood spurted up like a fountain. [She remembers the doctor looking annoyed that he had gotten her blood on his glasses]. You’ll never get rid of [the pain] until you’re not living anymore.

Not long ago a Polish woman named Edyta died because each doctor she approached refused to treat her colon condition, fearing an operation might lead to miscarriage or abortion. She could have expected refusals had she lived in Italy, Hungary, or Croatia, too, because in each of these places doctors may refuse treatment on moral grounds. Apparently, letting a woman die is not a part of the moral compass. The fetus died, anyway.

In North African countries the clitoris or vulvas of young girls are routinely cut with dirty razors and parts are removed to deaden sexual sensitivity, “making them pure.” Some die of infection, many are crippled, and most live in pain.

In other places brothers kill sisters over any “sexual impropriety,” including marrying who you want, being alone with a boy, looking at a boy, or rape.

In Saudi Arabia girls in night clothes were once forced back into a burning building to die so as to protect men from their immodesty.

The religious Taliban ordered a girl’s nose and ears cut off when she ran away from her abusive in-laws.

And don’t forget the Inquisition, the Crusades and the witch hunts.

I could go on.

Really, how callus can your religious beliefs make you?

The Golden Rule must be hiding around here somewhere.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 14, 2012, in feminism, LGBTQ+, psychology, reproductive rights, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. zaineb alkhaleef

    These are horrible men claiming to be a part of a religion for their identity. Nothing they do reflect what religion teaches them. This all goes back to how “Islamic” the muslim countries are and how many actually follow the teachings of the Quran. There are such rulings like “stoning” people who commit adultery but the actual requirements to stone make it nearly impossible, yet women (innocent women) are getting stoned in the Middle East, although in the Quran it says the punishment is equal for males and females for any sin. Men continue to live their lives and women are being punished everyday…

  2. As I was reading this article, I kept thinking to myself why wouldn’t anyone stop this? What is the point of all this nonsense violence? I think it’s more than just having power and control over someone. I think women are treated so awfully in these situations because people who don’t read the Bible will just assume what’s in the bible rather then find out for themselves. Some of the most passionate anti-gay/abortion/interracial relations people I had met had never read the bible in its context. It is insane to think that you could read word for word about something that happened so long ago and still think it applies today. You have to look for a deeper meaning. I do believe in God and I don’t think He would want women to live in this kind of pain. If you see killing an unborn baby as inhumane torture then what do you consider watching/forcing a pregnant mother that you know is going to lose her baby suffer in agony?

  3. I always feel my heart sink a little when I read stuff like this. I will never understand how the virtue of religion gets twisted in to something so ugly. I am a religious person but my faith has taught me that the most important thing about people is, loving them! I love my fellow humans, gay, straight, had an abortion, the list goes on. I think the people who use their religion as an excuse to hate and cause harm are sick. According to some basic Christian teachings we are not supposed to judge people that is not our job. The bible does not say “Thou shall not judge, unless you are judging a gay person or a woman”. I find a lot of this story troublesome. I think it is really unsettling that this is the world we live in today. Maybe I am naïve in feeling like it should be a better place by now. It seems like it is getting worse in some ways. I was especially disgusted when reading about the Irish doctors who had let women die in order to maintain a pregnancy. That is so sad. I cannot imagine why the life of a mother is less important than a damaged fetus. If that baby is going to die than the woman should live. It seems unnecessary, cruel and inhumane.
    I have a very close friend who grew up in Nigeria and was the victim of female circumcision. I prefer to call it forced mutilation. She has been tortured her whole life by that event. Her own mother held her down in the dirt while she was mutilated by an elder female family member. She survived what is known as an Infibulation. It is one of the most brutal types of female circumcision. The story of her life haunts me till this day. I will never understand how a mother could do this to her own child ESPECIALLY after surviving it herself. My friend works in Washington D.C. with an organization that is trying to stop this horror.

  4. All of these things are just so awful and hateful. It’s hard to believe that people do these thing because they can’t see beyond the beliefs they were raised with.

  5. @rebecca too. The world is not ugly, it’s extraordinarily beautiful. Men are ugly, and the lengths to which they will go to subjugate others, especially women.
    That much of this is done in the name of religion is only deception. No God ever sanctioned such cruelty.
    That it is done in the name of morality is only subterfuge. Morality is a name men give to the confused mess they created because accepting that we all deserve to be treated with compassion, love and respect didn’t suit their craving for power and wealth.
    I maintain that life is simple. Love is essential. Everywhere power exists, love is forced out, and the above is only one example of the result.
    You continue to tackle difficult subject BB, and I respect you for it.

    • Thanks.

      Really, men aren’t bad, really, right? But some men are bad and, here, either use religion as an excuse to harm or are so legalistic that their moral compass becomes erased.

      • Once something becomes a rule or law, it is general. Then it doesn’t apply to the individual and is therefore not justice in it’s true sense.
        The law is axiomatically unjust.

  6. This is just so sad, that today this stuff goes on. Why must the world be so ugly.

  7. Oh, where is that rule. Certainly does not seem to apply to women or girls.

  8. Keeping the weak down, lets you imagine you are strong.

  9. Wow heartless people n especially the doctors i feel bad for the females who live in these conditions. 😦

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