Global Quickies: 2013.03.15

As promised, here’s part two of your March Global Quickies. And guess what? I still have a bunch of awesome links for a third part, so watch out for those soon.

ISRAEL (from 9bar)
22 year old Noa Kentman was shouted at and called impure by two ultra-orthodox men after she refused to move to the back of the bus she was traveling in with her sister. The men ended up sitting on the front steps of the bus so as to sit in front of her. Since Noa’s sister had called to report the incident, the police intercepted the bus when entering the destination city and the men were arrested.
israel bus

BOSNIA (from Mary)
TRIGGER WARNING for sexual violence- Meet Nusreta Sivac, the woman who gathered testimonies from women who were raped during the ’92-’95 war in former Yugoslavia and convinced the International Tribunal for War Crimes that rape is a war crime and not just a byproduct of war. The Geneva Convention already prohibited wartime rape, but it was thanks to the efforts of Nusreta Sivac, her colleague, Jadranka Cigelj, and the women they convinced to come forward, that a tribunal charged someone for crimes of sexual violence for the first time ever.
Nusreta Sivac was a judge in Bosnia when the war started. She was removed from her post, then her home, and eventually taken to a concentration camp, where she and the other 36 women were forced to work during the day and raped at night. The UN estimates that between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped during the war. You can read more about her here.
Nusreta Sivac

IRELAND (from Jonathan Victory)
Ireland has finally apologized for having been complicit in the incarceration of thousands of women and girls in laundries run by the Catholic Church, known as Magdalene Laundries, where they were abused and kept as almost slaves, up until the 1980s. Since the 18th century, , Magdalene Laundries were supposed to be houses for “fallen women”, but often the women and girls sent there were just “guilty” of coming from broken homes or being unwed mothers. The apology came after the release of an investigation on the government’s involvement on the laundries. The survivors will receive compensation.

MEXICO (from Bug)
A letter bomb was sent to a nanotechnology researcher of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), in the state of Morelos. Although the letter contained explosives, the detonating mechanism was only simulated. The main suspects are the group called Individuals Tending Towards Savagery, who have claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past (check out the post we did about that last year).

CHINA (from robro)
Leftover women” is the term being used to describe unmarried career women over the age of 27 in China. And, apparently, the government has a hand in the stigmatization of this group, as well as in making it harder for women to get into a university. According to this article, the reasoning behind this is that the “population pressures” created, by among other things, the sex-ratio imbalance, “causes a threat to social stability”. The Woman’s federation blames career women for being too picky:

When holding out for a man, if you say he must be rich and brilliant, romantic and hardworking … this is just being willful. Does this kind of perfect man exist? Maybe he does exist, but why on earth would he want to marry you?

Chinese university admissions

JORDAN (from Bernadette)
Two barely literate Bedouin women living in the desert were chosen to be a part of an interesting project: they were to go to India and be trained in the construction and maintenance of solar energy systems that could provide energy for their community. They left their families for six months and the documentary Solar Mamas was made about them. Upon their return, lack of funding and interest from the government and NGOs has let the project and their hopes of better lives fade away. Go read this article and watch the documentary, but first go buy some Kleenex.
solar mamas

The Vatican has invested 23 million Euros in an apartment complex. It makes sense, a senior Vatican official lives on the first floor and the Vatican has other 18 apartments on the block, some of which house priests. You’d think someone would’ve noticed it houses the biggest gay sauna in Europe

Last week I told you about how presidential candidate Nelson Zavala said during his campaign that he planned to ban rock concerts and fire LGBTQ people from their jobs if elected president and that he came in last. The new development is that, since electoral law prohibits candidates from making “any public expression that discriminates or affects the dignity of people, or uses symbols, expressions or references religion”, Zavala was sentenced to one year without political rights and a fine of a little over $3,000


The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), the Organization for Women in Science in the Developing World (OWSD), and the Elsevier Foundation have announced the first five researchers to win the Elsevier Foundation Award for Early Career Women Scientists in the Developing World. The winners, Nasima Akhter, from Dhaka Medical College Hospital Campus, Bangladesh; Namjil Erdenechimeg from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongolia; Dionicia Gamboa, from Cayetano Heredia University, Peru; Adediwura Fred-Jaiyesimi, from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria; and Huda Omer Ba Saleem, from Aden University, Yemen, were awarded US$5,000 in recognition of research excellence. This awards program was launched last July, and seeks to encourage women to pursue careers in science in countries where women scientists have a much harder time dealing with discrimination and family expectations.


Born and raised in Mexico City, Daniela has finally decided to abdicate her post as an armchair skeptic and start doing some skeptical activism. She is currently living in Spain after having lived in the US, Brazil and Italy. You can also find her blogging in Spanish at

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  1. Re: Magdalene Laundries

    Elsewhere it is pointed out that the Catholic Church has not apologized or taken any responsibility for running these prisons.

    I also reading somewhere the claim that they are being more or less recreated under another name, but I have not been able to find any verification of that. Has anyone else heard that claim?

  2. Googling “Magdalene Laundries Catholic” brings up a bunch of articles, including a number which, from the google blurbs, seek to minimize or deny what went on. I checked a few of those, and in one case they use the “everybody did it” defense, and the other claims it’s all a lie invented by “the media.” The websites I saw with “catholic” in their names appear to be going the minimize/deny route, based on the blurbs. Note: this was by no means an exhaustive survey, but it does suggest that the Catholic Church and its partisans are going to live down to my expectations.

  3. Magdalene Laundries were common in many parts of North America, especially Quebec, into the 60s. I’m not sure the catholic church ever apologized for those child abuse cases either.

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