A Rape Victim’s Triumph – Artemisia Gentileschi

“Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting” by Artemisia Gentileschi (c. 1638), British Royal Collection (Accession No. RCIN 405551) (PD)

“My illustrious lordship, I’ll show you what a woman can do.”

-Artemisia Gentileschi

The Baroque artist, Artemisia Gentileschi is not known for a light and frothy style.  By any standard, Artemisia’s paintings are powerful, her imagery striking.

To begin with, she often chose as her subjects strong women – whether from myth or the Bible.  Among the best-known are Susanna, Esther, Judith, and Mary Magdalene [1].  But Artemisia’s own story is compelling.

Born in 1593, Artemisia was introduced to painting by her father, Tuscan artist Orazio Gentileschi [2].

Rape and Trial

In 1611, Artemisia was raped by fellow artist, Agostino Tassi.

In the expectation that they would be married to restore her honor, Artemisia continued to have sexual relations with Tassi for nine months.  When it became clear Tassi would not or could not marry her, Artemisia’s father pressed charges against him. Continue reading

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Palm Oil – The High Cost of Beauty

Female palm oil workers, Author benkataro, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil on earth, widely touted for its health and beauty benefits.

Palm oil is used in such everyday products as lipstick, shampoo, ice cream, chocolate, margarine, instant noodles, and pizza dough [1][2]. Claims are made that palm oil can prevent cancer, stem heart disease, treat dementia, slow aging, and aid weight loss [3].

The uncontrolled clearing of rain forests for palm oil plantations has led to a significant loss in these bio-diverse habitats.  Now, an investigation by the Associated Press has confirmed that the mistreatment of female palm oil workers in Malaysia and Indonesia is commonplace [4A]:

  • Many women work without pay to help their husbands or fathers meet unrealistic daily quotas.
  • Women routinely perform some of the industry’s most physically taxing jobs, sometimes carrying loads so heavy they can cause uterine collapse. Infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirths are the result.
  • Women, also, spray dangerous pesticides without protective gear. Activists say some have lost their sight, as a consequence.
  • Added to this, women frequently face sexual harassment. This can range from suggestive comments to outright rape.  In fear for their jobs, victims rarely report such abusive interactions.  Families may actually force victims to marry their rapists, if a pregnancy occurs.

Continue reading

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Purity and Virginity Testing

“The Virgin in Prayer” by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (c. 1645), National Gallery (Accession No. NG200), London, Author/Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, PD-Old-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Clinics in Britain offer controversial but ineffective tests for virginity which can place lives at risk [1].  Young women who “fail” such tests may be subjected to violence or sexual assault, starvation, banishment from their communities, and – in extreme cases – honor killings.

Shame and Dishonor

In a few cultures, the loss of virginity prior to marriage is still viewed as bringing shame and dishonor on the family and community as a whole.  For that reason, virginity testing is often required for marriage.

Of course, it is always the woman’s virginity called into question.

Forced Testing

Women may be forced by parents, potential partners, or future in-laws to submit to virginity testing.

Virginity tests are, also, at times carried out on sexual assault victims to verify that rape has taken place.  Needless to say, the testing is equally ineffective for that purpose, though it is traumatic. Continue reading

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Addicted at Birth

Week old infant weighing 430 grams,
Authors Aneta Meszko and Marcin Meszko (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING: Graphic Images

“In America, a baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes [1A]”.

In the past ten years, over 130,000 children in the United States have been born with drug dependency inherited from a mother on heroin, methamphetamine, or opioids [1B].

Infant Detox

Called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, this dependency causes poor feeding and suck reflex, with slow weight gain; vomiting; diarrhea; sweating; muscle cramps, seizures, and twitching; irritability; sleep problems; yawning, stuffy nose, and sneezing; along with shortness of breath [2][3].

Infants, in other words, experience many of the same withdrawal symptoms their mothers do [4]. They cry inconsolably from the pain.

While one study found that pre-natal drug exposure was not associated with increased mortality, it did find significantly higher mortality rates among low birth weight infants positive for cocaine and opiates [5].

Lack of Care

In one case, a baby in Oklahoma died after her mother, high on methamphetamine and opioids, put the 10-day-old girl in a washing machine with a load of dirty laundry [1C].”

The risk to addicted newborns does not stop there. Infants all too often die after being released home to mothers struggling with drug addiction.

Reuters has identified at least 110 such cases [1D]. More than 40 infants suffocated. Another 13 died after swallowing fatal doses of heroin, methadone, oxycodone, and other opioids.

In three-quarters of these cases, the mother was implicated in her child’s death; in other instances, a boyfriend, husband, or other relative was responsible [1E]. Continue reading

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Gender-Based Violence

Sukuma women and children of Tanzania, Author paulshaffner, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The following is excerpted from an article by Lynn Monahan titled “Fighting Gender-Based Violence” in the June 2020 edition of Maryknoll Magazine:

“When she was only 8 years old, Ghati was sold by her older brother to a 55-year-old man, who put the orphan girl on a motorcycle and rode to his house… There the man raped her.

After two weeks of daily assaults, Ghati escaped while the man was working in his fields…The man was later arrested and eventually sentenced to prison.

Ghati, a pseudonym to protect her identity, was…placed in a shelter [in Tanzania] under the care of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.

‘What the center does is support vulnerable children,’ says Sister Annunciata Chacha, the director of the shelter called Jipe Moyo, a Swahili term meaning To Give Heart.

Jipe Moyo, a program of the Musoma Diocese, cares for children who have been living on the street, children who run away from domestic violence, children who flee from female genital mutilation (FGM)…sometimes called female circumcision, and girls escaping from child marriages…At the center, the children receive care, counseling and education…”

Continue reading

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Trash

Dumpster, Author Eion-Ray Patterson, Source https://www.dumpsterrentalscolga.com/ (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A South Carolina woman, Alyssa Dayvault, 32 y.o., was convicted of two counts of homicide by child abuse for having killed her infant children – a girl and boy, born in 2017 and 2018, respectively [1A].

The Public Defender claimed that Dayvault had intended to give the children up for adoption.  Instead, Dayvault hid both pregnancies from her mother and boyfriend, ultimately disposing of the children in trash bags.

Dayvault apologized in court to her two remaining children, but seemed oblivious to the harm to her dead infants.  She was sentenced to 40 years.

Numb

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer. 17: 9).

We have, it seems, grown numb to the needs of our children.  With 9 months to decide the fate of each of her children, this woman committed infanticide.  Then did it again, a year later.  The children were simply trash to her.

And Alyssa Dayvault is not alone.  A Michigan woman, Antoinette Briley, 41 y.o., was charged with the murder of her twin sons in 2003 [2].  Evidence suggests she, too, discarded her newborns in the trash. Continue reading

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A Side Order of Rescue

Image © Acabashi; Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0; Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Florida waitress, Flavaine Carvalho, took action to rescue an abused boy whose family was dining out at the Mrs. Potato Restaurant where she worked [1].

Carvalho noticed that the family had ordered nothing for the boy.  When she asked whether there was any problem with the food, the waitress was told the boy would be eating at home.  This explanation did not seem satisfactory, in light of injuries on the boy’s face and arms.

Taking the initiative, Carvalho fashioned a sign reading, “Do you need help?”  Then positioned where the parents could not see, she surreptitiously held it up for the boy.  When he nodded, Carvalho called police.

On questioning, the boy described having been abused by his stepfather.  The 11 y.o. asserted he had been tied up, handcuffed, struck with a broom, and hung from a door.  Bruised and markedly underweight, the boy had been denied food as a punishment.

The boy’s stepfather was charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.  The boy’s mother — who had not sought medical attention for him — was charged with neglect.

Both the boy and a 4 y.o. sibling were removed to the custody of Florida Dept. of Children and Families.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3: 21 NASB).

The Bible encourages reasonable discipline, appropriate to a child’s age and level of understanding.  It does not condone starvation or torture.

[1]  People Magazine, ” ‘Do You Need Help?’  Florida Waitress Used Secret Sign to Rescue Boy after Noticing Abuse:  Police” by Steve Helling, 1/15/21, https://people.com/crime/florida-waitress-used-secret-sign-rescue-abused-boy/.

The National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453).
The hotline is available 24/7 in over 170 languages.
Calls are confidential and toll free.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Help Delayed = Help Denied

University of Utah, Author University of Utah (CC 3.0 Unported)

Lauren McCluskey, a 21 y.o. student athlete at the University of Utah, was murdered by a former boyfriend despite having complained to campus and Salt Lake City police over 20 times [1].

Lauren met her murderer, 37 y.o. Melvin Rowland, in a bar.  The co-ed ended their brief, month-long relationship on learning Rowland was a convicted sex offender who had lied about his name and age.

Calls for Help

Over the next two weeks, Lauren reported to police that Rowland was sending her harassing messages and attempting to extort money.  She did, in fact, send him $1000 in the futile hope of securing the return of embarrassing photos.

Lauren’s body was found in the backseat of a car on campus.  She had been shot to death.  Rowland killed himself following a police chase.

Settlement

The University of Utah has settled with McCluskey’s parents for $10.5 million.  A separate $3 million donation will be made to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, and funds raised for an indoor track to be named after Lauren. Continue reading

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The Little Ones

Taurus 669 handgun, Author Philippe Kurlapski (CC BY-SA 1.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Sadly, it is not difficult to find stories of violence and abuse in the news.

  • Messiah Taplin, a 4 y.o. Texas boy, was allegedly shot to death by Zantyler Foster-Hooks, a partygoer celebrating the New Year with a firearm inside an apartment [1].
  • A Michigan man, Latravion McMillon, is being sought in the murder of his 6 y.o. stepson, Jaylen Worthington [2].  The boy sustained head trauma, broken ribs, and a punctured lung before being pronounced brain dead.
  • A 7 y.o. Illinois girl, Natalie Wallace, was fatally shot in a drive-by, while visiting her grandmother [3A]. A 20 month old boy and a 10 y.o. girl were among those shot to death during a single Chicago weekend [3B].
  • An Arizona woman, Michelle Boone, has been charged with assaulting her children for not wearing masks, after the children tested positive for COVID-19 [4].  The children range in age from 5 y.o. to 14 y.o.  Boone struck one child in the face, picked another up by the throat, and kicked a third.  Police believe she may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.

The little ones are always the ones at risk.  But the scars of such abuse – assuming the children survive it – can last a lifetime.

But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matt. 19: 14).


[1]  ABC News, “New Year’s reveler dancing with gun allegedly shoots, kills 4-year-old Texas boy: Police” by by Bill Hutchinson, 1/1/21, https://abcnews.go.com/US/year-texas-boy-messiah-taplin-fatally-shot-years/story?id=75004512.

[2]  Law & Crime Network, “Michigan Police Looking for Man Who Allegedly Killed His 6-Year-Old Stepson” by Alberto Luperon, 1/1/21, https://lawandcrime.com/crazy/michigan-police-looking-for-man-who-allegedly-killed-his-6-year-old-stepson/.

[3A and 3B]  ABC News, “Children ages 7, 8, and 14 killed as gun violence mars holiday /weekend in Chicago andAtlanta” by Bill Hutchinson, 7/5/20, https://abcnews.go.com/US/children-ages-14-killed-gun-violence-mars-holiday/story?id=71621109.

[4]  People Magazine, “Woman Accused of Assaulting Her Kids for Not Wearing Masks After They Test Positive for COVID-19” by Chris Harris, 1/1/21, https://people.com/crime/woman-accused-assault-kids-not-wearing-masks/.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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The Sins of the Fathers

“Shipwreck: the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm” by William Joy (1859), Photographer/Source Christie’s Auctions, (PD-Art, PD-Age)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

We close 2020 on a tragic note:  the sexual assault and battery of a newborn by a 14 y.o. boy living in the same Florida foster home [1A].

Assailant Sexualized as a Toddler

The teenage assailant is thought to have been sexualized as a toddler, when his biological mother exposed him to pornography and engaged in sexual activity in his presence.

History of Prior Assaults

“If someone is predatory, they are going to focus in on someone that is vulnerable.  Putting a young child in a situation like that is beyond shocking.”

-Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Thomas Dikel [1B]

The couple who fostered then adopted this boy (the Kleins); the non-profit responsible for overseeing child welfare locally (Kids Central); and the entity providing case management services (The Center) were all aware of the boy’s dangerous proclivities, since he had sexually assaulted other children.

Nonetheless, Kids Central and The Center continued to send foster children to the Kleins’ home. Continue reading

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