June 19, 2006


Raising age of consent sparks uproar (DEBRA BLACK, 6/19/06, Toronto Star)

The federal government plans to introduce legislation this week to raise the age of consent to 16 from 14. On the surface, the bill seems like a slam-dunk, particularly in a world where parents fear Internet luring and predators of all sorts.

But it is a thorny issue, one that is emotionally charged and has everyone from public health officials to youth workers wondering if changing the age teens can legally have sex will really deal with the problem of child sexual exploitation.

The proposed bill, which has been promised by the Conservative government since it took power last February, is creating controversy even before it has seen the light of day.

In Mogadishu, a New Moral Code Emerges (Craig Timberg, June 19, 2006, Washington Post)

In the years between the fall of the central government in 1991 and the victory of the Islamic militias on June 5, this oceanside capital had few rules. A group of warlords controlled the city, but in the absence of schools or laws, youths adopted lifestyles devoted to music, fashion and surreptitious meetings with the opposite sex.

That has changed with a swiftness that many young adults say has left them frustrated and afraid.

Abdifatah Nur, 26, said he was watching a World Cup soccer match at a movie house when Islamic militiamen crashed through the doors and ordered the television turned off. They beat the children with lashes and took the young men to a jail. Before the militiamen let their prisoners free three days later, Nur said, they whipped him and cut off his long, curly hair.

Nur said that a few days later, in a different movie house, he watched as Islamic militiamen beat the owner to death, apparently for ignoring earlier orders to not show soccer matches.

"I hate what they are doing," Nur said. "We have no choice."

Several leaders of the Islamic militias have said they have issued no orders banning World Cup broadcasts or requiring men to cut their hair. And in dozens of interviews in Mogadishu, such accounts seemed confined to only some areas of the city.

But even supporters of the Islamic militias acknowledge that their leadership is divided between extremists and moderates, and few are willing to predict which will consolidate power in the weeks and months ahead.

To many young Somalis, the Islamic militias seem to bear an eerie resemblance to the old warlords. In many cases, they are in fact the same gunmen, carrying the same AK-47s while riding on the backs of the same pickup trucks, residents here said. As the secular warlords' grip weakened, many of the families controlling the gunmen simply ordered them to switch sides.

"The people who are running the sharia courts now are no better than the warlords," said Salad Adan, 16, who lost an eye to a stray bullet when he was 14 and, this year, was shot in the leg by a gunman working for a warlord. "They are the same. . . . It's like they put on another shirt." Sharia refers to Islamic law.

Several young women in Mogadishu said they felt growing pressure to cover every bit of their hair and their faces.

"We are afraid to walk in the street with these clothes," said Nawaal Mohamuud, 18, a student, as she gestured to her bright red headdress, which revealed some of her hair and a sliver of her neck. A friend sitting beside her, Ismahaan Ali, 18, wore a similar one that was pink with gold lamé.

"Before the Islamic courts, we used to walk down the street like this," Mohamuud said. "We would listen to music, and we would dance with boys."

Some young Somali men were also attentive to their looks, using gel to tease their hair into high, curly locks.

Faysal Dhaqane, 22, still carefully styles his hair and has elaborately manicured fingernails. But when he sees the Islamic militias approaching, he said, he pulls a cap over his head and stuffs his hands in his pockets. As the militias gained control, he also closed out of fear his business of playing music at weddings. Some Islamic militiamen once ordered him to turn off his sound system.

"It is forbidden," Dhaqane recalled being told.

Like some other youths, he longs for the days before the Islamic militias came to power. "During the days of the warlords," he said, "we were free."

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2006 6:51 AM


Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct. at June 19, 2006 9:09 AM


Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 9:14 AM

They are nothing more than frightened, angry, empty men who like shooting, beating, and terrorizing weaker men and all women.

They can't even read, so they can't be Wahabbis.

But Tories? Does that makes them yobs? Please.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 19, 2006 10:35 AM

Wahhabism works best among the illiterate.

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct. at June 19, 2006 11:21 AM

No, they're just puritans who beat the tar out of warlords who deserved it, in Somalia, and are going after secularists, in Canada.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 11:59 AM

Just so I'm clear on this: Orrin approves of the Somalis who are beating people up for wearing the wrong clothes, having the wrong haircuts, and watching the wrong sports on TV?

Posted by: PapayaSF at June 19, 2006 2:29 PM

Yes, to exactly the extent that you believe that "During the days of the warlords we were free."

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 2:35 PM

What is it about music that gets these loons so angry?

Posted by: ratbert at June 19, 2006 2:42 PM

Surely Somalis (and everyone else) aren't limited to a choice between rule by warlords and rule by Islamic gangs? I fail to see any improvement in this, and in fact I'll be willing to bet they end up with a Taliban-style regime with all the attendant death, destruction, terrorism, and loss of freedom. "Just puritans" my arse.

Posted by: PapayaSF at June 19, 2006 3:00 PM

They haven't even had that much choice since we high-tailed it out of there and left them to the warlords'. The Taliban was indeed an improvement over the way we left Afghanistan but in failing to work with them we let them go to far.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 3:09 PM

We are not the bosses of the world and we can't change the Taliban or the Somali Islamists by "working with them."

Usually this is a point that has to be made to the left... oh, never mind.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 19, 2006 5:46 PM

Of course we are--that's what we routinely do.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 5:50 PM

Not by working with them.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 19, 2006 7:05 PM

As often as not.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 7:10 PM

Way back when a certain fella would have seizures whenever he heard music

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct. at June 19, 2006 9:53 PM