Thursday, October 10, 2013

India's "Abused Goddesses" Campaign Opens Eyes

Buzzfeed had a post not too long ago about a deeply moving and fascinating PSA campaign about domestic violence in India. The organization "Save our Sisters" is working to bring awareness to domestic violence and help the victims. More than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. To put that in perspective, in the United States, the rate is 25%.

The ads say, 
“Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.”
The advertisements themselves are incredibly striking and beautiful in a painful and sad way. The advertising company took traditional images of the goddesses and made a real-life recreation. They cover the goddess in bruises and cuts. The props in the pictures are either real or painted on.

The posters feature a phone number to report abuse.

As the Buzzfeed writer points out, this advertisement campaign directly addresses a contradiction in Indian society. They revere many goddesses, but the country remains unsafe for mortal women.

This contradiction can be found in other religious traditions as well. Speaking as a Catholic, I can point out the Catholic devotion to Mary and the Church's long history of social justice. Yet, domestic violence still occurs in some Catholic households.

Here are some of the ads:

Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, music, the arts, and science. 

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth.

Knowing the subject of this ad, this is perhaps the most striking of all. Durga is a warrior goddess. She is representative of the victory of good over evil. I have a statue of her in my room (because I like to keep pieces of every part of my religious history). May she give the people of India strength to defeat the evils of domestic violence. 
For a better view of these ads, including close-ups of some of the details, visit the original Buzzfeed article.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Only 2% of the Nation Responsible for the Majority of Our Death Penalty

Earlier this week, the Death Penalty Information Center released a report. They found that 2% of the counties in the United States account for over half of all people on death row and/or executed since 1976. Moreover, they discovered that only 20% of the counties in the United States account for all of the prisoners currently on death row.

The aggressive use of the death penalty by a few counties costs us all money.
When the total costs of the death penalty are divided by the number of executions carried out in a state, the amount can be $30 million per execution. (Source)
This $30 million comes out of our taxes.

Now, before people start in arguing "Well, it would be cheaper to put a bullet in the head" let me share this with you:

  • The vast majority of that $30 million is not to pay for the method of execution. It is for the 15 years or more of appeals.

So, you say, "Then let's get rid of the appeals." I say:

  • Since 1973, 140 people have been exonerated from death row. That means they were initially found guilty, but through appeals it was found that they were not guilty at all. So, without the appeals, there would be at least 140 innocent people dead. 
Of all the counties in the United States, 85% of all counties have not executed anyone in over 45 years. But in many of those counties, they are still paying for their neighbors who use the death penalty frequently. If you want to know what counties we're talking about:

This map depresses me. As you can see, St. Louis County and St. Louis City both are in the top 15.

For more information, check out the report yourself at: