Spain, Luxembourg

Spain/1: Manos unidas defends “devadasi” women A special attention towards “devadasi” women forced to prostitute themselves in the name of tradition: it is the request of Manos Unidas, the NGO of the Spanish Catholic Church, in the framework of the campaign “A new world, common project”, carried out throughout the year. In seven districts of the Indian State of Karnataka, where it’s normal for women called devadasi to be considered sexual objects, slaves of the Yallamma goddess, Manos Unidas promotes projects for young women condemned to live a terrible life since their early childhood. In fact, an ancient tradition continues to thrive in the Indian State of Karnataka whereby some women belonging to the lower caste must be given to the goddesses Hulgamma or Yallamma to help the priest in the offering to the goddesses. Once they reach puberty, the girls become public property and they are forced to satisfy the sexual drives of the head of the village and other men. The government of Karnataka has banned this practice but it failed to offer rehabilitation and reintegration programs for the victims, many of whom are repudiated by their own families and end up living in the streets or in the brothels of Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, victims of sexual trafficking. The project supported by Manos Unidas is being developed in the city of Sindargi, that is 60 km away from Bijapur, the administrative capital of the district bearing the same name. There jesuits priests, local partners of Manos Unidas, since 2005 are actively engaged to give a dignified life to devadasi women and to their children. Women receive assistance and school education. 450 women and their children are direct recipients of the project. Spain/2: Forum of the laity, protecting the rights of the newborn The permanent Commission of the Forum of the Laity in Spain conveyed disappointment over the announcement of premier Mariano Rajoy to withdraw the reform of the law on abortion. In a note the Forum underlines that “as Christians, and following the teaching of recent popes, Saint John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis, we have the duty to intervene in public discourse, when dictated by circumstances”. For this, the Forum “feels the need to raise its voice against the withdrawal of the preliminary draft of a bill on the protection of the conceived child that the rights of pregnant women, announced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy”. “We defend human life from the moment of conception until natural death, following Catholic Church doctrine. We therefore cannot support legislation that goes against these rights – the note points out -. We express our suffering and profound disappointment for the incoherence manifested in this renunciation of a fundamental aspect of the electoral program of the party that governs the Country. We hereby ask the Council of Ministers to reflect on this theme from a constitutional perspective, on the grounds of principles and not for purely electoral reasons. The rights that are at stake are enshrined in the Constitution”. Luxembourg: diocesan Council, “protecting life” “For CDC the approach of the government’s draft law exposes to great risks the principle of the unconditional support to life”: it is the core of the criticism advanced by the diocesan Catholic Council (CDC) of Luxembourg in an “Open Letter on the bill 6683”, published September 26. The proposal, put forward by Luxembourg’s current majority government, aims at modifying legislation on voluntary pregnancy interruption (VPI), to depenalize abortion, relieve mothers from a second psycho-social counseling now required by law, and give minors the autonomy to decide to undertake the path of pregnancy interruption even without informing their parents, provided they are accompanied by a trusted adult. The law, which never uses the words “abortion”, “fetus”, or “embryo”, but refers to “pregnancy”, sets a limit of VPI to the 12th week of gestation, unless there is a serious threat to the life of the pregnant woman or the newborn. “The diocesan Council demands that the reform does not limit its scope to questions of medical and technical nature, but that it prompts an ethical debate on the beginning of life, taking into account all aspects of the question, from prevention until the accompaniment of women, considering the responsibility of men and especially in consideration of the rights of the conceived life”.

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